Ahhhhh-the picky eater syndrome

As Sally Sampson from ChopChop magazine says: “The way not to have a picky eater is to expose them to everything, not make a big deal when they don’t want it, but offer it again. Don’t stop serving it. What we see over and over is that you get the crap out of the house, you involve them in mealtimes, you’re consistent but you don’t force, and it works. You may go through a period of time when they’re whiny, but, generally speaking, people get through it.”    

If you don’t buy it, they cannot have it! 

 Each week we go to the grocery store. Some of us have a list in hand with a plan of what’s for dinner. The list has snacks, breakfast, and lunch items on there too. But the reality is that we are all creatures of habit and we normally buy the same things each week. It is a rote activity that no one really likes so it is easy to succumb to buying things that are familiar. Then you add picky eaters at home to the mix and it really gets tough.

 There are some days that I love to cook. It lets me be creative. It feeds my senses-the look, the smell, the taste, and the feeling of completion when it is ready. But then add the other members of my household to this equation and things can get ugly. I hate listening to the complaints from my family about what they have to eat. I wait with baited breath at dinner time to see how things are going to go. Will they be excited about my food choices? Will they give me a bad score (yes, they rate the food sometimes to make things interesting like the cooking shows on t.v.)? Will they tell me “NEVER make that again”? It like trying to win the lottery. And it is truly exhausting!

But I do believe that parents need to assume some of the responsibility for picky eaters.  In many cases, moms and dads cave into a child’s craving.  Instead of offering a food the child may not like we decide to avoid conflict and give them a favorite instead.  I’ve done it.  Because of the insane pressure we feel about feeding our families healthy foods, avoiding junk food, etc. we have to make choices.  The saying “pick your battles” definitely applies to meal times.

So start small-eliminate a few of the junky snacks, juice, or other processed foods n your shopping cart this week.  Because if it does not exist in your home, they won’t eat it.  Introduce one new healthier food each week.  Tell your family it’s an experiment and make a chart to document your good adventure.  Blame your pediatrician- tell the kids Dr. Soandso said I can’t buy that any more (the doc won’t mind).  Create a food challenge that might get the kids excited about eating or cooking.

But do something!  Do not accept your fate as “Parent of a picky eater.”  Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

This piece was inspired by this article in the Boston Globe: