16 answers

Picky Eater - Duson, LA

I have an eight year old son who is a VERY picky eater! He only eats a SHORT list of items. Roast beef sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, breaded chicken nuggets, pizza, cereal or spagehtti noodles (no sauce). He doesn't eat ANY fruits or veggies. If we eat a meal that he doesn't like he simply won't eat. Sure he'll try to get a snack later, but I won't give him one and it doesn't seem to phase him. When we do go out to a restaurant he orders chicken strips and fries or at a fast food restaurant he gets a PLAIN cheeseburger. I've tried "re-creating" some of his restaurant favs at home and even tried getting him in on preparing and cooking a meal. He's just NOT interested. Everyone says it's a phase he'll grow out of, BUT he's eight and has been like this since toddlerhood! He's active and healthy, otherwise. Any suggestions on how I can get him to expand his variety of foods and interest him in eating HEALTHY?

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My children were picky eaters to especially my son when they were small they took after me! But now they eat and everything my son started when he was 16 or 17 cooking making up his on recipes. things they fix and eat I would not touch with a ten foot pole ( guess what I'm the picky eater)

oh thank goodness right now my 1 year old will eat anything I put in front of her... she loves green beans! my husband is the picky eater... I dont want her to pick up his poor eating habits...

now my suggestion... to get him to eat some veggies... start cooking meals that consit of almost nothing but veggies each night and each meal... sooner or later he is going to get hungry enough that he is going to eat the veggies...

also try letting him choose a menu... let him make things he enjoys with the condition that he TRIES at least one veggie each night... i just hope that my little girl will continue to eat what ever I set in front of her.... I would prefer she be a vegitarian but that aint gonna happen....

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My 12 year old step-son is a picky eater, and because he lives with his mother, alot of this advice doesn't apply to my situation. I can't change his eating pattern at home. However, I made a deal with him, and it has worked out suprisingly well. He has to try one bite of everything, if he doesn't like it, he can spit it out and get something else (a sandwich in my case). But he must try one bite. Some of the time he finds new things he likes, but sometimes he doesn't. I think he likes the freedom to choose for himself. On more than one occasion he has said that he doesn't like something he has already eaten, and I've made him try it again. And he almost always likes it again. So, try this. My situation is different than yours, but atleast he'll be trying new things.

Hi! My two cents may not work, but give it a try if you'd like...

I suggest making sure that all of the things he does like to eat are served in the most healthy way possible. Try to get whole wheat/like white bread for the roast beef, try the vegetarian version of the chicken nuggets. I know that it sounds farfetched, but he may like them! If you can make some of the pizza at home, add cooked and blended veggies to your red sauce to sneak in nutrients. Also, kids like milkshakes and the like, have you tried smoothies at home? They are great and you can tweak them to his taste. I like to add honey to mine for extra sweetness. I also buy frozen berries because they act as ice and you don't have to add as much ice to get it "smoothied".

Just some thoughts! Good luck..
~C.

Have you tried taking him to the bookstore to pick out a kid friendly, illustrated cookbook? www.cancerproject.org has a child's nutrition booklet out now (free) that might also be some help. He is 8 and should understand that he needs to eat healthy in order to stay healthy. The above link calls it "eating the rainbow". My girls are 8 & 9 and had to go thru me battling breast cancer recently. Since my cancer was most likely poor-diet related, I just explained it to them like that, not trying to scare them into it, but explaining that the cells in your body need certain things to grow properly, and when they dont get what they need, they can grow poorly and make you sick. And as a child, its the most important time because so many new cells are trying to grow. I hope this helps :}

I don't have any advice on how to expand the diet but I saw on opera where this mom purees veggies and adds it to her kids food. You can try that.

K.
There is a book on the market written by Jerry Seinfeld's wife where she incorporates very healthy foods in a very clever way. I can't remember the name of it but if you ask at Borders or your favorite book store they can tell you. It's very cleverly done. good luck.
grams of 18

I have a granddaughter that is very picky and does not eat meat at all. She has been this way since she was 5. She is healthy, 14 years old, and weighs 126 lbs. She is on one a day vitamins, just because it makes her family feel better. The doctor says she does not need them, but cannot hurt her. I say do not worry. Most kids want chicken of some kind or a burger when they go out. Let him be a kid. It does not last very long.

S. Miller

1. get all of that stuff out of your house. Replace it with healthy foods.

2. when he refuses to eat what you provide, don't give him any alternatives. If he's hungry, he'll eat eventually. No kid will starve in the face of food.

3. when he wants a snack later, give him one. Just have only healthy options on hand. Since it's not at the dinner table, the "issue" might not loom large in his mind and he will be more likely to try something different - as a snack. Snacks can be mini meals in disguise. Use this to your advantage.

