My kids won’t eat what I cook. Should I care?

I used to love cooking. I made dishes like coq au vin, marinated flank steak, and chicken piccata. I peeled potatoes, boiled them, and whipped them into heavenly clouds of lumpless fluff. I roasted asparagus to the point that the tips would get browned and crispy and salty. Mmmmm. Ahhhh. Excuse me while I have a moment.

But now? I have kids.

And my kids are the type of kids who won’t eat anything that appeals to taste buds older than, say, five years of age.

I can list the main dishes they will both eat on one hand: Peanut butter and jelly/fluff. Meatballs. Pasta. Turkey dogs. Mac & cheese. Chicken nuggets.

Okay, I need a sixth finger. But you get my point. Can I even count PB&J as a main dish?

I don’t get it.

I ate everything when I was a kid. It wasn’t an option to have something different from what my parents ate. I never asked. They never offered. Fish, meat, exotic fruits, and yes, even brussels sprouts – I ate it all. And I loved it all. I was a foodie before age five.

I was thrilled to bits to dine at fancy establishments when on vacation. For me it was as exciting to go to the five-star restaurant at the Williamsburg Inn as it was to go to Busch Gardens.

So how did I, lover of all food, end up with kids whose palates are seriously deficient?

Apparently it is all my fault. As usual.

My pediatrician says: “Make the kids eat what you eat.”

What this turns into: Me and the hubs eating chicken nuggets with the kids.

I tried. I really did. I believe it all went south when Anne was little and just starting to eat table foods. Hubs and I would eat a normal dinner. Anne wouldn’t eat it when it was offered.

I, being first-time parent of a 90th percentile height and 10th percentile weight toddler, freaked out that she’d lose more weight and gave her something she’d eat.

Anne realized that she could make her newbie mom feed her what she wanted, whenever she wanted.

Fast-forward five years, and if I want the kids to eat what I eat, I’m eating something beige and toddler-sized.

Website advice columns say: “Cook dinners that the whole family will eat.”

What this turns into: Me hurling the computer with said advice across the room when my kids reject my latest attempt at a family meal.

For a few blessed times, everyone ate pasta and homemade meatballs. For another short stretch of time, it was lasagna. Once it was a casserole. But what always happens is one of the girls – usually Anne – suddenly refuses to eat the accepted meal. And one or two people end up in tears over it. I am always one of them.

So it’s not like we don’t eat. I still cook. But I don’t love it.

And I want to love it again. But I am tired of making separate meals for the kids and for the adults. I hate that when Hubs and I devise a plan to get everyone to eat the same thing, it doesn’t work – either because I can’t take Anne’s tantrums anymore or I am worried she will waste away into nothing if she doesn’t eat.

Grace is a bit more open to trying new foods and I am fully taking advantage of it. At least she’ll try what’s put in front of her. But Anne … not so much. So it’s a conundrum.

What about you?

Do you cook different foods for the kids and adults in your life? If so, are you okay with it? If you are unhappy with the situation, how have you tried to fix it?

And if you all eat the same thing at mealtime – how, in all that is holy, do you do it?!

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96 Replies to “My kids won’t eat what I cook. Should I care?”

  1. I, like you eat everything as a child. You eat your brussels sprouts, I eat (and loved) the liver my parents cooked for me. When my boys came along I was determined it would be the same way, and it was. Up until they turned 2 at which point it all went downhill.
    Now that they are older its gotten much much better. They eat a huge variety of foods. Veggies are still not big one list. But each boy seems to have chosen one green veg that they love and eat it all the time, although I’m bored to tears cooking them.
    I guess my one bit of advice is keep at it. Offer foods over and over and over.

  2. This is my life! Well, except that I have no idea how to make coq au vin. I was a picky eater as a child and occasionaly my mom would make me something different, but often, I just wouldn’t eat. Now with three sons and a baby, I feel like I’m a short order cook. We only have one who will eat what Hubby and I eat. And I have a tiny, skinny one, too that I worry about. I wish I knew the answer. I am going to feed the baby anything and everything and see if he becomes a better eater.

  3. When I was a child, I ate only one food from each of the four food groups:

    Protein – peanut butter
    Fruit/vegetable – applesauce
    Bread – mashed potatoes (& it had to be boxed)
    Dairy – milk (only w/strawberry powder in it)

    I was a colossal pain in the ass. I remember my parents rejoicing when I learned to tolerate lettuce. ICEBERG lettuce. Really? It tastes like water.

    My kids were the opposite. They ate everything in sight. The first time my said tried a banana he ate the entire thing. And he was 6 months old. I had fed my children broccoli for breakfast when the toddlers because I felt they had eaten so much that I could only imagine giving them pure nutrition as seconds. (Or fourths.)

    And now? Well, short of red meat, I eat everything in sight. Sigh. I am easily the least picky person in my household (to my husband’s most, by the way). And my kids? The ones who would eat sushi at one and bok choy at two? Well, those little pains in the butt now balk at the brand of macaroni & cheese I buy. One doesn’t like mashed potatoes and the other is finicky about the kind of cheese I serve. Really?

    These are not my kids. I mean … the moral of the story is … whoever they are now has NO bearing on who they will be as eaters. For now, enjoy the chicken nuggets. Your metabolism won’t be able to tolerate them forever. And I highly suggest a peanut Thai dipping sauce.

    1. My son is like this. Im finding myself sick and tired of even TRYING to make anything I KNOW he wont eat. He’s even started not eating his Peanut Butter “chinches” People tell me he will eat if he is hungry enough” but this isn’t true. He will wait. And wait. And WAIT. And if he has to mess up his food in a way that it can’t be eaten anymore, he will. Mucho frustration. Lately i’s been Mac and cheese, Buttered toast, applesauce and fries. We will have a beautiful array in front of him, and he will still say he’s hungry……

      1. I’m worried like crazy too…. My son is the same way….He is hungry but he’ll not eat…. He hardly eats one meal a day and that too may be half of it…. I can’t help but feed him….Its takes 2 hrs for dinner but can’t see him starving himself and not eat….He is two years old and goes to pre-school….I give him one main entree, fruit and a side item…. the only thing is consistently eats everyday is fruit….. some items side item and hardly main entree once a week…. he is very lean…. it drives me crazy and gives me sleepless nights…

  4. Sometimes I make my daughter something separate from what my husband and I eat, but usually we all eat the same thing. My daughter tried doing the same thing yours does, but I grew up in a household that proudly carried the standard tradition of you don’t eat what is put in front of you, you go hungry. My pediatrician also told me that basically she will eat when she is hungry, she won’t starve herself to death and that it might take awhile before you figure out what she actually does not like. So far the only thing I have found that she really dislikes is spaghetti and sauce. I remember if I used to throw tantrums over the food I was served, I was sent to bed without supper. Giving in is only making the problem worse, which is something you’ve already figured out. Good luck!

  5. My son eats about 5 foods. He has sensory processing disorder AND reflux, so both of these things have caused him to have severe food issues. He occasionally has trouble eating at a table where there are lots of strong smells and sights. IT. IS. A. LIVING. HELL. My daughter is pretty open to trying foods and she gets what my husband and I eat, but my son always gets a different “meal” (can’t even really call it a meal). Once I tried saying, you are eating what we are eating and he ate nothing for 2 days, until I caved. I hope Old Dog New Tits is right and he can change someday.

    But, until then… I hear you. Wish I had some advice for you. With my daughter, we just put it in front of her and I consider myself satisfied if she has a few bites. Often she will eat the whole thing and want seconds, but on those picky days, I am fine if she eats three bites. Having my son first really put it all into perspective.

