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Thread: Picky eater help.

  1. #1

    Default Picky eater help.

    Okay. I need some help. Nico is picky. Really, really picky. He's 5 1/2, and it doesn't seem to be getting better. Unfortunately, Laney seems to be following in his footsteps, though Alex will eat just about anything.

    I'm sick of making several meals to get everyone to eat dinner, but I worry about weight gain (especially with Laney). Have any of you dealt with this and found a way to expand your kids' palates without causing huge emotional upheaval. Dinner tonight was a disaster. Pasta with pesto sauce. Nico has eaten it once before and seemed to have liked it. Tonight he freaked the eff out. And we made him eat it. I think we handled it all wrong. But I didn't want to make him another special meal.

    Here's what I'm thinking of doing. I will make one meal for dinner. If it's a pasta-based meal, then I'll put some pasta aside for Nico to have with just butter and parmesan. But otherwise, it will be only one meal being served. If he doesn't like it, I won't make him eat it. He can choose to eat a peanut butter sandwich instead (keep in mind that he only eats natural, unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter, so it's not full of sugar). Or he can have yogurt and fruit. Does that seem like a decent approach? This is something he can make for himself, which means I won't be making something for him, along with having to prep food for everyone else.

    What would you do? If you're going to give me "if he's hungry enough he'll eat it" kind of advice, you can keep on moving because that doesn't work around here. It just leaves me with a hungry kid who has absolutely no ability to control his emotions because his blood sugar's too low (he's like me in that way). I don't have any desire to go down that road. It's a losing battle.

    Help!



  2. #2

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    My 7 y/o son is very picky. He has texture issues and certain things actually make him gag. He really has a very small list of things he will eat. Oatmeal, tuna salad on bread, homemade fish sticks (with loads of ketchup), pizza, bread. Those are always a go. Occasionally he will eat my pancakes, waffles, muffins, assuming he doesn't detect an "eggy" feel to them, at which point he will have to run to the garbage and gag/puke. Mind you, he gets that "feel" even when there are no eggs in the recipe. He eats bacon and sometimes chicken. Oh, and he loves cheese but I limit his dairy as he had a milk protein allergy as a baby.
    Luckily he will eat all fruit so I make him smoothies daily and add a vegan protein powder along with spinach. I also add flax, chia seeds, wheat germ to all my baked goods as well as a natural gelatin powder. Prefers his veggies raw (all my kids do) so I keep those available for meals even when I cook mine and dbf's.
    I'm not a believer in eat or go hungry so I always have things available at the table he will eat and if he's going to suffice on bread and smoothies, I make them as healthy as I can. Btw, if it matters, because I know some people think you should not sneak veggies, he knows I put the spinach in. I stress how important it is to get proper nutrition and try to work with him to find ways he can get it without being forced to eat things he can't swallow.
    Oh, and he loves cooked mushrooms. Weirdo.

  3. #3

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    My kids love buttery noodles too and I add nutritional yeast. It's good that way!

  4. #4

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    Stalking. I could have made the post. Except I tried the "she ll eat when she's hungry" and I have a child who wakes up starving in the middle of the night and I have to feed her then. Ben is following her foot steps as well. I think the only thing he eats consistently and with no issues are raw fruits and vegetables. But I need to get calories and healthy fats into him!!! Anyways, sorry, didn't mean to hijack, just SO can relate!

  5. #5

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    Nutritional yeast? Does it change the flavor at all?

    And natural gelatin? Forgive me for sounding ignorant, but what does that do, nutritionally?

    He won't eat any veggies except for veggies I put into smoothies or spinach in eggs. He knows about the veggies in his smoothies and eggs, too. I don't sneak them.

    As far as adding flax and chia and all that to your baked goods, do you have to adjust your recipes to make it work? I worry about messing up the ratios by adding flax meal and things like that. I'd love some pointers.



  6. #6

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    martiniqus -- Will they eat yogurt? I feed my kids whole fat yogurt to try and get some fat into them. And if they'll do smoothies (Nico loves them. Laney hates them), you can add yogurt there, too.



  7. #7
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    Mine are not picky but I make a huge variety of foods that sometimes DD2 just isn't into. I never make a 2nd meal but I have never really had to. I do sometimes leave something aside to make in a different way like you mentioned with the noodles. DD2 does not like spinach which I only just discovered so if we had spinach as a side I would not make her eat it. I don't mix spinach in with foods now that I know she doesn't like it.

