Thursday, June 14, 2007

Picky eating: is there a solution?

In a word, no. Last week, I read this post, which prompted me to think about all the various things I've tried to get nutritious foods into my picky eaters. My oldest was never picky, she'd try and eat pretty much everything. I'm not sure about the baby yet, but I am a bit worried, since she's almost 8 months old and I can't get her to eat any kind of solid food. But my middle two are horribly picky!

The 4-year-old will only eat cereal, crackers, muffins (without fruit or nuts), plain bagels, frozen waffles, wheat bread, chicken nuggets (only from a fast-food place, not made at home), apples (only red ones, no green), and red seedless grapes (no green or black ones), granola bars (no dried fruit in them), cookies, cake, milk, and almost any kind of juice. I can't make her a sandwich because she won't eat any kind of meat, peanut butter, cheese, or any condiments. She won't have anything on her bagel - no butter, no cream cheese. No yogurt, no ice cream, no hot dogs, no pizza, no burgers, no mac 'n' cheese, no eggs, nothing that is typically considered "kid-food." And of course, no veggies.

The 6-year-old will eat more than the 4-year-old, but not much. She'll eat most of what her little sister eats (with the exception of the apples and grapes and juice, what kind of kid doesn't drink juice?) plus french fries, mac 'n' cheese, cheese pizza, peanut butter, jelly, yogurt, hot dogs (no bun), butter, cream cheese, ketchup, ice cream, various kinds of cheese. So at least I can make her a sandwich, but not with lunchmeat. But no meat or eggs(other than the nuggets and hot dogs) and no fruits or veggies.

Now if you are the parent of a picky eater, you know that everyone has a solution. Yeah, right. Here are some that I've been told, tried, and failed miserably:
Advice: Offer a wide variety of healthy foods. Lots of colorful fruits and veggies.
Result: They ate only the things they like, i.e. the foods listed in the above paragraphs, and ignored the rest. When I tried only putting out fruits (except apples and grapes) and veggies, they didn't eat.

Advice: Give them the same dinner you are eating. If they don't eat it, don't give them anything else, and give them the same meal for breakfast. If they still don't eat it, give it to them for lunch. And so on, and so on... Eventually they will eat. Kids won't starve themselves. (I believe I heard this one on Dr. Phil, but I'm not sure.)
Result: Kids will starve themselves. Or at least make themselves sick. Dr. Phil underestimates the degree of stubbornness of my kids.

Advice: Make food fun. Call broccoli "trees," make "ants on a log" out of celery, raisins and peanut butter, cut sandwiches in fun shapes, make peanut butter toast or cheese toast and make a funny face on it with fruits and/or veggies, etc., etc.
Result: They don't care how "fun" it is; they won't eat it.

Advice: Take something they will eat, like bread, muffins, brownies, etc., and spike it with fruits or veggies.
Result: My freezer currently contains zucchini-carrot muffins, various breads with fruits and veggies baked in, brownies with spinach baked in. They wouldn't eat them.

Advice: Get the kids involved.
Result: We had a vegetable garden for a few years (not this year, because the new baby). The kids loved helping me with it, but they refused to eat anything out of it. I had them help me prepare meals. They loved doing it, but surprise, surprise, wouldn't try a bite.

Advice: Any and all combinations of the above.
Result: Nothing works.

So let me just say to all you people with solutions, like these people, "You are full of crap!"

Oh, and before you tell me to get them together with friends so they can be influenced, I've tried it. My kids are impervious to peer-pressure. They don't care one iota what their friends like. So I guess we'll just let them eat what they will eat and hope that at some point they will try things on their own. Unless you have another idea?

Photo credit: Stole it from those people above who are full of crap.

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