    1. My son (11) has a sensory processing disorder as well. He only eats about 10 things and I have caved for so long that it is a HUGE issue. I dread dinner time… My daughters (5 and 7) are pretty picky as well. I can usually get them to eat one thing at the table each night but I end up adding/making extra things. Right now we are on a wait list for an eating clinic at Duke for kids with selective eating disorders and their families. The hardest part of it all is I am such a healthy eater and I feel like such a hypocrite serving my kids the foods they eat/want. But if I ever served them quinoa it would end up as a gagfest!

  6. I’m like you, Chicken nuggets are a regular feature on our menu. I used to love cooking, now I hate my kitchen. I shouldn’t complain, my kids love fruit, cereal and toast, all fairly healthy, easy to prepare foods. But I miss whipping up a lovely 3 course meal for hubby and I, just because I want to.

  7. I was like you. No surprise there, as we are finding out. I had a plate put in front of me and I ate everything on it or I would not get my precious Nutty Buddy for dessert. Oh the horror!

    My children ate everything I gave them. Tuck refused to give up baby food until 12 months. Weirdo. Anyways, Mags made it to six months with the stuff and I was grateful. She devoured EVERYTHING! Olives, avocados, meat, cheese, papaya, mango and sprouts. You name it, she ate it and followed it up with “MMMMMMMMM”. Now, she is the Picky McPicky pants and Tuck has turned it around. He hit six and eats whatever I put in front of him. Literally I sat and stared at him the other night when he DEVOURED a stuffed green pepper in a minute.

    So I do the chicken nugget thing? Yes. I eat it with them. I do make them try a “no thank you” bite for everything, though. Mags is always the first to make a face. Grrrr!

    My rambling is coming to a close, no worries. I say they will come around. There tastes will change as they grow. They will find what they like. As long as they are healthy and growing…I say you are good. 🙂

  8. Usually, we all eat the same thing. Sometimes, I’ll make the children something that I know their dad won’t eat (like…anything with tuna in it, for example), but usually it’s one meal. I try to include at least one thing that I know everyone will eat. Or, for example, mashed potatoes because child A will eat them, but won’t eat anything else that night, and carrots, because child B will like them, but not anything else.
    We also have a rule that you have to have 3 bites of everything before you can declare it to be horrid.

  9. Dad’s a meat and potatoes man, Mom gave up trying new foods for him. I grew up on meatloaf (sorry but turning meat into bread still doesn’t do anything for me without being drowned in ketchup, and I despise ketchup) and overcooked vegetables. I’m pickier than my husband, who, bless his heart, tries everything under the sun to get me to eat vegetables. I’m learning, but I still don’t like them. But my upbringing: children are seen and not heard, don’t ask for seconds on anything until it is quite clear that everyone is finished with their firsts, eat what’s on the plate before you, these rules were drilled into us as kids because my mother would not be embarrassed in the homes of her friends and families. To this day, if someone has gone through the trouble to prepare it, I eat it without complaint. Even my husband’s stew (my absolute least favorite meal in the world, next to deep fried crickets) I eat and say thank you for supper honey. I don’t have kids, but my niece and nephew both need a lesson in the above rules because I leave restaurants angry when we’ve all dined out together.

    I didn’t know what a chicken nugget was until I became an adult. Maybe they weren’t invented until then. Maybe it was strategic on Mom’s part to keep me clueless. I dunno. I wish I had some gem of wisdom I could impart here that doesn’t result in a paddling. Have you tried the “Deceptively Delicious” cookbook?

    I wish you luck and give you the sympathetic hug over the internet.

  10. Oh, the stress of meals. My eldest ate pretty much anything I gave him until he turned 3 1/2 and it shocked me at how picky he got. At first I tried forcing, insisting, yelling, withholding, etc, but it ended in tears and frustration for both of us. He overnight quit milk, the one thing he had loved as a toddler and that I felt was so needed for his growth. That was a tough one. He is also the type of kid who loses weight easily when sick, and if I recall correctly, he had been sick shortly before he got picky.
    What I found was that I had to stop forcing him to eat at all, and when he was hungry he would eat. I also allowed him extra snacks of some things he did like so he could regain the weight he lost – mainly buns and pancakes. Now at 4 1/2 he is still picky but is slowly eating better.
    I learned that 1) getting upset only made it worse for everyone, and 2) I had to see what he was eating and not what he wasn’t. He loves fruit, carrot sticks, yoghurt, plain salted chickpeas, breads, rice, fish, chicken, and meat. So instead of freaking out that he didn’t want milk, I gave him extra yoghurt. Instead of making him eat the chickpeas in the spicy sauce (that he loved as a toddler), I let him eat them plain. I never cook two separate meals, but I always try to serve something I know the kids will eat. Now my daughter is almost 3 and is getting pickier. She used to be a great eater, but I don’t get upset like I did with my son. Mealtime is more peaceful for all of us. I also taught Logan to tell me nicely if he didn’t want to eat a certain thing instead of screaming like he used to, and it makes it easier for me to let him not eat it cause he is being nice about it.
    I also make sure their snacks are healthy. They love peanuts and rasins, dates, saltine crackers, and banana chips, so that is one of their main snacks (a little of all of it mixed). I figure the important thing is that they do eat, not what or when, so if they don’t want breakfast when I serve it, or they just eat the fruit, I know they will be hungry in an hour so I leave it on the table and they always amble back and finish it. I also keep junk food out of the house and they know that chocolate is a treat, not something they can have daily.
    My top advice? Relax, let them eat what they want to eat but do offer new stuff frequently, and save the special hard work meals for later. Last night I made spicy fried chicken, mashed potoatos and salad. My picky eaters just had the chicken. Argg, I knew I shouldn’t have worked so hard on it. (At least my husband liked it.)

    Maybe I need to write a whole post about this. 🙂

  11. I DO NOT make special meals for my four kids. I did that with my oldest and it was a BIG mistake. My pediatrician says that I should have at least one thing on the plate that everyone will like. If they are hungry, they will eat. But I have the same weight problem with my kids – they are like 10th percentile for weight and they are about the same for height so I always feel the pressure to make them eat. I actually hate the pressure. I always say, dinnertime is my least favorite time of the day.

  12. Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

    Just today I saw an article in the Boston Globe on this topic. The attacks by some commenters are just mind-boggling. People love to throw stones at each other over this! I left a comment there. Sort the comments by “latest first” and you’ll see mine. Here’s a link to the article:

  13. My kids are like this too. I have twin almost 8 year olds and they are so picky. I have had to resort to punishments, groundings and bribery to get them to eat my food, and even then sometimes they prefer the grounding over my food. I say this as I'm fighting with my son to finish his one lone rib i put on his plate.. I am not a bad cook. I always try different things. I'm out of ideas on how to get them to eat. When i was a kid, it was eat dinner or get a spanking. It isn't that way anymore and these kids today get away with so much more than i ever would have. Does anyone else have ideas?

