I’m a pretty good cook, but my culinary skills are going to waste!
My nearly nine-year-old takes picky to a whole new level. He even dislikes “kid foods” such as macaroni, hot dogs, burgers and mashed potatoes. Fruits and vegetables? Forget about it.
His pickiness is partly my fault. He was my first child and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I really wanted to blame genetics, but has anyone actually done a study on picky eating being hereditary? Probably not.
The problem began back in the baby food days when he got old enough to start eating the “#3” jars with actual chunks of meat, veggies and pasta. He hated them – absolutely hated them – and would spit out anything with a texture he wasn’t familiar with.
I thought maybe he didn’t like the different textures being mixed, so I tried giving him macaroni and cheese. Fail.
I could go into extreme detail about everything I tried, because this went on for YEARS. To this day, he despises the taste and texture of pasta.
I’ll stick to a few tidbits of advice I received, what worked and what didn’t.
Advice: “Only feed him at meal times, and only feed him what everyone else is eating. Eventually, he’ll get hungry enough and eat what’s in front of him.”
Why That Didn’t Work: He got pickiness from dad and stubbornness from me. Just as the level of pickiness increased, so did the stubbornness. It turned out that his will power to starve was greater than my ability to let him go without food. I caved.
Advice: “Let him help prepare meals. Kids are more likely to try things if they helped make them.”
Why That Didn’t Work: My son’s gag reflex at the dinner table is nothing compared to his reaction to raw foods and ingredients.
Advice: “Grow your own vegetables and get your child involved in caring for the garden. It’s easier to get a child to eat things they’ve grown.”
Mixed Results: He did enjoy the gardening. We had a blast combing through the green bean plants, collecting the ripe ones and even snapping the ends off to throw them in the pot for cooking. That’s as far as he was willing to go. On the other hand, at Nana and Papa’s house, he loved eating grapes he picked off the vine, even though he has never really liked fruit.
A few years ago I panicked. He was about to start first grade and I worried about what he would eat at school. There was absolutely nothing on the menu he liked and he despised sandwiches. Even PB&J!
One nugget of advice eventually paid off. It was a slow, painstaking process and I thought we’d never get through it.
Someone told us to re-introduce the same new foods on a weekly basis. Instead of weekly, every few days I’d make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I started by cutting it into little squares, sometimes using a fun cookie cutter, then eventually presenting it whole. It took six months, but now he’ll gladly eat a peanut butter and jelly. We used this same method for chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and many other foods with a decent success rate.
Even now, he’s still very picky about food and dinner time is rarely an enjoyable time in our house. Maybe one day he’ll outgrow it, maybe he won’t.
Do you have picky eaters? What have you tried?