March 16, 2008,
T.G. asks from Oakland, CA on February 20, 2008
2.5 Year Old Son Won't Eat Meat
Does anyone else have this problem? My son will NOT eat any meat except chicken nuggets or mini meatballs. Occasionally he will eat tofu. If I cut up chicken, he says "yucky." I try to hide it in his food and he picks it out. I have even made chicken nuggets from scratch (to be healthier) but he still won't eat them. I haven't tried to puree turkey or beef yet but it may come to that. On another note, he LOVES vegetables. He opens the freezer and pulls out peas and/or broccoli, so I guess I have it good on that side. However, I feel that he needs more protein. Any advice?
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So What Happened?™
Wow....I can't believe so many people had the same experience as me!! So, here's what happened.......Last night I ground up some cooked chicken and mixed it in with some rice. He loved it. He likes to eat edamame as long as he can unpeel them himself. (You know how that is) I am going to try more beans and nuts like everyone suggested. He loves almonds and walnuts so that one should be easy. I also like the nut butter ideas. I used to eat a variety of nut butters myself so I'll try them on him. He drinks 1-2 sippy cups full of soy milk daily so I know he is getting protein there. I am not too worried now. I forgot to mention that I was vegetarian for 18 years so maybe he just doesn't like the taste - The same reason why I became one. I just want to make sure that he is healthy. Thank you so much for all of your advice!!
M.A. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
T., I'm sure you will or have received a ton of responses on this saying the same thing--enjoy it! Meat is increasingly unsafe, and was never meant to be a big part of our diets, even before the environment became so toxic; it's much too difficult to digest, especially for little tykes, and our bodies just don't assimilate enough protien to make it worth the system stress. There are tons of alternate sources of protein. I suggest you look into the vegetarian cookbooks and other healthy M.-resources. He could be the influence to turn around the eating habits and general health of the whole family. Good luck~~
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
When my daughter was 2 she hated the smell of meat/meat products. She would cover her face, pinch her nose, and say it smells bad refusing to go into the kitchen. Later she was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Her body dose not like meats. Your son is a natural vegetarian, forget the meets, stop trying.
Buy vegetarian cookbooks, try the vegetarian meat products, lentils, beans, falafel, broccli, vitamins, go online, join one of the local chapters, change your house to a vegetarian house now while he is young, you will be healthier and life will be easier.
I am a mom who waited too long to change her whole family to vegetarian, my daughter is now 12, the sooner the better.
Try falafel out of the box. We lightly fry ours, as little oil as possible. Then we do burrito buffet or wrap buffet. The kids love it.
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E.L. answers from San Francisco on February 20, 2008
if he'll do tofu every so often, they have a super high protein, super firm tofu at trader joe's. not that expensive.
have you tried a chinese vegetarian restaurant? everything is tofu!! "orange chicken" is..tofu! it might be a good transition to meat.
beans and legumes also have a lot of protein.
i say, count your blessings! meat can be tough to chew and harder to digest. maybe his system isn't ready for it yet. have you tried fish? tilapia is very mild. my son loves tilapia and salmon and he's only 15 months. oh, i found my son likes slow cooked meat more. it's much more tender! try a crockpot recipe. it cooks the meat slower, so it's very tender and tasty.
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C.V. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Hello Tracy, I have found that all children have certain foods they either don't like, refuse to eat or may even have a food aversion (ate food when sick, threw it up and now thinks that particular food will make them sick). For my 1st I had to make all food Barbie pink yet would gag from tomatoes, my second was allergic to all milk protein, my only son thinks he's allergic to chocolate and my 5 y/o daughter has a food aversion to all pie. So, the best advice that has actually worked for us is that I present all food to all family members. Everyone gets everything; meat, veggies, pie, tomatoes in salad. They don't have to actually eat it all but when you consistantly present, in a possitive manner, they eventually eat it. Eventually being months to years but the goal is to educate children for life. This will also help decrease the debate about what they want and don't. As for protein, if he likes soy, I believe that it contains all of the essential amino acids needed to build brain cells and prevent protein deficiency. My children liked west soy vanilla. FYI my cousin refused to eat anything but PB&J's and milk for a half a year when he was 2-3 and he recently graduated MCL from UCSC biotech. minimal brain cell loss
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M.M. answers from San Francisco on February 22, 2008
If, as I child, I had known I didn't have to eat meat, I wouldn't have. Instead, I spit my liver into my napkins and dropped it into the toilet. Of course, I felt horribly guilty about that but I simply could not swallow it.
When I was 23, I learned that I could be a vegetarian, living a good life without meat, and I've been a vegetarian ever since (although I do eat fish several times a year, simply for a boost of omega-3s). I am soon to be 68, was a marathon runner, and I'm still going strong. Not eating meat is a healthier diet.
So, I suggest you do what you can to learn about vegetarianism. Books by John Robbins, i.e., Diet for A New America, and others, are terrific, and explain the horrors of factory farming and the end result of technologically produced food. Laurel's Kitchen is a good introduction to recipes and how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.
As far as I'm concerned, what you son is demanding is something that will get you and your whole family eating a very healthy diet. Good for him and good for you!
Best wishes, M.
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C.A. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Hi Tracy, I have 11 year old twins and they are vegetarians, since they were babies they almost never like meat. I try to feed them meat,but i was not succesful. I try different things but nothing worked. I discuss it with their pediatrician and she advice me to feed them what they wanted not what i wanted to feed them. I follow what she said and i have the most healthy boy that you can ever know. my childrent hardly ever get sick and their doctor stated that they are not geting sick, because they do not eat unhealty things. FYI,children who are vegetarian do not eat a lot of candy as they will reach for a grape or carros before the candy.
J.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My son at that age wouldn't eat any meat either. He is 3.5 now, and eats meat all the time. I just kept serveing it to him and try to get him to eat it. Then between 2.5 and 3 I started to tell him of all the animals he likes that eat meat (lions, tigers, sharks etc.) and asked him if he could eat like a lion (or whatever animal). That really started to get him to try it and figured out he like it. I can even get him to eat fish (grilled fish not fish sticks) and he likes it! I think your son too may just grow out of it, you'll be surprised all the changes he make in the next 6 months. In the mean time, try scrambled eggs, beans, yogurt, peanut butter, and even those chicken nuggets! Good luck, as long as you give lots of healthy eating options and keep offering meat to him, he'll be just fine.
A.S. answers from Bakersfield on February 20, 2008
I have the same problem with my son, he's 3 yrs old. Loves most fruits and veggies (not all) but LOVES peanut butter. He likes tofu too. Doc says he's healthy. Maybe peanut butter on celery would be good, if he likes it, that is. Thats my son's favorite snack. You can supplement other protein in his diet too like beans. Good luck.
R.F. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
HI T., Well I am a mother of two boys whom are 12 and 14 now. They have been vegetarians (by their choice) since about 3 and 4 years old. It's ok. There is so many other options now (healthy) out there for non meat eaters. They had cosen to not eat meat also and still to this day don't. There are alot of websites too that help with higher protein meals etc for vegetarians. Good luck but honestly don't worry he LOVES veggies how much more could you ask for. hahaa If you want feel free to email me (____@____.com)
N.M. answers from Seattle on February 21, 2008
My nearly 5 year old son went through a no meat phase too. And he truly was no meat. He now will eat some, depending on what it is and how it's cooked. For a while the only meat he would eat was hamburgers. He's also been through a phase of being very particular about what fruits and vegetables he'll eat. The pediatrician has always said that they're just stages and not to worry. You just have to keep offering it. Eventually, your son will start to eat different foods again.
There actually is a fair amount of protein in milk, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, nuts, and eggs. Another high protein food you might try is fish of all varieties. My son is a tuna snob and doesn't like canned tuna (unless it's tuna salad), but likes tuna steak. A hard boiled egg as a snack or with a meal would be good. I also make homemade cheese sauce (rather than using any of the pre-made or dry mix packaged ones) and drizzle it over various vegetables and even rice - it's the only way my son will eat rice.
We also make burritos - cook some refried beans and mix in whatever you want (I usually do some salsa/taco sauce and corn), spoon some of that into a burrito shell with some rice and grated cheese, roll, top with more cheese, and microwave for about 10 seconds to melt the cheese. This is a very protein rich meal.
Your son might also decide to give this chicken a try - it's called "pizza chicken." You put a couple/few chicken breasts in a shallow microwave safe casserole dish (the thicker part should be towards the outside). Cover with your favorite tomato sauce (either homemade, which is what I do because my sauce is thicker and that tends to be better for this dish, or a store bought jarred variety you like). Put a piece of wax paper over the top. Microwave on high for about 10 minutes (if only cooking 2 thinner breasts, you can cut it to 8-9 minutes). Redistribute the sauce, replace the wax paper, turn the dish, and microwave for another 10 minutes. Remove the wax paper, sprinkle mozzerella over the chicken, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Serve with egg noodles or rice and spoon some of the extra sauce and cheese onto the noodles/rice. This is one of the few ways my son will eat chicken.
