Slow Eater, Leaves Veggies for Last

Updated on August 10, 2011
M.M. asks from North Reading, MA
9 answers

My 5 year old was very picky until last year. She does better now but is very slow to eat especially if talking about something that interests her. My husband, I and toddler are done and she has barely eaten anything. She has to eat vegetables or she gets constipated. We don't put out many, just a tablespoon. She can have fruit (cherries, watermelon etc) at end of meal but often we don't have time. When we are all done, toddler is eager to leave table, it's tubby time and the aggrivation begins. We've tried a timer, rushing her etc but I don't want meals to be a bad experience and admittedly my hubby and I are easily annoyed by this. She takes Miralax once a week. She is always asking for sweets and junk but I don't want to give her dessert as an incentive b.c that isn't good for the potential constipation. Any tips to make meals go more smoothly? Thanks

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answers from St. Louis on

with my daycare kids, they all have some quirk when it comes to eating. Each child has to eat their least fav food 1st.... & that's the end of it.

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answers from Norfolk on

Sit her at the table first and start her before everyone else sits down.
Serve the veggies first - and until she has eaten them - she's not allowed to dominate the conversation - when they are finished, then she can talk up a storm.
If she starts before there are others to talk to, since it's the talking that's slowing her down, this should go a long way to fixing it.
Sweets are a sometimes thing at our house (like birthdays and holidays) - we might have a dessert maybe once a month, certainly not with every meal - so you're doing fine on that front.
My son went through a slow eating phase as a toddler/preschooler, but he's 12 now (almost 13) and the food now disappears almost before it's touched the plate.
It's going to be scary watching him eat when he's 16.

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answers from Detroit on

Serve and have everyone eat their salads and veggies first. Those have the nutrients in them that will promote your family's good health. Maybe even sit her down as you are preparing the meal and have her start on her veggies first. Have her help you prepare them. Give her choices...ones that you want her to choose from. Which would you prefer tonight...the green beans or carrots? No choice is not an option...she has to choose one. Make it fun...broccoli trees, etc. Kids like to dip...have a healthy salad dressing, one without HFCS or MSG, for her to use with those veggies. A bit of salad dressing (fat) helps the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins. Getting those veggies and whole grains into her will help with the bowel movements. In fact, for optimal health, our diet should consist of at least 90% plants. That means we should be having several vegetarian meals per week.

I am a wellness educator and I have TONS of great ideas to help kids to eat better. I'd be honored to help, if you'd like. Good luck...D.

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answers from Dallas on

When my son went through his slow phase we started by just leaving him at the table to finish. But it is hard with all that has to be done in the evenings, because you are still "waiting" on your kid. So I started having him sit down earlier than us. Just about twenty minutes or so. He didn't care about being left out of bath or teeth brushing, but he hated having to quit playing or watching tv early to come eat before the family had to. When he complained we just reminded him that he needed more time to eat (not meanly, just matter of fact). It didn't take very long for him to "get it" and start eating at a more reasonable pace.

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answers from Pittsfield on

Does she like any vegetables? My picky eater will eat raw carrots, but not cooked. If your DD likes raw carrots, you could try that- even with ranch dressing for a dip, if that helps. Would she eat a salad?
For snacks, maybe a fruit salad of fresh fruit? Some kids eat fruit better that way. You could also try benefiber or fiber gummies.
Good luck :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Serve only the veggies and serve them first; put the protein you're serving with them if you really must but leave all starch -- bread, rice, potatoes, pasta -- off the plate entirely until the veggies and protein are gone. You may have to have the whole family eat like this in order to get her to do it; she's old enough to spot that she's not getting what others get and will fuss that "it's unfair" if you and the family are sitting there with yummy, filling rice or pasta in front of you while she only has veggies and chicken. It's not a ton of fun for other kids or parents but it is the one way to ensure she gets to the vegetables and actually eats them. It's healthier for us adults too! I still do it at times with my 10-year-old -- veg and fruit as a "first course" that must be eaten. And stick to your good policy of not bribing her with sweets unless you can get her convinced that fruits are sweets -- and give her high-water (watermelon) or high-fiber (many others) fruits for the constipation.

Two very important points before you try this: First, you must get your husband on board with the change so he isn't griping to your daughter, "Hurry up, I want my pasta" etc. and that would undermine the whole idea. If he's a meat-and-potatoes guy he may not buy into this but tell him it's temporary! Second, don't make a big deal of this to your daughter. Don't even tell her you're doing it. Just put down the plates of veg or veg/protein for everyone and sit and eat as usual, then IF she (and you) are still hungry, treat starches as "seconds" with small portions.

If a lot of your cooking is based on starches as the foundation -- casseroles with everything surrounded by rice, or pasta dishes with the protein and veg mixed into pastas -- you may need to reconsider what you're cooking. I'm not bashing all starches! We do need them but tend to eat them too much. They are tasty and very filling and easy to cook and kids just love them and will choose them over veg and fruit, mostly. Frankly so would I! So it takes some adjustment.

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answers from Providence on

When my son is constipated, I put a small amount of metamucil mixed in with his orange juice(his juice is always diluted with water) . He doesn't know the difference. It really does help. Does she have a particular favorite veggie? I always give the veggie first, then the meal itself. Not sure about how to correct the slow eating. My husband and I , when we would finish our meal would leave the table. My son, if he was eating slowly, would have to finish his meal alone. If it is something he enjoys eating( like pizza), he will gobble it up too fast. So I have the opposite problem now!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

the way we do it when she's being picky, she has to take a bite of her entree, then a bite of veggie, until it's all gone or she's full. We had to start setting a timer and taking her food away if she didn't finish. After a couple of days of that she started eating faster. It also helped that she started a new daycare and they have a more strict time limit on eating than her old one because they have more kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I saw gummy fiber supplements at the CVS the other day--maybe that would be an easy alternative. Or, you could serve the fruit with dinner, instead of vegetables--her body won't know where the fiber is coming from. I also used to drink the Welch's fiber-added grape juice--you can't tell by the taste that it has fiber, it's not thick or anything.
Unless the constipation is a life-or-death thing, maybe you could relax on this, before it starts to stress your daughter out. Stress is at least as unhealthy as constipation. :)

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