A.C. asks from Kissimmee, FL on February 16, 2008
Help! My Daughter Will Only Eat 5 Different Foods...
I have a two year old daughter who is the pickest eater I have ever seen. The only food she will eat is cereal, applesauce, grapes, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. there is absolutely no veggies or pasta in her diet. I give her a vitamin everyday but I am so worried that she is not getting enough nutrition. I have tried everything to get her to eat more variety. i've tried to set the food in front of her, sit down and eat with her, force feed her, talk to her about food, show her pics. I am at a loss for what to do. If you have any suggestions please let me know.
B.H. answers from Los Angeles on February 19, 2008
I have read all the advice and I am furious with most of it. I am a family health and wellness consultant. I work with families who want to make a difference in their lives of their child. Most of my families have overweright or obese children because of the eating habits they developed when they were young. I have two of my own children and over the years, I have worked with over 500 kids...so I have a bit of experience.
You are the parent. Ask your self, Why is she only eating hotdogs? Why will she only eat chicken nuggets? The commonality between the two questions is YOU. You buy them, you cook them, you feed them to her. YOU. Your child is two.
Yes it is true that children have more food sensitivity, meaning that they have about 3 times the taste buds as adults do on their tongues. But this just means that it is that much more important to get them started on the right track. It may not be easy, but you MUST do it.
You get to make the decisions for your family. Children will eat what is good for them, if they are given the right choices. It is up to you to give her the healthy choices.
SOME THINGS TO DO:
1. Put a variety of fruits and veggies in small bowls on the table or in the fridge (that is HER food and her food only) BUT ONLY HEALTHY FOOD! NO other snacks. NO JUICE, NO MILK NO COKKIES NOT SUGARY TREATS AT ALL. Fruits and veggies only They have all the naturally ocurring sugars a child needs.
2. Start the day with a good breakfast. Fruit, toast, eggs, protein shakes (NO JUICE- way too much sugar). Most cereals that you buy are quite unhealthy (eating the box oftentimes is better). Read the label on your cereal or email me (____@____.com). Make sure you are setting her up for success for her day. A sugary cereal in the AM is the worst thing you can do for her.
3. STAY AWAY from too much milk. It is empty calories meaning it fills you up but there is no substance to it.
4. DO NOT hide her veggies, DO NOT trick her into eating. SHOW HER how the entire family eats healhty (I am sorry chicken nuggets and hotdogs are two of the foods that are exceptionally unhealthy for kids)
5. Make food fun. Allow her to be in on the preperation.
6. If she doesn't want to eat the HEALTHY meal you both have prepeared, DON"T FORCE her. She will eat when she is hungry. Leave her only healthy options. Her bowls of fruit and veggies are still available.
7. BE THE PARENT. If you buy the bad stuff, you can't complain that is all she will eat. It is up to you to make a difference in the life of your child.
8. As for the vitamins, again if you want, we can chat about which one you are taking. Many are filled with preservatives and sugar just so the kids will eat them. Bottom line is, if it was bought at a grocery store or a department store then it is not that great. Remember, you get what you pay for.
I give free first time consultations if you are interested just call.
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J.A. answers from Jacksonville on February 18, 2008
Talk to your pediatrician. My older children went through phases like that and outgrew them quickly. My youngest daughter has been that way since she began eating and it is just one of the symptoms of her autism. Your daughters pediatirician can ask the right questions to let you know if it's truly a worry or just a phase.
My oldest daughter ate nothing but cheese hot dogs for almost four months and her doctor said not to worry, she was healthy. Sure enough one day she just got tired of the hot dogs and started eating everything else!
Please don't try witholding foods she will eat until you see her doctor. My youngest child with autism can go without food for days and just sleep through the hunger. While well meaning people dishing out advice think that she will get hungry enough to eat, they are wrong. If she doesn't eat and just sleeps through the hunger her health becomes seriously endangered.
One other trick I learned with all of them - just put one or two bites of each food on her plate. When she eats them, offer more.
