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My No-Nonsense Strategy for Picky Eaters

I have been asked more and more these days, partly because of my participation at 30 Day Vegan, about picky eaters. What we did as a family and if I have any tips or tricks to share.

I have shared my parenting experience in this matter in face to face conversations with those who exclaim, "What good eaters your kids are!" And I have also left a fair number of comments on (mommy blogger) blog posts. You know those posts, the ones where mamas discuss clever strategies for how to get kids to eat vegetables.

But I have been avoiding writing about this topic here at FIMBY. 

It's quite easy for me to leave my opinion (on possibly contentious issues) sprinkled here and there, on other people's blogs. It's another matter entirely for me to post my thoughts on my own blog, opening myself up to criticism for being a mean mother (I prefer the label bad ass).

Here's the reason for my insecurity in writing about this. I'm a no-nonsense mother. A bit of a traditionalist (ESTJ, if you must know) - no sassing, no whining, eat your veggies. That sort of thing.

I'm afraid you'll interpret that as "bad mother", certainly not very politically correct or attachment-ish. 

I have one more fear to share with you (sigh). I'm afraid that by telling you our family's approach to this subject you'll think I'm passing judgement on you if your kids are picky. So know this - I'm not.

Each family needs to do what works for them, make their own household rules, and live according to their values. In case you needed that permission (smile).

So now that I've cleared everyone from the room, or at least had you squirm in your seats as I reveal my mothering insecurities, let's get to the nitty gritty of the topic.

What I'm going to share with you is what our family has done. It is not my perscription for picky eaters and in fact if your children are older this probably won't work. This advice, or rather experience, is more useful for families with wee ones - the age at which we addressed the picky eater issue.

When Celine (now 12) was a baby, and probably even before that, we determined that we (Damien and I are on the same page) were not going to have a family restaurant. By restaurant I mean we were not going to offer children different food from what the adults were eating.

Looking around the world at what people eat it was clear to me that children will eat whatever their "norm" is. Spicy foods in Asia, insects, grubs, little rodents(?) in the Amazon, cow blood in certain African tribes. We're talking some weird stuff from the North American perspective.

Let's talk choice for a minute (never mind the lack of "food groups" in these cultures). Many children around the world have no choice about what to eat. There is either very little variety or very little to eat. Period. 

And here we are wringing our hands and writing books about how to get kids to eat vegetables?

Eating what's served

We decided that in our home what is served is what is available to eat.

When we sit down to eat a family meal, you get to eat what's on the table, whether you're 2, 12, 42. Damien regularly adds more frozen vegetables to his meal but I don't consider this a problem.

If you don't like supper you're not offered crackers from pantry. Or toast and peanut butter because "this isn't junior's favorite". And you certainly don't get served the frozen un-chicken nuggets kept in freezer, "just in case the kids don't like this meal".

So here's the question. If our kids didn't like the meal what's to stop them from holding out till snack time when they could eat that toast and peanut butter? (Back when toast was served for snack. Nowadays snack is one of these options).

Here's how we addressed that. If one of our children refused to eat something (almost always it was a supper meal - some kind of mushy soup or stew) that was fine. There was no pleading, whining, yelling, cajoling, punishment or consequences. We smiled and said, "you can eat it when you're hungry". And we meant it.

The food went into the fridge and re-appeared at snack or the next meal, whichever was first. In fact, that same food kept showing up until they ate it.

Somewhere between the age of 18 months to 3.5 years old each of our children walked up to edge of this family food rule and tested it. Two of our children "fasted", obviously they were drinking water, for a day before they decided it was a losing battle. They ate the two tablespoons (which is all it was when they were this little) of whatever the offending food was and gladly moved on to more palatable (to them) fare.

I only recall having to do this once with each child. Of course, memory probably fails me and we might have had to do this twice. But our children knew that when we said "no other food till you finish this serving" we meant it.

By the time Brienne came along, our most strong willed child, the stage was set. The older children, and of course us as parents, modeled the expected behavior. Interestingly, Brienne had the most sensitive gag reflex and those mushy veggies were never her favorite. But to see her now at age 8, scarfing down eggplant un-parmigan, zucchini stir fry, etc. you never would know.