  14. Sighhhh. My child won't eat any meat, except for chicken fingers, not even nuggets. She eats PB and Nutella sandwiches, no crust. Go-gurt, crackers, corn chips, pizza, and cereal. The only fruit she'll eat are strawberries and bananas. Veggies…..carrots. She's never had pasta, soup, salad, eggs…..and she's 4. I am a vegetarian and never made much of a fuss about preparing food. My husband is a chef who studied French cuisine and cooked with Emeril, and he eats EVERYTHING. So, I have to make 3 separate meals. His meat thing, my burrito, her whatever. It is the biggest problem we have ever had to face. She won't eat anything from a restaurant, unless it's corn chips or dessert. So, I feed her before we go out, and let her order a dessert, so we can have our meals in peace. We have tried everything. NOTHING works not even bribing anymore. I've started giving her breakfast essentials, mixed with ice, milk, and spinach. I give it to her daily, sometimes twice a day. My husband is furious about the whole issue, mainly me, because she inherited my palette. I just read some article about 10 things you should never say to your child about food……I've said all of them. Is that REALLY the problem? I doubt it. I mean what kid won't eat mac and cheese? Mine. I gave her a wedge of a Cutie the other day…she barely licked it and started gagging as if I tried to feed her a hairball. The Dr. says not to give up. At this point, I feel if I continue making food an issue, it will be her biggest issue her entire life. I'm hoping that by eating in the cafeteria next year, she'll be curious to try what her friends are eating…..but I'm pretty sure I'll be packing her lunch. Good luck.

    1. Have you had her tested for food allergies? When I was in elementary school, I would never drink the milk. Turns out I am allergic to milk.

  15. I don't make separate meals for my kids because, frankly, I don't want to. There are rare exceptions to this (ie. when we make a soup that my toddler would have trouble spooning into his mouth, or something spicy) and sometimes we treat them to something kid-like for fun. However, they usually get what we get and they hardly ever eat anything. I started to realize that my husband and I are eating three medium-sized meals a day with snacks in between, so maybe my kids should do that same thing. We made healthy choices available for snacks (whole almonds and dried cranberries, fresh fruit, string cheese) and it has been well-received. I feel like they're eating a little more now. Dinner is still a struggle. Every. Single. Night.

  16. It is exhausting, I agree. I have two boys, ages 7 and 1. My 1 year old can't eat a lot of what we eat because he is allergic to milk products. My 7 year old just won't eat much more than mac and cheese, corn dogs, pb&j, and a few other items. It is a fight if I try to get him to eat what we are eating. I have been making separate meals for years because of this and no matter what I do, I can't seem to change that. I don't know what else to do. Should I tell the oldest that he eats what he is given or he doesn't eat at all, or do I make him what he wants? How do we change these horrible habits without putting their health at risk?

  17. My son is 3 1/2 he Literally will only eat yogurt, cereal, mac and cheese, sometimes an apple and sometimes a banana. I’ve tried everyhting from hiding foods in his food, to not giving him what he wanted (that didn’t go well at all, he ended up not eating for two whole days it made him sick) he’s in the 8th percentile for his age and now his dr wants me to do the whole don’t give him what he wants thing again. Does anyone have any advise? Its such a struggle at meal times I can’t even get him to try other foods. I’m worried about him bc I want him to grow, and bc I think he’s hungry all day bc he is always asking for food. How can he ever get full if he’s really always eating grains?

    1. @ Amanda B:
      My son never asks for food, always says he’s not hungry, will not eat unless the pain of not eating (missing out on the playground etc) is greater than the pain of eating. Take heart, it’s long but at the end I have a suggestion.

      I have a 3.5 year old. He’s not a picky eater, in that he tries a wide variety of food (from eggplant to quinoa to mango chicken and all the in between stuff) – HE JUST WON’T EAT more than a 1/2 bite of it.

      So, being barely 30lbs (actually, that’s fully clothed) and short, naturally I’m worried he’s starving himself. In fact at age 17 months he was tested by a pediatric gastroenterologist. And yep, he was. Starving himself that is. His protein intake came back similar to a famished Ethiopian toddler (super low prealbumin). The reason for the referral was that from age 12 months to age 17 months he had only gained 4oz! He was 15.1lbs at 12 months and 15.35 at 17 months.
      Just a 1/4 of a pound in 5 months – and at that age! When I stopped BF at age 12.5 months (he weened himself as soon as he learned he could run away) he basically stopped eating all together. spitting out foods, having horrible stools etc. he was getting baby food/real food from age 5.5 months on.

      I refused to starve a 17 month old who didn’t know any better (it was NOT a power struggle issue!!! – And I’m really bugged that people still say it is).

      Thankfully a very smart and wise friend recommended we have our son treated with NAET: Nambudripads Allergy Elimination Treatment. I will explain that later.
      Now keep in mind our son had just had 12 vials of blood drawn in one day – in search of any and every food allergy imaginable. None were high enough to be detected. Also keep in mind, I’m quite fine with standard American medicine as hubby is an MD and I’m now resigned from the medical field. But it wasn’t helping my son. NAET uses knowledge from chiropractic and acupuncture as a compliment to standard western medicine.
      NAET – it defines allergy as anything our body doesn’t know how to process or what to do with (i.e. alcohol in perfume: reject from absorbing into the body; calcium from milk: digest/accept). It’s a treatment that is non invasive and actually acts to reset the nervous system (seems weird I know) to retrain your body to properly absorb or reject substances (FOOD in the case of my young son).

      I kid you not, after 3 NAET treatments (acupressure and exposure to the foods / substances in question, including saliva and digestive enzymes) my son gained 2 Full Pounds and his stools became normal. He ate well for the next 24 months. It’s only now that I”m having a regression (age 41/42 months) . He’s scheduled for follow up treatment in March.

      He will drink Fruitables juice (just 4-6 oz/day) and takes a gummie vitamin in the AM/PM; plus a fiber gummie.. Sometimes drink 3oz of Boost vanilla or Horizon organic milks. Or 6-7 pistachio nuts.

      My hubby (MD) and our sons pediatrician both say “no neurologically intact child will starve himself”; yet my son will go for hours if not 2 days without eating. Not even foods he used to like, like pizza, mac n cheese, cereal, carrots, apples etc. Well apparently, bright as he is, perhaps he isn’t as “neurologically intact” as we had thought.

      And, especially since he’s giving up his nap, leaves me with a grumpy, tired and very irritable 3.5 year old. How happy are we adults when we’ve not had anything but juice and 3 fish crackers in 9 hours?!?

      also YouTube NAET success stories.

      1. My son was also literally starving himself…evidenced by albumin levels as well. We limped along from 1 year (when we stopped formula) to age 4. We then started Pediasure supplemental drinks added to the little food he would eat. At 9, he voluntarily gave up the Pediasure. It’s been a long road and an expensive one. There are behavioral “food camps”. It’s something we never tried, but sometimes I wish we had.

    2. We had similar issues with my daughter (and still sometimes do). She once didn’t eat for almost a week when they wanted us to try a gluten free diet. We battle anemia because she doesn’t eat much meat. I found by decreasing snacks and focusing on 3 meals it got a little better but we also give her pressure to give her the extra nutrients. I also allow myself to give her Dino-nuggets and hotdogs since that is the only meat she’ll eat.

  18. same story over here :/ and my older two kids have started to 'spoil' the younger two with their 'bad example' of not eating… it's terrible… I consider myself&hubs gourmands but nothing seems to help the kids…

  19. After my husband and I went on a whole food cleanse, I realized that making meals out of real food takes a lot of work. I have been spending hours in the kitchen cooking quinoa and roasted vegetables. I can imagine long ago when this was the norm in most households that after a mother slaved all day in the kitchen, that kid was eating whatever she made or he/she didn't eat. I think the availability of processed foods has made it easier to make two separate meals. We give our kids too many options. Either they eat it or go hungry. Now saying that, there are times I will make something else for my kids if I am making something unusual or spicy or they are sick and just want soup. We have to stop becoming slaves to our kids and take back the kitchen. Don't buy the junk and they won't eat it!

