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  #41  
Old 08.04.2015, 12:47
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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thanks glowjupiter - now I'm concerned for a totally different reason, as it has not even occurred to me to discuss the health benefits of food with my son, and he certainly does not know the calendar yet. Ah well, at least he is cute, if not too smart..
This website might come in handy.
There's a game called Mission Nutrition on there that might be fun too.
Also there are a whole bunch of food-related kid books around - thinking of a certain caterpillar here
And I don't remember where I saw them but plastic foods like fruits etc. which he could play with all day long might be just the thing to get him interested in nutrition.
Then there's the alimentarium mentioned further upthread which you could turn into a day trip...
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Old 08.04.2015, 13:23
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Mine aren't toddlers yet so I'm following this thread with some interest.

For all those who are saying "just hold out, he'll eat whatever's in front of him when he's hungry enough" - how long did this actually take with yours? Did they refuse one meal, two, a whole day's worth? Off and on for a week? How many meals can a toddler miss without doing himself any lasting harm? (I get that he won't exactly be an angel to live with in the meantime.) And did you have to repeat the process for every disliked food or was it once and done?

In other words, I guess what I'm asking is: is it physical health that's typically the limiting factor here or parental time/energy? Because if gentler methods didn't work, and if I gazed into a crystal ball and saw myself cooking three separate dinners every night for five years, right now my feeling is that I could put up with a pretty unpleasant few days of "veggie training" to avoid going down that road.
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Old 08.04.2015, 13:32
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Good question Mathnut.

My aunt used to be very strict on food with my cousins. I saw one of them refusing to eat something for lunch and he got it served to him again on dinner and the day after on breakfast and the lunch until he finally decided to eat it.

My cousin was about 8-10 years old back then, not something I would do on my 4 years old.

Maybe I should but I don't think I have the toughness she had.
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Old 08.04.2015, 13:43
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Re: Food: A very picky son

This is certainly how my OH was brought up- his plate was served fresh and neat, then everything he left put in a frying pan and reheated for next meal- if he separated anything, like peas, his mum would just whizz it all up in the mixer and reheated with a 'sort that out if you can' and on and on ... until he ate it. He is the least fussy eater I know and will eat anything and everything. Not saying this is the way to go. But it is puzzling for us oldies to see all these food problems develop which never seemed to exist in our day in the 40s for him and the 50s for us.

Our grand-kids eat more or less everything, which is great to see. Their parents have given them 5 items they are allowed not to eat. At Christmas GS didn't want to eat his brussels sprouts, so his dad said 'would you like those to be on your list?' GS's face lit up- 'yes please dad'- so dad replied 'which item do you want to be taken off the list then? - GS thought for a minute and replied 'none, dad' - and dad quietly said 'then eat your brussels sprouts'! Dad took most of them off his plate and left him 3, which he ate.

Again, not saying that is the way to go- but it is their way, and GKs are very good eaters- they do quite a bit of traveling- and have got used to tra new foods from all over the world since they were babies (5 and 8 now). Perhaps the 'swapping for somehting else child will eat' begins very early and quickly becomes a 'game kids know they will win'. I am not sure.

It is amazing how many people are so good at bringing up other people's kids though Bonne chance Nil- but yes, it does seem the more fuss you make, the worst it gets- so try and keep calm about it (and yes, I know, easier said than done!)

Last edited by Odile; 08.04.2015 at 14:27.
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Old 08.04.2015, 13:45
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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How many meals can a toddler miss without doing himself any lasting harm?

In other words, I guess what I'm asking is: is it physical health that's typically the limiting factor here or parental time/energy?
IMO that's a good question to ask your kids' doctor because I believe this can vary depending on the toddler in question (same as a 20 year old adult of 55kg probably needs less food than a 20 year old adult of 100kg and feeding them both 2000kcal a day isn't going to have the same effect on both of them just because some book on nutrition says that 2000 is the perfect amount for adults of 20 years). So better safe than sorry.

As for the limiting factor I believe that should always be physical health - as for energy, don't do anything extra, just cook/serve what you normally would serve (perhaps if you had planned to serve broccoli three times with potatoes on day 1, rice on day 2 and noodles on day 3, switch from broccoli to carrots on day 3 ). Making the parental energy the limiting factor could have a negative effect on your relationship with your kid because it could turn into a "mom's always annoyed with me when I eat [because toddler doesn't eat yet when you're not annoyed, but I don't think it's easy for a toddler to string 2 and 2 together and that this should become the toddler's problem], why is that?" issue. So do the "serve up regular meals without varying the daily routine" for as long as your kids' doc suggests.