Keep in mind our children were very young when we laid this foundation. We were serving them tablespoons of food. If they didn't particularly like something there was only a couple tablespoons to eat, which they learned tasted better the first time it appeared.

Giving our kids a bit of choice

I'm not totally a mean mother. We do give our kids some choice. Because our meals almost always feature a variety of veggies, mostly all served together in one pot, we allow our kids to remove one veggie variety they don't like.

And because I know my kids don't particularly like mushy veggies (ie: zucchini) I do my best to cook meals that don't include all mushy veggies.

Laurent has never liked fresh tomatoes. Brienne is just leaving the zucchini dislike stage. Eggplant has never been popular but the tide is starting to turn on that one also.

They were, and still are, allowed to leave one thing that they absolutely don't like. Granted nowadays, at 12, 10 & 8, they rarely leave anything and will eat heaps and heaps of beans, grains, veggies, whatever is served.

Celine has never been a picky eater but I very clearly recall the lentil soup fast she took. We laugh about it now as she heartily eats and enjoys all manner of legumes.

I can honestly say we have not had many food battles. We didn't allow food to become a battle zone in our house. "This is supper, this is what you eat" was pretty much our philosophy.

With regards to other meals, it's much the same, with the exception of breakfast. Currently Celine (12) often makes her own breakfast with fruits and nuts because she doesn't like soft cooked grains, like oatmeal (we eat lots of hot cereal).

As the kids have grown there are some meals they don't eat as much of, but they eat what I cook (or this summer, eat what Nana cooks). There is also a lot of variety in our meals because I like to experiment and don't like to exactly follow recipes. Chances are if you didn't like tonight's meal I probably won't repeat it.

I have always tried to make food my family will enjoy, not just choke down. It's not like I'm thinking, "ha, ha, let's load this entree with zucchini and watch my children gag". I love it when my family raves over a meal I make. But I determined long ago I wasn't going to be a short order cook just to keep the troops happy.

I like what Jennifer at Kidoing has to say about the feeding kids and her rebuttal to getting kids to eat veggies. I asked her to share a bit of her philosophy here at FIMBY. This is what she has to say:

I treat my kids as people when cooking for them...not their own species! They eat almost anything I put in front of them when it's cooked with fresh wholesome ingredients and lots of love. Of course, there are always exceptions, but who doesn't have an off day when you just don't feel like eating what's on your plate? Cooking (and eating) in our home is enjoyable and a top priority every day.

Love it. I also really like what Erika from Mud Spice says about how to get your kids to eat vegetables. I agree, if they are really hungry, they'll eat. 

A few last thoughts on raising hearty eaters:

  • If one of the adults of the household is picky eater you can expect the kids to follow suit. So much about what we want to teach our kids is modeled, not spoken. Neither Damien or I are picky eaters. Damien has always eaten, and never complained (the same cannot be said for me), about a meal I've cooked. And I've cooked some "interesting" stuff.
  • I don't believe in hiding veggies from my kids. We enjoy sauces, smoothies, etc.. but not as a way to "mask" an offending fruit or vegetable.
  • I don't make veggies fun. Veggies, like other foods are just that, food. I like to cook with intention and love and prepare my family's favorites but except for the odd snowman pancake I don't dress up food as fun or un-fun.
  • When my children were too young to dish up their own meal (now they serve themselves and are expected to eat what they dish up) I didn't serve them large portions of food I knew they disliked. We wanted to set our kids up for success, not failure. And of course none of this applies to when kids are sick, when their appetites are low or they're throwing up all the time (in case you were worried).
  • If I make something really weird and wacky (outside their normal grid) we always give our kids the option to eat just the blandest part of that. For example, serving sushi the first time I probably offered the kids plain ol' rice and tofu. Though, for as long as I can recall my kids have eaten sushi like there is no tomorrow.
  • If you are changing your family diet with older children this article I wrote on helping children embrace lifestyle change might be useful.
  • My kids have been in the kitchen and garden with me from the very start. They know and understand food. Where it comes from, the effort it takes to prepare it. I don't know to what extent that has helped them be hearty eaters, probably some. 

