Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I Have Learned: Picky Eaters

No, I am NOT an expert.
BUT - I can tell you what I have learned
as the mom of 4 kids...
What works 
what doesn't work...
for our family!

Yes, we are all different.
BUT - 
I am hoping that some of my
trials and tribulations
might help encourage 
others as they
continue along this
journey of motherhood

Picky Eaters

First and foremost,
I have been BLESSED with 
relatively good eaters...
they were not 
born this way 
and that what we did as parents
at least a little to do with it.

All 4 of mine were nursed until they quit.
R was 10 1/2 months
J was about 9 months
A was 11 1/2 months 
T was 14 months.

We started ALL of them on the typical rice cereal.
In my opinion,
this is not necessary,
you can start with food instead.

I have always been VERY picky about what they eat.
And I wanted to give them what I considered was the
"best" start.

So I researched,
just like we do everything else.
I saw a suggestion that had you feeding 
sweet potatoes as their "first food".
Because it was a happy medium between 
veggies and fruit.
It is a sweet veggie...
Hmmm...well that is an interesting idea.

So we did
with all 4.

Then we moved on to other veggies
and then finally to the fruits.

I honestly feel that because of this,
all of mine have been good veggie eaters.

Once they were passed the "stage 1" stage,
I started making my own baby food.
However, there were certain ones I only did once!

Peas:  because I was not about to strain them each time
to get rid of the skins
Green Beans:  I could never get them strained enough either
Bananas:  I was concerned about browning,
but totally could have done these too.

Which ones I did do:

Butternut squash
Sweet Potatoes

And a couple of others, but that's all I can come up 
with right now.

Then later on (around 10 months of age or so)
I started turning these items into foods that 
they could pick up and self feed.

So be aware of what kind of "tastes" you are starting them with.

Fast forward 7 years or so
and I am faced with my first
"picky eater".

She came into this world at 8 lbs 1 oz
but didn't gain back to her birth weight at 
her 2 week check up,
so the insistence by all around me began
to put her on forumla!

Finally I had one doctor who took the time
to talk to me and look at her chart and say
"well, she is just a light weight"
as opposed to my two 95% bruiser boys
that had come before her.

So we powered on.
Then 2 weeks before she turned 1
she bit me...
I thumped her on the chin
she went COLD TURKEY!

I should have known then 
that I was in TROUBLE!

She was still a pretty decent eater.
Never gained a lot
She is 30 lbs at 3 1/2
her baby brother weighs almost as much as she does.

And at the age of 3
the food battles began!

I had never experienced such a thing,
so it was foreign to me.

I asked the doctor we were seeing at the time,
he suggested that I speak to a woman
who specializes in 
dealing with picky eaters.

She had a lot of great advise,
some we were already doing,
some I was not willing to implement
some we did implement!

What we already did:
* Eat as a family!
*Offer healthy options for dinner.
* Be creative and don't get stuck in a "dinner rut".
*Offer a variety of foods.
*Don't dangle dessert as a reward for eating dinner
(ok with us, we rarely have dessert anyways)

Some of her other suggestions:

Eat family style
we kinda already did this, by putting all the food on the table

Allow then to serve themselves
we were doing what every parent does
and serving our kids before we served ourselves.
she suggested that we let them serve their own plates.
What?  You want me to let my 3 yo serve her own plate??
Yes!  Since you already have healthy, acceptable options on the table, why not?
She wasn't as concerned about a balanced diet.
What she was concerned about was allowing them 
SOME control.
Think about it...
as children,
WHAT do they have control over in their little lives?
What goes into and comes out of their bodies...
that is it!
Other than that, we as parents basically control
every other aspect of their little lives.
So let them have this control.
Let them control what goes into their little bodies...
if you are offering healthy options,
why not?

Well, for me, I didn't want my daughter thinking that 
eating just noodles or rice for dinner was ok.
I insisted on getting that proverbial
"veggie" in.
Along this same lines she said 
DON'T serve your picky eater.
Serve yourself first.
Then allow her to see you eat
and tell you what she would like.
Hmmmm....ok, I can do that.

Ya know what - it worked!!!
Now we ask her what she wants
and allow her to have some say.
Well, letting her *think* she has some say...

(I actually suggested this to a friend
and she quickly reported back that it was working
for their family too!)

Don't force them to eat.
Really?  So just let them be hungry?
Yes!  Allow them to understand what "that" feeling is.
Hmmmm...not so sure about this one.
But we do let them know that
"This is their dinner, they can eat it or not, it is 
their choice, but they WILL be hungry
and there WILL be no snacks after dinner"
This works really well for the older kids
But you have to mean it too!
No empty threats!!!

Allow them to go to bed hungry
Excuse me? You want me to allow my already tiny
3 yo to go to bed hungry?
Don't force her to eat her dinner and allow her 
to go to bed hungry?
Again - not so sure about this one.
We accidentally did it ONE night.
She was being unusually difficult
at dinner one night.
So instead of forcing her to eat
instead of allowing her to sit at the 
table and cry and make the rest of us miserable
I sent her to her room until she quit crying
and was ready to join us with a happy face at the dinner table.

About 15 minutes later,
I decided to go check on her...
she was OUT COLD!
I did NOT wake her to force feed her.
No way man!

So yes, we did send her to bed one night hungry,
She has been sent to her room since then 
for the same reason,
but she hasn't made it past the bottom step
before she was drying her tears
and joining us back at the dinner table
(but its been a while since this has happened now).

Set & Stick to Meal/Snack Times
don't allow in between snacking
it will
wait for it...
yep, just like your mom
your grandma
your great grandma said...


They will no longer be hungry and will choose not to eat.
Then 10 minutes after dinner is over,
they are hungry.
And in order not to create a BIG problem,
you don't feed them.
because dinner is over!
And they go to bed hungry
(which is ultimately your fault, cause
you gave them a snack WHILE you were cooking dinner
just to hush them up)
But if you gave them a snack,
while you were cooking dinner,
you would probably give them a snack
after dinner
you wouldn't be fixing the picky eater
you would be ENABLING it!
So don't...

But - at the same time,
you know your kid better than anyone.

So if there is a bigger issue - 
see a doctor.

I talked to one mom whose child
was mildly special needs
and he would not eat if she didn't insist!
At the age of 8,
he had never informed her that he was actually

So good luck.

Provide healthy foods
(McD's hamburgers and chicken nuggets

What if they don't eat veggies or fruits?
Well, if that is all they are offered...
they will eventually eat it!
Remove the chicken nuggets & hamburgers.
Provide lean meats,
roasted veggies,

They will surprise you!

Our favorite veggies in this house:
roasted green beans (recipe below)
salad (mixed field greens, spinach & iceberg)
roasted broccoli & cauliflower
ANY and ALL fruit

Our Favorite Roasted Green Beans
whole green beans (fresh or frozen)
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°.
Pour whole green beans onto cookie sheet.
Drizzle lightly (don't drench) with olive oil 
sprinkle with thyme, salt & pepper
Mix to coat beans evenly.
Then spread beans out in a single layer on cookie sheet.
Bake for about 15 min turning about ever 5 minutes.
Keep an eye on them,
they should be starting to brown and crisp up a bit.
If they appear to be "steamed" beans,
they aren't done...
keep cooking and checking.
Also follow your nose.  
You should start to smell them 
when they are getting close to being done.

We have done asparagus, brussel sprouts, 
cauliflower & broccoli all like this 
and they are ALL a hit.

The baby devours these beans!!

Let me know what you think!!

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