Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picky Eaters

We all have Picky Foods.
But I'm not talking about picky foods.
I'm talking about picky eaters.
I'm sure everyone knows one or maybe is one.
I have one true picky eater.
What I mean by that is:
She's always been this way, even as a baby.
The only veggies she'd eat as a baby were Sweet Potatoes.
It was so bad that her skin started turning orange.
I asked the doctor about it, because, how does a baby know?
How does she know she doesn't like something, unless she tries it, right?
His answer?
"That attitude will take her far in life."
What do I do in the meantime?
Now, 8 years later,
the doctor suggested maybe she is allergic to Wheat because of her poor eating habits.
I asked what to do when she was little.
Because her diet consists of mostly carbs, she might have developed this alergicness.
(is that a word?)
So she has an itchy scalp.
We live in the frozen tundra.
Some people get itchy scalps.
He says it might be the start of worse things to come.
She eats fruit.
She eats 2 vegetables...
corn and potatoes
(sometimes and yes, I know they are only the starchy ones)
Oh, and once in a while, she will have one piece of cooked broccoli.
She loves shrimp.
(of course she loves expensive food)
And sometimes chicken.
but, not always and only a tiny bit.
She loves bread, crackers, yogurt, noodles,milk and peanut butter.
That's about it.
She does now eat hot dogs.
(this is new within the last 6 months)
But no healthy ham or turkey.
My husband and I have argued about what to do about her eating habits for years now.
We've tried everything.
We've tried it his way:
She eats what's on the table and gets nothing else.
We did that last fall for a couple months, but,
then, she started feeling sick around bedtime.
She started feeling like she was dizzy and well...I'm sure it was from low blood sugar.
She would take her one bite that we'd make her do,
but it would literally take her an hour to do that.
seriously, I'm not exaggerating.
We have also tried it my way:
If she doesn't want what we have
(which is most of the time)
She can have peanut butter w/bread
(my mom did that
for me
whenever she made pork chops or roast or steak....
I wasn't much of a meat eater, I'm still not)
This works, and takes the pressure off us to constantly nag her.
But, what doesn't work is the good eaters, then, want peanut butter too.
I always have something on the table that she does like,
like, say some type of bread, or fruit.
The problem is,
she's going to have problems when she gets older.
Isn't she?
You know, most of my pregnancies are pretty much the same
with a few differences,
but with her,
I threw up the most and the longest.
I've tried the hiding things in their food, well, doesn't work,
she doesn't like any sauces.
Noodles plain with lots of butter.
I've tried letting her prepare it,
She loves to do that, but that doesn't trick her into eating it at all.
Now, I want to hear from any of you who have a true picky eater.
What do you do?
I don't want to hear:
"They eat what we put on the table and that's it."
I've been told that many times.
Ya Ya Ya.
Our other children eat what is served.
Am I the only one who gets this?
There has to be someone out there who goes through what we do.
I want to hear from you.


  1. Well...I have really no idea what you should do.

    Since I am a mean mama...they eat what is at the table or they do not get supper.

    Sadly we eat kid food.. a lot. I WOULD so love to cook like rachael ray and have the good stuff...but I make kid friendly meals. kids are not true picky eaters.

    She must have an allergy or something??

    Best of luck with this one!

  2. Poor Jamie!
    I've watched this sweet girl as she's grown from 3 mos til now, and know you are telling the truth! :)

    I can only tell you that Curt's sister would NOT TOUCH any food except PB bread for years, and years and years. And a few grapes and sweets. They would camp or travel and HAVE to have PB and bread with at all times!

    We actually talked about this very thing when his folks were here this weekend, and they said that all 3 kids were VERY, VERY picky eaters as kids and all 3 (now 32,36 &39 years old) have outgrown it and eat a wide variety as adults. (sister not as much, but MILES better!)

    His mom never forced her or her other kids and daycare kids to eat anything they didn't want to.

    We'll pray for a some solution or help in this - I have picky eaters, but none as severe as she. Hang in there!

  3. Jamie,

    I am no expert on this but I can only tell you my personal experience. I have 3 children now grown (24, 22, and 19). Two of these children (both girls by the way...:) were very picky. Very limited in the foods they would eat. I had the same struggles with people criticizing, "they are drinking too much, eating too many other snacks, should only eat what they are served, they should not leave the table until the plate is clean, they should it it for every meal until they finish it" etcetera. My husband agreed with this at first too. Like you we tried the only eat whats served or go hungry. They would always choose go hungry--and believe me when I tell you they could last a long time without eating! I felt that this was unproductive and irresponsible and like you began to make sure there was at least something at every meal they liked. I kept to regular doctor visits and as long as they were growing my doctor was very supportive and said just keep introducing foods and keep healthy foods on the table. Limit sugars and we did. It took a long time but they grew out of it. They are still a bit picky but nothing like when they were kids. They are both in college and are healthy young ladies. The doctor was right. They ate enough to get by and it improved. Hang in there and don't let other people bring you down. Get what you can in them, love and support. That's all you can do. I sure hope she grows out of this and someday when her children are picky eaters you can be the one who tells her the funny stories of your struggles with her as a child!