As much as it might seen otherwise, I believe it's very important to listen to our children and what their bodies are telling them. We have never forced our children to eat but when they are hungry they are expected to eat what has been cooked and what is served. If they don't like it, there's not a more tasty option waiting in the pantry or freezer, which is pretty much the gist of this post.

But that doesn't mean we are encouraging them to ignore their body's signals. We have tweaked and adjusted our children's diets over the years in response to how their bodies feel after eating. Tummy aches, skin rashes, behavior problems, bowel problems, itchy mouths & throats - all of these (and more) are potential signs of auto-immune responses to food. We do not ignore these. We are a "food sensitivity" aware family.

I think that pretty much covers it - my offfical, no holds barred response to the oft asked question "How do you get your kids to eat all those one pot meals and veggies?" 

I will now slink back to random commenter on other people's blogs.

Resources: 

6 September 11

Comments

You're awesome. We really

You're awesome. We really messed up with our first child. At the time, we were eating VERY poorly. I was determined that my precious little guy would only eat REAL FOOD. So I cooked up grains for him, pureed veggies for him etc etc for a very long time. But sadly, by the time my husband and I caught up with him, health-wise, he was used to "his" food and has been picky ever since. He will eat any vegetable, raw, and any fruit. He is allergic to dairy and sensitive to gluten. Thank goodness he's not allergic to nuts. He only eats "real" food, not processed junk, but his diet is SEVERELY limited. *sigh*

By the time #2 came along we had straightened out. He's a great eater. And my beautiful Chinese daughter, who came to us at 9 months, is fabulous. She'll try anything. She also likes to help me in the kitchen while the boys aren't as keen. They will help, but it doesn't hold their interest the way it does for Mae.

If I could only go back and have a re-do!!!!!!

I've never been a short-order

I've never been a short-order cook either, though I do offer them some choice with the fruit, veggie and sandwich types in the lunches we pack for school. My 10 year old will pretty much eat anything...my 7 and 4 year old are getting there slowly, one tablespoon at a time. :-) I like John Rosemond's approach to kids and food and took it to heart when I first read it; it's very much along the same lines as yours.

These days, it takes guts to stand up and say that democracy does not reign in the kitchen and at the dinner table, and I applaud you for doing so. Go, girl!

I think I love you, Renee.

I think I love you, Renee. Love in a we are way too much alike sometimes sort of way. I am that exact same way with our boys - eat it and if you don't want to it will be there in the morning. Our oldest once ate liver for breakfast and then he got to move on to the next meal. I don't think that's mean, I think it's real life.

I never hide veggies either. Last week my son ate two plates full of salmon burgers and sauteed kale. He could not get enough kale. And I thought if I had ever turned down kale myself or let him have as many sweets as I did as a child then he wouldn't even look at the stuff.

And it's interesting you mention your apprehensions about mentioning these things because I am the same way. I homebirth, do babywearing, and self-weaned breastfeeding, but we do those things because they make sense and are the best thing for parents and baby. When a parenting philosophy starts embracing something that makes the child happy but is NOT in the child's best interest that is where I veer off a specific philosophy path.

And I think your approach to feeding your littles is the best thing for them, even if they don't feel it at the time.

love this! - "I love it when

love this! - "I love it when my family raves over a meal I make. But I determined long ago I wasn't going to be a short order cook just to keep the troops happy." - You've summed up my cooking philosophy for me! :)

So good Renee... We started

So good Renee...
We started off with the right idea but moved off course over the years. Just this last year I have told the kids they have to eat what is on the table or it will show up at the next meal (this is usually a dinner issue... so leftovers for breakfast does not sound so good). It works... even for four and seven... now five and eight year olds. I have yet to have them test me on this.

Great post!

Loved reading this! I make

Loved reading this! I make the kids a simple meal I know they will like for lunch (sandwich, yogurt, fruit) and breakfast is usually oatmeal and fruit, but for dinner they eat what everyone eats. Just like you do, if you don't like what is served, you do not have to eat, but you will not be getting an alternative. My oldest will eat absolutely anything and my middle, who is very stubborn in all areas of his life, could survive on beans, grains, and yogurt if pressed. He's gone to bed hungry a couple of times but he's coming out of it. Such a simple, yet effective, plan!

