My Children Will Only Eat PB & J


Paichka

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This is a rant thread, I hope you all will forgive me.

 

I am 31 years old.  I'm an officer in the Army, pretty much an all-around bad ass because people have to do what I say.  I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal.

 

My children have not gotten the memo.

 

They are 2 and 4, and they WILL NOT EAT ANYTHING EXCEPT PB & J.**  I've been sneaky, I've been using almond butter or cashew butter and mashed banana or no-sugar-added jelly, but if I try to use gluten free bread the 4 year old rolls her eyes and says, "Mommy.  This is FAKE bread.  The real bread, please."  Even at 4, she understands SWYPO.

 

I've tried the "take a no thank you bite" route, getting them involved in helping to make dinner, the "this is what mommy made, I'm not making you PB & J" route, I've tried sending them to bed hungry.  Nothing works.  Sometimes they scream, sometimes they cry.  Sometimes they just stare at me with their implaccable blue eyes like Village of the Damned.  But they WILL NOT EAT.  At least not if mommy made it.

 

**That's not true, actually.  They'll eat cheeseburger happy meals from McDonalds.  I told my husband that if he buys another happy meal I'm divorcing him, but he just laughed hollowly and said he'd rather they eat crap than stay up all night screaming that they're hungry.

 

*sigh*

 

Okay, so this was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I needed to get it off my chest.  When they were younger, they ate everything.  My son was a hoover, my daughter was adventurous (she ate Thai Food, for cripe's sake).  We move to Louisiana, and now they're convinced the food groups are white bread and Smucker's.  I don't know what happened.  They're in day care, and I can't control what they eat there, so maybe that's part of it.

 

I'm sure there are threads on here that I should read and research, and I will, but please feel free to commiserate with me on getting your kids to eat healthily.

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I'm sorry. I really don't have any good ideas, but I will commiserate with you anyhow. Since you live in LA and have a longer growing season, have you tried planting a garden with them? Maybe a pizza garden? Plant things like tomatoes, basil, peppers, squash, zucchini, garlic...Even if it's not Whole30 compliant, pizza is a great way to get veggies into kids. It's even better when you make it yourself. You could even go as far as to make your own 30 minute mozzerella! We love to make our own pizzas and it's better here b/c everyone likes something different. One girl likes mushrooms, and one like pepperoni. My husband and I like yellow squash and zucchini, onions, peppers, pesto, basically whatever we can find! If they like burgers, make them. Again, compromise where you can. Make a better, cleaner version of what they like. As for daycare, you should have quite a bit of say over what they eat there. You are the parent, not them. Ask. Is your husband on board with any of the changes? Is he following the diet? If he doesn't believe that it's needed, then he will be your biggest roadblock. He's got to understand what food like that does to the bodies and minds of adults, let alone children. Again, I am so sorry that you are going through all this! Keep moving forward and celebrate the baby steps!

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My oldest also calls us out on the "healthy" foods. We've tried everything as well and the only way he'll eat his veggies is if I grind it up and hide it in the meatloaf/meatballs, whatever. It helps if I include him in the shopping for fruits at the grocery store and veggies at the farmers market (he's pretty limited to 3 veggies he'll willingly eat). I also include him in some of my meal planning and make healthier versions of what he likes. That's the best I can do. He still eats white bread and has a juice box a day. We have eliminated the milk at home, though, which in consider a success. Baby steps, I guess!

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ErinL,

 

They'll eat green beans sometimes.  The biggest problem is one that my husband and I brought on ourselves -- there are snacks (like yogurt raisins) that the kids know are in the pantry, and they want those rather than the meat & veggies that I made.  The pizza idea may work once they're a little older, but right now they won't eat pizza if it has "stuff" on it.  They're just super picky right now, which is frustrating because they didn't used to be.

 

My husband is on board with what I make, but he won't give up things like potato chips.  He eats what I make for breakfast and dinner, and usually takes leftovers for lunch, he just drinks a ton of soda and eats crap for snacks.  I'm actually okay with the kids eating non-Paleo; they both drink milk (sourced locally when we lived in Virginia; we're in LA now though so they drink what we can find at the commissary).  We used to take them to farmer's markets, and they'd eat what we picked out, but there aren't any farmer's markets around here.  The closest one is in Nachitoches (veggies only) and the closest big one is in Shreveport.  I can't drive 2.5 hours every weekend to pick up veggies and milk, you know?  I buy meat online, but as for the rest, we make do with what's at the commissary. 

