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A Note About Picky Eaters...

October 14, 2010
72 Comments

The other day my son came up to me and said, “You know what would be the perfect day, Mom?”

“What?” I asked.

“A day where I could have orange chicken for breakfast, orange chicken for lunch, and orange chicken for dinner.”

This from my picky eater.

Actually, he’s not picky anymore, and his most recent favorite food—you guessed it—is orange chicken.

If you would’ve asked me a year and a half ago if I thought my son would like orange chicken or any kind of Chinese food, I would’ve told you a resounding no.

In fact, there was a time when all he wanted to eat was plain burritos. Seriously.

I know there are different schools of thought about picky eaters…

Teach them young, make them eat what everyone else is eating, and don’t give in.

or

If they want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner instead of the chicken and vegetables and salad you spent two hours cooking, so be it. What’s the big deal?

Honestly, I’ve gone both ways over the years.

It’s been a balancing act between trying to encourage my kids to eat a variety of foods, not wanting to make food an issue, and picking my battles wisely.

And while I think there’s tremendous value in introducing different foods to your kids at a young age and encouraging them to eat what the rest of the family is eating, I also know from personal experience that doesn’t always work.

More and more, I’ve come to recognize that kids have their differences, and that includes taste. Some kids—my son being one of them—even have an extra-sensitive gag reflex. Certain textures (broccoli for example), are hard to eat, if not impossible. (Believe me, we’ve tried.)

But here my son is at age nine now, and he’s eating almost everything we put in front of him and liking it. (Minus the broccoli.)

So if you have a picky eater, hang in there. I know it can be hard. Meal times can be a challenge (never mind going out to dinner if there isn’t grilled cheese on the menu), and it can be stressful making sure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need (a daily vitamin is key).

But it does get easier.

Some people—usually moms who were a little older and a lot wiser than me—used to tell me not to worry about my son being so picky and that he would outgrow it.

I remember clinging to that hope as I envied other moms who had successfully gotten their kids to eat sushi by the age of four, or to prefer raw celery sticks for snacks.

(I, on the other hand, would spend extra time making creative smoothies for my son, just so I could stick some vegetables or protein in there. And when I fed him yams, you could barely see the yam because it was buried under a pile of brown sugar.)

But you know what?

Those moms were right.

My son did outgrow it.

And now, looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have worried so much about his picky eating.

Because in the scheme of parenting and life,

whether he eats everything on his plate for dinner,

or asks for a grilled cheese sandwich for the third time in one day,

it’s just not that important. :)

What do you think? Do you/did you have picky eaters? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences!

Genny Heikka is a mom, author, parenting blogger, book reviewer, and coffee lover. Stop by her blog www.mycup2yours.com and share a cup!

72 Comments

I WAS the picky eater, so I completely understand that. We've been lucky with our oldest. She's pretty good about eating most things and trying stuff. I think the baby is going to be picky. We'll see. But I did eventually get better (though I'm still not great). So I don't worry about it too much. I just try to offer healthy options and even if they don't want to eat what I made for dinner, at least I know they've eaten something that wasn't total garbage. :)

I still am a picky eater. 26 years later and there is still a list of food a mile long I don't like. But I try very hard to teach our girls to enjoy or at least try most everything. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes you just have to compromise!

www.ourfamilystone.blogspot.com

As a child, I never could explain to my parents that I hated the texture of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc. Anything that had lots of big seeds in the middle with that weird jelly-ish substance made me squirm. I don't know why that is, but I still hate those types of veggies. I remember one time my mom and dad forced me to eat a bite of squash. I was so upset by the experience that I threw up all over my plate. I hated squash, and I still do...

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I have a son who is so picky. He won't even eat the grilled cheese off the kid's menu! He won't eat any kind of cheese. He won't eat burritos or tacos. He won't eat mac n cheese. He won't even eat the yams in brown sugar glaze. I could go on and on. It drives me completely crazy but I try not to let it show. I like your post and what you have to say and I'm hoping he will improve (he is 6 now). He also has a strong gag reflex and was even like this as a baby...