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your philosophy--I totally agree with it by the way. It's nice to hear what I've been thinking verbalized by someone else. I wish we had been more diligent with our 2.5 year old--hopefully it's not too late to turn that around!

That is really, really good

That is really, really good advice. You are such an inspiration and I just love how you talk about real things. And you talk about them honestly and I just am always so inspired when I read your posts.

I love that line above, "I think I love you, Renee." Ditto.

It's like your life is 5 years ahead of mine, with your kids being about 5 years older than mine. I hope in 5 years that I will be as solid, grounded, and wise as you.

Warmly,
Erika

That reminds me, we were just

That reminds me, we were just talking about your family around here today because my sister, who lives downstairs, was encouraging my daughter to sell birthday cards (the only thing she inspired to do any handwriting with).

She got the idea from my brother-in-law (who lives downstairs) who got it from your husband's blog, which he reads all the time.

Small world. We're all connected through your blogs.

Absolutely agree! That's how

Absolutely agree! That's how we are raising our three boys: 5, 8 & 9. They eat amazing things: sushi, sashimi, seaweed, goat cheese, and every vegetable that I buy or grow. Because it was never an option. They always had to try one bite. If they didn't like it, I didn't make them finish. They say, "I don't care for that" and then I know they hate it. My 8yo lied to his aunt the other day. Ate a whole piece of the Pampered Chef veggie pizza and told her it was delcious. Later he told me that he didn't care for it and didn't want it again but didn't want to hurt his aunt's feelings. What helped a lot was taking the boys to a charity called Feed My Starving Children. For years we have filled food bags to give to impoverished people around the world. When my boys heard that children eat dried mud balls to conquer the ache in their tummies, they looked at food with gratitude rather than dread. Only in America can we have picky eaters. But not in my house. Super post!

When I was growing up, my

When I was growing up, my mother was fond of making 1) green beans and 2) 20 bean soup. I don't like beans. So she implemented the 3 bean rule. I had to eat 3 beans and then I could chose some other veggie to eat. And if she was making say, potato salad, she would reserve some potatoes for me to eat plain since the dressing was what I didn't like.

Now that I have kids, I will let them, especially the oldest (9), take a bite of what is offered and then substitute some leftovers from a previous dinner if he doesn't like todays offering. He doesn't do it often, but I don't have a problem with him choosing yesterday's healthful meal over today's.

Finally! A group of "meany"

Finally! A group of "meany" moms out there, as my friends like to call me. I don't see it as being mean. Just like you said Renee, we like to have rules in our home, and we abide by those rules. I'm definitely sharing this with a lot of friends, so that they know I didn't come up with this method, nor my kids are angels. It's just about setting the limits and being consistent.. The way you put it all together was just AMAZING.. Love you..

I think it is so true that

I think it is so true that kids will eat what they are given at a young age (like what you mentioned about how kids eat in different cultures). I have 3 boys, ages 7, 4 and 18 months. I did the 30 day vegan course in March and am doing it again now (btw, I love that you are a contributor in this one, Renee). My 18 month old was only 11 months old when I did the first vegan class so he was at the beginning of eating solid foods. While the other boys turned their noses up at beans, quinoa and tofu, my youngest ones loves them! I am working on getting the older boys to enjoy these foods but it is such a joy to see my youngest love them and feel like I am giving him a better head start than the other two had. This post encourages me to push on with the other two (and their father - got any tips on getting men to eat their veggies?:) ). Thanks, Renee!

Great post...my first three

Great post...my first three children eat super awesome (26, 24, 18)....they have and will eat anything...including things I would not touch (shhh don't tell them that)...then came along our last two little guys...ages 6 and 7...both special needs...one is Autistic...the other is on the spectrum...they have asthma and lots of allergies....feeding them has always been a challenge...and that is an understatement...as if things were not hard enough...the 6 year old is celiac...and add these to the list.. no wheat, no corn, potatoes, soy, dairy and more...it's been hard...the 6 year old has severe teeth damage from acid reflux and cannot chew anything hard or he is in horrible pain..
and out of the blue tonight...he decided to drink half a cup full of freshly made carrot juice ( he helped juice it) and ate rice noodles with a pesto sauce...Success!!...we did not ask him to eat these things...we just provide the example...
Love your approach ...that is exactly what we did with the first 3 kiddos...just had to change it for the last two...but I hope as time goes by it will get a little better...