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Good question Mathnut.

My aunt used to be very strict on food with my cousins. I saw one of them refusing to eat something for lunch and he got it served to him again on dinner and the day after on breakfast and the lunch until he finally decided to eat it.

My cousin was about 8-10 years old back then, not something I would do on my 4 years old.

Maybe I should but I don't think I have the toughness she had.
I believe that to be the absolutely wrong way to deal with anybody - if you don't eat something because it e.g. makes you feel nauseous, you won't appreciate having it put in front of you until you eat it out of whichever reason, be that hunger/frustration/annoyance, but it can make you hate the food and the person serving it - nicely paving the path to an eating disorder. Even if it isn't nausea, this power-tripping can be the basis of an ED. Just serve what you would have served the rest of the family. If your son didn't eat the tomatoes which were served as veggies in the last meal, but during this meal he refuses to eat the carrots (no tomatoes being served this time), let it be, maybe during the next meal he will eat the cucumber which is being served. But serving the same unwanted food repeatedly just for "I will make you eat this" purposes has too much power-tripping in it which IMO isn't healthy for healthy boundaries which kids should develop.

/end sermon


I just googled food faces - perhaps some inspiration for the next food-chopping episode


Last edited by glowjupiter; 08.04.2015 at 14:28.
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  #46  
Old 08.04.2015, 14:50
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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"just hold out, he'll eat whatever's in front of him when he's hungry enough" . is it physical health that's typically the limiting factor here or parental time/energy?
the trouble with this approach is that at least in my case, hungry toddler also means a massively whiney cranky pain in the ass toddler. And just telling him "too bad, should have eaten before" does not help at this age. So in my case I think it's keeping my mental health that's the limiting factor.
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Old 08.04.2015, 15:44
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Re: Food: A very picky son

This was me as a kid, even into early adulthood, essentially I lived cereals, toast, fresh bread, cakes, fish fingers and chips, apparently I started off eating normally but had some sort of virus at some point and then started eating funny. I don't ever remember eating normally before the virus so it was before I have any real memories, I guess around the same age as your little one.

The bizarre thing was I liked the smell of some other things but would never try them, in the end what got me back to eating normally was pier pressure, I didn't want to be different from other kids/people of my own age group so started trying things, these days I love cooking, there are still a few things that I won't eat but on the whole I have a fairly normal diet, I even ate salads until cancer took half my stomach and large bowel.

May be worth checking to see if they have any food allergies, the human body/mind works in strange ways so if they had something new or something that might have gone bad and caused illness then that might account for the picky eating by only eating "safe" foods.
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  #48  
Old 08.04.2015, 15:45
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Ullainga ...well, yes- I remember that (I am a granny now- and oh we laugh with my adults kids about those days, when they were toddlers and then teenagers..) .. Problem is, your child knows this is your priority- so is on a win, win.. of course toddlers (and as said, wait till they are teenagers.... ) certainly know how to wind their parents up ...(in our case, usually me, as dad worked very very long hours and was rarely there to deal with any of their tantrums, which is perhaps the case for many 'tag along' spouses).

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Old 08.04.2015, 16:06
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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Mine aren't toddlers yet so I'm following this thread with some interest.

For all those who are saying "just hold out, he'll eat whatever's in front of him when he's hungry enough" - how long did this actually take with yours? Did they refuse one meal, two, a whole day's worth? Off and on for a week? How many meals can a toddler miss without doing himself any lasting harm? (I get that he won't exactly be an angel to live with in the meantime.) And did you have to repeat the process for every disliked food or was it once and done?

