Picky eaters


mamame

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We have been following a primal diet at home for over a year and a half now - the kids have been great about it. However, after a summer of sleep away camp and extended stays at the grandparents my 6 year old has turned into a ridiculously picky eater. Things she used to eat no problem she is now refusing. She hates almost everything or it make her tummy hurt.

I'd type out a list of what she doesn't like, but that would take too long. Here is a list of what she does still like.

taco meat

steak (but only fresh off the grill)

black olives

cucumbers

raw snap peas

most fruit

Getting fats into her is SO hard. She hates avocado and coconut in any shape and she won't eat nuts anymore except in baked goods (b'fast is often a biscuit made with almond meal, egg and flax meal - but she only eats that if it is topped with honey). Protein isn't much better. I can usually get her to eat sausage if I give her ketchup to dip it in - otherwise nada. She hates eggs but once in a blue moon will eat hardboiled eggs.

She quickly begins to dislike a food if she eats it too often - like more then a couple times a month. She will go days eating very little and becomes a cranky mess - we basically have to force her to sit at the table and eat to get anything in her or bribe her (you can have a piece of nectarine after you take a bite of supper). I am beyond frustrated with her right now.

For b'fast yesterday she ate half a biscuit and her lunch (at school) was a hamburger patty, cucumbers, carrot sticks, an apple and some raisins. When I looked in her lunch box after school she has eaten half of the apple and the raisins - *sigh*. Needless to say she was hungry when she got home and it was a fight to get her to finish the food.

I am so tired of meal time being a battle all.the.time and hearing constantly that she is hungry - I'd be hungry too if I only ate fruit! She's tiny/skinny for 6 1/2 - only 37 lbs. She needs to eat. These battle have been going on for over 2 months - I don't know what to do anymore - help?

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This is still one of my favorite quotes in the Forum. In this situation, Robin is talking about protein, but the experiment is still the same.

Cadence,

My kids have gone through "no-protein-at-all-ever" phases, too, but it's never been as intense as what it sounds like you're working with. What are the chances that this is a control battle? From what you've said, his issue isn't with the taste or texture of meat. It sounds like his issue may be with you asking him to (or in his mind, making him) eat something he doesn't particularly want to. Kids at that age are continually exploring their autonomy, discovering that they are in control of their own minds and bodies and learning that we, as parents, cannot read their minds or move their bodies. These seemingly random exercises of will come and go and take some really interesting forms.

I suggest a little experiment: Give him a week of no nagging, no forcing, no rules. If he eats fruits and veggies well, let him load up. Fill him full of whatever fats he'll eat. Take the pressure off and don't even address the issue. But, don't take him to any restaurants either. He eats what you've cooked - protein or no. Just see how he reacts. If you want, you can cook some of the proteins he normally enjoys other places but don't ask him to eat them. (Don't restrict them, just don't bring it up.) There's a chance that, once he sees that you respect his autonomy, he'll choose to partake with you. If he doesn't, then you can start working through some other plans. At the very least, though, you'll get some fight-free meals under your belt and it will help return the sanity we so very much need as parents.

The guiding principle I use with my girls is this: As a parent, I can control what they eat in my home. But life is so much more than being told what to do. I want my girls to learn how to eat - what, when, why - and (IMHO) deciding what goes into their mouths is a part of that.

Hope this helps you!

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I wish there was a "Love this" button. Solid advice and the approach I took with my now 27 YO daughter who is the opposite of a picky eater and most of the time Paleo (I know...so many versions..what does it even mean) or Whole30 at least 90%. She'll try absolutely anything and is in love with vegetables and all proteins (including sardines). She had a moment when she was around 6 or 7 when she also was traveling in her social circles and started picking up some odd requests at the grocery store. Twinkies...are you kidding me?? So, I took a deep breath and told myself her social/visiting time with friends and family are what would shape her in so many ways and I didn't want to impede that. I also refused to have meal time full of squabbles so I simply kept what I found acceptable in my house and served her what we ate for dinner and gave her time to be in control of more things by giving her a couple of choices. It was hard, but it seemed to have worked.

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Yes, I read that post earlier - wish that worked with her. We've tried just leaving her eat what she wants that is available (she'd only ever eat fruit if she could) and then by bedtime she is SO hungry that there have been 2 hour screaming fits b/c she's hungry and doesn't like anything left in the house. It's really, really frustrating.

Oh, and we aren't completely restrictive of what the kids eat. They can choose to eat whatever they want when out at a restaurant (DD will usually choose a hamburger minus the bun and ceasar salad). They get to have cake/cupcakes, chips, juice etc when they are out at a party or some other special event.

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Mamame -

She's old enough now that you can reason with her a bit. In the heat of a tantrum, no. Those you just have to develop your own strategy for (mine is "I want to help you, but I will not listen when you talk to me like that/scream/throw a fit/etc. Please calm down and we can solve this when you're finished.). But the next day, when all is calm, have a talk with her:

"Remember last night when you were having a hard time at bedtime? I think you were having those feelings because you were hungry. I understand that you don't want to eat some of the foods we're eating, and that's okay, but you need to eat enough to fill your belly. It's okay for you to choose different foods with your friends/grandparents/whatever your house rules are, but at home we choose to have foods that make our bodies healthier. I don't want you to go to bed with a hungry belly, but I can't make you eat dinner, either. This is one place you are in charge. You can choose to go to bed with belly full of foods that will give you more energy and make you grow big and strong."

Then continue that theme throughout the day by asking questions or making suggestions. "What is your favorite food on the dinner table? How much of that do you think you can eat?" "What good food can I pack in your lunch tomorrow?"

Bottom line, it's gonna take some time and maybe some rough nights. It has to be worth it to you, you have to be committed to changing her direction, or it's not going to work and everyone involved will be miserable. If it IS worth it though, just stick to your guns (I promise, it will pass.).

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It sounds like it is a battle of the wills. I have three kids myself and have fed them more "healthily" as the years have gone on. I am 90% or more Paleo - they are more 80% eating primarily meat, eggs, fruit, veggies and some nuts and nut butter, coconut. When they are with their Dad they eat what he feeds them and do get sweets at the occasional school birthday or holiday function. I will also occasionally give them organic oatmeal or rice, but I do not eat that myself.

I have learned that as a single mom who spends a LOT on food, I cook it and they can eat what they want but I'm not making a zillion different things. And there have been instances where the food that they normally don't "want', zuchinni spaghetti for example, is left and if they are hungry they will eat it. And many times we also have the discussion that I CAN eat whatever I want, I'm and adult, but I CHOOSE to eat the way I do for health and because it is best for my body - and theirs.

Will you daughter drink smoothies or popsicles? You can make smoothies and freeze them with fruit and coconut milk for the extra fat. Also there are wonderful recipes for apple bread made with almond flour; you can also make zuchinni bread the same way. Both smoothies and breads are great to sneak things in while you are working on the battle ;)

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  • 3 months later...

This is still one of my favorite quotes in the Forum. In this situation, Robin is talking about protein, but the experiment is still the same.

Oh my god. I love this. I'm such a numbskull. I'm reading backwards in the forum, though I am just on day 8 myself and my kids are eating "normally" still

Maybe we need to start eating "family style" and let the kids make their own plates. I need to try some new tricks to get my TEN YEAR OLD to eat more and better foods. His diet is very very limited b/c of all his pickiness, rules, and real or imagined texture issues (not sure). I've been either a bully or a pushover. This is so sensible. Duh. Hopefully a step in the right direction.

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