As usual, you manage to post

As usual, you manage to post something that speaks to where I am in life at the moment. I have a very picky 7 year old. I exposed him to varied and healthy foods throughout his life and did not cook separate meals for him. HOWEVER, the pickier he got the more I began to cook foods that he preferred to avoid stressful mealtimes. In my home as a child, there were always food battles and I have to admit that I would fall into that pattern in my home. We are committed to no stress meals and this has been working. My job is to serve healthy food- their job(I have a 3.5 yr old who eats everything)is to eat it. N o muss no fuss. This summer, I declared that there will be no catering in our home. I will make a family menu and each member will eat it. If my son chooses not to eat something, I do not say anything but I also do not offer it the next meal time (I will now!) I always thought that was a little "mommy dearest" but hearing from so many other moms that this is a standard approach that works- I will be trying it without the guilt. THanks for a great post and for the inspiration....again!

Thank you so much for sharing

Thank you so much for sharing this!! I have friends with lots of kids who eat (almost) anything and it's such a beautiful thing to see! I just had my first baby 10 and 1/2 months ago and am determined to grind up whatever my husband and I are eating for our son. I have decided to NEVER buy baby food. Your article has given me hope and encouraged me in my endeavors. I think what you're doing is great!!
Thanks again,
Alisha

Alisha - Don't bother

Alisha -

Don't bother grinding up your food for your baby -- read up on "Baby Led Weaning" for tips and have your kid eat what you are eating, texture and all!

-Stephanie

This post is so full of

This post is so full of insight and wisdom...thank you. We have implemented much of what you discuss, but somedays it still feels like a battle. I am much more lenient at breakfast and lunch - my girls definitely have different preferences - but dinner is non-negotiable. (often breakfast and lunch are non-negotiable as well, but if I am lenient, it's at these meals).

Interesting. I have a 2.5

Interesting. I have a 2.5 year old, who is generally pretty good about food. We just serve him whatever we're eating, but don't make a fuss if he leaves certain parts of it. Often he leaves the salad, but other times that's all he eats. Today, he wanted to eat mostly brussel sprouts, and it seems hardly worth worrying that he barely touched the cabbage. I do cut the crusts off his bread for him, though! It seems so much simpler to do it this way than to monitor how much he eats of which things, and he has a pretty good diet so far. Leftover dinner is the bedtime snack, but I don't save it for breakfast. I wonder if I'll need a more hard-nosed strategy like this later though, at whatever magic age down the road kids usually get picky.

I don't know what I like

I don't know what I like better about this post: that you make snowmen pancakes like we do, that I can picture you fake laughing about forcing your kids to eat piles of mushy zucchini, that you "went there" with the whole how-the-rest-of-the-world-eats, or that you call yourself a bad ass. I think it's probably that last one. :)

I had a little smile at

I had a little smile at this!!! I also like to drop my very opinionated opinions on other folks blogs and then head back to mine with nary an opinion in the world!!! Folks often ask me how I get to eat this and that and it just never occurred to me that they didn't. I have one child that has always refused to eat meat - which is fine, we have a diet with so much available to us that he will get all the resources he needs!!! I find it simply amazing at how many parents try and give their under one year olds three course meals at every meal and how important it is that a child tries thirty million tastes or they will be picky eaters. My kids have always progressed from nursing to eating off my plate and ... there is usually a gasp at "What on earth do they eat off your plate?" Frankly if a plate of food is not good enough for my child then it isn't good enough for me!!! I don't give my kids a heap of choices at all, whatever is on the plate is what we are eating. There is no option for special treatment or menus around here, if you loath something don't eat it (I have a tomato hater too), it will balance out over a period of the day and really there are places in the world where people survive and survive well and far less food and far less variety than we will ever know. My kids do a heap of cooking - they really do like to eat a salad they have made... and if they have grown it then they can't wait to eat it!!! Great post!!!

oh WOWOWOWOWOWO...finally a

oh WOWOWOWOWOWO...finally a mother who tells it like it is. Love that! So sick of wishy washy-ness when it comes to this and might I add other topics. I will stop there, but my hat is off!!

