How did you overcome picky eating?

Discussion in 'Childhood and Beyond (4+)' started by zetta, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. zetta

    zetta Well-Known Member

    My son ate *everything* as a baby, but as a toddler and preschooler began to reject more and more foods. We unfortunately caved in to the point where his main foods are chicken and fish nuggets, chicken breast, strawberries, bananas, corn on the cob, milk, juice, cheerios, and all cracker-like snack foods. No other fruits, no other veggies.

    He won't even taste anything else. He shows no interest in anything we are eating. I tried a game suggested by a picky eating site ( where you give a sticker rating each food you try on a yummy/yucky scale in a notebook. The idea is that if you get kids to taste new foods 14 times they will often start to accept them. After 3 days he doesn't want to play (I started with foods he already likes to make it a positive experience.)

    I don't want to let this develop into a major power struggle, but at the same time I don't think this is going to improve if left alone.

    Has anyone overcome similar bad eating? How did you do it?
  2. marys2girls

    marys2girls New Member

  3. marys2girls

    marys2girls New Member

    it was easy for me but i just let them try it if they didnt like it that was ok i would try it in a week or so good luck
  4. frickandfrack

    frickandfrack Well-Known Member

    Does he snack? Do you offer alternatives?

    Have you tried offering the new foods first and favorite foods last?

    Mine are 4 and have also gotten pickier with age. I find that if they get snacks, things are much worse. I would just continue to offer healthy options and leave the rest to him. I would include a bit of everything on his plate. We have a no seconds rule until the plate is clean and then they can have as much pasta, bread, etc. that they want. I also have them eat in stages sometimes. For example, yesterday my daughter ate very little lunch. I gave her the rest of her lunch at dinner, which she ate before her dinner. I know, I am a mean Mom, but can't stand to waste food.
  5. Cristina

    Cristina Well-Known Member

    Mine were the same way. Well, actually Connor was much worse than Aaron. I refuse to be a short order cook, so when I cook dinner that is it. Either you eat some or you go hungry. After going to bed a couple times hungry, they learned. There is almost always something they will like, even if it is bread, but they soon learn that won't fill them up. I have seen that the more I offer the food item and they see it, they become less picky. For example, they refused to eat fish. My DH and I like it and it is healthy for them, so I kept making it. Now all four eat it without complaint. I felt like a very mean Mommy in the beginning, but dinner time is a whole lot better now. We still have our whiney nights, trust me, but it is much better than before.
  6. rissakaye

    rissakaye Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Timothy is kind of picky, but he's alot better than he used to be. I think what bothered me more than the pickiness is the rude comments and refusal to try anything that it was heading too. So, if you make a rude comment about the food (especially when you see it being prepped) you will be sitting at the table until you eat 6 bites (because they are 6 years old). They saw me fixing squash and decided to make rude comments while I was cutting it us and had to sit and eat it at dinner.

    To encourage trying new foods, I try alot of new recipes. I make a point to tell the kids that it is a new recipe for everybody, even mommy and daddy, and we are all trying something new. That really seems to help them try things respectfully when they see us modeling the behaviour.

    I also have told them that it's okay that they really don't have to like everything. I don't know a single grown-up that likes everything. But they do need to try and they need to be polite. If I know they really don't like a meal, they get yogurt and a banana or leftovers from another meal. I don't cook a second meal.

    Something I found with Timothy was he thrived on the attention he got from being picky. If he had 3 adults at the table paying him attention and trying to be cute with him and his food, he would act very picky (even if we knew he loved it) and not eat. It brought alot of extra attention, especially when grandma was around. I honestly try to act like I don't care because he will thrive on the attention for being picky. I know he'll eat at the next meal. And dh and I have both chuckled after a meal when he scarfs down something because he's been picky the previous 3 meals and is just hungry. He'll eat eventually.

  7. Deb C

    Deb C Well-Known Member

    I have a picky eater too. He's very picky for me! When he was in day care, he would try things for her, but not for me!!! It's very frustrating. He won't eat any fruit, only applesauce. It's hard, very hard! I am a very picky eater myself so I try not to really force things on him. For me, if I try something and I don't like it or eat something I know I don't like, it will make me vomit. I don't want it to come to that for him so I am probably a little more lenient (sp?) on him.

    Good luck!
  8. jenn-

    jenn- Well-Known Member

    I have one visual eater and one that doesn't do most green things. If he thinks it looks nasty, odds are he isn't going to eat it. Mine live with an eat it or starve rule :girl_devil: . The only time I will give in is if DH has cooked something too spicy. If I can barely eat it because of the heat, I don't expect the kids to be able to.
  9. DebInZagreb

    DebInZagreb Member

    Same situation, smaller list of foods remaining- so far as he knows ; ) I hide veg in his food, I puree veg, i cut everything up super small. There is a book called "Deceptively delicious" by j seinfeld which gives lots of ideas of how to hide good food in other food eg chicken nuggets. I once hid an entire head of cauliflower in baked mac and cheese and the kids ate it up, even complimenting how tasty it was. I make & freeze pumpkin muffins, zucchini & chocolate muffins. I am experimenting with Indian food and finding my boys really like it, and since most of the veg ends up in a thick gravy (when it's chopped small) they are eating it without complaint. I tried doing milkshakes, my friend does that and hides zucchini and other veg in them but he didn't go for it. I hear from another friend you can make spinach undetectable in choc brownies. We've tried the fighting route, we've tried the 3 veg on offer & he has to pick 2 we still do sometimes (once a week?) require him to eat one piece of a veg he doesn't want especially if it's something like carrots or peas. He has come to love pickled beetroot which for a while was simply the least detested veg (usually it was the 3rd one on offer) now he eats it willingly. I have another kid who adores brussels sprouts, you can never tell what they'll end up liking.