    I have also done what you mentioned and allowed the kids to have a sandwich if they didn't like dinner but it almost never happens. They have a "snack" before bed which sometimes turns into another whole meal! I don't make anything additional it's just whatever is in the fridge - leftovers, cold cuts, whatever. So I guess my situation is different because I don't worry if my kids skip a meal because i know they will make it up at some point. No one ever goes hungry here. I don't see anything wrong with what you plan to do.
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  8. #8

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    I bought the gelatin for a gummy candy recipe I wanted to make and that is when I decided to add it into our diets elsewhere, making jello and yogurts with it. It's a good source of pure protein and amino acids.
    as for the baked goods, I almost always half the sugar, so if I make up that difference in dry ingredients with, say, wheat germ and then If I still want to add 1/4 cup chia seeds, I sub out a 1/4 cup flour.

  9. #9

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    i do exactly what you suggested, though sometimes it ends up being practically a different meal with food intolerances, preferences, etc. But i keep things seperate, always try to offer something everyone will eat, even if its not their favorite. And then they are free to fix themselves a pbj sandwich, yogurt, etc. They do have to sit with us, and at least make an attempt at what we were having. My oldest was the pickiest, which is completely absurd now because he will try anything once and eats the most bizzare combinations and loves all sorts of ethnic foods. but when he was 6 he would hardly eat anything. i think he changed around 10yrs old. he would say he didnt like dinner before he even sat down, whichwould make the other kids say they didnt like it either, so he was absolutely forbidden to say things were gross, icky, etc, and had to say politely that he just didnt care for something.

  10. #10

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    Oh, the nutritional yeast (also called brewers yeast) adds a salty, almost powdered cheese-like taste. It is awesome on popcorn.

  11. #11

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    This has been an issue at our house, too. I have one kid who used to be a very selective eater, and one now who is not terribly picky but just has a small appetite and is not motivated by hunger. There are a few things I've done to make things easier and stress less over food.
    By far the best thing I did was to loosely follow the Satter method of feeding. You can find info on it here: http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/ She has a free newsletter, books that are available from most libraries, and articles on her site. The basic gist of her method is the division of responsibility for eating. The parent is responsible for deciding what food to serve, when, and where. The child's responsibility is deciding whether to eat and how much. Remembering what our jobs were really helped me to be able to let go of some of the control I felt like I needed to have over the girls' eating, and the end result, eventually, was that they ate better, and mealtimes are now very pleasant and I worry a lot less.

    Now, before you say that you have to worry about how much they eat because of nutrients and weight, believe me - I understand. Before we started using that method, Noe was anemic and underweight. She still hovers somewhere around the "underweight" boundary, but she's healthy and happy and I no longer worry about it. She was anemic because she didn't like meat, so we gave her an iron supplement -- and eventually when we relaxed, she started eating some meat and other iron-rich foods, and now she doesn't take iron anymore. I do still give her a daily vitamin and fish oil supplement for the healthy fats. It was a real challenge for me to deliberately decide to stop worrying about how much food she left on her plate at each meal. It took a while to make it a habit, but once I did, it lowered the stress level for everyone.

    Another thing I've done to make living with a picky eater easier is to make lists of the foods they like. Sometimes it's hard to think of what they'll eat when it seems like it's hardly anything, but what I found when we wrote things down was that there was more than I thought. It made meals easier because I could group the items by meal and even do meal planning for my very picky girl -- no arguments for breakfast if I give her one of the things from the list. Her tastes would also change, so we'd redo the lists every now and then and it was really quite fun for her to list her likes and dislikes.

    I also only ever cook one meal at dinnertime, and I just leave things plain for my selective eaters. Tonight we had chicken parmesan, and Noe had pasta with butter and cheese, with plain chicken, and another veggie she likes in exchange for the tomato sauce. I leave a bit without sauce in almost every dish I cook. I also offer bread and butter with dinner so there's something she'll eat if she doesn't like anything else on her plate. I always make sure I have plenty of the fruits and veggies she likes on hand so I can easily sub if we're having one she won't eat. But I am lucky in the regard that she actually likes quite a few vegetables -- it's protein and calories that we sometimes lack. I used to do like Bridget does and add flaxmeal and other nutrients to beef up calories for Noe when her weight had dipped quite low -- butter and olive oil on everything, whole fat dairy, nut butters.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  12. #12

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    Pepperlu -- Thanks for the link to that site. It's very informative!



  13. #13

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    Both my ds and dd are the pickiest kids ever but they are also underweight so I just make what they will eat. I always have pasta, pizza or something they will eat available -- I just kind of built it into our dinner. My son's weight is still under 1%, I just cannot have him go hungry!