J.I. answers from Bakersfield on February 21, 2008
Hi, Tracy the Mom. My name is J.. My son was just like yours...I would just say to in the meantime search out other protein sources. Protein is important of course, but likely he will eat other sources. My son is now 17 (Good grief!) and a steak and hamburger maniac. He has been a "late bloomer" in other respects, as well, so we have had to try to be patient. Not really easy, but there are always plenty of other things to learn how to do and to experience while we wait on a specific thing to change. I wouldn't recommend hiding stuff because that may cause suspicion of other-wise acceptable meals to him. Try beans (there are SO MANY kinds) and cheeses. My son liked cheese a lot. I think it has to do with developing ability to accept strange textures in their pallet. Maybe there is a "healthy" kind of hot dog...they have everything now, and hot dogs aren't stringy like chicken or beef or pork. Do some more research and enjoy the fact that he does like veggies. Hey, also, don't force the matter (there are much more important things to insist on and you can't insist on everything) but every couple of months or so, put some meat as we know it on his plate and don't say anything. Vary his experiences in general, go to new places, try new foods often, socialize. That way each day is about living, not "today I will still not eat meat." Well, keep up the good work. You have so many blessings ahead of you. J.
J.C. answers from San Francisco on February 20, 2008
Great advice below!! Protien can be found in so many foods other then just meat. The only thing I am going to add is to watch his milk intake. If you think he is not getting enough protein then too much milk can be harmful. 8-12 oz per day is good until you feel like he is getting the recommended daily dose of protein.
C.M. answers from Chico on February 21, 2008
You have a lot of good advice here, but I wanted to add a couple comments. Make sure your son is taking a good multi-viatamin and buy cast iron pan(s) for cooking to help boost his iron intake. Also, vitamin C is needed to help bind the iron from the beans and veggies.
If you want him to eat meat, keep giving him the "no thank you serving" of a tablespoon or two. However, I agree that if your son is eating pleanty of leafy green veggies, beans, soy and other protein substitutes, you should be overjoyed. Most of us cannot get our children to eat any of these things.
There is a wide variety of hummus on the market that he can dip whoe grain breads or raw veggies into or you can make various types of bean dips at home. We made a pinto bean dip with canned beans (blend with hand mixer and add in hot sauce, garlic and spices) with melted cheese and served with organic corn chips that went over VERY well. I have also made homemade hummus from garbanzos and a black bean dip.
As mentioned in another post, do be careful with his soy intake, especially if thyroid disease is a problem in your family. My daughter really like the rice and almond milks, which you could substitute for the soy milk on days he has edemame or tofu. Research about soy and check with your pediatrician.
You can also try the veggie burgers and sausage products that way he is eating something similar when your family is having breakfast sausage or hamburgers at home. You never know, you may be able to get your whole family to cut back on meat. My family eats meat and I would love to get them to eat less because it really is not necessary for the body and it is getting so expensive anyway.
this may just be a phase too. It is important to let your child eat what he wants and aside from offering him protein alternatives, don't make special meals. Our bodies are supposed to tell us how, what and when to eat...we have upset our natural cycles and need to honor our children's food choices as long as they are not harmful to them.
K.D. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
He doesn't need meat. It sounds like he's a vegetarian. Many dark vegetables (broccoli) contain more protein per calorie than red meat but with vitamins instead of cholesterol and fat. Just keep the veggies coming. But if you are set on feeding him meat just try every once in a while, he is probably just going through standard pickiness. Read Eat to Live or Super Baby Food book for facts about vegetarianism.
C.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Depending on how you feel about soy products (you mentioned tofu, so I think you're okay with some), my meat-averse, fruit-and-vegetable-crazy 23-month old loves edamame, and they're a huge source of soy protein.
You can buy them frozen, shelled or unshelled (I get them at Trader Joe's) or even shelled and cooked that you can just heat quickly. My daughter likes to pop them out of the shells, so I usually buy them that way. Of course, I wouldn't suggest eating them daily, but they're good for protein a few times a week.
Also, have you tried "sweeter" meats? My daughter will eat a bit of terriyaki chicken, chicken adobo, Maui beef...meats that are in a sweeter sauce.
I'm a 42 y/o SAHM of almost 2 y/o Sofia.
T.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I work in whole food nutrition and have learned that we don't need to rely on animals for protein like we have been raised to believe. There are small amounts of protein in many plants and grains and are easily absorbed by the body, unlike animal protein. I have a list of plants and grains that contain protein I could send you via email (in a Word doc) if you wanted to contact me directly at ____@____.com. Lentils are a great source of protein, versitile and kid-friendly. Like tofu, they pick-up any flavor you put with them. I know Trader Joe's and Raley's sell them in the refrigerated section cooked and ready to eat. I hope this helps put your mind at ease and if you would like the list, I would be happy to send it to you.
A.B. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Thankfully there are other ways to get protein, even lots of it!
(not that you'd be interested in it from a calorie/weight perspective but here's another chart) http://www.weightlossforall.com/protein%20combinations.htm
If your child is healthy and growing, I just think you should celebrate the fruits and vegetables and let it be! If others in your family eat meat, you can just notice that and let it be. Over time your little one may very well become a carnivore.
At any rate, I would recommend that you not create a lot of struggles over food, as that can really carry over into later life (childhood and beyond).
J.F. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2008
We had the same problem with my grandson. We tried two things that seemed to help us. First we made meatballs out of all sorts of meats because he would eat meatballs. He did not care what they were made out of and we also had him help roll them up. He had so much fun with that....we took very thin strips of meat from a chicken, turkey and roast and used metal cookie cutters (used to make appetizers) to cut out fun shapes of meat. He picked out the shapes and helped cut them out. We pretended that each shape had a "star" or "heart" flavor. Anyway he is a meat eater now and is always coming up with a new way to eat all sorts of things.
R.R. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
My daughter just turned 3 and we call her a mini vegetarian. She would prefer salads to meats. The wonderful thing about childrens bodies is that they will eat what their body needs unlike us adults that eat for comfort and pleasure. With my daughter we always put the meat on her plate and she will or will not eat it. Some days that is the only thing on her plate she wants and for days on end forget about it. She will eat egg whites if I boil eggs and have them peeled and ready to eat in the fridge. She hates the yolk. She will on occasion eat natural peanut butter. She doesn't like burgers or chicken nuggets much but will eat a chicken leg (yuck). Her protein mostly consists of dairy, eggs, and beans. She loves kidney and garbanzo beans on salad. I would just say offer new things and if his body is hungry for it...he will eat it. If you don't like him eating chicken nuggets try to stay clear of them for a while. My kids usually want to try what I am eating. If I order a kids burger plain for mine she wont eat it. If I order myself one fully loaded...she wants bites of mine. I dont understand it but kids usually love hot dogs (yuck). I will on occasion buy the hebrew nation brand ones if on sale. Good luck
M.C. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Try lightly braising grass fed ground beef with some "Braggs Liquid Aminos" in it -- just a little. My skinny one and a half year old granddaughter shoves it in over all else, so we know she gets enough protein. It is best cooked rare to preserve some of the enzymes. I bet he loves it.
S.S. answers from San Francisco on February 20, 2008
INTERESTING...sorry to say i dont have any advice, but have had the same EXCAT ISSUE with my son, he's now 4 1/2, but FYI he is very healthy and active. He eats fruit during the day and lots of salad at dinner, sometimes i think if he knew the term he would tell me he is a vegeterian!!
So I guess I'll be reading all your responses as well!!
C.E. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
My daughter won't eat meat either. Occasionally chicken nuggets. That's it. We get her protien through cheese and yogurt...things like that. I still put it in front of her and offer it at meals. I hope she'll eventually eat it again. Otherwise, we just supplement with other things. I think it's pretty normal.
B.S. answers from San Francisco on February 23, 2008
Hi Tracy, I think it is great that he does not want it in his system. I do understand your concern, about the protien. Give him some children vitamins and don't force him on the meat. My daughter wanted to be a vegetarian. Go to any natural food store and ask for suggestions there. As far as the protien and different things you think he is missing. Most importantly, ask your baby's doctor. I personally think that as we came up, we begin eating things we did not need, and even today. we think we do. So as long as the doctor says there is nothing missing from his diet, don't force him. just make sure he is getting all his daily allowances met, and he will be very healthy. Should only need one vitamin, that's it. Let his system stay clean.
A.N. answers from Fresno on February 21, 2008
my daughter is 2 and doesn't care for meat much either.. she like chicken though. we eat beans which she loves so we really don't worry about proteins.. try black beans with cheese or pintos in a burrito..
M.L. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
there are lots of alternative ways to provide protien. If he likes peas and veggies so much, first thank your lucky stars, other parents only hope for that much from their 2.5 year old. try beans for a natural source and look on the internet for other sources, just hang in. Your sons body is only naturally asking for what it really needs. Please honor that. And, if you can't help but worry, remember to take a look at the whole package of food intake over a period of a week to 10 days. If he's getting a variety there in that period, don't sweat it. These kids are a lot smarter for their bodies than we want to give them credit for, really, don't worry so much!