  20. I am at my wits end with my kids and food – my husband and I have 5 between us – four living at home – you can never get them to eat the same thing – one of them always has something to say – dinner can last over an hour, and then more often than not ends in tears. My youngest is the worst for tantrums, my middle girl is the worst for trying stuff. And my youngest has just told me she would rather go hungry than eat pasta (this is a new thing, usually she will eat it) Grrr, what do you do?

    1. Sounds like hell for u poor thing !! Its really hard when u have different tastes , my youngest is the same would rather have junk mostly then eat a proper meal drives me nuts but I've kind of given up now so if he eats a sandwich for dinner then that's all he has. Really annoying when your over the oven for ages cooking. ! Xx

  21. He eats what he is given or he doesn't leave the table and if he cries or refuses he goes in the corner until he is ready to come eat calmly. And if he doesn't eat it then he asks for something later than its that I put it in the fridge til he says he's hungry and warm it up. I also don't give playtime to those that don't eat. He eats anything and everything and actually eats the "yucky looking" veggies first!

  22. Love the appetizer idea: We’ve basically gone to having no afternoon snack. Then the 3-year-old is served a decent dinner, which he doesn’t have to eat. Sometimes he doesn’t eat, but he doesn’t get other options.

    My kids are still very small, but I have no problem sending them to bed hungry. I’m lucky that they are not overly skinny kids. They probably get far too much pasta from the nanny, and we’re too lazy to fix that, but she does get them to eat fruit too.

    We had a problem for a while with him only wanting bagels, until I realized that I didn’t actually have to keep bagels in the house. So I stopped buying them. Problem solved.

  23. Can I ask all you Mum’s who are having trouble with the kids eating? Did you start them out on store bought foods? Just that I have a theory.

    I started my kid out on store bought food and he would now live on chicken nuggets and fish fingers. If I take him out for dinner he will eat what he is given, noodles, rice even real chicken! But at home it is hit and miss, though it is getting a little better. But tonight for example I made mac & cheese with cauliflower as per a kids recipe, would he eat it? Would he heck!

    I have family members who have twin girls. They on the other hand did not start the kids on store bought foods. Straight away they gave the kids what ever the adults were having for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And honestly they have had two incidents where the kids have challenged. Once, one of the twins refused to eat something. She was made to sit at the table for an hour until she gave in and ate the veggie culprit. Many moons later the other twin tried to refuse to eat a veggie, her mother simply reminded her of her sisters failed attempt at this and she gave in and ate the veggie on offer.

    I swear that this is true, this is the only trouble they have ever had. And I am sure that the store bought food weaning has something to do with it. As every other mother I know who started the kids on store bought now has a kid whom lives out of the freezer section.

    Anyone else noting this trate?

    And tonight I have given my boy his dinner. When he has not touched it I have removed it and let him go without. He will get supper before bed….. I’m not about to attempt to get through the night with a toddler on an empty stomach :-/ But can anyone advise? I don’t want to go down the separate meals road. Although he does get something out of the freezer a lot of the time and I make up the rest of his meal with what ever veg or sides we are eating.

    Help 🙁

  24. I am always relieved when I see others with the same…conundrums 😉 as I have. I often make different meals in my house or I pick things that the twins like and everyone will eat. Peanut butter and Nutella are must haves in this house and noodles lol. I try not to battle too much about food because I really think it contributes to negative eating habits.

  25. The website I listed is for the Feingold Association. They are a non-profit organization that promotes a diet free of artificial colors and flavors, certain preservatives, and for some, foods containing salicylates. One of my children was on this diet, so we all ate the same food. Temper tantrums resulted when this child went off the diet. I know how they can wear you down! Once on the diet, both kids were eager to try new foods, but we had to be careful that they were OK first. The diet was originally for ADD and ADHD children, but is useful for other health and behavior problems. Once I figured out what foods to buy, it was a lot easier than coping with an often angry child. I find the additives we avoid give me headaches. I refuse to buy any of these products after seeing what they did to my child, even though both children are now grown up and out of our house with spouses and children of their own.

  26. My son was our picky eater, but he seems to be growing out of it–there is hope! The best advice I got was from our pediatrician..she said put a few things on the table you know are healthy and you know will be eaten, mixed with the meal you cook. Make it family style so the kids can pick, it gives them a sense of control and removes the need to battle. Example: Chicken Dish Clearly For Adults, Cooked Veggie that Adults Enjoy, then a bowl of baby carrots and a bowl of slices of wheat bread or a bowl of plain rice that goes with Adult Chicken Dish. Then you’re not cooking 2 meals, and if the kid eat baby carrots and a slice of bread that is a fine meal for a child. And then they start saying, “Hey, what’s that you’re eating?” (This actually happened in our house! I almost fell out of my chair when my picky son tried “our” meal!!)

    Another good tip was from my friend’s pediatrician. He always said “Your job is to provide the food, their job is to eat it.” As in, you can’t make them eat. His suggestion became her rule: Mom makes dinner. Kid tries dinner (one bite). If kid likes dinner, hurrah. If not, kid can have cereal (it’s fortified) but then, kids do not get dessert. I know the “no dessert” thing is frowned upon but she doesn’t say it as punishment, it’s just that cereal is like dessert and dinner at the same time so that’s the rule. We’ve done that, too, when we were dealing with really picky phases with the kids and it’s a great fallback plan. No battles, that’s just the rule because Mommy only cooks one meal.

  27. First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before
    writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Kudos!

  28. Same thing with my first but her dr. ( mother of 7) told u the she'll eat if she wants. The suggestion she gave us was to always have a little something that she'll eat on the plate but she only gets a little and then there is no more. Of she's hungry she'll eat more. It was months of worry and she'll starve herself before she finally started eating other things on her plate. The trick is to stick with it I think and to have regularly scheduled feeding times. I watch kids and the ones i notice with the biggest eating problems are the ones alound graze or eat when ever they feel like it. They tend to be pickier and have more weight problems.

  29. I am in the same boat, and the reason I came here this afternoon is to look for help (too). As I am speaking, my 4 year old is screaming: "I want pasta and ketchup". I love cooking, consider myself a very well informed person when it comes to nutrition, I even have a food blog…and why this? sigh. I hope I don't give in again. I feel like I am a puppet sometimes. Good I do not work and have a bit of flexibility, but one day when she goes to school, what then? sigh…

  30. I am really struggling too – my little boy will only eat – the cheese of jacket potato, pasta only if it is with cheese sauce, quiche (sometimes) and pizza only if it is store bought pizza. Thankfully he'll eat cucumber and tomato. We don't do junk food in our house and I spend ages slaving away over the hob trying to make healthy meals, it's so disappointing and frustrating when he won't eat it. I'm a single mum and can't afford to make separate meals for him every day. I have literally tried everything I can think of, playing games around the table, pretending to faint when he eats a forkful (which makes him laugh), I've even tried saying he doesn't have to eat his tea but he gets nothing else – which doesn't work because he will leave his dinner even if he is hungry and wake up vomiting from an empty stomach the next morning (yes really)! 🙁 What to do?

    1. I feel for you. My youngest was like this and still is in some ways. We took him to every doctor we could find to find out if there was a reason for his extreme pickiness and seemingly lack of hunger. I don’t know if you can buy supplemental nutritional shakes? Here we have Pediasure in liquid and powdered form. It was a life saver for us. It helped maintain his weight and kept him healthy. He is off of it now, still extremely picky, but does eat a bit better now.

