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  • extreme picky eater

    My 3yo son has been on a slow but steady downhill trend in his eating habits. There are precious few foods that he will eat these days:
    pizza - at home I make it and sneak in whole wheat, carrots, and beans for protein
    cookies/muffins - again, I make these at home and sneak veggies and protein, lower the sugar content and use whole wheat
    popsicles - you guessed it, I make 'em healthy
    an occaisional hot dog - no way am I making these, we get Hebrew National
    sometimes cheese
    and that's about it for anything healthy. Oh- he takes a good multi every day. Thank God he likes them!
    Here's the kicker - if there's a bit of cheese hanging off the edge of his pizza slice, he's done with pizza for the day. Sometimes his cheese is "too cold". If I leave the ends of the hot dog on his plate, he complains that it has skin on it and won't eat any of it. If he suspects there's "skin" on anything - the end.
    Also - at every single meal, he is offered (as in it's on his plate in the shape of a smiley face etc..) fruit, cheese, a veggie (most of the time) and at dinner whatever we are eating is always on his plate.
    If junk food makes its way into our house (which happens as we are human beings) that is of course all he wants - we give him a little at a time until it's all gone and then remind ourselves not to buy that again for a while.
    He used to eat any and every fruit we put in front of him - chicken, yogurt, all cheeses, just no veggies.
    Is there more I can do???? Sometimes I feel like it's hammer time - like we should force him to eat a banana against his will or make him eat a green bean before he leaves the table. I always said I would not fight over food, but wow - this is the pickiest eater I have ever known!!!!
    Has any one else ever gone through this???
    Thanks!
    Jamie

  • #2
    Partially it's the age, part his personality...... He eats better then a lot of kids I know actually! Sometimes extreme pickyness can be telling of a food allergy, have you looked into that at all?

    If junk food makes its way into our house (which happens as we are human beings) that is of course all he wants - we give him a little at a time until it's all gone and then remind ourselves not to buy that again for a while
    Boy, I feel the same way..all I want is those chips and I have only a little more will power then my sons! That is such a normal reaction.

    At 3 they are really worldly...they know how they like things and want them just so! They are asserting their independence, they know the choices and selections in the world now, but don't understand the complexities of "we need to go buy more", "its all gone" or legitimate reasons we give on what the big deal vegetables are.

    Does the rest of the family eat a variety? Do you 'give in' to his requests for more food prepared to his liking? I don't mean ignore his concerns but maybe give him more control over preparing it himself. Give him permission to solve his own eating dilemma.
    My oldest son learned how to make himself a sandwich at 3 and boy he felt proud! He is also proud of his garden and relishes veggies from it....Just ideas!

    like we should force him to eat a banana against his will or make him eat a green bean before he leaves the table.
    This might backfire and make him HATE the good food...... Has it become a power struggle?

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    • #3
      My son is 7 and is my picky eater. I just wrote a guest post for a blog that talks about some of the things we've done in our house. It is kind of a long post and I don't want to copy/paste it all here. I don't earn any money for it, etc and some of the ideas might help you.

      If you'd like the link, send me a PM and I'll send it your way.

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      • #4
        my son is pickier than yours, but it was coupled w/other sensory issues: sensitive to clothing, lights, noises. we tried all the tricks, some of which you've mentioned, and we finally decided to get him into Feeding Therapy. originally, he started eating about the range you currently have, and then started dropping off foods one by one until he was down to just pancakes--NOTHING else. the therapy has finally got him eating some fruits, vegetables and pizza. he's now almost 6. i WISH we'd gotten him in therapy years ago.

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        • #5
          Our daughter eats well, but her food tastes surprise us all the time. Sometimes stuff she used to like isn't good any more, and sometimes it is. We just try really hard to expose her only to nutritious foods so that it's not so important what she chooses to eat. It's hardest for me when we go out to eat, and forget to ask them to keep the bread in the kitchen, and she wants to eat 2 rolls (which constipate her and give her a rash). We just really try not to have food in our house that isn't nourishing. I think power struggles over food are terrible and will not result in any significant benefit to your kid and will probably create harm, be it in the way he views food or your relationship or what.

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          • #6
            OK, I'm feeling much better. We have never had a food fight (except to say no to ice-cream all day and my favorite - "ketchup is not a meal, it's a dip") and will keep it that way.

            DH and I are healthy eaters - our house is full of fresh fruits and veggies and he sees us eat them every day. Sammy and I bake about 3 times a week (pizza crusts, muffins, panckakes, etc..) and he loves it - he just takes for granted the pureed carrots go in everything, and spinach in anything with cocoa powder. He even sometimes helps me make dinner, but that's rare as I use sharp knives and heat which are off limits to him. He likes to use my hand chopper to chop chips (corn chips)next to me when I cook (I don't use chopped chips, it's just busy work for him) so I do feel that he is involved in food preparation.

            The thing with "giving in" is that it's so darn easy to zap his leftover lunch (usually pizza) for like 12 seconds (hot food is upsetting) when he won't eat the meat balls and spaghetti. A hot dog is equally easy, and I always have cheese cubes ready to go in the fridge, so it's never a bother to get him something I know he will eat. I absolutely do not cook separate meals for him, neither do I make an effort to "kid freindly" our meals - I'm not a fan of chicken nuggets for dinner. If I just let him not eat dinner, he wakes up hungry in the night - no fun for anyone, or he doubles up during the day and just ignores dinner altogether. (I'm just not hungry" he'll say)

            I guess he will eventually get bored with his few foods, or realize that dinner is not scary or evil and will eat more like a normal person. I was in my 30's before I would try asparagus....