L.K. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
It sounds like your son is a natural vegetarian. Instead of trying to convince him he needs meat, perhaps try alternate protein sources like edamame, beans, eggs, seeds, and nuts. Maybe also saute'ing the tofu with veggies and whatever sauce he likes (soy sauce is big with my son). Of course make sure he eats the good iron sources like dark leafy greens, molasses, black beans, etc. And you didn't mention whether he likes fish--another option.
J.D. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I am with you on that! I have a 6 year old who eats only a little more than yours and an almost 10 year old who has gotten better, only neither will eat their vegies(so they think). Try, and this may sound time consuming but might just work, works with me and with my sneaking in vegies, puree(or finely grind) your meat as best as you can and then add it to your sauces, mac'n cheese anything that will hide it easily. Ham works well too. I run the meats in my food processor until it's pretty pasty. I also tricked my oldest for several years with good quality haddox fish sticks, NOT VAN DECAMP! But the good old flat square kind when I was a kid, I used Schwans brand(home delivery) and called them "chicken sticks". My son always asked for seconds and just about 6-8 months ago said, "Mom, you don't need to call them 'chicken sticks' I know they are fish sticks and I still love them and will still eat them." I started that when he was about 2- 2.5 and it has taken some time. I also add good sausage or small pieces of bacon to cheesy scrambles eggs.They love them. Also, try the "little Smokies/Wiennies" Hillshire farm. We call them baby hot dogs and my yougest loves them plain and in eggs. I have had to get very creative with my boys and their meat. Give him ranch dressing too to dunk all meat in. I make it up fresh from the powder mix, tastes better and my oldest will eat any meat with Ranch dip, even already smothered in BBQ sauce! And he now is passing on the Ranch and branching out. Now, if only I could get him to eat vegies with Ranch! That's still a work in progress. I also tend to use a lot of cheese to help disguise it too. Hope this helps! Good luck!
L.G. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
This is very common. I have a 2.5 yr old that refuses most foods, and hates vegetables. Keep introducing new foods. I am told one day my son will surprise me and actually eat other things. In the mean time, milk, cheese, peanut butter, cottage cheese, and eggs are all great sources of protein, and always serve something on the table you know he will eat. From my experience, Men LOVE meat. So, your little guy will get there one day.
D.G. answers from Modesto on February 21, 2008
T., Hi! My name is D. and I'm a near-50 y/o (in 3 months) mother of 8 children, ages 6-15. I'm thrilled that you're an older Mom and are feeling so young! Good for you! I wish you all the luck in the world with having one or two more children! About your 2.5 yr. old...I have a non-meat eater as well who's now 8.5 yrs. old. He's a very thin child, which used to worry me. He's also very active and very adamant that he just doesn't want to eat meat. When he was about your son's age, I thought it was just a phase he was going through and I asked our doctor about this problem. Our doctor coached me, suggesting that I make a variety of dishes that are high in protein and that will give my son all the nutrients he needs without forcing him to eat meat. Thankfully, it's worked! My son eats any bean dish I place in front of him! This includes chickpeas, green peas, and lima beans, too!...the foods children usually turn away. He loves combination foods that provide proteins in great quantities, such as salads adorned with a variety of seeds, nuts, cheeses, and tofu. I also realized that he can eat a great deal of raw vegetables as long as I put enough of it on the table for him. I even planted cucumbers in our backyard last summer because of his tendency to simply take a whole cucumber and munch it down with a dip. The trick was in finding out what foods most attract my son and it didn't take long to discover that he can't seem to get enough of the really healthy foods that most moms have trouble getting their children to eat. I still ask him to try to eat meat once in awhile, but he's now claiming that he is a strict vegetarian. I laugh because I think he's a bit too young to be making that decision, but I do my best to work around his food preferences. As a result, he's not at all attracted to foods such as chicken nuggets or any processed children's meals. He's quite the purist when it comes to everything that goes into his body. Over the years, I've just learned to accept his way of being. Looking at his body type, being as thin as he is, I see him growing into having a very athletic body, one which is tall, thin, and muscular, much like his black-belt uncle in Europe. Sometimes I think our children innately know what foods work best for their own body-types. Our Swiss doctor used to tell me that it is far better if a child is super thin than if he is leaning toward being too heavy. He advised that I always have fruits and vegetables set out for the children to munch on for snacks. For years now, I've offered the good, nutritious foods in quantities so that the children won't even ask for junk foods. I'm very pleased with the results. I'm sure you will be as well. Start slowly offering him foods that are colorful, tasty, and arranged nicely on a plate. Kids love to see combinations of color and design as they approach their meals. You might even want to try making funny faces out of the foods you've chosen for him to eat. Experiment and you will find out what his preferences are. If you like, write back to me and I can give you the name of a book that gave me many, many examples of combinations of foods that I was able to present in an appealing way for my children! Good luck! D.
D.B. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Perhaps he has some type of food allergy. With food testing or elimination diet you may find protein foods he will eat. Legumes, peas, beans etc, have more protien than other veggies. See if he will eat those. Naturopathic doctors can help with the diet. A good one in Ukiah is Dr. Amy Kelchner. If you are in that area give her a call.
S.L. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Read "The China Study", an incredible book that explains why regular people like you and me have been duped into thinking meat is necessary for protein. You'll be very reassured.
C.V. answers from Yuba City on February 20, 2008
My daughter went through the same thing at that age. My pediatrician said it was very common. A lot of the time she would even chew the meat then spit it out. What we were told was to continue serving the meat (Don't make something special or different for your little one) and eventually her taste buds will change. The ped. was right! My daughter is 2.5 years now and there isn't anything she won't eat - meats included!
L.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I know you have had tons of responses but couldn't help throwing my two cents into the hat. First, I would never try to FORCE your child to eat something he doesn't want to eat; you have no idea of how many issues that will create in his adult life. I understand that some moms feel they are doing the "healthy" thing by forcing their kids to eat meat, withholding their veggies and fruit and drinks until they eat the dreaded meat, etc. Why? I'd say you are better off educating yourself on nutrition and you will learn that most Americans eat way too much protein anyway. There are some great computer programs out there that will track the nutrients in foods for you and you will quickly see that your child is most likeley getting plenty! As an adult who went through similar issues as a child, I have so many food issues now that it's not even funny. I have to clean my plate NO MATTER WHAT and I never drink anything during meals. This is a direct result of my "training" as a child; I am frequently dehydrated and often overeat. Trust me, our bodies DO tell us what we need and if we would learn to trust our instincts (and those of our children) we might have alot less problems with eating disorders in the world! In my opinion, forcing a child to eat something they do not want serves only ourselves and not them no matter what our good intentions are. Good luck.
B.G. answers from San Francisco on March 08, 2008
I have the same problem with my now 6 year old. it started when he was 4 months and I tried to give him meat puree. I have a more challenging case as he will not eat anything green and few fruits. He actually will try to eat it then throw up. When he was 3 he had grown spinach in the garden at school and was so excited to be like popeye. His sister, a huge vegi, fruit, and meat eater would just gobble the stuff down. Every time he tried it would go down then just come right back up.
I ended up nursing him until he was 18 months only because every time I tried to wheane him he would drop several pounds.
Anyway, he is a big boy has always been not big as in fat, big as in tall and muscular. he is 6 and looks about a 7 or a small 8. Biggest in his class fastest runner etc... But I always struggle with weather he gets enough to eat. He will skip meals if it isn't something he likes. So we have found that he loves Bean Burritos with cheese and sour cream. He can eat them morning noon and night, Pb on anything, Cream cheese, and Corn dogs or chicken nuggets. I usually only use turkey or chicken and I get them at Trader Joes. He is very healthy, never sick. I just have to make sure I round out his menu with veggies and fruits he will eat. I also supplement him with vitamins and oval tine which he loves in milk.
So long story short. As long as you are trying to provide protein and he is eating his vegetables and getting some fat in his diet he should be good. How I recognize if he needs more protein is when he gets blue under his eyes. he is fair so it is easy to recognize. I used to have a little boy in my class when I taught preschool who's parents were vegetarian and he didn't like the food. So he rarely ate. he was really pale and had this blue hue under his eyes all the time. When they let him choose to eat meat or just what ever he wanted he quickly gained color in his face and the blue hue under his eyes went away. I don't think he was getting enough of the proper vitamins on the vegetarian diet. Just because he wasn't eating the menu they were providing. He was always skipping the meals.
So I hope this helps to reassure you. he may or may not grow into liking meat, but there are lots of options available.
D.G. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Unlike us adults young children listen to their boby. If he says yuk don't make him eat them. Apparently his body not need meat right now. However continue to offer all kinds of food to him so he is exposed to all kinds of tastes and textures. When my 19 y/o was a 3 year old all he would eat was sliced cheese and hotdogs. Now he is 6'1", healthy and loves all kinds of food. don't stress. when he needs meat he will crave it.