 

The biggest issue is trying to get the kids to eat something green.  I'd be fine with almond butter & banana if they'd occasionally eat a green vegetable to go along with it.  I try putting baby carrots, green beans, celery, on their plates -- it's really hit or miss.  They'll both eat fruit, and they don't eat a lot of junk...I just can't get them to eat...like...real food. 

 

As far as day care, it's a military day care and without a doctor's note that they have food allergies or something, they won't feed them anything other than what's on the menu.  It's all SAD-healthy, which I guess is better than pizza and breadsticks all the time.  I guess?

 

I just hate fighting with them about food -- it makes it a power struggle and sets up the exact type of issues I didn't want them to have with food and eating and diet and all of that.

 

Or I could just be overthinking the whole thing.

 

Bah.

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For us, the only way to get our kids on board is to clear the house of the junk.  As long as we have pretzels, cookies, granola bars - anything - in cabinets, drawers, or hidden behind spices - they seem to know and desire only that food item.    I also know my kids will eat once they are hungry enough and I'd rather listen to them complain and cry than feed them junk.  It's too bad your husband isn't on board with that because the kids will milk it for all they're worth.

 

We did let our kids help choose meals from the cookbooks which helped them feel a bit of control.  They chose things like paleo chicken nuggets and homemade ketchup, but they also chose things like squash with pineapple.  Because your kids used to eat a wide variety of foods, that means they might be more open to some of the new recipes (in time and if they help choose and if hungry enough).  Our kids love pesto so we made a lot of pesto with spaghetti squash.  In fact, we just pretty much fell in love with spaghetti squash because we could make spaghetti with it and also thai curry dishes.  

 

I feel for you.  It's a much harder process if the kids know that both parents are not quite on the same page.

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Ellyn Sattler's books might help.  Essentially it is your job to put healthy meals on the table (always with at least one thing you know the kids will eat).  It is their job to decide how much and what to eat.  (That is a super simple explanation.)

 

My eat anything kid definitely narrowed his approach over the years--this weekend he refused to eat the hamburgers he adored 6 months ago.  I do "short order" cook breakfast from a narrow range of choices and lunch gets packed or bought at school.  But dinner is dinner unless we are dining out.   We involve him in the meal planning, purchasing of the food and talk about foods that make us feel better and worse.   

 

You might want to try sunflower seed butter.  I can't tell the difference between it and peanut butter.  We also use sprouted bread rather than gluten free for him.  Baby steps...

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I have two kids and my 6 year old is getting better but my 2 year old is quite picky and does not eat vegetables unless I blend them up into a delicious smoothie.  I use kale (started with spinach), ripe banana, blueberries or strawberries. I add ground flaxseeds or hempseeds.  You can use water or sweeten it up with orange juice.  My fruit are frozen so it thickens it up nicely.  I put it in an opaque cup as it is green as not a kid-friendly green.  I am very happy when they drink my smoothie because I know it is healthy.  I saw the Paleoista put a hard-boiled egg in her smoothie on the Dr.Oz show.  Dr. OZ said he could not taste it.  Haven't tried that yet.

 

Anyway, just an another idea.

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Thank you for all of the advice!

 

I got the 4 year old and had her help me make homemade nut butter yesterday.  She got a kick out of it, and was licking the spoon after.  We roasted almonds and pecans, then popped them in the food processor until creamy.  I wish I had a Vitamix so I could get the really creamy texture, but she seemed to really like it anyway.  I gave her a stick-on label and some crayons and had her make a label for the butter, which is now sitting in our fridge.  I'll see if I can convince her to eat it with some celery sticks or banana this afternoon for her snack.

 

I am going to start pureeing veggies into sauces and whatnot -- I made spaghetti (compliant sauce and regular noodles, the hubs and I ate spaghetti squash), which my daughter ate, but the 2 year old wouldn't touch.  They both love breakfasts, so I usually make them banana pancakes...it's lunch and dinner that turn into a headache.  I try to get them to help out as much as possible -- my daughter will help me make dinner, and then refuse to try it.  :-p  She's a stubborn little monkey, I tell ya.

