Dealing with a Picky Eater

Once upon a time, my son would eat what was on his plate. Green stuff. Red stuff. Spicy stuff. Not-so-spicy stuff. It didn’t matter.

Those days seem so long ago. Now every meal feels like a struggle.

Dining Table


“You shouldn’t have made this!” he’ll say angrily, pushing his food around on his plate. And I, too, can feel my anger rising and my frustration building. I then proceed to make the two mistakes that every parenting book will tell you not to do:

(1) I make a bribe (“If you finish your supper, you can…”).

(2) I tell him he has to finish everything on his plate to receive said bribe.

I know this is not good practice but it has become a reflex at this point. For my sanity and for the peace, however, I have to change this response. Our mealtimes are a big chunk of our family time and I don’t want our family time to be two frustrated parents bribing their son to eat his vegetables with the promise of ten minutes on the ipad.

I was looking for some advice on how to tackle this problem and Real Mom Nutrition’s advice hit home with me: Make one meal for everybody BUT be “sure there’s something on the table your child likes, even if it’s simply the tortillas and some fruit”.

Of course, if you are going to do that, you have to be okay that sometimes your child will not eat a balanced meal… Honestly, I struggle with that but I have to realize it’s just one day and it’s just one meal.

To take this idea a bit further, on Super Healthy Mom’s site, they suggest you “make a list of all the foods your kid eats at least 50% of the time”. Then, when meal planning, you can easily make sure at least one of the preferred foods is present at each meal. I’m certain that would be helpful for me so I wouldn’t have to do a mental inventory of all the things my son will eat when I’m planning the week’s meals.

I also like Eating Made Easy’s advice: “Don’t serve milk, juice, or any other caloric beverage with dinner. These drinks are filling and leave less room for healthy foods.” We always serve our kids milk with dinner and I know it’s the first thing they wolf down. Maybe they are drinking their calories instead of eating them and we’re setting ourselves up for failure?

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to prepare some food and try not to stress. It’s what’s for dinner. And if the meal doesn’t go well, maybe the next one will be better.

Are your kid’s picky? How do you approach mealtime?


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