I love this! I wish that I

I love this! I wish that I could have the follow through on serving my 3 year old the same meal until she eats it. Her dada and I tend to cave late at night when she wants a scoop of almond butter...my other problem is she still nurses on occasion, and so when she doesn't want to eat something, she immediately wants to nurse more...my one year old however wants to eat any and everything that we serve...he doesn't understand yet that he needs more teeth to eat some of the things we eat :-)

You are AWESOME!!! We have

You are AWESOME!!! We have the same rule--this is "dinnah"--eat it now or later...
I admit I have been somewhat of a slacker these last nine months (baby fog) so we are currently re-establishing the rules...# 1 is having no problems, # 2 whines but ultimately eat it...#3 ( who is going to be 4 in nov.) *sigh* is ...different...he will EAT IT but it takes him sometimes close to 2 hours!!!!! UGH We let it go for a few months just to see if he would outgrow it alas we decided last night taking two hours to eat a few tablespoons of food is ridiculous. So my hubbie said no more--any time he takes beyond "normal" eating time (the time we are all sitting together usually about 45 minutes) is HOW MUCH EARLIER he will got to bed...we'll see how that goes...LOL I did have a Q? for you though...what do you do if kid eats 2 TB of food and 30 minutes later is "soooo hungry"??? Do you offer more dinner? a different healthy snack? This is also a constant battle with #3. He is hungry no more than 30 minutes after almost every meal...it is driving me crazy. Now what I have been doing is offering more dinner (that is almost always turned down--and my reply is well if you were really hungry....) anyway your thoughts????
We have also brought in children in other countries and explain how blessed we are to have the food we do...esp. since Brian and I have now both been to a 3rd world country where many children eat mud pies. We have had many dinner discussions about mud pies in Haiti and for the older ones this has been a startling realization. I also recently read Mitten Strings for God and she offers some wonderful suggestions as well for making mealtime more pleasant--one of her suggestions was that NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO BAD MOUTH THE FOOD. I love it. We started that last week...with our own twist...if you do not like the food fine BUT you cannot say "mom I do not like this" you have to say mom I think next time you should make the soup with corn and carrots for veggies instead of beans and spinach. So it gets them thinking about how to "improve" the recipe and think more positively...anyway sorry for the long post but his is a HUGE topic in our family right now :-) HUGS ( coming out of lurking hehe)

Bravo! I agree with every

Bravo! I agree with every word and I'm so pleased to see you post this. Thank you, thank you. I have taken a pretty similar stance with my kids and they will pretty much eat anything. We've always seen it as a challenge to try new foods and all three of mine love a trip to an ethnic grocery to see what we can try next. You know...your stance on food is also indicative of why you can take three kids on all the outings you do without any more angst than you have. Kids will complain only as far as you will let them get by with. If whining works, they'll do it until they wear you down. By setting expectations and limits with your kids you teach them that it doesn't work and they end up living a life that's good for them rather than one that's easier for them. (Because if you leave things up to a kid, he'll be eating junk and playing games all the time.)Well done. You are my hero. Now if only all the "other parents" would do it too. It would make things so much easier.

Hey Renee!!! Good for you

Hey Renee!!! Good for you sharing this part of your lives!!!! I agree 100%. I am a very picky eater (Alan is not) so when we started having children Alan and I decideded that we were going to teach them to be good eaters. We have seen HUGE success (for the kids and myself)...even to the point that the kids will take a double helping of something they don't really "like" because they are hungry and they know it is what will nourish them for the time. There is still some small amount of protest from Kalli (4) who says, "I really don't like salad (lettuce) mom, but I will eat it," as she munches down two little leaves of lettuce. hehe. Another thing I will do with the kids is have them pick a "new" fruit or veggie from the market or grocery store to try every other week. So on top of our regular meals, the kids can pick something they have never tried before. They really enjoy that! My kids also like it when I enlist their help in meal planning.