In other words, I guess what I'm asking is: is it physical health that's typically the limiting factor here or parental time/energy? Because if gentler methods didn't work, and if I gazed into a crystal ball and saw myself cooking three separate dinners every night for five years, right now my feeling is that I could put up with a pretty unpleasant few days of "veggie training" to avoid going down that road.
This method would never have worked with my nephew, he had a real food phobia, he only ate white bread, cheese spread and yoghurt for years from when he first started on solids. If he had been left hungry if he refused to eat something, he would have been a very sick little boy.
He had sessions with specialists (not sure if psychologists or nutritionists, I think both), who gradually got him to taste various foods, his problem seemed to be with texture more than anything, and over the years he improved.
He was, and is still a talented footballer, and that helped him to think more about food and its health benefits.
He is now a healthy, handsome young man of 17, who loves many sports and whose attitude towards food has improved hugely. He still is a little limited in what he will eat, but he eats well and healthily.
Nil, the list of food you gave that your son will eat looks pretty varied, my sister would have loved for her son to have eaten all those things.
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Old 08.04.2015, 16:31
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Our son is nearly 2 and a half and went from being a decent eater to very picky...He still wants whole milk warmed up in a bottle before bed which remains a struggle to curb

Some meals he will show a great appetite for and others he will simply refuse, despite our efforts to have him stay at the table regardless

We refuse to cook two different meals but will try to stay in a zone of things he has previously liked/eaten.

Frustrating as hell but we continue to hold out hope that it too will pass
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Old 08.04.2015, 16:48
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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Our son is nearly 2 and a half and went from being a decent eater to very picky...He still wants whole milk warmed up in a bottle before bed which remains a struggle to curb

Some meals he will show a great appetite for and others he will simply refuse, despite our efforts to have him stay at the table regardless

We refuse to cook two different meals but will try to stay in a zone of things he has previously liked/eaten.

Frustrating as hell but we continue to hold out hope that it too will pass
Really don't see what can be frustrating about this. What you describe is absolutely normal for a 2.5-year old.

And as for the bedtime bottle, there are so many pros and cons I can't be bothered reading/listening to them all. Obviously they need to get off it eventually but I would not stress about it at this stage!
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Old 08.04.2015, 17:18
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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the trouble with this approach is that at least in my case, hungry toddler also means a massively whiney cranky pain in the ass toddler. And just telling him "too bad, should have eaten before" does not help at this age. So in my case I think it's keeping my mental health that's the limiting factor.
Have you tried offering him carrot/cucumber/bell pepper/apple/orange/peach/etc. slices, grapes etc. during those cranky phases? Perhaps a small serving might curb his appetite until the next meal? Just an idea.
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Old 08.04.2015, 18:06
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Re: Food: A very picky son

And there was me being worried that the four year old wouldn't eat his squid.

All I can really add to the discussion is the following:


I got groaned at when I mentioned this on another related thread but a lot of adults seem to have a problem with vegetables and other healthy food.
If you don't enjoy something yourself, your kids will pick up on this and react in a similar way.

Eating should be fun.

Families should, where possible eat together.

If your children see you gorging on crisps and chocolate and cake outside of meals then you're really sending them the wrong message.

Everyone should, where possible, eat the same thing at meal times.

Don't make a big fuss if the children don't eat everything.

Two smaller helpings are better than one big one - through experimentation I found out that putting a big plateful of food in front of a small child is a massive appetite killer.

Don't have puddings everyday - fruit's fine but if you have some rich sweet dessert every day the the children will realise this and will make sure they have loads of room for it.


But, having said that - a lot of it is probably down to luck but it's great when it all works an your children grow to love food:
Our ten year old in a restaurant last week ordered Confit de canard. Why? Because he didn't know what it was and he wanted to try something new.
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Old 08.04.2015, 18:11
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Just a few general observations I made over the years:
1. Children copy their parents. I quickly learnt that I had to start eating yoghurt after dinner, as my son used me as an excuse for not tucking in into his dessert.

2. Parents eating at the same time as the kids influence, in my opinion, how the children behave at the table. Of course, it means we have dinner at 6.30 pm, but I am sure we'll reap the benefits later on.

3. The way we talk about food is also important. After the birth of my second child, I did a bit of calorie counting, to get to a more human shape. It was interesting to hear my son telling a girl at the nursery that he will not have pasta, because it will make him fat!

4. The more variety they are given when they are weaned, the less fussy they get when they grow older. I remember when I was reading up on breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding, I came across an article which stated (not a scientific assessment) that breastfed babies generally have an advantage over bottle-fed as they get a taste of the food we are eating through the milk. Thus making the transition to the actual food is not so much of a surprise to them.

5. Pickiness should not be confused with intolerance. Some children genuinely suffer discomfort when they eat certain foods.




Edit: Looks like Tom writes faster than me ;o)
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Old 08.04.2015, 18:33
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Re: Food: A very picky son

As a child I had no option. It was eat what you were given or go without. We were not allowed to leave the table until we had finished. There were a few things that our parents accepted we didn't like but they were very much the exception.