  14. #14

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    My kids are both very picky as well and I do basically what you plan on doing. At dinner I usually try to have something they will eat. I still serve them a little bit of the things I know they are not likely to eat just incase they decide to try... They know they don't have to though. If there just isn't something they like for dinner they can have a sandwich after dinner. I do encourage them to try one bite if foods I think they may like and haven't tried before, but I don't make a big deal out of it. I also give Jude fruit pouches that have vegetables in them since he doesn't eat any (well actually I recently found out he likes lentil soup). Thankfully Paige does eat vegetables and they both eat fruit.

    So basically I just stick with that and try not to stress about it too much.



  15. #15

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    i make one meal and if one of the kids refuses it they get a pb and j. it usually goes over well for us. we have been encouraging both our kids to try the meal before you get a sandwich and are realizing that ds' problem is that he does not want to chew his food.... especially meats.


  16. #16

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    An update. I told him yesterday about the new way we were going to do dinner. I'd serve one thing and if he didn't like it he could have a PB sandwich or yogurt. He really liked that idea. He and I agreed that we didn't want dinner to go the way it had the other night. Anyway, last night we had steak, carrots and baked potatoes. He chose to eat the steak and have some strawberries on the side (I'd cut some for his brother and sister). He cleaned his plate and was still hungry, so he had some yogurt, too. It was so nice. No whining, no complaining. Just eating and being happy. It was perfection.



  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mla View Post
    An update. I told him yesterday about the new way we were going to do dinner. I'd serve one thing and if he didn't like it he could have a PB sandwich or yogurt. He really liked that idea. He and I agreed that we didn't want dinner to go the way it had the other night. Anyway, last night we had steak, carrots and baked potatoes. He chose to eat the steak and have some strawberries on the side (I'd cut some for his brother and sister). He cleaned his plate and was still hungry, so he had some yogurt, too. It was so nice. No whining, no complaining. Just eating and being happy. It was perfection.
    I think just the fact that you are talking to him about it, letting him have a voice, will be half the battle. It removes the power struggle and leaves him more open to trying new things.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    I think just the fact that you are talking to him about it, letting him have a voice, will be half the battle. It removes the power struggle and leaves him more open to trying new things.
    Yes. Last night, I wasn't at the table when he finished eating, and he asked me to come over to see if he was "done." I said, "Are you satisfied?" He said, "I don't know what that means." So I said, "Do you feel full? Do you feel like you've eaten enough?" He said, "Oh." And when I came over, he was eating the last bite of steak from his plate. I think he's gotten used to me telling him that he needs to eat more of his dinner. I'm done with that. I'm going to let him make these decisions for himself.



  19. #19

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    I'm so glad it went well!!
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  20. #20

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    I'm glad it went better! i know it was a relief when i backed off and relaxed about food when my oldest was little.

    We had dinner with some friends recently and their 6yr old asked "can i be full now?" and the mom didnt even think it was funny when i mentioned it. It is important for kids to know and recognize and control that feeling themselves.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    I think just the fact that you are talking to him about it, letting him have a voice, will be half the battle. It removes the power struggle and leaves him more open to trying new things.
    This and glad to hear it went well. I was also going to suggest a book called What's Eating Your Child (I cannot remember the author's name right now). She has a chapter on picky eating and her approach is to introduce new things one tiny step at a time. For example, the first few times you just put the new food on the table. Next you ask the child to touch it, next you ask them to smell it, etc. until you work your way up all the way to taking a bite. Her method is very gentle.

  22. #22
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    We also use the Satter approach. I do very much gather their input when I'm making my meal plans-specifically they each pick one meal and its side each week which then gets to also go in their lunch the next day. But our conversations revolve around responsibility-I talk about how Dad and I make sure there is food in the house and that the food available to them is nutritious and well-rounded. They have to be sure they eat. And ideally they will eat balanced. Mealtimes are much better now. keira would eat only meat at every meal if allowed. Scharae very rarely will touch meat and has a lot of extraneous texture issues that play into other foods, too. And she has oral allergy syndrome so she really is limited in what she can eat without a physical reaction on top of what she does't care to eat. But approaching food from a "eat to live" perspective and talking about phytonutrients and our macros has really changed mealtimes.

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  23. #23

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    Y'all, this new way of doing dinner is working wonders so far. This child has never even tried broccoli. Tonight I put one piece of roasted broccoli on his plate. He saw it and started to freak out, saying he didn't want to eat it. I told him he didn't have to eat it. It was just there in case he decided he wanted to try it. About half way through dinner (with no prodding from me), he said he was going to try it. And he loved it. He ate a bunch more. Woohoo!



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