  31. Got home from work. Went to Whole Foods. Bought ingredients for meal. Just finished making one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s dishes (that her kids love). Well, my kids hated it. They spit it out. I want to cry. I told my husband that I’m done. They can eat sandwiches for the rest of their childhood. I’m not going to feel guilty about it any longer. Everything I make, they pick at or utterly refuse to eat. I ate what my parents made for dinner or I went hungry. Period. I guess all I can do is continue to provide healthy snacks, which they do eat.

  32. Two of my three boys will eat almost anything. My third is super picky. AND he’s SO, SO skinny, so I have a hard time saying “well, if you don’t eat that, you don’t eat anything” b/c he NEEDS to eat. It’s so hard.

  33. My kids have always been given what we eat and guess what? They don’t eat it. I’ve watched 2 kids slowly decrease the foods they deem as acceptable. With mine and my husband’s work schedule we really only have “family” meals 3 days a week so 4 days they can have their chicken nuggets/hotdogs/plain pasta but the other 3 I try to make something that is palatable to everyone. If nothing else, 1 portion of the meal will be something someone likes. I actually plan my meals a month at a time, so once a month I sit down with cookbooks or pinterest and organize meals that someone might like. I usually fail.

  34. OH MY GOD! This was so me tonight! I spent 3 hours today making moussaka because my 23 yo requested it… Nobody else liked it. I’m pissed off.
    Why do we even bother. Im so sick of it. I too used to enjoy cooking, now fuck it, I’ll just order chinese and be done with it.

  35. I wish I had a magic answer for you! I can totally relate – Ben started out eating EVERYTHING, then shut down around 18 months and became the pickiest eater imaginable. I went through the sobbing dinnertimes (me and him), making food look like stuff (fail), hiding vegetables in things (not as much of a fail), making separate dinners for him and us…then Molly came along and also would eat anything…but then around 2 started imitating Ben’s “But I don’t LIKE that!!”

    And then, this summer, LIKE FRIGGING MAGIC, suddenly it changed. And I have no idea why. Something clicked in his head and he actually said to me “Mommy, I’d like to try that. Because I realize it’s now or never, right?” and now he will at least TRY anything. I honest-to-goodness couldn’t tell you if anything I did was right or wrong or lead to it or it just happened that fate smiled on me and I’m in for a huge Karmic butt-kicking down the road, but c’est la vie.

    The things that I did that made it all easier for ME (because honestly I don’t think there is anything that will make a picky eater into a not picky eater until they decide to change) were:
    1. Me not getting emotionally invested in the food/cooking/meal. Of course, that is WAY easier said than done, but it is probably the most important thing to keep yourself from going completely nuts. Keep breathing, know that it will eventually pass, either because they will come around or because they will get old enough that you can make them cook 3 nights a week and see how they like it!
    2. Lunch is things that I know they like and dinner is my choice. I might make a simplified or deconstructed version for the kids, but it would still be the same meal (like if they wanted their stuff not mixed together, or without sauce, that was fine).
    3. I believe in “try one bite,” enforced with time-outs if necessary (“if you don’t eat a bite before I count to 3 you will sit out” – I found that time-outs helped a lot with the meal-time freak-outs – a time-out gave some time to think about whether it’s really worth all that effort to avoid eating one bite. After that bite, they can decide whether they want to eat more or not, but I don’t offer anything else.
    4. This was just this summer – but we grew a lot of herbs and tomatoes ourselves and were involved with a sort of community garden project with our church, and that may actually have been the turning point for Ben because he got really interested in eating things that he had actually seen growing.

    Please excuse my mixed-up verb tenses and horrendous sentence structure! I really wanted to comment to say that there is light at the end of that tunnel!! The kids now make fun of my husband for being the pickiest eater in the family. Hope this helps even a little!

    ~ karyn

  36. I finally decided that supper is whatever I want for my husband and I. My 3 year old gets to eat that and I’m not going to make another meal. AND the kitchen’s closed after that. I figure that if she goes to bed hungry, she’ll make up for it at breakfast or lunch the next day. She doesn’t necessarily eat any more at supper, but I don’t stress out about it anymore.

  37. we are a bit hit and miss. but a good recent option has been to cook a mega bland stew – veges, meat, maybe some beans – and then my partner and i add a big spoonful of chilli to our bowls. kept everyone happy with minimum fuss -for one night at least!

  38. I seriously don't understand this, I'm not my kid's maid, if they want to eat they will eat what I make. I won't even give them the option to make themselves something. Eat what I cook or starve, period. No one is going to literally starve themselves to death to avoid green beans. It can be hard, I get that, but you have to be the parent… obviously most of our parents did it with us and it wasn't even a question.

  39. You won't be putting their health at risk, and yes, you tell them to eat what you make or go hungry, period. As for your younger with the milk allergy, hopefully it's the kind he will grow out of but for the most part, you should try to incorporate more dairy-free recipes so the whole family can eat together.

  40. Stop giving them choices. They either eat what you do or they go hungry. My kids are 26 and 22 and I never fixed separate things for them to eat. They ate what I cooked, or they went hungry. They're not going to starve to death. Once they see that they can no longer manipulate you, they will eat what you cook. You just have to put up with the tears, etc., and let them know you are not going to cave. If you fix meat and potato and a veggie and they don't like the veggie, then maybe give them a pass on that, provide they eat the rest of the dinner. But don't go fixing a completely different thing for them to eat. That's just ridiculous. If they don't want to eat, then say okay. But don't fix them anything else. When they tell you later they are hungry, heat their plate up in the microwave. If they still don't want to eat it, then they don't eat. Repeat as necessary. It won't take long before they realize there isn't any way around it. Right now, they know if they cry or throw a fit or whatever, you will eventually give in. You've created the problem, so you need to solve the problem. It doesn't have to be an argument or drama filled. They say they don't want the dinner, calmly and simply say okay, you don't have to eat it, but you are not getting anything else to eat. Take it away and they can get up. If they start crying or throwing a fit, send them to their room until they're done throwing the fit. They don't have to eat, but they're not going to throw a fit, either. It won't take long to turn that around.

  41. Sherrie, a little help. I have 4 boys, ages 13, 8, 6 and 1. The 13 year old and 1 year old will eat just about anything. I have NEVER given choices. You eat what I cook or go to bed hungry. The problem? My 8 and 6 year olds go to bed "hungry" almost every night. They over do it on breakfast (meal full of carbs) and then have whatever the school provides for lunch (because God forbid I try and pack a healthy lunch-they just trade it for crap or bring home the food and toss it). I have to be careful about what they eat as diabetes has a very strong presence in my husband's side of the family. So how do I get them to actually eat what I cook? I have been struggling with this for years and am tired of being stuck in the dining room for hours trying to make them eat a healthy meal.

  42. My problem is that my kids are fine with skipping dinner and then loading up on cereal for breakfast. I have never given them a choice for dinner. They eat what I fix or they go to bed hungry. They never eat any veggies because they never eat dinner. How do I get them to start eating healthier? It's not like I'm not setting a good example. I need help getting 6 and 8 year old boys to eat something other than cereal and pb&j.

    1. Any reason they have to eat cereal for breakfast? Hunger is a powerful motivator. You can at least start them on fruits and protein. Leftover chicken is an excellent breakfast. If you can’t get veggies in at lunch or dinner, and they’re starving at breakfast, serve them breakfast veggies. You decide what breakfast veggies are. If you feel like they need some sort of grain, give them a slice of bread for dessert, after they’ve finished their eggs, carrots, and strawberries.