C.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Don't give him meat, he might be a vegetarian, some kids just know they are, instead give him beans, cheese so that he gets his protein, I would say no soy products since it mimics estrogen and especially for boys who are growing I would consider that poison.
I would not force children to eat foods that they really not want, you might be cresting a eating disorder.
C.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Does he like beans? My older son has always liked refried beans. You can make them with black beans too. Or you can make beans and rice. If he likes it, he'll get a lot of protein from that. Or yogurt and cheese. You could try roasting chicken (I use boneless skinless pieces) for a really long time (in the oven on 325 for three hours or so, in a covered dish with peppers and onions and some broth)until it's really really tender and then mix in some BBQ sauce for a sandwich(drain the broth). I don't know, just an idea. My kids like BBQ sauce so I can get away with it. Have you ever tried edemame? (soy beans) My kids like to snack on them. I find them in the frozen veggie section at the store. Put a little salt in boiling water and steam them with one of those little metal steamer thingys. Or you can just put them in a little bit of boiling salted water with the lid on for a few minutes, not very long. I like them and they have protein in them.
And sometimes you just have to fix your kids the same thing for dinner over and over again. Every once in a while one of mine might be like that about a certain food, but it only lasts a short time. Their diet usually levels out in the long run. With little kids it's hard to always balance what they eat at each individual meal. You have to look at it over a weeks time really.
K.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Ad a natural "soy" protein drink to his diet and you dont need the meat. Shaklee brand is the only one to use. let me know if you need more info on this
S.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
don't worry I have a 2.5 year old son who also will not eat meat. My nephew is three and he refuses meat too. My son will eat the vegetarian corn dogs. He will eat soy that looks like meat. So I buy that. It gives him protein. Cheese, yogurt...is good too.
C.V. answers from Fresno on February 21, 2008
One of my 3 children went through this phase at about the same age and eventually eating meat was not an issue at all. However it was for quite some time. She craved carboyhdrates. I found myself making sure to prepare something like macaroni and cheese for her or a side dish that had some protein. Cottage cheese is also a possibility. If he likes peas and broccoli, he probably would like endamae (soybeans) and other beans as well. Complimment them with cheese and you have complete amino acids. My daughter didn't like eggs as well, but she would eat french toast. I often would top it with peanut butter (if he isn't allergic) and a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Keep offering meat try to get him to eat a little, and it will probably get better over time. Two year olds are notorious for being fussy eaters. I also often made a meal especially attractive for her (lunch like a clown face or something like that). It helps.
My mother made a two bite rule for us as a child that I used with my children. Eventually they all did not have a problem with disliking certain foods.
Hope this helps,
P.H. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Don't get too worked up about this, kids go through phases where they won't eat this or that. Who knows, next year you may find he won't eat anything BUT meat. Look for alternative protien sources, like peanut butter. Kids are also more apt to eat food they can take ownership of: meaning, they're more likely to eat what they helped prepare. Obviously he's too young to operate the oven, but there are other ways you can get him involved. He can help you make meatballs and that will work on his motor skills at the same time. Let him squish his fingers around in the mixture, just watch him closely so he's not putting his fingers in his mouth before you get a chance to wash his hands. Make sure you make a HUGE deal about how yummy the meatballs are that HE made.
And remember, this too will pass.
K.P. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Looks like you already have lots of responses, but...
My 12 year old daughter has been vegetarian since birth.
She is incredibly healthy, active, fit.
There are lots of good protein options. And, if your son is drinking soymilk, he should be fine.
Be glad he loves his vegetables. That's what will keep him healthy and give him the important nutrients he needs.
L.C. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Make your own mini meatballs with quality hamburger (fix them and freeze them, or beans are high in protein. When your son turns 3, he can start with the peanut butter. There's so many other items that carry protein.
Stop with the store bought chicken nuggets and take it off the menu. It may take a while, but if the nuggets aren't available they will finally eat something else.
Keep serving whatever your fixing for family meals, if you get in the habit of cooking separately a meal your child likes, you'll be doing it for the rest of your life.
D.T. answers from San Francisco on February 22, 2008
The first thing that comes to my mind is that his body may be telling you that he is alergic to meats. My son stopped drinking milk when he was 2 and would only drink cranberry juice or orange juice. I got calcium in him with chees, yogurt, and other foods high in calcium. He is now turning 15 in March and we found out last year that he really is alergic to milk. The other thing to think about could be that he has some sort of nutrient shortage in his body and it is craving the vegies. I know that borccoli and peas have large amounts of vitamine K. Green leafy vegetables are high in minerals that your child might be craving. Talk with your doctor and maybe he could refer you to a pediatric nutritionist.
Still am and will always be a mom!!
C.U. answers from Modesto on February 21, 2008
What about trying beans? They are a GREAT source of protein and they don't have the "meat" flavor that your son might not be liking. You might also try cooking meat in the slow cooker with a marinade of some kind...then it will be moist, soft and full of flavor...in fact he might not even recognize it if the marinade has changed the look of the meat.
S.D. answers from Sacramento on February 22, 2008
I was wondering if your child has adenoid problems? My brother couldn't/wouldn't eat meat other than hamburger because he couldn't chew with his mouth closed and breathe at the same time. Does your child seem to be "nasally" and chew with his mouth open more than other kids his age?
H.G. answers from Fort Collins on February 21, 2008
Some of the healthiest societies in the world eat little to no meat and tons of veggies. Voila, your son is far beyond his time in knowing what's good for him. A few thoughts: any animal product has the complete protein you're looking for in meat, so eggs and dairy will give him the same thing (except for B12, which is only in meat, but he doesn't need it as often as you think he might). Goat cheese is much better than cow's milk cheese because the protein in goats milk products can be broken down by the body far better than the protein casein, which is found in cows milk. (I even recommend not feeding milk, if you already do - Almond or Oat milk is so much more easily digested.) I would also recommend NOT feeding him soy. Definitely do a bit more research on soy before feeding him tofu. Soy products, especially tofu, which is processed in a way where we don't get any of the benefits of the soy bean, can cause terrible damage in the thyroids of children. Tofu, soymilk, and most other processed soy foods can cause irreversible harm to kids (and adults). Nut butters, beans, and seeds are all great alternatives to meat.
Good luck and just keep up the veggies! You're doing great!
J.M. answers from San Francisco on February 22, 2008
Not to worry, meat is not desirable to everyone. There is plenty of protein in tofu. Tofu along with vegetables is healthy eating. Later on your son's taste might desire meat.
M.A. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I had that issue with my son and his daycare worked with him on chewing. It helped that there were other kids there eating at the same time - a little positive peer pressure. It still took him a while before he would eat the same things at home. He's 16 now and still doesn't like to chew meats very much. :-)
C.K. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Almond butter, and soy beans (edamame, a friend of mine calls them poparonees for her kids cause you get to pop em) are a great sorce of protein. ALso, if he gets hungry, he will eat. Toss the instant nuggests and make meatballs out of ground turkey and chicken.
E.B. answers from Salinas on February 21, 2008
My son won't eat meat either, other than chicken nuggets - which proves they aren't really meat. Again like your son, he loves veggies and fruit. I talked to his doctor and she said that he can still get a complete protein with out meat. She suggested that I give him a piece of whole grain bread with his mac and cheese (which he loves) and a glass of non-fat milk. All three together make a whole protein. It might help to get a vegatarian cookbook. My son has never eaten meat and he's four years old - a little on the skinny side, but his doctor is happy with his health, so don't worry too much.
B.J. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Try lentils, beans, soy beans, nuts, nut butters, whole grain/whole protein breads, etc. There are plenty of non-meat alternatives for protein. It's probably a texture issue for him, and he'll either outgrow it, or eventually require some sort of therapy intervention. But for now, it sounds like he has a better balanced diet than most toddlers or preschoolers, so I wouldn't worry too much.
K.K. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Unless you are feeding him free-range, organic meet, then you are probably better off in the long run that he won't eat it.
We give our kids Nutrilite Chocolate protein powder with frozen organic berries, blended with yogurt and ice for extra protein and as a great and tasty snack. My girls love our Fudgy Brownie with Almonds and our Mixed Cherry Smoothie protein bars. They are loaded with good whey protein (not soy - stay away from soy)and no sugar and are delicious. I give my kids these bars for snacks and they gobble them up! Plus, they get nutrition and protein they need. You won't have to worry if you also give your Q-T-Pie's Nutrilite Children's Chewables Multi-vitamins. Research nutrilite like I did (that's why we take them and sell them now too!) www.nutrilite.com. You will also really appreciate our Health Questionnaire which helps you find the exact nutritional products recommended per your specific needs and desires. (It's free, just like our shipping and membership.)
