Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Picky Eater

     And so the predictable evening tragicomedy bustle and bake, hustle and present a positively perfect if not a-typical family style meal complete with steamed vegg and your grandmother's zesty bean casserole to a table of famished and otherwise starving folk. As you have returned to the kitchen yet again for some seemingly obtuse but very necessary commodity (after all, Billy Joe likes ketchup, while Susie only likes ranch, and you know the hubs may have a moment himself if there is not butter for the rolls, as if they weren't buttery enough) to hear the same sound you've heard for the last, what 3, 5, 8 years..."mom what is this?" or "I don't like beans" or "why can't we just have like pizza or something?" *Sigh* Another one bites the dust (or maybe that is just at my house!)
     Sound a little familiar? Well don't give up hope. Yup, that's all I've got for ya.
     Seriously though, I have been on the roller-coaster. Without giving up to much of my life story (I have to save SOME anecdotes for later!) my now almost 5 year old struggled with spontaneously spewing his food at the dinner table. No, not any other meal, (which led me to believe it was all in his head) but dinner. After a reassuring ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) Dr. visit at the age of 3ish we discovered some seriously abnormal tonsils that were not in any way contributing to his food texture sensitivities. Before this, I had run circles in preparing food in anyway to get the kid to eat it. If it wasn't cereal and milk, or yogurt, or cheese, he gagged. SO, I have a few suggestions, nay life credo's to which we run our kitchen these days.
     1. If you can hide it, then do it;      Who says they have to like summer squash at the age independent and self sufficient age of 2 1/2? Puree it whole and stick it in the mild green enchilada sauce you just concocted that will soon smother some poor soggy flour tortilla and then be encased in cheddar cheese. He Will Never Know.
     2. You must taste everything;     I gave up on them liking half of what I cook, it doesn't mean I am going to let MY food likes go out the window. It wasn't easy and there is something to be said for that whole, "You must offer the food about 10 times"  before expecting anything mentality. I think we are on at least 365 with green salads, and I am happy to say they eat 2 spinach leaves smothered in whole milk fatty ranch with 1-2 carrot sticks without so much as a complaint. Hey, they need the fat for their growing brains and bodies right? On a serious note, although vegg is still not a favorite, they will eat all different types of food now. For example, we get away with a Thai food night almost weekly. And "sushi" is believe it or not a true love since we moved to california and they thought that anything pink and uncooked with a huge slathering of soy sauce meant it was something to be enjoyed. This brings me to rule number 3
     3. A spoonful of sugar really DOES make the medicine go down;     That is, sugar, sauce, "dippy" or practically anything that you can completely squelch the taste of an undesirable food item in to make it more appealing. And if they can do it themselves, happy day (my 3rd is now 2 1/2 and refuses just about anything he can't swirl in ketchup or ranch. BUT he does it himself, tries everything, and I hold firm to the belief that he Will Someday Like It!)
     4. Anything they help to prepare is a definite Yum;     Even if it is just mixing the batter around by pulling the lever on my other favorite kitchen appliance, the appropriately named "Kitchen Aide". We have won many a food battle by playing up the "you helped to make this" mentality, and it works. It also accomplishes that need to feel like there are capable of something, you too find something to do with them  during such a fractious time of day (dinner at our house is anyway) and it allows me to hang on the perception that my boys WILL be self-reliant when they get older. Not only will they open doors, but make toast, AND homemade chicken alfredo con broccoli. And last but not least...
     5. Consistently make dinner fun;     I add the consistent because you have to keep doing the things that work for your sanity, and your kids health. Maybe not everyone out there is as worried about picky eaters as we are, but since my husband and I Really like food, and all kinds of it this is very important to us. We try to make dinner a time when we all get to talk and share our day/stories etc. (In fact the rule at our house is no talking UNLESS you're eating, that way we can save time!) If I change the food up just enough to keep them trying new things, but consistently give them the staples (vegg juice and raw vegg trays, homemade fruit smoothies and as pure and natural as I can get in the snack department food items) than I have succeeded. And when we are out and about over the weekend and the urge to hit In-N-Out Burger, or a really yummy ice cream spot gets us, we can go and know that the next meal will be full of freshly steamed veggies, sides of fruit salad, and staples of lively dinner conversation.

For any of you looking for further ideas or good reads, try Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious"
or my personal favorite and current health food bible, "You Are What You Eat Cookbook" by Dr Gillian McKeith. Both are available


  1. I have always wanted to check out Jessica's book and I don't even have any children to trick yet! :P (but I do have a Husby to trick! ha)

  2. thanks for the ideas. I appreciate your answers to my post and concerns for helping little ones to eat more healthy foods!

  3. Addendum to above 3rd child is almost 2. I apparently don't even know my own kids ages ;o)

  4. I would love to get the recipe for that green bean casserole you mentioned.

  5. I want the recipe for the Chicken Alfredo con broccoli.


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