 

I wish I could convince my husband to get rid of the junk food (yogurt raisins, potato chips, popcorn) but he won't budge.

 

Ah well.  He ordered pizza for dinner last night, and I made myself Pad Thai from Well Fed.  So go me?  The kids didn't even eat the pizza, just the breadsticks.  My son had a banana and some milk along with it, so I guess that's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

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You are in a rough spot indeed.  Robin has a bunch of articles she's written and maybe some of them will resonate with you.  I saw she posted them in one of the other forums on kids.

 

Sliced deli meat from Applegate farms for lunch?

Dried apricots?

Homemade ketchup covering everything?

 

Good luck to you!  What a drag that pizza and breadsticks entered the home.  There's no way my kids would eat their real foods if that happened.  (Nor would I :)

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Something else that works (if it meshes with your parenting style) is to look the child straight in the eye and say sadly, "I'm sorry.  I don't think you're old enough to really appreciate/enjoy/ what I'm eating.  Maybe when you're X age."    Damned if my kid doesn't immediately demand a taste and then eat half of the bowl of the chicken livers or whatever else it.  Today it was salmon salad with guacamole.  (He has been eating tuna salad with avocado for a while but would not/could not make the transition to salmon salad.)

 

Now you have to be careful because then you have the problem of going to a mainstream fast casual dining place and actually knowing there is nothing on the kids menu your child will like and having to navigate that.  But by then the palate is usually expanded enough that you can find something on the adult menu.  

 

(Oh, and needless to say there are kids with eating disorders, texture issues and other medical issues that my "wisdom" doesn't apply to.)

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I am in a similar situation (except hubby is totally on board).

 

My children are autistic with sensory integration disorder. My 4 year old daughter can smell from the other room if the bacon you are cooking her isn't the brand she likes. Neither child has ever dipped any of their food in anything because dip is gross. All dip. They will only eat my homemade jam and if we run out before canning season starts again then they whine about the lack of jam for 3 months.

 

We are taking the "boiling a frog" approach. You know, chuck a frog in boiling water and it jumps right out, put it in cold water and heat it up slowly and it'll sit in there until it dies.  (Or so I'm told.)

 

It has taken us a full year of slow changes (with resistance at every step) to switch from conventional bacon to local sugar & nitrite-free bacon.

 

My kids ate gravy for the first time ever the other night (Korean short ribs from NomNom Paleo).

 

It's hard but I've found that substituting foods doesn't work. It's Kraft PB and Mom's jam on white Villagio bread or no sandwich at all. There's no way they are eating almond butter and banana on paleo bread. Not gonna happen.

 

It is incredibly frustrating but we have done what we can. They eat a better diet than most kids. We are at this point allowing 2 servings of grain a day. One at breakfast and one at lunch. Once the breakfast cereal in the house is gone the only grain option in the morning will be organic, gluten-free steel cut oats with milk and one small spoon of coconut sugar. Lunch grains tends to be a few crackers. Neither of them has had bread in a couple of days now and I am hoping not to reintroduce it at all.

 

We have not (and will not) take away their dairy but they don't drink milk, only water. Milk is for their one bowl of cereal and there is cheese and fruit juice or honey sweetened yogurt.

 

The reality is they can only eat what someone gives them and we have 3 choices.

 

1. Let them keep eating the way they eat.

2. Change things slowly until you reach an acceptable balance.

3. Go cold turkey and deal with the fallout.

 

We've chosen option 2.

 

DH and I have been 85% paleo for a couple of years but today is day 1 of our first Whole 30.

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I have three kids (6 and twin 4 year olds) all of whom are extremely picky eaters. Pre-W30 I did loads of research on how to handle kids who won't eat for whatever reason and in conclusion I have decided to worry less. I need to wait until they are a bit older and better able to reason. The 6-year old eats fruit, courgette, Bolognese sauce with lots of (tiny, almost pulverised) vegetables, eggs and that's about it that I consider to be reasonable food; one of my 4-year olds eats fish, and pears; my other four year old eats fruit. I focus on the fact all of them DO EAT food with a decent nutritional profile: and I try not to worry too much about the other stuff they eat (grains for breakfast with milk; bread and cheese for lunch). We do let them eat a tiny bit of sugar (I am working on that one -- I would like to get rid of completely, hubbie concerned we will raise weirdy beardy children) but it is seriously limited. What makes me happy, though, is none of them will touch what I consider "proper junk" food and often even when offered cake/chocolate by others they will have a tiny bit and then declare it enough. I talk to them about healthy eating all the time: they all know what protein, fat and carbohydrates are; they know that fruit, vegetables and water are really good for you, that protein is important for growth, and  that sugar and eating things out of balance is not healthy ... I model healthy eating and there is plenty of good food around the house. I trust that as they grow they will be more willing to experiment with healthy food. We grow vegetables which they love doing but won't eat them; they cook with me all the time and know the names of all the fruits and vegetables we use and are comfortable touching them and preparing them but won't eat them. They have an issue with the texture and smell of meat (which I did as a child as well).