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Thankfully, your boy loves veggies, so that is great I agree. I'd love to hear from you T.. Call anytime...I may be with a client or in the midst of a project but I will certainly call you back quickly if not immediately available.
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C.N. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
He probably will be fine, maybe some cheese sticks for some protein. If he can eat nuts, peanut butter? Cottage cheese is another source, with fruit, my kids liked that. Good luck and enjoy him, they grow fast!
A.T. answers from Stockton on February 21, 2008
My SUPER picky son will eat ravioli stuffed with cheese and whatever including spinach & meat. Just make sure it's not too garlicky or spicy. I usually just toss the cooked pasta with milk butter and parmesean cheese and a splash of marinara.
Also lasagne is a big hit & I use ground chicken & turkey 'cuz hubby is muslim.
I cook the ground meat and throw it in a blender along with marinara sauce and some spinach, corn & peas and puree the heck outta it & he'll eat it on orzo pasta or penne or a few dollops in his chicken noodle soup. It's really tasty!!
DO NOT TELL HIM!!!!
Plus if you use good pasta - not the Kraft junk and make your own cheese sauce you can sneak in a little tofu if you cover the smell with a fragrant cheese and a dot of butter. I am introducing whole wheat pasta for the protein and fiber.
My kid gags on unfamiliar textures so meat and veggies are a challenge, apples have to be peeled, etc.
I've gotten him to eat fried breaded fish - home-made by telling him it's chicken fish nuggets and lots of ketchup.
Have fun - sometimes 2.5 yr. olds will refuse even their favorite food just to prove they can upset you.
A.B. answers from San Francisco on February 22, 2008
We have had the same prob with my 2 1/2 yr old but the few things she now loves are chicken nuggets, bbq chicken (but only if we bbq it outside) and meat I marinate in a sweet marinade. We have the exact same situation~ she'll eat all the fruit and veggies I'll give her but meat is "yucky". I marinate flank steak in soy sauce, worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, garlic and sugar for at least a few hours and she loves it and it also gets really tender so its easier for her to chew. She also loves most things made on the bbq now, mostly chicken with bbq sauce. Good luck, its really gotten better for us as I've found things she likes.
H.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I don't see that as a big deal-most moms would be thrilled their kid likes veggies! But you can feed him peanut butter, lentils, fish, full protein breads, to make up for any lack of protein. He will probably outgrow this so I really wouldn't worry too much. One thing you might try is making mini pizzas with a number of toppings minced in small bowls so he can make his own pizza. Kids are much likelier to try something new if they can create it. And try some other meats like lamb or pork; he may like those.
M.P. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
excellent news about your son's interest in veggies, but i totally relate to your concerns about his protein intake.
my 2.5 year old daughter has the same issues with meat. i have had some success getting her to eat quesadillas with finely-minced chicken mixed in with the cheese on a whole wheat tortilla. i also feed her a lot of different kinds of beans and lentils which give her the added benefit of a high iron content (not to mention fiber). kidney beans are her favorite right now, i think because of the color. she will also eat eggs--scrambled, fried or hard-boiled from time to time.
best wishes to you~
G.B. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Hi. I have 2 4 year olds. One is a protein eater and the other is a carb/veggie person. There are many other sources of protein besides meat or tofu - have you tried cheese or beans? There are many types of beans that appeal to kids - baked beans, refried beans, pinto beans, etc. And there are many types of cheeses too. You can even cut it into interesting shapes. Try ones you wouldn't expect a kid to like. My daughter likes blue cheese! Don't force the meat issue. Just keep offering it, along with a variety of other foods. He'll eventually get all the nutrition he needs.
C.O. answers from Yuba City on March 02, 2008
don't worry it's a phase and his tastes will change as he grows. As a mother of (2) boys myself, I have gone and am going through the exact same thing! Continue to introduce new foods to him and encourage him to at least try a bite.
One thing that worked with my boys is to tell them these foods will make them grow strong muscles...sometime this helps too! In addition, I was currently working outside of the home until recently and now I have a job I can work from home! I'd love to share it with you. www.rodanandfields.com/christineolson
Good luck with your son and feel free to email me.
S.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Have you tried giving him scrambled eggs? Or meatloaf?
Does he drink a lot of milk?
In my opinion, he will eat what his body needs. Maybe he is already getting enough protein in the foods he eats.
Just about everything has some protein in it.
A.A. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
I just saw at Nugget Market in Roseville orgainic chicken nuggets...my son is 4 and still is hard to get him to eat meat so I try to make it the best kind when he does. Also try orgainic hot dogs and ground meat to make the mini meat balls......
K.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
A good protein source that my daughter loves is the multigrain pasta line at Trader Joe's. We get the Fusilli and Flax (curly noodles) and the spaghetti with flax. Once it's cooked, it's as good as any spaghetti or macaroni. It has 8 grams of protein per serving (16% dv for adults, so probably more for kids) and 6 grams of fiber.
My daughter also likes meatballs and chicken nuggets. I get the Trader Joe's turkey meatballs (so a little healthier). We like the dino chicken (less breading than most), which are at Safeway in the meat section or at Costco. Another idea for protein is the meatless corn dog. Or, try some chickpeas or other beans. Sometimes I make a face on the plate with the food, and that seems to help my daughter eat things that wouldn't be her first choices.
Congratulations on having a kid that eats veggies though. I think that's more important.
L.R. answers from Chico on February 22, 2008
If he will eat peanut butter and beans your ok. It might just be something he is going threw right now. Try fish.
From a mom of FIVE
N.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I have a 2 1/2 year old too and for the most part he doesn't like the texture of meat. I found the more sauce the more likely he'll eat it. Another trick is meat sauce in rigatoni pasta and fill the shells, also frozen puff pastry with sauteed meat like mini pot pies and he pops them right into his mouth. Remember for this age you need to look at what he is eating the entire week rather than day to day and that his tummy is the size of his fist. Not snacking him before you try to feed him meat/protein might help too. I'm sure he's getting enough. Good luck. Seinfeld's wife came up with some interesting ways to hide protein in her latest cookbook but that might not be worth the effort. I find just hiding small bits in bread will do the trick.
S.T. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Sometimes you've just got to stick to your guns. He does need protein in his diet and tofu isn't enough. Negotiate with him. What I mean by that is if he really likes a certain veggie then tell him that he can have it if he eats his meat. I had to do this with my daughter and it worked wonders. I put out a few bites of grilled chicken on her plate. Once she realized that she could have the cherry tomatoes or baby carrots after she ate her meat it became a non issue after a week.
Good luck and happy eating!
K.H. answers from Fresno on February 23, 2008
I have the same problem with my 4 y/o DD. We use ground turkey instead of ground beef. The turkey is very bland. If I don't season the turkey and finely crumble the turkey after cooking it I usually can mix it in to saucy dishes like spaghetti and stroganoff without complaint from my daughter. Some days I can not get anything passed her. So, I make sure she eats other things higher in protein. Cheese and yogurt all have at least 7 grams of protein per serving. Cottage cheese has 14 grams of protein per serving. My daughter will not eat plain cottage cheese, so I mix it with fruit. Pears and peaches are her favorite. Eggs, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, grains(bread/pasta), fish, beans, lentils, and other legumes are all good sources of protein. Tuna sandwiches, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and mac and cheese are enjoyed by many kids. When made at home with whole grain breads and other healthier choices are better than fast food /restaurant options. Protein fortified drinks are another option as well. Pediasure and carnation instant breakfast are 2 choices. My daughter will not drink any flavor of pediasure, but her best friend loves strawberry pediasure. How ever my daughter loves carnation instant breakfast. I don't even bother with hershey's or nesquick. Carnation has many different flavors. Our pediatrician has been a wonderful resource, so talk to yours at your sons next check up. Our pediatrician says my 4 y/o needs only about 22 grams of protein a day. This is based on a childs age and weight. Don't forget that calcium and iron are important too! I hope this helps!
A.B. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
See if he will eat canned beans. We are vegetarian and my kids love beans straight from the can.
A.F. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My son (4 yrs) has also never eaten meat... beans are an equally great source of protein and my son loves them. I occasionally offer meat to see if he still feels the same way, so far he hasn't changed his mind.
R.S. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
one of my twins won't eat much meat either. we do cheese sticks, peanut butter toast, and occasionally she'll eat my meatloaf. she likes to dip it in ketchup!!! hope this helps!
J.T. answers from Yuba City on February 21, 2008
You might want to check out the new "cookbook" by Jerry Seinfeld's wife. It's called "Deceptively Delicious" and she has some great tricks to getting your kids to eat healthier, especially if your son likes veggies. One of her tricks is to coat the pieces of meat with pureed veggies (broccoli) and then to pan fry it that way. Also, eggs are a great source of protein and you can scramble them with some pureed cauliflower for extra nutrition. Cheese is also a great alternative for protein as well as nuts and beans. A doctor once told me to look at the child's diet over the week, not just in one day and you might be surprised at just how much he is actually eating. Hope this helps. Good luck.
T.T. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Dear Tracy G.
