twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Don't Pick on Picky Eaters

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

What the heck do you do when your kid refuses to eat anything healthy?!

child disliking broccoli

JJ Virgin: You're in the midst of major mom guilt! Dinner last night for your 7-year-old consisted of a plate of half-eaten mac and cheese and then a big bowl of ice cream. You can't remember when an actual veggie touched his lips. Wait, it isn't your fault. Everyone knows that your Bobby is such a picky eater.

Wait just a sec. Stop picking on your picky eater.

First of all, kids are supposed to be picky eaters. You can't expect to sit down and serve them halibut with some nice steamed broccoli and have little Susie say, "Mommy, can I please have seconds?" It's never going to happen. Remember when your mom sat you down in front of that plate of liver or gray meatloaf? Ick!

My suggestion is that you stop battling biology and don't give your kids what they will never eat. It's like trying to teach your dog how to sing a song. You can try and then want to rip your hair out. (Never mind that one mother out of 100 who gloats that her child eats salmon. Go away!)

Your job as a mom is to make food that's as clean and nutritious as possible while being the type of stuff your child loves to eat. Think of it this way: You're going to let them "order" from your kiddie menu, but it will just be healthier without the kids even realizing it.

If your child loves spaghetti and meatballs, buy an organic wheat pasta and organic marinara sauce. They won't even know you made the switch. Burgers? Make sure that you buy buns that don't contain high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. Find the leanest grass fed or organic beef. Find those nitrate-free hot dogs, or make your own chicken fingers that are healthier -- check out my recipe. You can also serve grilled chicken with organic ketchup. Kids are also usually crazy about teriyaki chicken. You can even make a barbecue sauce that's better for you by adding a teaspoon of molasses to half a cup of organic ketchup. Buy organic mac and cheese. Try chicken breakfast sausages or eggs with organic cheese. The key is not to start the day with a big dose of sugar from those kiddie cereals.

As a mom, focus on having your children eat healthy protein and some vegetables along with a high-fiber carb. Most children love carrot sticks, and will eat broccoli and romaine lettuce. You can combine all three into a salad with chicken or allow them to dip the veggies in an oil and vinegar mixture as a side. Make a game out of exposing your children to new vegetables, insisting that it's Try Something New Night. They might just eat a little bite of spinach or just two mouthfuls of cauliflower. Exposure equals preference. Let them stop when they want to because you don't want to turn the dinner table into a battlefield. But keep exposing them to the new things -- and eat it with them. You can't say "try this" and then refuse to put it in your mouth. By the way, I have found that if I involve them in the prep, the chance of them eating the food goes up exponentially!

As for dessert, most kids will eat fruit. If the kids want ice cream, then take them to the local frozen yogurt shop. Order a mini or a small, and you will get less calories and less sugar than ice cream and they won't notice the difference.

There are times you will be stuck getting fast food with the kids. Take them to Subway and let them make their own sandwiches packed with veggies. You can even ask the counter worker to pull out some of the bread in the wheat roll. Go light on the mayo. Skip the soda and drink water.

Embrace your picky eater and don't spend every meal begging or yelling at your child to clean their plate. It's far better to sneak in the healthy foods, practice good portion control, and give in a little bit. Yes, you should pack them a chicken or turkey sandwich on a wheat pita for lunch with baby carrots instead of potato chips. Then add one of those organic chocolate chip cookies as a treat.

Remind your child to eat the meal first and then the treat.

Will they? Probably not, but you can dream.



next: The Tween 'Twilight' Obsession
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 18, 2009, 6:04 PM

I blame the parents

tennmom November 18, 2009, 7:42 PM

My 11 year old daughter will try any fruit or vegetable and eats most of them. My 9 year old daughter did the same until about 3 years ago. She now will not willingly eat any fruit or veggie or drink any type of fruit juice.
She will, if pushed, eat a couple of bites of some vegetables.
I buy step 3 babyfood carrots & put it into spaghetti sauce, tacos, chili. She doesn’t even notice.

Secret Mommy November 18, 2009, 10:36 PM

Yeah, I couldn’t disagree more with this article. My 2 year old eats EVERYTHING we eat because we have always fed him that way. My husband and I both grew up eating the food that our mothers put on the table. Yes, sometimes it was DISGUSTING, but I feel like since my kids will never be served liver and onions for dinner, they absolutely cannot complain about grilled salmon, pulled pork or roasted chicken.

I know my son has a lot of time to grow up and start voicing his opinions about maybe not wanting to eat certain things, but I think if a family’s STANDARD PRACTICE is to make and serve a single, healthy, variety-packed meal that EVERYONE eats, then children WILL eat better foods because they aren’t being pampered and given chicken nuggets or mac and cheese every night. I can guarantee that my son will never even know the option exists to request “kid food.” We make one thing and we all eat it. If you don’t want to eat it, then you’ll be pretty hungry for breakfast in the morning. :)

Stefanie April 21, 2010, 5:07 AM

As a member of the NESQUIK Shakers team I just learned that NESQUIK is now offering a brand new product specifically designed for the lunch box! It’s located in the juice aisle at grocery stores. This is a perfect way for kids to get something healthy that tastes great.