  43. It seems most people commenting missed a major point in the post: her daughter is underweight. My daughter is the same way. If we tell her "it's this or nothing", she just won't eat. No, she may not starve to death but being seriously underweight can cause serious health problems. So what's a parent to do when the pediatrician says "your daughter is way underweight and needs to eat more"?

  44. My son is four. I try so hard to make food that involves what he likes at that moment but it never works. All he wants to eat is apples and cereal. Nothing else! He won't eat meat. He won't eat anything white. Im going nuts here. He takes one look at it and pushes it away. I have even tried bargaining with him, "ill share my soda with you I'f you just take one bite" but nothing. I dont ok now what to do. Im trying a million different things and he won't budge. Im hoping this is just a faze.

  45. I used to love to cook. But after shopping for and preparing a meal that my kids (and maybe hubby) complain about I want to cry. My son is worse than my daughter. He would complain constantly about what was for dinner. He is now 11, but about 5 years ago we had him write a list of his favorite foods and I made a deal that I would make something from that list at least once a week. I explained that in a family you can't have your favorite food every night and I am not running a restaurant. I also try to limit the after school snacks if possible because if he's hungry he will eat better. But my husband is much pickier than I am (there isn't much I won't eat) and I need more variety. I find that I just don't cook as much as I used to. So sad.

  46. Anna Northrup Try changing their breakfast choices. Eggs and fruit, oatmeal with fruit, granola bars with healthy nuts and carrots, etc. If they're taking advantage of breakfast to manipulate the system of food you have, then make it so they can't anymore. Won't eat vegetables? Well, now it's vegetables for breakfast and dinner until you start taking responsibility for your own health. From your other post, 6 and 8 is old enough to understand that healthy food is necessary for good health. Don't scare them with stories about diabetes, but let them know that bodies need certain vitamins and nutrients, or they won't function right.

  47. Anna Northrup Try changing their breakfast choices. Eggs and fruit, oatmeal with fruit, granola bars with healthy nuts and carrots, etc. If they're taking advantage of breakfast to manipulate the system of food you have, then make it so they can't anymore. Won't eat vegetables? Well, now it's vegetables for breakfast and dinner until you start taking responsibility for your own health. From your other post, 6 and 8 is old enough to understand that healthy food is necessary for good health. Don't scare them with stories about diabetes, but let them know that bodies need certain vitamins and nutrients, or they won't function right.

  48. Kim Kolb It's funny that you say not to scare them with stories of diabetes, because that is exactly what I am afraid of. They are watching their very young grandmother kill herself with her diabetes because she lives in denial. She is now probably about 80% blind, only seeing shadows and color in her peripheral vision. She weighs 100 pounds of skin and bone, barely enough muscle mass to walk with a cane. And just started dialysis two weeks ago with 6% kidney function left. I don't want them to walk the same path. Vegetables for breakfast is a great idea. I quit buying cereals and began cooking muffins with fruits and nuts and whole grains months ago, and they love them. But we still have the "I'm not hungry" issue once they see the healthy dinner I have prepared. Put a pizza or some spaghetti in front of them and they are happy campers.

  49. Anna Northrup I'm sorry about your mother-in-law. My mother's mother was on dialysis at 50 years old, and I didn't know her before she was. She died at 64 after a heart attack and subsequent surgery (she didn't wake up). My mother (55) was just diagnosed with diabetes, though it's early enough that she just needs to exercise some more, watch what she eats, and take some regulating pills (for now). I'm worried about diabetes for me, so I do my best to eat right and make an effort to exercise (though I could be a lot better at that). I don't think there's anything wrong with explaining to your children why Grandma is sick, but I think some parents (whose main motivation is to get their children to eat healthy food) might resort to scare tactics. That's not going to give your kids a healthy relationship with food, and might just make things worse (anxiety). That's what I meant by "don't scare them." I'm glad that the muffins are a hit! Maybe you should try putting vegetables in some of the dishes that they like. Not to hide them, but to make them part of the meal. I put diced bell pepper and onion in my meatballs and meatloaf, and sometimes I add carrots. Instead of french fries, I make (baked) zucchini fries. I put some grilled pineapple on a burger, or chop up eggplant or mushrooms to put in the meat mix. The vegetables (and sometimes fruit – I love mango with fish!) add to the flavor while fortifying the food with some extra nutrients – and it often eliminates unique texture and overt flavors that kids don't like. Just some food for thought 🙂 Good luck to you!

  50. I think this answer depends on the age. At under 2 they are discovering their taste buds. Their are 4 major taste sensations sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Most children are introduced to sweet and salty. You have to slowly introduce others to them. You may have to mix ground carrots or sweet potatoes into oatmeal and tell them it's magic oatmeal that can make them see better and make their bones strong. I had to try that an many other things as a foster parent with a mixture of children. Some will eat their dinner if they know they can have a treat after like fruit, chips, or oatmeal cookie. But what worked best was telling them that they were eating food with special powers to do certain things in their body. Like when you eat these eggs, you help your body to have muscles or good skin. The responded better when they were told of a specific thing that food could do for them. So I researched, took classes, interviewed nutritionist and put it all together in a children's book. It is called The Body Garden Book. I am getting it funded on Indieagogo under the title of Eat Better Feel Better in The Body Garden Book. Leave a comment at website I shall be publishing it in Octotber 2014.

  51. My son is just a terribly picky eater. We can get him to try something but it isnt really worth it because he will inevitably dislike it because he decided to hate it before he even took a bite. My daughter…we just had to switch her back to whole milk at the age of 3 and a half because she was losing weight. If there isnt something she likes (and the list is shorter than yours- waffles, pancakes, bananas, occasionally grilled cheese, rarely scrambled eggs) then she just wont eat at all. We have gotten to the point of allowing her to eat cookies in the morning just to get something into her before school because she never eats the lunch they serve at school (and does not drink milk there because she is not allowed to use a bottle there and will not drink milk from anything else, and no juice because she doesnt like it. So water only.)- she will just go without eating until snack time and then just eat the small amount they give to everyone. Everyone always says "they will eat when they get hungry" but she doesnt, so what do I do with that?!? Anyway, I feel your pain. I used to love cooking too. I was excited to cook for my family, but I just feel beaten down by the whole short order cook thing, and sitting down to see my children despise my food and have arguments about it is never a mood booster. Maybe someday they will grow out of it? One can dream…

  52. My 4 year old daughter is very picky and so when my son came along I swore he would eat what we eat or he wouldn't eat at all, thinking I had just made the mistake with my daughter of offering another option (she was 7 weeks premature and also on the low end of the chart for weight and I didn't want to starve her.) Well my son ended up with a hyperactive gag reflex that led to vomiting and sensory issues so there went my plan. We ended up seeing a behavioral psychologist that specializes in feeding issues and here's what we learned, and what has worked for us. First of all, it's going to be a process that takes a LONG time. Don't expect to implement a new plan and have it work overnight, or even in the first week. My goal is that my kids will both have well rounded diets by the time they are teenagers:) Second, use positive reinforcement and start small. In the beginning we found something my son liked (it could be food, or a toy, or even a Thomas video on youtube.) If he touched the food to his lips, he got something he liked. Then we made it harder. Put a piece in your mouth and you get more reinforcement. Don't let them spit it out. You can "chase" it with a food they like if it helps. Eventually you require more than one bite before they get their reward. In the beginning, start with the foods they don't like and do a few bites, and then give them whatever you normally would for a meal. Build your way up to doing a whole meal of the new foods. It took me about 3 months to get my son eating "kid" food and another 6 or so to transition to eating what my husband and I eat. Now, most nights, both kids eat what we are having for dinner. I still have to do small modifications (like no sauce for my daughter on pasta) and occasionally they still have hot dogs if my husband and I are eating something spicy, but more often than not I am now cooking one meal instead of 3, and there is a lot less crying and screaming and stress at my dinner table. The most important thing is to be consistent. If your kiddo thinks that you will give in if they cry, you're never going to hear the end of it. The first couple times may be really hard but if you power on through they will learn. I found too that sometimes doing the harder foods at lunch, when the kids (and me too) aren't as tired was a lot easier in the beginning. Good luck!