            Thanks, and any more tips would be great!
            Jamie

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            • #7
              I think he sounds pretty much like my son who is a very good eater compared to some kids I know. My son's reaction to food he desires is strong, just like yours! I like to think of the positives of a sensitive palate in my child. Maybe he will be a succesful chef or vegetable farmer or artsian baker.......and hopefully be able to communicate better about it as an adult!

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              • #8
                Does anyone have any idea when picky eating becomes more than picky eating and a problem that needs outside help? (PaxMamma did you learn any info from going to the therapy that you could pass along to us?)

                Also, I was quite a picky eater and DS is one too. Anyone else out there have the problem in more than one generation? (And I consider myself a "normal" eater as an adult.)

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                • #9
                  for us, we had to realize that there was more than just picky eating going on. like i said, he was displaying texture sensitivities in many areas, not just food. our therapist says, pickiness is normal, rejection of new foods or even dropping old ones is normal, but displaying severe mental anxiety over food is not, nor is gagging when trying food, esp. since we have NEVER had rules or cultural notions about what to eat or when to eat or anything else that would give our ds such an intense need to have control over his food.
                  does that help at all? i would recommend that if you're in doubt, talk to your pediatrician. if he/she isn't helpful, call a speech language pathologist who offers feeding therapy.

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                  • #10
                    I agree with Dedra. For my son, there was major anxiety around food time. He also started to lose weight (significantly) as he cut out food and would rather not eat anything at all (even when we had no "rules" about eating).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post
                      does that help at all?
                      Yes it does. Thanks PaxMamma and Melissa_h.

                      DS doesn't seem to have any anxiety about food just PICKINESS. And for awhile, he was decreasing the already limited selection of foods he would eat but has now expanded it again. Phew, because for awhile there it was just getting way too frustrating for me to try and feed him and the whole family.

                      I also have a hard time with the "don't make anything special for him" advice. Because it seems that inherent in that advice is the idea that he is being picky out of a need to "control" us parents. OR that what he likes to eat is not acceptable but what I eat like to eat IS acceptable. OR that he will learn to eat new things if we force him (by not allowing him to have food he likes). If it was not eating behaviour being discussed I would easily dismiss these arguments.

                      On the other hand, how do I realistically feed a family with diverse taste and not burn myself out? (Don't worry that's a rhetorical question folks. )
                      Last edited by Jessica; 03-08-2009, 11:24 AM. Reason: fix spelling

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                        I also have a hard time with the "don't make anything special for him" advice. Because it seems that inherent in that advice is the idea that he is being picky out of a need to "control" us parents. OR that what he likes to eat is not acceptable but what I eat like to eat IS acceptable. OR that he will learn to eat new things if we force him (by not allowing him to have food he likes). If it was not eating behaviour being discussed I would easily dismiss these arguments.
                        I agree with you totally here! For us, if she wants to eat something different, no problem. We keep things that we believe are healthy and that are ready to eat on hand, like boiled pastured eggs, cubed tofu, and nutritious cereal. So, we can offer her foods that require no preparation if she doesn't want what we're eating. Of course, she still nurses a lot, so usually, if she's not eating with us, she's nursing. She snacks on things like cashews and raisins quite frequently. Doesn't really add any work to our day.

                        And, as I said, for us a key is to not have anything that we don't feel good about in the house. If she wanted to eat a hot dog for dinner, I know I'd be unhappy with that, so I don't have hot dogs in the house.

                        You're right to trust that your child knows what his body needs and should be in charge of what goes into his body. We can guide our children in this way, but controlling them just isn't an option.

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                        • #13
                          Sam goes to his ped. tomorrow and of course he will ask about diet. His advice last year was to "take charge and only offer what the family is eating - eventually he'll be hungry enough to try new foods" which I then ignored. This year I think I'll just say he's eating well and avoid the judgement. Our doc is great for medical advice, but.....
                          So I won't feel bad about my "giving in", but continue to feed him good food I know he will eat. I'm pretty glad he doesn't go for mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, as I am terrible at making m&c (no boxed stuff - even Annie's is too salty) and chicken nuggets are so time consuming!! thank goodness I can find Applegate Farms hot dogs! (no preserves, just beef and spices)
                          I haven't gotten too much into tofu as a protein option - is there a recipe swap around here somewhere??? I think I dont' do tofu much because I can't always find organic, and I don't like the idea of genetically engineered food.
                          Anyways, it's been a good discussion, and I feel better!
                          Thanks!
                          Jamie

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                          • #14
                            We dealt with the "he'll eat when he's hungry" type of advice as well. We have a new ped now and her advice has been, if he's hungry, let him eat. She's awesome!

                            Now on to your question about the recipe swap - it is in the works. We're looking for more forum moderators before expanding into our planned off topic forums. If you know anyone interested in being a moderator, you can have them PM me. Junior moderators don't need to be API Leaders, only senior moderators are required to be an API Leader or Resource Leader.

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                            • #15
                              He ate fish!!!! I can't believe it - protein!! We're talking about breaded fish sticks which I never would have thought of - but my mom did and he's eaten them a couple of times now. I'll take it!

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