4. don't take him to fast food restaurants. Don't take him to any restaurants, in fact, for a while, except maybe those vegetarian or healthy ones, or really different ones where chicken strips aren't on the menu. Try out Korean or Thai or other place. He will balk at first but when he sees everyone else enjoying themselves, and feels the growl in his stomach, he might try something out. If not, well, he can just eat a snack at home, later :)

5. keep him occupied at home for a little while. Don't let him hang out with his friends at their houses, because he'll eat with them and come home without an appetite. If he notices a change in his social life, just have his friends over at your house. In fact, if you have a friend or two over for dinner, he will be less likely to throw a fit in front of them, and he'll see *them* enjoying the food you put out, and be more likely to want to eat, too.

You'll do fine, and so will he. Within a few days or a week or so you'll see him eating things you never thought he would before. If you have some fights over this, keep your eyes on the larger goal: we are, after all, what we eat, and your instincts are correct. Your son needs to eat a healthier diet, or his habits will catch up with him.

L.

Ooooh, picky eaters can be so frustrating sometimes-I know, mine just turned 11. You've already got some good ideas in place...not giving him snacks when he doesn't eat his dinner, letting him help cook meals. I tried that as well. I didn't make special meals, my son got the same thing we ate. If he didn't eat it, I stuck it in the refrigerator and offered it later if he said he was hungry...it usually didn't phase him either. I only have two ideas that I tried that had some luck that you didn't mention above so here goes...
I let him help me make the menu. The catch was that my son had to choose something that wasn't one of his four favorites (the only things he would eat for the longest time were pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dogs or mashed potatoes). For instance, he would be more likely to try tacos if he was the one that picked them out.
Then, I would cook one of his favorites one night. As we were eating, I would remind him that since we were eating what he liked that night, the next night we would be eating one of the other meals that he put on the menu. My son kind of enjoyed being the boss of what we had for dinner but the meals were something that I had already approved when we made the menu/grocery list.
Since your son doesn't eat any fruit or veggies, if you aren't already giving him vitamins or some sort of supplement, then I would just to make sure he is getting the extra nutrients.
Most importantly, as hard as this will be (coming from a mother of a picky eater) try to relax. Just keep doing what you are doing-you're doing great and it will get better as he gets older. My son eats a lot more things than he used to, but it was only when I decided that I wasn't going to fight with him anymore. Until that point, dinner had been a battle. Hang in there!!!

My children were picky eaters to especially my son when they were small they took after me! But now they eat and everything my son started when he was 16 or 17 cooking making up his on recipes. things they fix and eat I would not touch with a ten foot pole ( guess what I'm the picky eater)

oh thank goodness right now my 1 year old will eat anything I put in front of her... she loves green beans! my husband is the picky eater... I dont want her to pick up his poor eating habits...

now my suggestion... to get him to eat some veggies... start cooking meals that consit of almost nothing but veggies each night and each meal... sooner or later he is going to get hungry enough that he is going to eat the veggies...

also try letting him choose a menu... let him make things he enjoys with the condition that he TRIES at least one veggie each night... i just hope that my little girl will continue to eat what ever I set in front of her.... I would prefer she be a vegitarian but that aint gonna happen....

Hi K.,
My son was exactly the same way. My sister used to say, "if he gets hungry enough he'll eat." That is NOT TRUE. I read an article on this when he was about 3 and they are doing studies on kids that are called "supertasters"--meaning that they taste and smell at a very high level, more than the average person. They are not being "picky", it's just that there are certain things that they can taste/smell that we can't. I know this is true with my son, because he was always able to smell things way ahead of the rest of us. It's frustrating to them, too, because they want to please us, the parents, and don't want to be thought of as "bad" or uncooperative, but don't know how to explain WHY they don't like something. His growing up menu sounds identical to your son's. Mine is 18 and still orders his cheeseburgers plain, and when we go out, he orders chicken strips and fries. For a long time he wouldn't eat macaroni--and still does not like lunch meat. When he was 2-3 years old, I could buy a different brand of bologna other than Oscar Mayer, and he knew the difference! Same with weiners for hotdogs. My advice, having gone through this, is just encourage him to eat whatever fruits and veggies he might tolerate--mine didn't like ANY, but gradually added grapes and cherry tomatoes to his diet, and LOVED fried okra, fried squash and eggplant (I know, go figure!) He still doesn't care for the old standbys--green beans, peas, corn, etc. As your son gets older, he'll add more things to his diet. I kept that article on Supertasters, but not sure where it is now. You might be able to google it and find out info on it, but your boy sounds exactly like mine. I promise, it gets somewhat better as they get older, but they'll never "outgrow" it completely because of their ability to taste and smell so keenly. Hope this helps.
C.