I am currently laid up in bed right now post a meniscus repair yesterday. I don't usually have time to sit and go through all these types of email, postings and such, but today I do. If your son "hates" meat, leave him be. Unless eaten properly, it just rots in their little intestines anyway. He is smart to love vegies; lucky for you. My middle son has Down's and up until recently when V8 came out with their new V8V-Fusion juices they only thing he would eat that resembled a fruit or vegie was applesauce and ketchup. Now with each 8oz. glass or slushies I make at home for him, he is getting 1/2 serving of fruits and vegies. Meat on the other hand, he only eats, chicken corn dogs, Tyson chicken dinosaurs and fish nuggets from Schwan's. He thinks they are a different kind chicken. He will eat a McDonald's hamburger but only when I am desparate.
There is a grain coming up as very popular right now called Quinoa (keen-wa). Go to Martha Stewart.com or Food Network and search for recipies. This is the only grain the has all 12 essential amino acids in it making a complete protein. There are muffin recipes available, salads, etc. I just tried a salad and it was good, but might be more grown-up food. If you mix rice and beans (legumes) together , that also makes a complete protein. There is also a new cookbook out, which I plan to add to my already 200 cookbook collection called; Deceptively Delicious, I believe written by Jerry Seinfeld's wife. It is about hiding vegies and fruits in foods.
As far as wanting to be a stay-at-home mom, I have a fabulous idea for you. You can call me at home. I will send you my phone number if a private message. If that doesn't work, write back to here through Mamasource and let me know.
My best to you with the food thing. And by the way, tofu is great for kids. If he likes it, soy is a great source of protein, too.
A.T. answers from Washington DC on February 21, 2008
If your son is not eating meat except for what you mentioned, you may want to try some other alternatives like pedisure drinks that have protein in them or add things like beans and eggs to his diet. You may also want to talk to his pediatrician for additional food alternatives. I have noticed that children this age tend to be very picky eaters. Please don't force him to eat, he will only rebel which may cause more harm. Just put the meat on his plate, if he sees others enjoying the food, he may give it a try. Cooking seperate meals will only casue you stress. Good luck !!!
J.B. answers from Redding on February 29, 2008
It is a good thing your son likes vegi. Does he like fruit also? You can get protein from certain beans but I do believe you have to include rice in order to get it's full value. Google on other ways to get protein and see what you come up with. Don't feed him the chicken nuggets but once a week and make sure he gets the proteins in other ways. Check into protein drinks for kids and see if he likes any of them.
Be thankful he loves those vegi's ...best of luck to you. My kids are all grown and have left the nest. But still need advice from Mom.
C.S. answers from Redding on February 21, 2008
Just wanted to add my experience and 2 cents... I am a 26 year old mother of 2 who has NEVER eaten meat of any kind. I was raised vegetarian and I have been vegan (no dairy, no eggs, etc) for over ten years. I am in excellent health, as are my children who have been raised vegan from birth. There is more than enough protein available from plant sources. And good for your son that he likes his veggies! Blessings, C.
S.M. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Ever mixed protein powder in w/ the pureed veggies or fruit? Get a non flavored one (no vanilla or strawberry - they always end up tasting funky) and blend some in his applesauce or any other puree he might be willing to try.
C.F. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Sounds like he's getting plenty of protein. With the whole Atkins fad blowing up, protein has been highly over-rated of late. There's protein in peas. Just stick peas or beans in everything you feed him. You're lucky he'll eat vegetables. My 10 year old daughter only wants cheese. She's finally added in beans and rice, so that's good. For a while there it was grilled cheese or quesadillas and that's about it. He'll even out, don't worry. Just try not to make food an issue so he doesn't feel the need to fight you on it.
J.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My 3.5 year also does not eat much meat. Like your son, she will eat chicken nuggets but not much more. I've had luck with small chunks of turkey. The only other way I've been able to get meat in her diet is by pureeing it & adding to a pasta sauce.
We've also started the "just one bite" practice; not forcing her to eat something, but having her at least take a bite to determine whether or not she really likes or dislikes a food. We've actually expanded her diet in doing this. Maybe it's worth a try with your son.
H.G. answers from Sacramento on February 20, 2008
I feel your pain! My 2.5 year old son will not anything meaty but chicken nuggets/strips and that's on a good day. He doesn't eat alot of veggies either but he LOVES fruit. He will choose an orange over a cookie any day of the week. I supplement his diet with Juice Plus and the dr said he's healthy - despite his pickiness. He eats cheese, yougurt and peanut butter so he is getting his protein. he tries a variety of food at daycare but won't at home. i always offer him different foods and every now and then he'll try it. As long as your little guy is healthy he should be fine. I was concerned but the dr said that they don't have to eat meat as long as they are eating healthy and getting protein from alternate sources.
S.L. answers from Salinas on February 21, 2008
I have an eater like that too, I found that Trader Joes sells a healthy(er) version of both of those favorites no trans fat, low sat fat, etc... so I load up on those. Also I've found that it is most likely the salty flavor that they like so much, and food with salt ON it has far less sodium than food with salt IN it, so try the home made version again, with out any salt and let your son sprinkle a little salt or dip in ketchup, for flavor. My picky eater loves to sprinkle and dip!
And rest easier, peas have lots of protein, mix with brown rice and or black beans, and you've got a complete protein. Also look to dairy for extra protein. good luck, You know his eating patterns will most likely change as soon as you've stocked up on all his favorites anyway : ) !!!
S.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Both my children were the same way (now 6 and 7) and the 7 year old still won't eat any meat products. We worked with our pediatrician for alternate protein and iron sources to alleviate our concerns. Our 6 year old girl ended up loving rice and beans and our son did a lot of cheese, frosted mini wheats (90% daily iron) and carnation instant breakfast. Our pediatrician told us not to worry too much because most children don't eat a highly varied diet. We kept up with the multi vitamin and the carnation instant breakfast even until today. O yeah - mini quiche, the kind people use for appetizers in the frozen food section, was also a big hit. My daughter would eat the ones that had bacon hidden in but my son would only eat the spinach. Good luck!
M.M. answers from San Francisco on February 23, 2008
Hi Tracy! I am M. and my children are grown...17, 21 and 24. I am happy to hear that your young son is able to clearly communicate his dislike for meat...it seems very important for you to honor his request not to be forced to eat it. It will create a healthy food relationship between the two of you.As for protien,nuts and cheese as well as tofu products are good sources. Peanut and almond butters have lots of protien.Good Luck! M.
J.S. answers from Stockton on February 21, 2008
a lot of beans and such have just as much protein as meat or almost as much. My son is 6 and still doesn't care for meat much so he has a LOT of peanut butter and beans and mac an cheese , anything that can substitute for meats...eggs...
V.P. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My kids won't eat meat either. I give them beans for protein. They love them.
S.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I don't feed my 10.5 mo old son meat yet. We use tofu, beans (all kinds from black/kidney to refried and fava), cheese is also an excellent source of protien. What about cottage cheese or hummus? There are many ways to get protien without eating meat. I am not a vegetarian, nor is my husband, but babyfood meat really grosses me out.
A.H. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My now 8 year old son did the same thing when he was about that age. The dinner fights were horrible... One day I brought it up to his doctor and she said that some kids have this reaction to meat and if he was willing to eat enough protein "substitutes" then we should try that instead. He hasn't had meat since. My husband and I have learned how to cook for him so that he gets what he needs. I have since met more parents who have kids in the same boat as mine. Good Luck!
Mom to 3- 8,5, and 2
J.W. answers from Yuba City on February 21, 2008
My daughter didn't eat red meat from the time she was born. Wouldn't even touch the baby foods. She would eat chicken but only once in a while.
She is 17 now and a healthy vegetarian. Go figure. Her dad is meat and potatoes as is her brother. She loved the beggies too. I slipped in things like soy beans and higher protein veggies. Does/will he eat eggs? What about cheese? What about nuts or peanut butter?
There are tons of ways to get protein into them. Just keep tabs on it. That's what I did because I was worried about my daughter and my family wouldn't get off my case about her not eating meat. (Some of them have only just now come around to the fact that she is a vegetarian.) Next time you go to the doc, tell him, and get some advice on what types of foods are good. If he is healthy and happy and doing well, don't push it. Let him lead you but keep trying new foods and if he won't eat one today, try again in a couple weeks. That will lower the stress for both of you and help out considerably. What about having him start helping with real simple tasks in the kitchen? Maybe if you get him interested in helping, he may try more things. It's worth a shot. I brought both my kids into the kitchen early and had them help....we "sampled" a lot and that really helped when they were being stubborn about what they would eat. Then when they said they didn't want to eat, I knew that they had "sampled" a lot of it and probably weren't hungry anymore. Sneaky.
I have noticed that lots of kids go through stages where they will only eat one or two things. My son went through the mac and cheese stage. Loved it. I used to think it was running through his veins. I'd throw tuna and peas in it and he'd gobble it up. After a while, he started eating other stuff again, but it was a little while. Even now he begs for it as a side once in a while.