At school it was even worse. You had to eat whatever you were given and would have to stay until it was finished, even being close to force fed on occasions.

Whilst this is likely to be considered extreme these days, I do agree that once you give in to children it is the start of the slippery slope. Encouragement and reward rather than punishment should be the way
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Old 08.04.2015, 18:40
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Re: Food: A very picky son

One thing I noticed through experience is that kids' appetite vary widely. And it's actually very healthy. Sometimes my son will pick at his food and eat next to nothing for a week or two, and then he'll eat like an ogre. It seems to be linked to growth spurts.

Kids instinctively know when to stop eating if they're full or don't need extra calories, which is wonderful. Us adults too often finish our plate because it's there, etc., which can lead to overweight.
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Old 09.04.2015, 12:20
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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Encouragement and reward rather than punishment should be the way.
Encouragement and reward for what? I very much agree with the quoted text as in that kids should be encouraged to taste new things (after all, there are some pretty terrific foods out there that one can't discover "just like that" i.e. without e.g. travel to new/unknown destinations), but not if it were to imply that kids should be encouraged to continue eating once they're full.

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Whilst this is likely to be considered extreme these days, I do agree that once you give in to children it is the start of the slippery slope.
I believe a middle ground should be chosen with anyone (kid or adult). Of course, there are rules that should remain firm (e.g. "we look left and right before crossing the street" or "we dispose of our garbage in the garbage can 30m away rather than dumping it on the floor", but everyone should be able to develop their own likes and dislikes, which I believe to be severely complicated and even sometimes made impossible if they aren't "given in to" in a reasonable fashion.
You want spaghetti when dinner is potatoes, veal and carrots*? Not going to happen. You want a mound of potatoes, no veal and only a small carrot*? Sure, no problem.

Why should only adults be allowed to establish boundaries?

*If you're allergic/intolerant to some foods (e.g. carrots), you get the replacement you agreed to before the meal (e.g. beets) - if you refuse to eat beets and say you'd like broccoli instead during the meal after having requested beets, tough.

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Old 09.04.2015, 12:25
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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Whilst this is likely to be considered extreme these days, I do agree that once you give in to children it is the start of the slippery slope. Encouragement and reward rather than punishment should be the way

I disagree with this too - the reward part actually. If you reward a child for eating his greens then you're re-enforcing the idea that they are an unpleasant thing to be dealt with quickly.

Encouragement for trying new things is great of course.
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Old 09.04.2015, 14:55
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Re: Food: A very picky son

Lots of good suggestions here and I think one of the main "take-home" messages is that you have to find out what works for your family and don't stress out about it.

Our oldest (5yr old) is very picky (though luckily not with veggies) and we've really tried everything. And I really do mean epically picky...she wore down her day care providers (two older women with about 50 years experience between the two) where they stopped even trying to get her to eat the lunches they made. We are finally feeling like she is coming around, partly due maturity and partly due our patience with her shenanigans wearing thin. Here are the compromises we've made: first, she has never liked meat, even when we tried sneaking it in...so we let her have a vegetarian option (e.g., no meat on her portion of pizza or a quesadilla instead of tacos). Or if we are having an American style meal (i.e., a chunk of meat), then we allow her to have a sandwich (usually peanut butter). We always have a fruit plate that we all eat off and we almost always have a vegetable side dish, which she eats. Secondly, she does not need to clean her plate, but she has to make a "good effort" and keep a good attitude with the food that is on it. Lastly, we have stopped bringing food with us when we go to other peoples places for dinner or to restaurants. She has to find something to eat wherever we are.

The one piece of advice that I wanted to offer (from my mother-in-law) is that people (both kids and adults) need to try dishes many times before they will consider it palatable...and its something actually kind of high, like 15 times. So, we don't let her decide that she dislikes something until she has tried it 15 different times....turns out, since we started this, there is no dish that we've made 15 times that she has ultimately decided she dislikes. Either we don't make things very often or she's come around to liking them.
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Old 10.04.2015, 17:15
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Re: Food: A very picky son

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I disagree with this too - the reward part actually. If you reward a child for eating his greens then you're re-enforcing the idea that they are an unpleasant thing to be dealt with quickly.

Encouragement for trying new things is great of course.
I wasn't suggesting reward for what is expected everday, just extra things. I was suggesting that the encouragement/reward approach for good actions is better than just punishing bad ones
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