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J.L. answers from Jacksonville on February 17, 2008
I'm sure you've tried everything, but just in case you haven't ... If she likes cheese, you can try drowning some broccoli or cauliflower, or any vegetable you think would work, in cheese sauce, like velveeta. My mom did this with us. Each time she made broccoli, she made less and less cheese sauce, till eventually she just "forgot" to make the cheese sauce and we ate it plain, or with a little Lawry's Seasoned salt or regular salt. Also, to get vegetables in us, she would coat them in flour and then fry them. It's not the healthiest, but we developed a taste for eggplant, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. and then we she offered them to us unfried, they weren't as foreign to us. With the fruit, you can maybe try "smoothies". You can throw in her applesauce and grapes (not sure how it would turn out) and she can taste it with just the two ingredients. Then maybe the next time you throw in some strawberries without her seeing. Then a few more the next time, and then a few more, until she likes the taste, and then when she sees you do it, tell her you've been making it that way all along, she'll taste it and see that she likes it. Use blueberries, bananas, any fruit I guess.
What also might work is the reward system. She can have her chicken nuggets if she tries one bite of macaroni and cheese, or spinach, or tomato, or pork chop. Maybe give her a choice, so "she's" the one in charge. She can choose to take a bite of watermelon OR peach, and then she can have her grapes. Then the next time, it's two bites, but put less grapes on her plate, and if she wants more grapes, she'll have to take one more bite of a different food first, and then more grapes.
I know you said you give her vitamins, but to make sure she gets her fruits and veggies, you might want to check out Juice Plus. My daughter loves the gummies. She takes the fruit one with breakfast, and the veggie with dinner. I've tried them and both are sweet tasting. If you don't want to invest in 4 jars before you try them out first, maybe go to ebay. Hope this helps.
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T.F. answers from Tallahassee on February 17, 2008
Probably not the pickest eater, but pretty picky :-) - I knew a child who would only eat PB&J. Anyway, my kids eat anything, and it is because we didn't give them a lot of choice 'not' to eat it. First, it is human nature that we won't starve ourselves to death, at least a small child won't. So basically, don't offer those 5 things as options. Granted she may not like this, and those foods you mentioned are not 'bad' foods, but I probably would not consume great amounts of hotdogs (have you ever looked at what is in a hotdog...that is scary). But you can still offer great foods that offer more nutritional value. For example, macaroni and cheese, apple wedges, melons, pineapple, peaches, baby cooked carrots, oatmeal, grits, mashed potatoes, yogurt, cheese bites/sticks, PB&J, or PB&banana, even fish sticks that look alot like chicken nuggets would be great.
I would not make a big deal about 'oh we are going to try new foods today, etc.' I would just make the food and put it in front of the 2 of you, and you eat like there is nothing different.
I had a great book called, 'Feed me I'm Yours'. and I really liked the recipies and ideas.
I never disguised food, but I know people that would put other things in food to get their kids to eat it; or they would make cute little mickey mouse pancakes, etc. If it works I guess do it. My kids didn't need that.
I remember my kids were eating salad with ranch dressing at 18 months, and my son ate liver, fish, and squash casserole. We just NEVER cooked anything different for our kids and they just ate what we ate and we never thought about it. My biological children ate everything, but didn't care for ice cream, and my older son doesn't like ham. Of our adopted children, the only thing that 2 of our kids would not eat is sweet potatoes, as their culture doesn't eat that (they are Ukrainian), and they just don't like the feeling in their mouth. So it is o.k. not to eat 'everything', but to have such a limited diet is probably not the best. I'm not knocking vitamins, but I think that the best source of vitamins is through eating the food itself, plus it tastes a whole lot better.
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D.K. answers from Jacksonville on February 17, 2008
I have 2 year old triplets and they all like different things. I bought the book called the Sneaky Chef and I use it everyday. The recipes have you make a lot of purees and sneak it in food they like. It works on my kids and some of the food is so good that I like it. You should check it out. Good luck.
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