M.E. answers from San Francisco on March 16, 2008
Hi, I know you have gotten alot of really great responses. I am a mother of 4 children( 3 Boys 1 girl) ages 11,9,7& 6. They all have very different preferences and instead of running after them all day for them to eat the same foods, I had to give that up and look for other solutions.
My oldest will not touch any fruits or vegetables, but loves meat.. so for him I make him the foods he loves and whipped up the fruits and veggies in a smoothie or juice of some sort. The second boy, he would not have anything for breakfast unless it was fruit... never eggs or waffles or anything like that... so I chopped up fruits for him and he just loved everything else all day long, it was just mornings he could not eat anything really heavy. He literally felt sick to his stomach. My third boy is allergic to eggs and is by far my pickiest eater. Only likes veggies and apples. Loves beans, but not very many items... so again I have to invent his own menu. Very challenging but somehow he manages to pick out a balance of the foods that his body needs.
My last one ( girl ) eats anything but she is very disciplined as to what food she eats at what time and she is 6 yrs old. I have noticed that they all have a certain time they will only like to eat certain foods. Like their metabolism tells them what they like at certain times. Then.. they change their preferences the next month. so I start all over again.ha! You just have to find ways to introduce new things but getting them involved in the preparations of the meals is key. My kids always can detect what is in the food when I hide it in... can't trick my kids.
By the way, my sister ( now 21) she never liked meat and to this day, will only have chicken... once or twice but rarely red meat. She always said her body didn't like the smell and the texture. To this day, she never changed that about her diet. Sometimes your body tells you things that you need to listen to.
so be patient and try all the great advice you have gotten here. Good luck
M.L. answers from Redding on February 21, 2008
It may be an age thing, my son is the same way, except he doesn't like chicken nuggets. He will occationally nibble on a hamburger or take a bite of bacon. Although he does love beef jerky, but doesn't get it very often because of the salts/ preservatives. My son loves peanut butter, milk and cheese so I don't worry about him too much and just make sure he takes vitamins. He does get a little bit of everything on his plate at each meal and for now we have a very happy dog.
L.C. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My son is now a healthy 15 year old and is a vetran of the "chicken nugget" wars. He liked very few meat based protein sources, but just loved veggies. Our pediatrician told us over and over that he would get as much protein as he needed and not to worry. So I would start by talking to his Pediatrician to see if there is a real concern. Never the less, I found that milkshakes with protein powder, peanut butter, cheese and non-meat sources like beans were much more appealing to him. He eats pretty much everything now.
J.P. answers from Fresno on February 21, 2008
Through the meat away! I am a vegan and have been for 4 years now. Their is more then enough protein in the vegetarian diet and even in a strick vegan diet. B12 is what you have to make sure you get enough of on a vegetarian diet. Always make sure you have a B12 supplement. The vegetarian food guidelines are this 5-12 whole graines, 1-3 legumes, 6-9 fruits, 3-4 vegetables, 1-2 nuts and seeds. The servings sizes are the same as a meat diet. 3oz or a 1/2 cup. to help you learn about the vegetarian diet, I recommend Books, The Food Revolution by John Robbins. Web sight www.pcrm.org The web sight has doctors and dieticians who know there stuff! Also, visit www.earthsave.org has alot of links for vegetarians. Since I have been vegan I feel much better and have lost allot of weight. Ture I am 46 and not a kid. However, I do know that kids that are raised vegetarian, tend to be healthier, do better in school and have less behavioral problems. I only wish I would have gone vegetarian long before I did. I would defiantly raise both my kids (now grown) vegetarians. Also visit www.healthylifestyleexpo.com They won't be having an expo this year but will again in 2009. This is where I learned allot and wish there would be one for this year. Most of the speakers are MD's You can still get the video of pass expos. I will say the vegetarian diet is not a dull diet! There allot of food we just don't know about until we start to learn about diet and health. Just grains there are so many kinds besides wheat, rice, oats. I have much more variety of foods and better tasting diet, then I had before going vegan. Also I save money!! Meat is not cheep, along with all the junk food most people eat.
P.E. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My son is almost 3 - last year he would not eat meat either... I would puree meat & add it to sauces, Mac & cheese, or rice... and he eats it that way.
I also cut meat in fun shapes (small cookie cutters) and we play the shape game & I eat circles &/or squares with him...
He eventually grew out of it and have been eating meat since - might just be a phase with texture and even taste
S.C. answers from San Francisco on March 07, 2008
HEY T.! i know your post was a while back, but i saw your comment, and my son is 3.5 now. he was the same way, but he grew out of it. Have you tried Tofu? My son really enjoys it! its really inexpensive, and you can cook it in any type of seasoning or sauce he may enjoy on his broccoli or anything else he enjoys! hope it helps!
D.M. answers from Salinas on February 21, 2008
How about peanut butter (my kids love it on a warm rolled-up tortilla) or beans for protein?
D.W. answers from Modesto on February 20, 2008
My daughter did that same thing. The Dr told me that vegetables are the most important thing at that age and that since she was eating a lot of them she would be fine. Sometimes they just don't want a bunch new foods introduced to them. At about 3 years old she started liking other meats but didn't like Steak until about 4 years old. Also, your sons teeth may be too sensitive to eat Steak or other thick hard to chew meats at this point. Just give it some time and then introduce it again, what also helped me was having her watch me cook and help with the easy stuff. She loved it and she loved that she was eating something that she helped make. =) Good luck!
R.W. answers from San Francisco on February 29, 2008
My daughter won't eat meat either (she's 5). We try to find other protein alternatives. Some that she likes are lentils and rice (together make a protien), dairy products, and fried tofu. She's also into veggie hotdogs. If I put it on a stick, she'll eat it.
Infact, consider making it more fun to eat. You might try getting some popsicle sticks and putting the food on it. Kids love to eat off sticks! We also got some fancy toothpicks and she loves that too (maybe 2.5 is too young for a toothpick though). Have you tried building a house out of small tofu "bricks" and allowing your son to eat the house? This works well at our home!
N.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
My 6 yr old son has the same problem. wont eat meat but if its chicken and it looks nice he will eat it. My doctor said he will grow out of it. Vitamins is all you need
L.S. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Hi! I'm a vegetarian and I know many families who raise their children as Vegetarians or even Vegans and they are very healthy and happy. There are so many resources out there - you can start by searching the web, library, other Moms. Feel free to e-mail me with suggestions. Take care. _ L.
L.A. answers from Redding on February 21, 2008
Hi, my name is Liana and new to this. But ... I have a 2 year old who will be three next month. He doesn't like meat, and hasn't ever. He also doesn't like soy products, except for soy milk. I have worried about the protein issue as well. Both milk and soy milk have a lot of protein, and so I encourage drinking milk. Otherwise, other sources are cheese, yogurt, beans!, peanut butter and soy products such as tofu. My guy seems healthy and happy, so don't freak out too much about the meat thing (unless his development seems to be off).
D.K. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Your story sounds just like my little guy who is now 4 1/2 and still doesn't like meat. He too likes fruits and all vegies, nuts, whole grain bread, cheese, yogurt, rice and beans. I guess he is just a natural vegetarian. (Maybe that is a good thing). I do give him nutritious whey protein shakes. He likes to help me make them. I also give him delicious kid friendly protein bars. The shakes and bars contain all the nutrients the body requires. They are the highest in quality and I feel good that he has an excellent protein source. He is super healthy and I now don't worry about it. I love these products so much that I became an independant consultant. If you would like some info I could send it to you or you could call me. No pressure I promise!:) Just willing to help another mom. D. ###-###-####
C.C. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
How about beans, and dairy? cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, refried beans and cheese, chili beans, also peas, lentils ect.
I would feed the other and keep offering meat, someday he might like it.
J.D. answers from Chico on February 21, 2008
Don't fret too much about your son only getting his protein from meat... after all, plenty of vegetarians raise their kids completely meat-free and they get enough protein. First of all, it's about balance: keep in mind that, for most people, only about one out of every ten calories should be protein. And there are a lot of alternate sources for protein, such as legumes (lentils in particular are a very good source of protein), grains like oatmeal, and soymilk (although I'd be careful about giving too much soy to boys, as studies are showing it can simulate estrogen in the body, leading to a hormonal imbalance).
Furthermore, I don't know if you've tried fish yet, but if he eats chicken nuggets, he might eat fish sticks and maybe canned tuna -- in any case, you could try looking at natural food stores for more healthy versions of chicken nuggets and meatballs, or try making your own mini meatballs from ground turkey or chicken.
I'd recommend searching for vegetarian diets for kids (and double-check with your pediatrician) to find out how much protein is actually recommended for your son -- he may not need as much protein as you might think -- and for ideas on sources of protein you haven't tried yet.