K.,
My son is now 21 and healthy. He has always been a picky eater. The thing I had to learn for different sources is if he is healthy don't worry about it. Another thing I found out he is not alone. He has ADD and that the eating is part of it. Try getting some material on this subject and maybe you will find help for your son and understanding for you.

My seven year old is just the same -very picky and hard to accept to try anything his eyes didn't approve. With his short list of foods which he eats without struggle, I have learned to do some tossups and addons. For example he only eat apples willingly but won't eat banana willingly, so I will bribe him say, if you eat this banana you will get (whatever he likes the most, or offer a visit to a fun place if you start eating A,B,C,) this works now and then depewnding what you were able to get him to eat. Also try fruitbars-there are some healthy fruitbars he may be interested to try and like. Do the same thing with veggies-explain the importance of veggies in our body and ask him to chose one type of veggies he would rather eat, because the body needs at least some veggies for him to grow well.Some kids aet the processed(can) veggies better than the fresh prepared or cooked. Try all of them to see which ones he thinks taste better. As a parent you probable know or prefer the fresh cooked foods vs the can ones but some times we make adjustments alone the way to solve/accommodate certain situations. More importantly however, will be for you to make sure that he eats healthy balanced food-whatever he picks or likes you have to make sure that he is gettibng enough protein (meat, milk, eggs, beans, etc). Substitute cheese with milk; when he eats pizza he get a little bit of veggies-tomato sauce. Enough vitamins- mostly you get this from fruits and veggies-Doest he drive 100% juice since he won't eat fresh fruit; what other kind of drinks you can get enough vitamins to substitute his lack of fresh fruit and veggies' intake; You may want him to take daily multi-vitamins and minerals dietary supliment. Finally, just keep trying to introduce as much as different kinds of foods if possible, you will be suprised to see his short list getting a bit longer with time, and you will be delighted.

I'm a former very picky eater and still slightly picky eater myself. I had very few foods I would eat as a kid... my diet is a lot more varied now, but there are still foods/spices I won't eat.
My mom was a health nut, so we didn't have a whole lot of junk food in the house. But in some ways, my mom used to go out of my way to make certain I had food to eat. She would make me lunches of cheese & crackers (I wouldn't eat sandwiches) and dried fruit (the texture of fresh fruit bothered me and I didn't willingly start eating it until college)... on the other hand, I got what everyone else was eating for dinner, and if I didn't eat, oh well. I was the kid who would live off of saltine crackers and canned peaches at summer camp because I wouldn't eat the cafeteria food. So I can tell you that if your son is as stubborn as I was, this is a battle you won't win.
I can tell you that there were 3 things that did slowly expand my diet: hunger, peer pressure, and a desire to keep my body healthy. These factors realy started to play a role in high school. When I would miss a meal, when my friends would encourage me to try different foods, and when I started to gain a lot of weight...
I would reccommend that you teach him about a healthy diet (make certain he understands the whole eating from the different food groups, teach about calories and fats and sugars), teach him how to prepare healthy meals (meal planning, shopping & cooking), and keep providing him with healthy options. He may not start eating healthy, but at least he'll understand what it is... someday he'll probably "wake up and smell the roses", and he'll have the foundation.
I wish you the best of luck!

The cookbooks everyone's posts keep referring to is #1)Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld; here is the website link: www.deceptivelydelicious.com and #2)The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine; here is website link: www.thesneakychef.com. I would suggest checking out the websites, you will find some recipes on there you can try out before actually buying the book. For our family, some of the dishes I could get by my 4 year old and 7 year old boys - some of them got a big thumbs down. You might just have to try some out and see which ones work for your family.

Wow! Sounds like you've got your hands full! First of all, if you don't have him on a daily multi-vitamin, get him on one now! My 3 year old son isn't too crazy about veggies, so I actually have him on a Greens supplement for kids. Its a chewable tablet that gives him nutrients from veggies when he refuses to eat them.
I also have started sneaking veggies in our meals. You should check out the books "The Sneaky Chef" or "Deceptively Delicious".
Other than that, I would just try sticking to your guns-- don't give in and just feed him the same things over and over. At least make him try one bite of the fruit and veggies that you want him to eat. Studies show that if a person tries something 10 times that they will more easily accept and tolerate it. Maybe come up with some "kid friendly" fun recipes for fruits and veggies, and then make him take one bite before he has his chicken strips or noodles.
Hopefully this IS something he will outgrow when he gets older.
If it makes you feel any better, my entire childhood I barely touched any fruits and veggies.. I lived on a diet mostly consisting of fried junk foods. Now that I'm an adult, I prefer fresh foods. Maybe the same with happen with your son!
Blessings,
S.

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