And just to note (to encourage other parents), we have made quite a nutritional transition. Kaylynn was used to boxed cereal for breakfast, Ritz for snack, and Hamburger Helper for dinner. We have done a complete 180 and now serve whole foods with minimal to zero processed foods (I cannot say fully zero because we do buy some "organic" processed foods from time to time). So, it can be done!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

Thank you for posting this!

Thank you for posting this! (Perfect timing) I wholeheartedly agree, we seem to be beginning this stage with Caleb (12 months) including tantrums when requesting or refusing foods. *sigh* tough love is so much easier to talk about than DO sometimes.

I grew up with similar table rules and knew that I would always raise my kids this way as well.

Miss you guys!

I love this article. I

I love this article. I especially love how you were brave enough to admit that you are a "no nonsense mother". Very un attachment parenting ish. I am the same way. I don't really get the attachment parenting but I am old I guess (46) :). I have, however, stumbled a lot with the food issue. When we got our littlest one the first three were grown and out of the house. This little gal was 18 months old and only ate french fries and eggs. Not kidding. It was difficult for me to get her to eat at all. She still, at 7, only likes raw veg and has a really strong gag reflex as well but last week...joy of joys, she ate and enjoyed her first piece of steamed broccoli. I am going over to read that other article of yours and hope to get her eating a bit better. Thanks for writing this and inspiring me to move forward Renee.

A well written, thorough as

A well written, thorough as heck post! I have your same philosophy. Veggies are just what we eat and they love them. We don't hide them. We show by example. I'd like to say we've been pretty lucky but it's been a intentional decision to live/love veggies. It's no accident! Our kids occasionally ask for something different. I like that we sit down at the table and discuss the flavors of everything and how we could cook them differently next time (or just the same next time). I think it helps to home school. During the day my kids are involved in preparing meals and they love it!

Looks like you hit a home run

Looks like you hit a home run with this one. I've been thinking of writing an Ode to Renee (I won't, but it's a fun idea), and this post is just one of many many reasons why. We often get comments on how well our children eat, and I really think it's because we have done what you have done. I think it's interesting that I also sometimes worry about appearing as a hard-edged parent over things like this. But I generally think, oh well. :)

I LOVE that you're a

I LOVE that you're a no-nonsense parent! I pride myself on that as well. I tell people I'm not a nice mother - I'm a good mother. ;) When my 13 yo baby girl doesn't like what I'm cooking, she's on her own. She's a big girl - she knows how to use what's in the kitchen. Usually I make her try whatever the Mr. & I are having if it's a new dish. Other than that, I don't fight her on it. The world doesn't care if she doesn't like what's being served. She'll have to fend for herself one day.

This is a great, well-written

This is a great, well-written piece. I wish I had read this before our long campaign to clean up our kids' eating habits, habits which we, the people doing the shopping, created. (Which we finally won, thank goodness, neither child is willing to eat a nugget of any kind at this point.) In our culture we get a little sidetracked about what is good parenting. It is not kind to let kids eat the junk we think they want. Food culture is handed down from the generations---what to eat, and how much. Without guidance, we are lost. I say that as the daughter of a very loving woman who thought flat cheese, white bread, spagheddios, boxed mac and cheese, processed meats, Kool-aid and fried foods were just fine. It is extremely hard to break those habits.

I am a short order cook in my

I am a short order cook in my house - and it's no ones fault but my own. As a picky eater my entire life, I empathised with my kids and their easy gag reflexes. Oh, how I wish I had been stronger. My boys are 7 and 10 now and pretty established in their ways and me in my response. This is the year I am determined to help them form better, more diverse eating habits. Wish me luck!

Our kids were all great

Our kids were all great eaters until we learned we had some food sensitivities then we were ordering special foods in restaurants, grandma was making special dishes at get togethers and I was making 3 different batches of pasta or chili. We have one with tomato issues, one with milk issues and daddy who hates beans. My worst eaters are the two with food sensitivities because they are used to the special meals. It got so bad at one point that I could prepare one of my daughter's favorite meals and she would turn her nose up at it if she wasn't in the mood for it (and she never was). Every meal was a battle, but we're working on getting back on track. I think with older kids it just takes longer.

