Raising Kids is Tough : Picky Eaters

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This month, every Monday for the Raising Kids is Tough series we’re discussing your Eating Battles. We’re in the third week of hearing the experts advice those pesky eating and dining troubles.


This week I have gathered the information from two of the experts [Erin from The Intentional Parent and Sarah from Füdoo Boards] on how to deal when your kids refuse to eat particular foods – also known as a Picky Eater! 


The hands on experts have given their professional and personal answers to help lessen your eating battles that you submitted.

The Hands On Experts:

Your Eating Battles:

  • Dinner Table Battles : How do you deal with food battles at the dinner table
  • Going Out to Eat : What tips and advice can you give to make eating out go more smoothly with a preschooler and a baby?
  • Picky Eaters [The Experts’ advice below] :
    • My Toddler [almost 2] will not eat any meat he is getting protein at the moment through lentils, cheeses, fish and egg. At each meal we offer meat, minced, sliced, roasted etc… but it is either thrown to the dog, put in his mouth chewed and then spat out or ignored completely. Is this normal behavior? Or any ideas on getting him to eat meat?
    •  My youngest refuses to eat cheese or anything with cheese on it or try anything with cheese on it. I think I could deal with this if I knew WHY.  It happened about a year ago and he hasn’t touched anything with cheese since.
  • Healthy Snacks [Next Week’s Topic] : I want to give my son a healthy snack after his nap, but don’t want to turn it into meal. What is a good thing to give him?
[Do you have a question that wasn’t listed? Submit your Raising Kids is Tough questions!]
The experts each chose a couple questions to give their input on, some questions have answers from multiple experts, while others may only have one expert’s advice.



EATING BATTLES : PICKY EATERS

 

My Toddler [almost 2] will not eat any meat. He is getting protein at the moment through lentils, cheeses, fish and egg. At each meal we offer meat, minced, sliced, roasted etc… but it is either thrown to the dog, put in his mouth chewed and then spat out or ignored completely. Is this normal behavior? Or any ideas on getting him to eat meat? – asked by Cerys

This advice and helpful tips come from two experts:

 


Parenting Expert [Erin from The Intentional Parent] :

As a long time vegetarian, raising 2 vegetarian kids, my initial inclination was to avoid this question altogether; but then I reconsidered. The problem of getting your son to eat meat, is much the same as getting a resistant child to try any food, and I have tons of experience with that! [Disclaimer, while I am a vegetarian due to personal preference, I live with a meat eater, and I have never converted anybody to being vegetarian, I promise!]
With that being said, my question to you would be, “Why does your child need to eat meat?” [I would ask you this same question if your child was refusing to eat broccoli by the way, “does he need it? Or can he get the same nutrition elsewhere”]  If he is getting the nutrition that he requires elsewhere, why is it essential that he eats meat, or broccoli, or whatever.
Children’s likes and dislikes seem to come and go pretty regularly at this age. Next week he may be eating meat fine and refusing to eat eggs. The food preferences of children at this age often have as much to do with power and control over what they put into their body as actual likes and dislikes. If you don’t create a power struggle out of it, chances are that it will be very short lived.
If you are interested, here is a link to a blog post that I wrote a while back focusing on how to cope with a picky eater, encourage them to try new foods, and maintain your sanity: Strategies for Coping with a Picky Eater While Maintaining Your Sanity

Food Expert [Sarah from Füdoo Boards] :
 
I have heard quite a few parents with this same complaint.  As always let your child’s doctor know so it’s on record, and hopefully you will look back on this stage in a year and see your child is eating the same food as your family and that it was, in fact, a “developmental phase”.  Here are two things you should take comfort in. 

  1. Your child seems to be getting the protein that she needs to grow properly. The protein rich foods that your child is eating, like lentils, fish, egg, and cheeses, are terrific for his health and development. It may be frustrating that he isn’t learning to enjoy the protein choices you like, but he is getting his protein in. Keep up the good work!
  2. Hang in there, because chances are, this too shall pass. It seems like this is one of those phases that your child is going through. Meat is tougher to chew and has a distinctive texture that some kids don’t go for right away. It’s difficult to “hide” meat in dishes because even ground meat stands out in the texture of sauces and the like.
Have you tried tofu? Extra firm tofu can be cubed and it is softer and creamier than meat. It can also be flavored with anything from BBQ sauce to good old ranch dip. Read “Family Friendly Explorations in Tofu” and “How Much Protein Does My Child Need?”.
– Sarah, Fudoo Boards

This series is sponsored by Füdoo Boards.Fudoo Boards provide an exciting way for even your
preschooler to track their eating habits and instills healthy eating as well as a healthy lifestyle.