Elizabeth May 13, 2010, 9:05 PM

One of the best things my parents did in raising me and my three brothers was to make us eat everything. We were each allowed to have ONE thing we did not like, and other than that, we were expected to politely eat every kind of food set in front of us- clearing the plate was not necessary, but eating a legitimate amount of each food in the meal was.

Kids are only picky eaters because they have been TRAINED to be. As in, if a parent lets the kid decide what he or she wants to eat, the child learns that refusing to eat certain foods is okay. This “tricking” kids into eating more healthy foods via substituting macaroni for whole-wheat pasta, etc. is EXACTLY why we have such problems with obesity and health in the younger generations. Children should be raised with the understanding that eating vegetables and other healthy foods is essential to becoming big and strong. Not only not teaching children the importance of good health early in life—but also not following through by mandating it— is essentially parental neglect.

And sure, I was jealous of other kids who were allowed to get mac and cheese with root beer every night for dinner and to follow it up with handfuls of candy. And sure, I had my occasional sulk, and annoyance with my parents about it. But now, as a soon-to-be college graduate entering the real world, I am SO thankful that my parents raised me this way.
Not only am I able to eat absolutely everything (while I initially disliked some foods, in being made to eat them, I have become accostumed to their taste, and now at the very worst, I just feel indifferent to some things), but I am an adventurous eater and willing to try anything once. It has even helped with little things, such as the fact that at dinner parties and business gatherings, I will never have to offend the host with “I don’t like”s - a problem my friends have faced, which is simply social inappropriate in some circumstances. Lastly, I am a healthy, in shape individual, and proud to be so.

Claire May 13, 2010, 9:11 PM

One of the best things my parents did in raising me and my three brothers was to make us eat everything. We were each allowed to have ONE thing we did not like, and other than that, we were expected to politely eat every kind of food set in front of us- clearing the plate was not necessary, but eating a legitimate amount of each food in the meal was.

Kids are only picky eaters because they have been TRAINED to be. As in, if a parent lets the kid decide what he or she wants to eat, the child learns that refusing to eat certain foods is okay. This “tricking” kids into eating more healthy foods via substituting macaroni for whole-wheat pasta, etc. is EXACTLY why we have such problems with obesity and health in the younger generations. Children should be raised with the understanding that eating vegetables and other healthy foods is essential to becoming big and strong. Not only not teaching children the importance of good health early in life—but also not following through by mandating it— is essentially parental neglect.

And sure, I was jealous of other kids who were allowed to get mac and cheese with root beer every night for dinner and to follow it up with handfuls of candy. And sure, I had my occasional sulk, and annoyance with my parents about it. But now, as a soon-to-be college graduate entering the real world, I am SO thankful that my parents raised me this way.
Not only am I able to eat absolutely everything (while I initially disliked some foods, in being made to eat them, I have become accostumed to their taste, and now at the very worst, I just feel indifferent to some things), but I am an adventurous eater and willing to try anything once. It has even helped with little things, such as the fact that at dinner parties and business gatherings, I will never have to offend the host with “I don’t like”s - a problem my friends have faced, which is simply social inappropriate in some circumstances. Lastly, I am a healthy, in shape individual, and proud to be so.

PhotogLady August 28, 2010, 2:42 PM

I’m really to be finally posting online after all these years. There really is no mystique (sp) about it, is there? I just dropped by your blog and had to write. I’m a recent college grad, journalism major if you must know, and I love photography. I’ve got my site up but it’s nothing to brag about yet. None of my stuff’s been posted. Soon as I figure out how to do that, I’ll spend the afternoon posting my best shots. anyway just thought I’d drop a line. I hope to return with more substantial stuff, stuff you can actually use. SPG

Cameras and Beaches Lady August 28, 2010, 3:30 PM

I’m excited to be finally posting online after all these years. There really is no mystery about it, is there? I just dropped by your blog and had to write something. I’m a recent college grad, journalism major if you must know, and I absolutely love the art of photography. I’ve got my site up but it’s nothing to boast about yet. None of my stuff’s been posted. Soon as I figure out how to do that, I’ll spend the day posting my best pictures. anyways just thought I’d drop a line. I hope to return with more substantial stuff, stuff you can actually use. SPG

Sharda Parchman February 11, 2011, 4:43 PM

It is amazing what you can read on the web. Thank youfor this.

Bert Kough February 16, 2011, 12:57 AM

It is much easier to learn from ?this article than watch mindless videos explanation on You Tube or elsewhere.Thanks.?


Leave a reply:



(not displayed)

     




Avoid clicking "Post" more than once
Back to top >>
advertisement