Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picky Eaters...opinion piece:)

This post probably won't win me many brownie points and I have been very hesitant to even write it, but several folks have told me that their kid (or spouse) is a picky eater and therefore they have no choice but to buy name brand foods because that's all their little dumpling will eat. I have also been asked countless times how we trained our kids in this area. So, here it is!
One of our more finicky friends states that he's not picky, he just has a refined palate. Ha. Call it what you will, it can run up a food bill in a heart beat. Obviously we all have foods we don't like. For me it's okra. Nasty slimy stuff that should never be consumed by humans and makes me gag when I try to swallow it.  However, having said that, I would graciously eat it if you served it to me and would thank you for it.

It has been our experience that most little babies will eat about anything until somewhere around the age of 18 months to two years. All of a sudden, the green beans they had been eating with joy the day before ooze down the side of their face (or get spit into yours) and they start pointing at the applesauce. Happened with all 4 of mine and with countless other parents who have gone through our parenting classes. This is when the battle begins. But you really don't have to fight very hard, and you certainly don't want your kid to think it's a battle. It was at this point with our own kids, after a few consecutive tries with the food in question, that we wrapped up said food, put it in the fridge, made sure our little angel had had lots of water (no filling up on juice or milk) and then let them go on their merry way. No outward battle. (We did try that a few times...it's never pretty and makes everyone else at the table uncomfortable.) An hour later when cutie-patootie came skipping back saying she was hungry, I would produce the offensive food, heat it up if needed, and set it before her. Our kids only held out 2 meals max. That may sound horribly mean, but it was quite effective. They learned to eat (not necessarily like) what was given them. As they grew older and I learned the foods that they truly didn't like, I never made them eat more than a bite or two. But if I heard them outwardly complaining/whining about the food--in my books a mortal sin--I have been known to put another spoonful on their plate. As most anyone with any maturity to them knows, tastes change over time. There were foods I hated as a kids that I love now. Coffee and olives come to mind. I never expected to teach my kids to like everything. What I did expect was an appreciation for the time and effort that went into preparing a meal and the maturity to eat things that they didn't necessarily like.

Now that our kids are older, I refuse to be a short-order cook in my own home. I make the meal. If you don't like it, you don't feel good, or you're just not hungry, you can pass. No dessert, no other food. You can eat with us the next meal.  Obviously, there are exceptions (esp if they are sick), but they are rare. I spend too much money on the food and too much time preparing it to tolerate a bad attitude.

My kids may tell you a different tale...but I doubt it. One time when my daughter was babysitting, I overheard her tell a kid that she wasn't going to make him something else just because he changed his mind after she had given him a clear choice (PBJ or mac n cheese, I believe it was). That would be a waste of food, she explained. The kid ate it without complaint. She related the story to me later and was apalled that the kid would even ask. Ahhhh, my dear, so much to learn...and you might want to make sure your future husband wasn't raised by a mama who was his own personal chef.


  1. I agree. I only cook the 1 meal and if my kids do not like it they do not have to eat. It is hard sometimes, but it has to be done. I have a friend who's little boy will only eat hotdogs or mac n cheese and she prepares those 2 items for him each night. No wonder he only eats that!!!! Thanks for the blog. Love It. Angela Casto

  2. I agree too.I only cooked one meal and if they didn't like it, my mother"s favorite line always came through."there is always bread and butter."

  3. AMEN!!! You are not alone on this :)

  4. Tricia,

    We are right there with you in my family as well! Good to know we're not alone. Our rule here for especially when they were much younger; I cook one meal. You can eat it or not, but if you don't eat dnner, then it is reserved at the next meal. There are also no snacks until that meal is eaten. I remember my oldest's kindergarden teacher calling me from school asking what int eh world I had sent for snack. I explained, it was leftover from dinner and until she ate it, she wasn't allowed to have the other foods in her box. They learned quickly to eat what we made, to appreciate it as you suggested,that I would hold firm to this, and that food tastes much much better when served :) We only had to do that once! Now as they are older, we have discerned what foods really don't appeal, and like you they only have to have a spoonful. Same rule still applies though, if you refuse dinner--no snacks the next day period or the rest of the day.

  5. Good advice. I wish I had had it back when our son was being raised...Jane

  6. I totally agree. I have friends that tell me their kids are "grazers" or "texture" is a problem, so they let them come and go from the table when ever the child decides he doesnt want that and then will let him eat whatever and whenever the child wants....grrr. just makes ya wanna cry with pity for the years ahead.
    Many years ago my husband went on a trip and took all 4 of our young children with him. During the dinner meal that was being served the hostess comment on how polite and complimentary my children were all being...my son, pipes up..."Oh, our mother taught us to never complain about the food, no matter how bad it is." ....everyone just died laughing, but I am so glad i wasn't present at the time. I heard the food was excellent, and really was wonderful, but "out of the mouths of babes"
    I now have 4 almost grown children who will try and eat almost anything...even sushi, (gag, choke, heave)at least once. My youngest even eats....gag.....pickled octopus?? Who's kids are these? who trained them?...o, wait that was me and a LOT of God!
    Love your blog each day and so glad we get to draw for cookware this month. I won my first set of cookware that had a 5yr warranty, 13years ago. and its starting to show, but I refuse to spend big bucks on decent cookware tht will last....always looking for that bargain deal. So, who knows maybe my time has come again. Who says 13 cant be lucky?