    So, my advice would be to get sneaky with the veg, the fighting and tearing your hair out is overwhelming and depressing, sneaking veg into your kids food makes you feel more relaxed that they're getting nutrition without making mealtimes something you dread.
  10. DebInZagreb

    DebInZagreb Member

    The other thing with the "eat it or starve" method is that some kids will not eat, my pickiest son once went 3 days without eating a single thing when we were trying this method (literally, no snacks or anything, and btw our ped recommended this method). Since the object of the method was not for him to *actually* starve we only did it the once. He finally got hungry enough we were at the mall & he wanted chicken nuggets (his usual) so we insisted he had a hamburger instead which he did and now loves (even though it has onions which he claims to hate), so in one way the method worked but I wasn't prepared to watch my already thin child waste away in a battle of wills when he was obviously capable of really holding out for a dangerously long time. Depends on the kid.
  11. milki

    milki Active Member

    Yeah, I agree. It also depends on the food. There were certain foods that I WOULD NOT EAT whatsoever because I really did hate the taste. My mom made me sit at the table for hours. She finally would say, "Okay, you don't have to eat it." If it was something I was merely being "picky" about, I would eventually eat it. Now I'm not picky at all, but there are still a few foods I won't eat.

    My cousin was REALLY picky and they never made her eat ANYTHING she didn't like. She died of cancer at age 42. She never ate a vegetable (cancer fighting foods) in her life besides a potato. So, I really think it's important to test children and to encourage them to eat things that are healthy.
  12. Mellizos

    Mellizos Well-Known Member

    I'm with Cristina and Jenn on this one. Supper is supper. If you don't want to eat, that's fine. Usually they make it up with breakfast the next morning. But I will not make a special meal for them. We've been doing this since they were toddlers. Here are two tips that worked for us:
    1. Let the kids chose the supper menu at least one day/week. (We menu plan). The meal has to include a veggie. They are usually excited when their supper is served.
    2. Take the emotion out of eating. Your job is to serve a variety of healthy foods. Their job is to decide how much to eat. Simply present the food and don't nag or fuss over them. When the meal is done, pick up what they haven't eaten without comment. And don't beg them to take a bite. Cede control to them over how much they consume. It's not easy at first, but I agree with Marissa that sometimes the attention over picky eating is attractive to kids. So take away the attention.

    We still have some picky habits, but they rarely whine about it. When they do complain that they don't like X, I just respond - "That's ok if you don't like it. No one will force you to eat." No emotion, no fight.

    Good luck.
  13. Cristina

    Cristina Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to come in and share what happened last night. My Aaron is a great eater, but not a veggie kid. Connor is my veggie/fruit kid but won't eat carbs like rice, noodles,etc.. They know the drill, dinner is dinner. I will say that I always make sure there is at least one thing they will eat, so they don't go to bed with nothing, even if it is bread or something. Last night we had pork chops, roasted brussel sprouts, zucchinni, couscous and sliced apples. I have been making brussel sprouts for a while, and the kids can take it or leave it. Last night, Aaron decided to finally try it, and he actually liked it. He ate like 5 of them! (He does like zuchinni,which is wierd) I asked him about it and he said, "Well, if you are gonna keep making it, I might as well try it." I don't make it a big deal. I don't force feed them, since my parents did that and I ended up throwing up more than learning to like the food. I just offer it and don't give up. I was so happy to see it actually work last night.

    (all that to say, I might make them again in a few weeks and he won't touch them, who knows? Kids are like that.) :)
  14. Cristina

    Cristina Well-Known Member

    I couldn't agree more Cathy, that is so true!!
  15. ktfan

    ktfan Well-Known Member

    I have some picky, some not and we do the "eat it or starve" method too. They have never refused breakfast so I know they won't go more than a day without anything. We try to have something everyone will like at each meal but if they don't want it, fine. One thing we do is they have to take one bite of something if they want their milk. I won't force them to eat something they really don't like but most things they won't even try so I leave it up to them. We provide the meal, they can eat it or not.
  16. TwinxesMom

    TwinxesMom Well-Known Member

    Keep offering it. Jessy wrote the book about being picky. About 2 weeks after her heart surgery she started eating things she used to refuse off Jazzy's plate. She went from hating eggs to loving them. I has to be her choice to try it because forcing it on her will cause her to throw a huge fit
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