  4. My pickiest kids were not that picky -- they ate the meat plain, whatever I had prepared, or the rice, or noodles. They ate the fruit -- even canned fruit. They ate some vegetables. But I am lucky that most of my kids eat everything. We do have a rule that you have to taste everything, because no child can "know" that they don't like something by how it looks or smells -- it's just not possible.

    If your daughter truly possibly has food allergies you should have her tested by a pediatric allergist. It would give you great peace of mind to know, and then you can set a plan and stick with it. If you know she has special needs, also seek the advice of a nutritionist -- your pediatrician should be able to give you a name. I did this once and it was very helpful.

  5. Hey Christine and Sarah!! I know you know what I go through with her!!

    MSW Jan--Thank you so much!!
    That really helps. I am doing exactly what you have said. we've tried the no snack thing and YES they can go for a long time without eating. We don't have sugary things much either. I just feel so bad and don't want to cause any hoarding eating disorders when she gets older by "starving" her!!

  6. Thanks Barbara!
    I just think I truly believe she is not allergic to anything.

    We do the "have to taste everything" too. That one taste lasts a long time with her. It's kind of funny and think she will think it's funny when she gets older that she complains that that "bite" gets cold and wants it warmed up. (we don't let her do that...usually)

  7. Oddly enough if you remember the last picture on the wall in my wordless wednesday with the two girls together. They were my problem children. The dark haired one, my oldest woule keep a piece of meat in her mouth for an hour and would show up at my parents house who kept her at times with meat in her pocket. My youngest the blond, would not eat anything with mayonaise or salad dressing on it & would get so upset if she thought you were going to make her eat it she would get sick. I had a time with those two. All I can say is have alternatives in the uncooked variety like peanut butter, fruit or whatever is convenient and good luck.

  8. I really should be careful what I say in the bloggy world. I really am not a mean mother. I sorta say goofy things to TRY to be funny.

    Like I said before I make kid friendly meals.

    I do not MAKE my kids eat anything they do not want too. Learned my lesson the hard way.

    Jonah would not eat his beans. (we were camping...I can remember this very well) and he puked them up into his milk. he hates beans. Like everyone else said...seems like kids grow up and grow out of this eating thing.

  9. I have a true picky eater. I have TRIED making him take even a bite of things and he gags terribly and pukes it out.
    Yesterday I said he had to try a tiny bite of a cooked carrot and he tried so hard to chew and then wash it down with water but he gagged it back up on to his plate.

    Luckily, he loves Bell Peppers so that's what I give him all the time to meet his veggie quota. But, that's it for veggies. Hates even the starchy veggies... including french fries!

    He also loves fruit, so that's good.

    I know that at every meal he will not eat what I make. He will only eat the meat out of any veggies or beans or anything. He picks apart everything.

    I am trying to be understanding. I have cracked down on him saying, "I hate that," or, "that smells or looks gross," at every meal. He is not allowed to say those things.

    I have had plenty of people tell me, "Well I wouldn't let him do that."
    But, I don't like gagging and puking and tears at my table every night!

    The list of things he will eat is pretty small. But, luckily there are things from each food group. Cheddar cheese for dairy, ground beef and occasionally chicken...but tomato based sauce touching it...for protein, most fruits, and Bell Peppers for veggies.
    Also lots of PB sandwhiches (on bread with NO little 'bits' of things in it, of course!)

    Good to know I'm not alone.

    Also, we know we didn't 'cause' it as my daughter will try everything including more 'exotic' things like Kholrabis and beet soup. :)

  10. Jamie,

    After reading this post I'm still having flashbacks to when I first became a mommy to my two step-children, aged 3 and 6 at the time. Pickier eaters you could not find anywhere! I spent so much time fretting and worrying over them, and over my sons when they were born as well - picky eaters, the lot of them!

    Now with two children grown and on their own, and two in the throes of adolescence, I've learned a few things...

    First, stop worrying. Offer good healthy food, plenty of choices, and cheese on anything helps it go down. And I know for certain that a child who will only eat raisins for a fruit will not only live, but grow up healthy too.

    Second, forget about battles. They're not worth it. When the teenage years hit, kids eat. They just like food, and for some reason or another, they stop being so difficult...well, at least at the table! Even my daughter stopped the pickiness - lest you think this only applies to boys! They do grow, and they do finally eat. And even my pickiest (the boy who wouldn't eat anything except chili and hot dogs - I kid you not!) is now healthy and happy and quite normal in his eating habits.