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Unfortunately its my DH that is the picky one! Talk about a list long of things that he won't eat. I want to get my kids to eat all the things I like to eat that DH won't touch (tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc) but its hard when the picky one is him. I'm lucky with my kids though, they eat almost anything in front of them, and they LOVE their veggies. My daughter doesn't like much meat, but paired with veggies and fruit, she'll go for them first. That's not so bad...

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I am a picky eater, but nowhere to the degree of our son. He was an excellent eater until he turned two and then the lights went out. At seven, he eats maybe five different things for dinner and that's it. Zero fruits and vegetables (we sneak those in through juice; he won't even touch smoothies). He honestly doesn't like to eat at all and will say "no thanks" to brownies or other fatty foods we try to feed him to help him gain weight. It's horrible...

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I was and still am a VERY picky eater. My parents tried the "Teach them young, make them eat what everyone else is eating, and don’t give in" route until I was 18. And ya know what, it didn't work. I am still just as picky as I was as a child. And by picky I mean I don't like most red meat, I can stomach VERY few vegetables and fruits, tomatoes and lettuce are definitely out which means bye bye salads...

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I'm not a mom yet (someday!) but I enjoy reading all sorts of forums and blogs and really wanted to share my experience on this topic..
When I was young, I was a pretty good eater - there were tons of things I didn't like but I had the same taste as my parents (rice and stir-fry) but when my mom went back to work we started eating fewer home-cooked meals aka more variety. I never liked bread or pasta or milk, but my parents made me eat it....

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The food today is nutritionally bankrupt and one bowl of spinach in the early 70's according to a government study is now equal to 43 bowls to get the same minerals and vitamins. My kids get one shake a day with minerals, vitamins and natural organic whey protein that are delicious. Visit www.bonniecarrell.isagenix.com.

My 12 yo is a picky eater although he is getting better and will at least try most foods I make. Ofcoarse I usually try to avoid making his meat portion with things I know he doesn't like. I figure it doesn't take much for me to put aside a piece of meat with out bbq sauce or whatever on it. The only thing I can put on his food would be Ketchup...

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I totally understand that it's difficult to have a kid who doesn't like a lot of different foods. But I've always had this question: why don't we ever hear about picky eaters in places like China, India, and Africa? Those kids seem to choke down vegetables just fine.

www.partlysunnyblog.com
www.worldsworstmoms.com

I have enjoyed reading all comments. The picky eater in India, China or Africa is what made me decide to write. I have had foster children (I live in a much poorer country as a missionary, Hungary) that are just as picky as those you have described. When a person is a foster parent, at least for me, if they seemed thin it drove me a little more to expect them to eat...

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Both my husband and daughter are picky eaters. She'll be 7 soon and she's finally getting better. Still doesn't like a lot of things, but at least she tries them now without crying. With DH it's his Mom's fault. LOL He says she was a terrible cook and he had to drown everything in ketchup to make it taste good enough to eat. He still does it, even though I'm not horrible at cooking. I'm not gourmet chef, but I do try. He's such a bad influence on our daughter and he just doesn't see it...

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My first born(27 yrs ago) use to be a picky eater and I was concerned because she wanted french fries or hamburger most of the time. the pediatrician said Let her eat it, if thats what she wants, as long as she eats something." It worked, she out grew it. This was an older pediatrician that would open his office on a Sun. to see your childif he/she was sick. Thats how dedicated he was. We as parents has to do whaterver it takes to ge children to eat...

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Please don't take this issue lightly. Not all kids outgrow it and often times there is a medical reason for the pickiness. I nuursedmy son for 17 months. He was eating solids (regular people food) at 8 or 9 months. He spit up quite a bit but since he was off the charts growth wise the doctors didn't seem too concerned. After I stopped nursing baby went on a hunger strike. Refusing just about everything except white foods/carbs. Between 18 months and 2 years he lost 2 pounds. I was freakin out...

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