Submit your Raising Kids is Tough questions!

 

My youngest refuses to eat cheese.Or anything with cheese on it or try anything with cheese on it. I think I could deal with this if I knew WHY.  It happened about a year ago and he hasn’t touched anything with cheese since.  

– asked by TexasHolly

This advice and helpful tips come from two experts:

 


Parenting Expert [Erin from The Intentional Parent] :

I have to say that I smiled a bit when I read this question, as my youngest seems to be going through a similar anti-cheese phase. We have “pizza night” every week or two around here, and my youngest used to pick off the cheese and eat that first. It was actually a bit of a struggle to get him to eat the remaining part of the pizza. Lately however, [over the past few months] he has done an abrupt turn around, he now takes the cheese off of his pizza and will not touch it. He has also given up cheese sticks, grilled cheese, pretty much anything with cheese.
In my household, I have chalked it up to his being finicky, and eventually he will decide that he likes cheese again [or maybe he wont ever care for cheese].  These episodes are a pretty common occurrence around here though!
Bananas are another recent example of my kids… fickle nature. Until about a month ago my kids both loved bananas; couldn’t get enough of them. I’d go shopping and buy 2 bunches of bananas at a time. Now, however, neither one of them will touch a banana. Even if I buy only 1 or 2 bananas at the store, they seem to just go bad, as no one will touch them.
I think that taste preferences change frequently with children, and we may never know “Why”, but it is normal, developmentally.
Even as an adult I go through phases where there are certain foods that I just don’t feel like eating [but since I am buying and preparing the food, nobody else would notice]. As long as your son is meeting all of his nutritional needs elsewhere, cheese is probably not essential.
If you are interested in encouraging him to expand his repertoire of food, I wrote a post on my blog a while back on strategies for coping with a picky eater: Strategies for Coping with a Picky Eater While Maintaining Your Sanity 
And here are some great books for picky eaters:
   

Food Expert [Sarah from Füdoo Boards] :
 
Making sure your child is getting the calcium rich foods he needs is most important. Learn how many servings of dairy, or calcium rich foods your child needs each day.
Yogurt has always been a staple for my kids. And don’t forget about the milk. The “no cheese” phase will hopefully pass so you can stop picking off the cheese off your kid’s pizza and start enjoying your family’s food the way it was meant to be eaten.
– Sarah, Fudoo Boards

More eating battles have been answered by the hands on : as we grow Facebook community.

  • No Milk : “I am trying to get my 2 1/2 year old to drink milk. He was a breastfed baby and I have tried many different types of milk/flavors and he has no interest in it. Any ideas for me?” — Stacy
  • Not Eating – Anorexia : “My daughter is refusing to eat anything but ice cream. After two days of her not eating [since I said no way] I’ve realized that this is becoming a control battle which leads me to imagine the worst – anorexia… …HELP!!” — Melissa

These experts are very much appreciated for giving their time to answer these questions on hands on : as we grow. Please check out their websites. Thank you experts for your extensive knowledge!
Next Monday, we’re talking about Healthy Snack options! For any additional eating related questions that are submitted throughout the month, I’ll be posting them on the hands on : as we grow facebook page. The experts may pop in there to give their advice as well as others from the community.
And thank you to all the readers who have submitted questions! Head over and submit your question – next month’s topic will be all about unwanted behaviors that probably embarrass you and how to nix them, or maybe they’re just normal! [All topics are welcome, we’ll get to your question in the future!]

 



– This series is sponsored by Fudoo Boards.

jamie @ hands on : as we grow
Henry is 3 years.
George is 10 months.
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5 Comments

  1. Johnpaulyard says

    My daughter will be 2 in December and she has steartd to get very picky about food. She used to eat just about anything I put in front of her including any vegetable, but lately she refuses all vegetables if they are not mixed into some other food. Here are some things she likes for lunch or dinner that are healthy:1. macaroni and cheese made with whole wheat noodles with peas and diced carrots mixed in; apple slices; water2. peanut butter and sliced banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, milk3. whole wheat pasta with cooked chopped broccoli and parmesan cheese, fresh fruit, milk4. grilled cheese sandwich on wheat bread, tomato soup, milk or water (cut the sandwich into strips and let the kids dip the strips into the tomato soup)5. baked potato with grated cheese, diced grilled chicken, and diced tomato for toppings; fruit salad, milk or water

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