Your kids are amazing and

Your kids are amazing and that's because you and Damien are amazing!

At the same time I wanted to say that this strategy didn't exactly work out for us the way I thought initially it would.

I always thought the same way, about not being a "short order cook", etc until the oatmeal incident with Jonathan. Which ended up being like a two hour tantrum ordeal, in front of my in-laws, until he gave in and ate a couple of bites of it. To be honest I felt like it was just not worth it on my end. Yes, I "won" but it didn't feel like a victory. He eats oatmeal all the time, he just didn't care for it that day. Sometimes I feel the same way about a certain food.

Anyway, since then I have been a lot more lenient about not forcing certain foods and respecting personal preferences like I would with any person. Steve (my husband) really hates eggs, so when I make quiche I don't put a little on his plate--I respect his preferences. Why wouldn't I, within reason, do the same for my children?

Like you said, you're not out to make meals your kids hate either. We have had some food battles here and there, but overall I love the adventurous eaters our three have become.

Jamie

We do the same thing at my

We do the same thing at my house! Although I usually don't save the food for the next meal. It's never really come to that. My (almost 4 year old) daughter's trick is to eat dinner and then claim she's hungry again after she's brushed her teeth and is just about ready to go to bed. When she tries to pull that one we tell her to eat more at dinner the next day. She hates bedtime and there was no way I wanted to give her that weapon. We eat dinner and go into the bedtime routine straight away so it's not like it's been long since dinner. And honestly, if my loved, cherished, and well-fed kid is hungry one night by her own choice I don't think it will cause any lasting damage.

I have been waiting for this

I have been waiting for this post! I just knew you would set me straight. I like to think that I'm a no-nonsense mom, but really, I'm exceptional -- as in "I make an exception to every rule." Just ask my husband -- it drives him nuts! I have made a few good strides with our eating habits, but picky eaters are a HUGE downfall for me. I have saved dinner before to be had as a snack later, but I never thought about saving it any longer than that. I think that's fabulous! That totally works around my issue of my little one who will just go without dinner. She's a toughy on just about every front. Incredibly strong-willed. I really need to learn to stick to my guns with her.

By the way, the one rule I do manage to stick to is: no criticizing the food! I absolutely WILL NOT have food called "gross" or "ick". No faces, no nothing! My little one absolutely understands that all she may say in her most polite tone of voice is, "Mommy, this is not my favorite." And, I love your story about graciously eating beets. You should be a proud Momma!

I have mixed feelings. If I

I have mixed feelings. If I really don't like something, I don't eat it. Period. I wouldn't say I'm picky, but I'm not going to choke something down if it's just down-right disgusting. And I hate to say this, but SO MANY people these days can't cook a meal. They eat out too often or they used boxed/prepared stuff so much that when they try to cook, it just tastes bad. So I do take that into consideration with my kids. If something is just gross, why should they have to choke it down?

On the other hand, veggies, in and of themselves, aren't gross. It all depends on how they are fixed. My kids have ALWAYS loved veggies. I have never had a child that didn't eat them. Raw. Cooked. Didn't matter. Same with fruit. However, I had a daughter who hated tomato-based sauces. Wouldn't eat pizza or spaghetti. C'mon! So I just kept serving it and wouldn't give up. Eventually, she grew to love it. Inhales it now. That wasn't a case of something tasting bad...it was just her being picky. I have always had good eaters and everyone raves about that. I have always served up all sorts of foods...from authentic mexican, to asian, to indian, to african...you name it! We've always had a very varied palate. I think that makes kids better eaters too. If all they ever get is frozen chicken nuggets, they'll balk at asian cuisine. I know, I've tried it with other people's kids. Wouldn't go past one bite, even when it was DELICIOUS! They just aren't used to that variety.

And for the record, these kids don't get special meals either. My mom used to fix me special meals if I didn't eat as a child and I grew up and said, "I'll never do that!" LOL!

Anyway, I've written a book. :) Sorry...

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