 

I live in fear of eating disorders, though, so I don't force the issue. I don't want food to be a battle ground between me and my children. So I let some stuff slide which I am uncomfortable with but I am looking to the longterm: ongoing education, encouragement, modelling ... and hoping that when they are older they will make the changes themselves through choice. I ate terribly as a child and now (admittedly in my 40s) I have a very clean diet. I live in hope.

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I live in fear of eating disorders, though, so I don't force the issue. I don't want food to be a battle ground between me and my children. So I let some stuff slide which I am uncomfortable with but I am looking to the longterm: ongoing education, encouragement, modelling ... and hoping that when they are older they will make the changes themselves through choice. I ate terribly as a child and now (admittedly in my 40s) I have a very clean diet. I live in hope.

 

See, this is exactly what I'm afraid of!  Which is why I hate fighting with them.  I just worry that they don't get enough protein, which is really where my anxiety about this comes from.  My son drinks a lot of milk (which I'm actually fine with) so he's good -- my daughter would live on bread if she could (she's just like I was when I was a kid).  I just need to find a way to get to a place where we're all comfortable with what we're eating.  I'm trying to build a lifetime of healthy eating habits here -- so...baby steps, I guess?  :)

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Hmm. One of my 4YO barely gets any protein as far as I can work out. By choice she would eat highly refined high GI foods all day long, which I do limit: she is allowed some but not all the time and we quite regularly have the conversation "but what protein are you going to have?". I don't feel she has anything like enough, but she looks healthy, is growing well, is happy and able to concentrate so whilst I make sure she has at least SOME protein at every meal (though I count milk and cheese as protein in her diet) and that is as much as I am prepared to push the issue. I figure when she's on the growth spurt she will eat more. Ultimately you can limit your children's choices, but you can't force them to eat. My kids will literally just not eat. I know (most) literature says they will when they are hungry enough, but I was relieved to find some literature (mostly around autism) which threw that out of the window and said you might just have a child, who, for whatever reason, will just go hungry than eat. I have three of those children (and they will literally be ill rather than eat something they don't want to). I figure calories are good, none of them are overweight or unhealthy, and each of them does get at least some food that I'm OK with, and the stuff I am not happy with is on the "better" end (bread, cheese, milk). It does make me uncomfortable, but so do the alternatives. Good luck.

 

ETA: I've just remembered I used to worry about my son (now 6) and not getting enough protein too ... but then he started growing. He's still really limited in protein choices, but he does eat protein now and I wonder if it's just that they don't need it as much as we think they do?

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My 3 yr old doesn't like to chew meat. I think the taste is fine for him but he keeps gagging when he is chewing a piece of meat. He will eat scrambled eggs now and then and Applegate hotdogs with the skins removed but that's about it. We have removed all cereal and snack bar type things. Both kids eat peanut butter and 100%whole grain bread, milk and cheese and lots of fruit. My 2yr old will sometimes eat carrots or small bites of salad greens. It's an ongoing battle but mostly I just want to try and remove all the emotion surrounding mealtime. At this point I have them choose between 2-3things (at breakfast or lunch) and dinner is what I make and our conversation is "you can choose to eat or not but this is dinner". I always include a piece of fruit on their plate so usually they as least sit down with us and occasionally eat more than just fruit. Keep calm and don't feel like a failure about it. It may take a year or two years to get to a place where everyone is comfortable but after that, how many more years they have of a healthy relationship with food!? It is worth the effort! Btw, my husband is not on board either and continually "sneaks" junk food and tries to get them to not tell me, but they are 2&3 so they always do :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

For protein, try giving them chunked up egg whites.  My daughter used to love 'cheesy eggs' but then decided they hurt her tummy.  So then I did hard boiled eggs and took the yolk out (she seemed to be offended by it.)  When she was younger, I told her the cooked eggs white were 'egg gummy bears'.  She still likes them.  She now eats deviled eggs with home made mayo.