  53. Ok try this one my son is 7 he is very picky won't eat what we put in front of him for dinner in less it's mac and cheese, po and j, plain noodles chicken nuggets. We don't make him anything else he gets what we are eating. He won't try it takes one look at it and won't eat. I can't cut anything up where it's to small to pick out cause he sees it he won't eat. He goes hungry every night and gets up and eats breakfast he went listen won't pick up his fork goes without desert and seems like he don't care. Every night he goes without. So I don't know what to do I don't give him what he wants he don't eat junk food chips etc he don't drink soda only juice or water I even tried to do the whole v movie thing a toy nothing works

  54. 100% understand this issue. My daughter is 4 but she looks like she just turned 3. She is growing slower than normal and she is underweight. She used to eat a wide variety of foods until we all got a very bad stomach illness (the bad strain of norovirus that was going around a couple years ago) and she ended up in the hospital. Even after the illness had passed she stopped eating and drinking, and had to be put on an IV. Once she finally got past it she swore off most foods and started refusing to eat when offer anything not on her short list, even when she hasnt eaten for 24 hours or longer. It gets to the point where anything is better than nothing. It doesnt help that it is next to impossible to reason with young.

  55. We have had some luck with my 8 year old son recently. We started giving him whatever we are having for dinner (obviously not large portions), I make dinner with a child's tastes in mind and dont make anything too sophisticated, and we set a timer for 40 minutes. If he doesnt finish everything he loses something- minecraft or some other video game, his tablet, TV watching etc. In order to earn the item back he has to eat his dinner, under the time limit, for 3 nights in a row. If he doesnt eat one of those nights then he loses ANOTHER item/activity and has to eat dinner 3 nights in a row for the 1st one and 3 nights in a row to get the second one back (we have not had to take away more than 2 things yet). If he finishes his dinner he doesnt have to worry about losing anything and he can choose what he would like to eat for dessert. He would always tell me he didnt like things but I started telling him that not preferring something is not the same as disliking it and that he doesnt really know until he tries it a repeatedly and prepared in different ways (maybe he doesnt like mashed potato but he might like roasted potato, or maybe he doesnt like chicken breast but he likes chicken legs etc). He never used to eat a single vegetable, now he actually LIKES carrots, broccoli, and green beans! He eats meats! It is not perfect, we need to remind him to take another bite and another, to finish in time; but it is light-years ahead of where we were before.

  56. I swear I couldnt do it, my OH eats what I cook. He was raised spoilt, and catered to whatever he wanted. I was raised "this is dinner you eat this, dont want it, dont eat, but you are going to get it for breakfast if you dont take a few bites". So needless to say OH can't cook, and he gets the choice of starve, make your own dinner, or eat what's on your plate and yes that includes the veggies. He adjusted, and now cleans his plates. Of course I know I got lucky here, and he gave in because he was to lazy to cook for himself (and can't.. Seriously this man could burn water) and ordering out isn't in the budget every night hahaha. In turn I try and make meals he likes a few days a week. We are expecting our first baby any day now (I'm overdue) and when she's is on mainly solids after 1, she will be raised just as I was.

  57. When my niece was underweight they made her "milk" shakes, they took her favorite fruit (she would only eat bananas, strawberries, and blueberries) and would pick one of them out in the morning, added two cups of the fruit, pediasure, a packet of oatmeal (cooked is better and less bitter, but you can do it dry) and a small amount (1/4 a cup to start with and gently increase slowly over time) of a cooked veggie, all together in a good blender and blend to make a shake. If it needs a little sweetness add a spoonful of sugar (you can cut back on this gradually til you dont use it at all anymore) there is more sugar in cereals than that so try not to worry.

    (If you don't like pediasure you can always just do milk/soy milk/other milk substitute and liquid vitamin drops) its best to prepare it the first few times in front of the child with just fruit, a little sugar, and milk so they think that's all that's in there. It helped my niece alot, she is 6 and also a very picky eater. Just thought id share what they did 🙂

  58. WOW, It’s not just my house!

    My 7-year old and 4-year old twin girls will only eat a few things. My son will go to bed hungry or fall asleep at the table. I had a talk with my grandmother about this, you know to get some “old school” advice and she told me what I already know. She said basically, this is my fault. I allowed them to eat certain meals and eat what they wanted when they wanted. They know I will cave in. So they have more patience than me and they will hold out. This is a battle. Every day. Now that school is out, it’s a battle for lunch and dinner. My grandma told me I have to hold my ground. When we were young we ate whatever our parents cooked. There was never another option. I need to go back to the days of my parents and grandparents. When they are hungry. They will eat. It may take some time but I will hold on to my guns on this one. If I can’t hold down the fort on something as natural as eating. these kids are going run me over when they get older. We were not picky because we had no choice. We gave our kids a choice, now we have to suck it up and take the choice away.

  59. No offence but this shows only how much you know. Chicken Piccata is nothing but fried chicken witth different spices. And what do you have against mashed potatoes and roasted Asparagus? That's normal cooking. Of course, if you are one of those Junk food worshippers who think Chicken Nuggets are the best part of a chicken and Mac & cheese is italian, I guess you wouldn't understand.

    You don't even know what she's doing or what chicken piccata is and yet you scream out: "Eeewwww, that sounds gross." That tells me you know shit about cooking.

  60. The problem started back then for you. The first time when children say: "I don't like this, I want something else" It's not even about the food. It's a try to see how far the adult will bent to their will. So if you give in, you give them power. And the older they get, the more it turns into a problem. And one day you will wake up and your cute girl has turned into a demanding princess who is only concerned with what 'she' wants.

    The first time I tried this my mother tried to give in, but my grandma stopped her. She said: "If you have the luxury to complain over food, then you are not hungry." So she send me to my room without food. I got my breakfast on the next day and it was ok.

    Woman, it won't kill your child if she doesn't eat every 5-6 hours.

    Mothers always think their Kid will starve if she goes one evening without food, but it was what? 10 hours? Not even half a day. So I ate what was offered from then on, never complained again. It might not be her favorite food, but she should understand that in some countries, this is more valuable than gold and it took your time and effort to cook it. Not because you are the Mom and you have to, it's because you want to and that's also a way to show that you love your children.

    If you wouldn't care at all, you'd give them money and send them to mcdonalds. It costs less money and less of your time which you could fill with more fun stuff to do.

    It's not cruel to punish children when they misbehave. It's discipline. And people can do that without getting violent. Punishment yes, violence no.

  61. I read through your post again and again and I must say this is really sad.
    Not that he won't eat, but that you try to talk and reason with a four year old….

