05 January 2011

Picky, Picky

It is time to address picky eaters.  We all have them; we may even be one ourselves.

I'm not a child expert unless you count my experience of raising two very different boys being an expert, and I'm not a nutritionist, psychologist, or pediatrician.  Only "the mom in the kitchen," my version of Man on the Street.

Here, then, are some random thoughts.  Take them as the offerings they are.

  • Most kids go through picky phases.  And like all phases, they wax and wane.  It's not worth getting too worried about.
  • I am not a short-order cook.  I make one breakfast per day, with the alternative of plain Cheerios, if the breakfast I make is not to one's  liking.
  • For any dish that is either new or questionable, I dish out one No-Thank-You bite.  This tip came from Meal Makeover Moms.  And I literally put one small bite, not spoonful on the boys' plates.  They take the bite and either tell me "no thank you," or they decide they like it and get some more.  It takes the pressure off everyone and greatly reduces strife at the breakfast table.
  • Alternative junk in the house is minimized. Not eliminated, as we are human and enjoy a cookie now and then.
  • To combat pickiness at dinner, we have a set window for snacks.  The cutoff is 2 1/2 hours before dinner.  If someone is starving before dinner, I can usually set out some carrot sticks ahead of time.
  • Politeness is encouraged.  Cool Guy's mantra is "Thank you for making this, mom, but it's not my favorite."  I can live with that.
  • If you serve a variety of items at breakfast, you won't have "all your eggs in one basket."  (Pardon the pun.)  So when I made the veggie egg scramble with Green Stuff in it, I also served bacon and oranges plus juice.  Encyclopedia had his one bite of eggs, said no thank you, and was satisfied with the bacon and orange.  We can all live with that.  This is especially important with serving something new or some historically disliked item.
  • Kids' tastes change.  Actually, so do adults.  I won't even go into my 30-year refusal to eat corn.  What a fool I was.  Encyclopedia refused eggs for 10 years and last night asked for them for breakfast today.  Persevere.
  • Excitement is contagious.  I get excited when oranges are in season.  Ditto for apples, peaches, blueberries.  I talk about it, share my enthusiasm.  And the boys also get excited.  Right now, we are each consuming about 2 oranges per day, by request.  And I KNOW they got that from me.
And one final word of advice to stiffen the spine: We are the parents, and one job of ours is to ensure that our family is fed well, with food to thrive on.  That is our calling and one of our many responsibilities.  Knowing that, it is worth the effort it takes to present food that is healthy, tasty, "real."  Food should not be a place for power struggles, and there is no accounting for tastes.  Each should be able to decide what and how much to eat, but as long as the options are consistent, like my plain Cheerios option, variety available, and the cook emotionally detached (really, it's not personal), breakfast can be joyful time.

Do you have any tips for dealing with picky eaters?  Please let me know!

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