Of course, it may all be just a phase he's going through, and next thing you know he'll only want to eat hamburgers and junk food... and by the way, congratulations on having a kid who loves vegetables! That will go a long way towards making sure he has a healthy diet! Here's hoping that, at least, isn't just a phase... ;)
A.T. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Hi T.! I have a 3 year old step son who decided he wants to be a vegetarian too (it's partly his mothers fault, but alas, I have to deal with it when we have him on the weekends). I even consulted my nurse about this, and she said it was not uncommon, and he can get his proteins from beans and yogurt and the like. The dinner table is the hardest place for me, as I like to please every one and I just can't with him... I stopped fighting but I didn't give in. He at least has to try it, and if he doesn't like it, he just has to have more helpings of the other foods on the table. That way I'm not catering to his tastes, but I'm not fighting him either...
I cook a batch of pinto beans in a slow cooker for a couple of days, seasoning to taste (salt, garlic, even bacon bits), then I have beans to last for a week. To reduce the aftergas, I soak the beans in water prior to cooking them.
V.H. answers from Sacramento on February 24, 2008
Your son for now is simply a vegetarian and that is a good thing.......his taste buds will only grow. Don't be concerned, be grateful that he is eating...protein can come to him in a supplement. Look for your alternatives in protein drinks. He is going to be fine. If and when he is ready he will eat meat, go potty, all on his own timeclock. He is still very young and Mom, you need not worry about that which is not obvious. Unless he is appearing sluggish or sick or otherwise unhealthy, let it be and praise him for who he is and not what he is eating. I have been to Pediatrician Talks and even into the teens if they only eat yogurt and french fries, give them a supplement and quit worrying. Pick and choose only the battles that are life threatening. With Love
T.K. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
You can raise a child as a vegetarian. I never liked meat growing up in a meat eating household. There are lots of sources of non meat protein. I am currently 39 weeks pregnant and plan to raise my son as a vegetarian because that is how I eat. Good Luck!
E.E. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I have had experience with many picky eaters (usually who wont eat veggies so you are doing good!). I would give him a teeny bit of everything, such as three small cubes of chicken, three green beans, and 1/8 piece of bread and no drink. Basically, not enough to even make him the least bit full. Tell him he has to eat what's on his plate before getting his milk or more of anything else. Once he eats what is on his plate offer him 1oz or less of his milk (so he doesn't fill up on that instead of food), two more pieces of chicken, two more green beans, and another tiny piece of bread. If he finishes give him the same amount of milk and do it all over again.
He may be stubborn, he may not eat, he may get mad, he may whine, tantrum, whatever. Do not give in to him. Just tell him "If you are hungry you will eat." Ignore all of his protests and if he doesn't eat in a reasonable amount of time just take his food away and tell him he must be all done because he's not eating.
Whatever you do, refrain from any type of bribery and never change the routine. For example, don't tell him he has to eat everything on his plate and then go back and make deals with him (if you eat one piece of meat I will give you more greenbeans). No BARGAINING WHATSOEVER.
At every meal (yes, even breakfast) offer him some sort of meat (eggs, sausage, ham, even chicken) and do the meals the same way. It will work. He wont starve himself forever (he may temporarily have to feel the pangs of hunger as a natural consequence for choosing not to eat).
Remember this, don't feel guilty! It is your job to offer him a variety of healthy foods but it is completely up to him to decide whether or not to eat. If you ever bargain with him or offer him a bribe (like a treat because he ate the food), you will be undoing everything you accomplished. We eat because we are hungry, not to please someone else. We eat food because it is good for us and gives our body energy and nutrients, not because it tastes good. Otherwise we would all just sit around eating ice cream and candy all day.
K.L. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Your son is on to something! More and more studies are showing that meat leads to a myriad of health complications, and there are many ways that your son can get adequate protein in his diet.
Whole grains with beans (pinto, black, mung, kidney, garbanzo, adzuki....) are a perfect protein source with tons of minerals also.
Tempeh, miso, and natto, are great sources of soy protein that are easy to digest, and the tempeh can be marinated or bought prepared as "fakin' bacon", though your son might not like that since he doesn't seem to enjoy anything resembling meat. Organic soy products are best since non-organic soy is one of the most highly chemically-sprayed crops on the planet, and the chemical sprays significantly affect children's brains and hormonal development.
Nuts and seeds are also great, as well as lentils. Dark, leafy green veggies served with warm grains and beans or lentils aid the digestion and absorption of the proteins, I've heard.
Paul Pitchford's book "Healing With Whole Foods" is a great encyclopedia of foods and their nutritional and healing qualities. And www.pubmed.com is a great source for long-term health studies, including studies on diets with and without meat, and high-protein diets.
D.F. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
Count Your Blessings, Your Son is a Natural Vegetarian! Protein? Does He eat Eggs? Not to mention how Healthy SOY is for Him! You could always give Him a Protein Supplement I guess, But, I Personally think You are Blessed, have You Heard WHAT all they DO to our MEAT? If He Wants to be a Vegetarian, I suggest You provide Him with Organic/Preferrably HomeGrown Organic Vegetables....And PRAY He stays that way!! Bonnie
B.M. answers from Sacramento on February 22, 2008
Fo now Tacey don't stress about it. My 3 year old wouldn't eat meat either. Of course he would eat nuggets. Now however he does eat meat. Not as vigorously as his 6 year old brother but enough to get b on. Just keep re-introducing meat into his diet. Will he eat eggs? If so that is a good sourse of protein for now. Just don't push anything on him. Kids are super smart and know when you really want something and tend to want to do the opposite of what you want. He may just not be a big lover of meat. That's ok.
T.W. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
I have to do the same as Stephanie with my daughter - she LOVES her veggies (of course raw, no butter - and she needs to gain weight!) When it comes to meats I have to put a small amount on her plate with nothing else and once she has eaten that she can have as many veggies as she would like - often several kinds at one meal. I started small - one bite of chicken and over about a month worked her up to almost a small serving (relative to her size). She is good at it now as she knows what is expected of her. Good luck!
N.P. answers from Modesto on February 21, 2008
I know it's so frustrating when your kids aren't eating as healthy as you'd like them to. I believe those little taste buds will come around, though. When my 5th grader was 2, he wouldn't eat hardly ANYTHING! I was always so worried about him, but he always checked out fine, and never lacked in protein or anything. NOW... he eats like it's his last meal..every meal, and he craves new things, including more meat. I'm hoping this will be the same for my 5 year old son, who has about 5 things on his menu!
Anyway, keep making those "grown up" dinners, because eventually your son will probably try more meat.
Unless you think he could be part Vegetarian. Some people don't like most meat because of texture's, etc.... Maybe that's it!
C.H. answers from Sacramento on February 21, 2008
I am the mom of an almost 7 year old son and for his first 4 years we couldn't get him to eat meat at all, in any form. People thought we were forcing him to be a vegetarian but he just wouldn't eat it. In fact, the kid could pick meat out of spaghetti sauce! He'd eat the whole thing and leave the little pile of meat behind. In his fourth year he tried a bit here, chicken nuggets, fish sticks and now has added sausage, chicken and fish patties and he'll eat lasagne that has meat in it and a ham and egg breakfast burrito at school. School is expanding his tastes buds.
Our way of combatting it was with dairy and vitamins. We'd sneak in beans whenever we could get them past him (wasn't often) but he loved cheese and yogurt so he was getting his protein each day.
So work on keeping his diet balanced the best that you can, work on keeping that love of vegetables and don't make a big deal out of meat. Just tell him that when he's grown up enough he will probably eat more than he does now.
As my mom always said "and this, too, shall pass....right into another stage..."LOL.
T.P. answers from San Francisco on February 23, 2008
But like the Asians, think of soy as a condiment - a small part of a balanced diet. Don't rely on it for your protein. They eat about 2 tablespoons daily.
A study found that giving infant girls soy formula everyday is like giving them 5 birth control pills a day. In infant boys, the estrogen that soy is packed full of retards both growth of their brain and their bodies. Their bones can even become very brittle, causing a many problems for years to come.
Asian women often give their husbands more soy products when they want to reduce their virility.
S.R. answers from Cincinnati on February 21, 2008
I say kudos to your son for knowing what's good for him!
By the way, there are lots of ways to get protein: eggs, milk, cheese, beans, brocolli, peas, lentils, nuts.... Will he eat fish?
A person could live on vegetables alone, so please don't worry about that.
A.N. answers from Salinas on February 21, 2008
I wouldn't worry too much. My daughter can be the same way. I just try to focus on other proteins like eggs, cheese and beans to compensate...... Have you tried the dino chicken nuggets? We buy those because they are healthier than the regular nuggets.
V.A. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Both my kids have never touched meat since they were born and they are now in their 30's and as healthy as can be. Do elephants eat meat? Where do they get their strength? How do they live so long? You are so fortunate your son loves vegetables.
G.O. answers from San Francisco on February 21, 2008
Have you tried to give him Ranch or BBQ saus with meat?
My 3 year old has to have (Dip It) with any kind of meat.
Try different sauses..