    I mean, seriously?! You try to bargain with someone who is perhaps an eighth of you own age? In my country that's crazy. To a certain age children have to follow your lead, but for this they have to respect you first. I take one sentence you wrote as an example: "He takes one look at it and pushes it away." This in not, 'I don't like it' if he doesn't even know what it is. This is disrespect. 'I do what I want'

    In other words, he doesn't take you serious, but how could he if you try to 'bargain' with him? It's a sign of weakness. In the first few years, children are very intuitive. What else can they do if they don't understand the world yet. So when you show such a weakness as to try and reason or even bargain with him, they take advantage of that. Not because they are malicous or evil, but because that's what nature tells them to do. Take advantage of them so you will live another day. You could say it's some kind of survival instinct from times when we still had fur and lived in caves.
    We all went through that stage at one point in different situations. Like trying to beg for sweets at the store or being extra sweet to daddy so he would buy new toys. Once you understand that, you can try and work on being the adult in this relationship. Be serious and don't tolerate his behavior any longer. Make him understand that Life isn't a Wishing Well. We don't get to choose, but we survive because we deal with it the best way we can.

  62. Oh madness, this is worse than I thought. But I guess there really exist people who rushed through school and never found the classroom. First off you back off chicken shit! Second I never said that you need meat to cook anything and third, knowing certain things has nothing to do with being vegan or not. For all I care you can chew on your carrot all day long, but this is no excuse for calling other people's food or cooking crap, while you don't even know what they're doing and be happily stupid about it instead of looking it up on google. And yes, fried Asparagus should be in your cooking book if you are vegan!

  63. I've found that offering 5 different things in small amounts helps. 2 things I know my daughter loves, one thing she's rarely seen or has never seen before, and 2 things she might be ok with but not crazy about.

    I give her one thing she's not crazy about and 1 thing she loves right away, and slowly but strategically serve the different items within 10 minutes so that they are all lines up in piles.

    So many things vary, so switch it up! Sometimes my daughter likes plates with separators , sometimes she likes everything on a round plate, sometimes she goes straight for the table-only method, and sometimes she prefers finishing her fruit by walking away from the table with it in a cup.

    Also, different brands are huge. I always have to rotate through different shapes of pastas, different brands of pastas and pasta sauces. I recently learned that there is a HUGE difference between marinara and "tomato/basil" spaghetti sauce. The thicker consistency of the marinara is what wins.

    Have fun in the methods and try your best not to stress, whether it's worrying, force feeding, or just plain crying in front of your child. I need to walk away sometimes and peek around the corner to find that curiosity got the best of her, and I do a silent victory pump.

    I find the best thing to focus on is to realize that it's the power and control they are going after. They need choices and they need to explore what works for them in a neutral manner.

    The consistency comes in the schedule – offer food at the same exact times every day and never give up or fight. Offer variety. Remain neutral and have faith. Your kids are looking for stability and consistency – that they can depend on you, so keep these aspects consistent, a good framework to work with. The doctors will step in in the big picture if you are struggling with a bigger issue.

  64. I can't do it right, either. I grew up anorexic- believing I was so fat that eating would be dangerous. My appetite shows up every other day at the most- I don't eat well, so I got into a pattern of being a short order cook for my child who orders from her bed. Attending my table would be too much to ask of the little boss woman.

  65. My child got me evicted by willfully sceaming 3 times in 4 years- the last time over food service in her bed that wasn't perfect. We are lucky to be indoors, but parenting is a luxury I never can afford!

  66. Ok…another one who changed it slightly…I used chicken thighs…I use them for most Asian dishes…they allow for a few moments of ‘error’ in cooking time…breasts do not:) I also noted what others were saying about the thinness and amount of sauce. We love sauce, so I doubled the sauce and let it hard boil for 15 minutes or so, before I put in the chicken (mine cooks quickly as I cut it in thin strips) The sauce reduced and thickened a bit…enough to stay coated on the chicken. I then added the chicken and simmered until it finished cooking…7 minutes maybe. I used hot flakes and it was quite spicy…you can play around with the amount….will be cooking it again….same as before. Thank you to the contributors:)

  67. Yup…same here. SO frustrating. I WISH I could infuse all the daily servings of fruits vegetables protein and dairy into one nice neat granola bar or bowl of cereal. Someone invent that before I get turned in for “neglect” haha…:(

  68. If I may offer a bit of advice? First of all …what is a ‘foodie’. Food is required to live, but can never be your life.

    We all try (or in my case “tried”) to schedule things for our children. Yet, when was the last time you went to the zoo with a brilliant meal of cookies (granola bars for those of you that want to make yourself feel superior) …then expected your little one to dig through the “organic” juices or perhaps even soda pop and pull out even the finest in bottled water (non-flavored yet)? My mother spent all day packing up a picnic basket anytime we went anywhere for the day. Zoo, amusement park, beach, farm visits, etc.. You should all know by the time you are old enough to be parents that food always testes better when it is eaten somewhere fun. So some of you people maybe should stop worrying about cooking something that your kids will eat and worry about preparing a better environment for eating.

    Now I am almost 50, so obviously my mother never had a job that was easy or high-paying …she took care of our home and family. So yes, she had more time at home, but as any of you stay at home moms can attest …still no more time to do anything more than a mother working a 40-hour a week paid job. However, we looked forward to eating that picnic at the zoo, beach, amusement park, etc. It was our chance to tell everyone how much fun that we had the past few hours and what we are going to do the next few hours after the meal. Well the same thing applies to your home. Don’t listen to those that say too many of our activities involve food. Schedule activities around your meals. Very few of us are fat because we overeat; our weight issue is because we overeat too many things that turn into fat.

    My daughter is a wonderful mother, even though she goes way over-the-top. She has some good ideas, like kids watch too much TV, or play on the computer too much, or do not get outside enough, etc. Additionally, give her all the credit in the world for buying the proper munitions (good food, even stuff that kids will like ..and fun outside toys; however, no one ever showed her how to “fire those weapons”. For example, she says to her son that he cannot watch TV or use a computer until he eats, or she pauses the TV show and says “time to eat”. Well the best meal in the known world is not as good as batman …even the ones from the 60’s. The smarter thing to do is plan his day around the meal, just because you are not at the zoo does not mean the day is boring. So, if the show lasts 30-minutes, then make certain you start the show at least 30-minutes before you plan to eat, then tell him or her (in advance) that you will need their help with the dinner, but not until the show is over. It works a lot better than than simply placing the same food in front of a crying child and waiting for his first date before he eats it. Most children do not mind eating, it is just that they feel like they are missing something if they are wasting time at the table. If you do not believe me, then why (before VCR and DVR) did they used to be called “TV Dinners”? So you wouldn’t miss a show (yes TV was once broadcast live).

    My grandson loves poring out the food and sometimes we even march to the table with music on. Also I always talk with my grandson at a meal. I was sick the last few days and at today’s breakfast he told me that I was sick because I did not eat my probiotic and vitamins. He then told me how Rubble loaded the cat on to the paw patrol bus by mistake. The whole time he was eating his eggs and toast. So advice #2 …if you make your meal environment better, they will not want to get up from the table so quickly and may actually eat something.

    Thanks for reading, hope it helps.

  69. When I didn’t have kids..I love cooking and baking..everything from baking bread from scratch..cookies from scratch to a overly complete Thanksgiving dinner..when it was only me eating it. I have 2 kids now..and, it may sound harsh..but the thrill is gone. I try and do different things..from Spaghetti Carbonara. Someone always has something to say. My youngest has an issue with anything with onion, bellpepper, and cream cheese and sour cream. I’m literally at my wits end..and about to turn into my mother. Whatever she cooked..whether it was Coq Au Vin, Beef Bourguignon or Liver..we were expected to eat it.

  70. Easy don’t make leftovers give the leftovers to the poor, leftovers are not food they belong either to the poor or in the garbage. People should not eat leftovers for dinner either give it to the soup kitchen or throw it away who cares

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