 

We used to do macNcheese for the kid and something else for us.  We stopped doing that several years ago.  We went to europe and at the first restaurant, my daughter said she wanted macNcheese.  I told her they didn't have it in europe.  (They didn't at most of the restaurants we went to.)  And amazingly enough, by the end of the trip, she was eating all sorts of stuff.

 

Both parents HAVE to be on the same page.  You have to be a united front otherwise kids will divide and conquer.  Talk to your husband and tell him you have to figure something out _together_. Throw out the junk, or hide it and only let the hubby eat it when the kids go to bed.  If they know the junk is there, they will hold out.  They use the fact that you feel guilty and worry about them starving to get the stuff they want.  Kids are cute and sweet, but they are masterfully manipulative!

 

Schools lunches are another problem area. I have complained at our school about the total empty carbs they feed for lunch.  The only option is to pack a lunch.  But the kids would prefer to eat the school stuff :(

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I have to say that your post is hilarious! I am too an Officer in the Army and I am 33 years old. My wife and I decided to do the Whole30 as a family 41 days ago. The only way we could do it was to go COLD TURKEY and take all 'junk' out of the house. My 4 year old son we like to call the "Chip King" for his love of potato chips or cereal bars. I also have a 5 year old daughter. They have no choice but to eat what we have. My son goes to wrestling practice 3 times a week and my daughter does gymnastics. They are thriving without the junk, without bread, and without all added sugar. For my son, the "Chip King" I do reward him with RxBars. They are now his goto bars and they each have 14g protein. I am amazed at how much more they eat after only 40 days. 

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My wisdom doesn't sound very wise: just stop. If you don't want them to eat it, remember that they are kids, you're the parent, and you've made a decision. Give them good options, tell them "this is how it's going to be" and then stick to it, tears and tantrums and all. And it'll pass. 

 

You say you are in the military? Seems to me a more hierarchical organization hardly exists on earth than the military, any military -- US, Algerian, Swedish, whatever. So remember, you outrank them :-) They will come to know what this means if you stick to it.

 

And be mushy on other things, like which book to read to them at night, or how many books to read to them at night. Or whatever it is that they love most. 

 

They'll get over it.

 

That said, my kids don't eat so great. I totally get it. They eat pretty well (as in I make the mac and cheese from scratch, but they are still eating mac and cheese). Some nights they eat what I eat, but every fourth dinner or so, I give them something they prefer and that I cannot eat. Kills me to make it because I totally want to eat it myself! But I do it. So I get it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The first time I whole30'd my kids, my son SOBBED, begging for tortillas when we went to a Mexican restaurant.  You'd think I had killed his dog.  Five months later they rarely ask for non-paleo foods, though I did not keep them whole30 compliant, because it is the paleo snacks that make this work for us.

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21 times. That is the number of times it may take before a child will accept a new food. 21 times of serving a food and hearing back "Yuck!" "No!" "I won't eat that!" "I hate ___!" It's discouraging, which is why most parents give up after 3 or 4  times of throwing out perfectly good food.

 

Here's what happens when you introduce a new food.  The first few times, you will hear feedback as above. You must train yourself to completely ignore this and ask them to take a bite to decide they don't like it. In my house, you are not allowed to speak the words of not liking a food unless you have tried it. The next several times, you simply explain that the item is on the plate, and "you need to take one bite to see whether you still don't like it or maybe you'll find it tastes good today." Then the next several times, you simply remind to take one bite. And then, one magical day, you will turn around and find the child eating the food with no prompting at all. Ignore this triumph, act very casual as if you expected it, and do a happy dance as you load the dishwasher. :)

 

So get yourself a chart for the refrigerator, write down the name of a food, and start marking off the number of times you actually serve the food to the child.  If you hit 21 and there is still huge resistance, put that one aside and start working on a new food. My kids have never gone past 10 before accepting a new food, and even for the few foods they genuinely don't prefer, I still serve them and follow the one bite reminder rule. There is almost nothing they will flat out refuse.

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