    Third, for some practical suggestions, one thing we've done is to take our children to restaurants (not fast food, but real restaurants) and let them order off of the "adult" menu. Chances are, they'll be given a wider variety of foods than is given on the child's menu, and we've found our kids are much more likely to try new things if they're in a restaurant. I have no idea why. Just that they are. (And we don't let the food they don't eat go to waste - bring it home and reheat for the next day's lunch!)

    I do really feel for you - I've been there, and I know it's not fun! But do try to relax and enjoy the ride - there's nothing quite like parenting, is there?

  11. Hey Jamie

    I have a really picky eater that might even beat yours! (Although she's slowly getting better.) We actually had to bring her to therapy when she was 2 1/2 because she wouldn't eat anything and dropped off the weight charts. She's now five and still is very picky but better than what she was. She will now eat certain meats, but they have to be dry--no sauce. She will eat spaghetti but without spaghetti sauce, she will NOT eat any vegetable--still working on that with her.

    I can tell you what our therapist always told us which was to never force feed. We never actually did that, but I guess nagging is considered force feeding to them. What we did for her therapy was introduce new foods to her and play with the food. THat was it. It got to be really nasty watching them do this as the therapist would eat with her hands, suck her fingers, and smear food around with her hands, prompting my daughter to do the same. But the idea was, get the child used to the texture with her hands, eventually she'll bring it to her mouth-which she did, but it took a while.

    She's no longer in therapy, and I still have trouble but I am happy with her new menu of foods. I can usually talk her into at least trying a new food by licking it, and if she likes that, she will try tiny bites for me. Lucky for me, she is a people pleaser and wants mommy to be happy with her.

    I guess you only know your child best and you know the tricks that work for her. If you truly are desperate, try some of that therapy I mentioned but set it apart from dinner as this therapy is supposed to non-stressful for the child.

    Oh yes, another thing they mentioned--if it's truly distressful to the child to see a certain food (my little girl can't even stand to look at mashed potatoes) let her cover it with a napkin but don't take it away. It sounds silly but it helps the child to feel in control and she can peek at it when she starts to feel braver.

  12. My youngest brother was a picky picky eater as a child. (Now 16)

    He would eat generally the same things as your daughter. My parents offered new foods occasionally but usually he got a doctored version of what we were having.

    Once we went out for dinner and ordered a spaghetti without any sauce for him and the chef put parsley on the noodles... my dad had to send it back (I think he just payed for a new one.)

    But what worked for him was he had a daycare provider that cooked and he really liked her so she would get him to like all sorts of things. Unimaginable things for this picky eater. He would eat Lynn's taco salad and other things and we got "her" recipe.

    Also Pokemon was really big at that point and if we called things by Pokemon names he'd at least try them. We still only eat Charmander biscuits... the name stuck.

    Not sure if it would work for you, but maybe.

  13. I have almost the exact same problem as you write about to the tee. My three year old daughter was BORN a picky eater and I have experienced all the same frustrations with trying to change her. After reading a few books and consulting with too many people I am taking the stop worrying so much route. It is painful and sometimes I still get upset, but I try really hard not to let her notice. I provide her all the things she likes over and over and over again. I have to have faith she will someday expand her horizons. Being a mother is the hardest job I have ever had and the internal battles with ourselves are sometimes the hardest to overcome. I am as lost and confused as you are but I have faith my smart little three year old with grow and CHANGE for the better all on her own.

  14. Picky eater!
    As overweight, I wish I could get that. I am on a see-food diet - I see food and I eat it.
    What is it about picky eaters, what is going on in the brain? If you could find that out, and market it, you could make a billion!

  15. .....has it got any better?? This is so my 4 yr wearing.

    1. Yes!! This post was written in, she's now 15 and eats salads, meat, burritos, chili, soups. She will try new things now. Hang in there mama, it gets better. Just keep offering!

    2. Oh my gosh, I am happy to hear there is hope! So, what did you DO? Currently we insist that he tries one bite of everything on the table. If he does he gets to keep sitting with the family and enjoy our time together but he chooses not to eat anymore. If he decides not to even try he has to go to his room until he is ready to take a bite even if that means the next day. It is so sad though...we have tried so many things and this is the best we have come up with so far. I am trying to keep it matter of fact....ugh...this is so hard! So much conflicting advice. I relate so much to your 2011 post.

    3. Well, at 4 I'd still keep offering, if it is something new or many months since he's tried it, do the one bite thing. It's so freeing to let it go though. SO my 6 year old is our new picky eater and I make him take one bite if it's something new or if it's been a really long time since we've had it. With his older sister and with him now, we ended up going the peanut butter and jelly route. If they don't like what we are having they can have a PB&J. At least it's filling and I feel like I'm not starving them, they are being fed. It feels so good to let it go, trust God and after years....they will eventually eat "normal" foods! Another thing I try to do is make sure there is at least one thing they DO like on the table, like fruit or bread...
      Best wishes! Let me know what you end up doing!!


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