Picky Eater? This too shall pass
When it comes to the health and happiness of their children, most mothers agree that only the very best will do. We work hard to find the best schools, shop for all the right clothes and spend time cooking the healthiest meals. In a perfect world, we gather as a family and enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal.
Everything is going great until the subtle protests begin. These whines and complaints are often followed by the gagging or choking from each child after each bite. The meal may then conclude with someone in tears … and that person is oftentimes mom. Sound familiar? Cohabitating with a child with a persnickety palate means mealtimes look like something out of a vintage mob movie as we are forced to bribe and coerce our children into eating anything green. Mom and Dad become the bad guys for trying to force down the occasional grape.
I currently have two members of the “picky eater club” residing in my household. And since one of them has a vocabulary more sophisticated than some adults, family mealtime now includes words such as disgusting and hideous. I personally did not realize broccoli could be such a violent offender on the plate belonging to a four-year-old. At my wits end, I decided to ask some experts in the field — also known as my mom friends — about this issue.
My friend Katie, mother of two, admitted to dipping broccoli in applesauce. Since her son loves applesauce and hates broccoli, she had a 50 percent chance of getting the food down his throat. She says the key is to not do this for every bite — maybe every other —in hope that he doesn’t figure it out before the plate is clean. Katie is one example of why books such as Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef are so popular. My friend Abbey has an extremely picky first grader. In fact, this is a child who did not like the toddler staple food Cheerios. “Lilly may eat a carrot, but only with Ranch dip. We go through as much Ranch dip as we do milk,” she added.
Not all of my mom friends admitted to masking healthy food (although it is a safe bet we have all tried it a time or two). Mom of two young boys, Tara, continually offers healthy foods to her kids. If you aren’t afraid of rejection, this may be the solution for you. Her son recently agreed to try a tomato after months of snubbing the red “fruit.” And he actually liked it! Almost all of these “experts” admitted to “rewarding” a healthy meal with a special treat. When children’s books like Eat Your Peas Louise and Picky Peggy aren’t cutting it to persuade your child to eat, it is amazing how a piece of chocolate or some ice cream always do the trick.
I recently stumbled upon a blog written by an editor of Bon Appetit magazine. Hugh Garvey, an editor and dad of two children with selective tastes, writes Gastrokid.com, an off-the-cuff, daily dose of non-recipes for kids like his. In addition to his Gastrokid Cookbook, Hugh offers humorous tidbits that we can all relate to. He ultimately relates the selective eating phase to that of potty training. “Eventually, they’re going to graduate from diapers. In the end, he’ll eat something green,” he added.
Well moms, there is still a positive side to this topic. In 2007, the New York Times ran an article entitled “Picky Eaters? They Get it From You.” This article detailed a recently released report from researches claiming children’s aversion to foods is mostly inherited. Excuse me, what did that just say? This isn’t caused by our cooking or our inability to provide in-house nutritional counseling to our family. It may not be our mothering skills that have caused our children to refuse all healthy food and request only bread and cheese for dinner … every, single night. Bottom line moms, we all do the best we can when it comes to our children. My favorite saying about parenthood is applicable yet again. This too shall pass … now pass me the green beans.