How to handle your children when they’re picky eaters
You’re going to want to hate me. I have four children, and every single one of them was born a “good eater.” They never refused anything. Well, that’s not entirely true. They never refused anything healthy.
When my oldest daughter, Emma, was a baby, we never let her have any junk food. She ate vegetables, fruits, whole grains. lean meats, and enough milk to fill Lindsay Lohan’s vodka cup. She even fed her doll babies sushi. But she never ate junk.
So on her first birthday, my husband and I were giggly school girl, pee-your-pants excited to feed her her very first cupcake. We did the requisite singing and candle-lighting. We told her to make a wish. (Which she obviously knew how to do. She was a very advanced baby. ALL of her grandparents said so.) We put a bib on her and set a cute little chocolate cupcake down on her little baby high chair, all set to get the adorable chocolate-covered baby photos that were totally not the only reason we were feeding her junk.
But my Emma, my sweet little love, did not eat junk. She wanted nothing to do with that cupcake. She made no moves to pick it up. I pinched off a bite and held it to her mouth. She curled her lip and turned away. I tried again. Nothing but disgust from Emma. I swear I am not making this up, you know what she wanted instead? Green beans. I have photographic evidence.
Her siblings were all the same. They’d eat anything I fed them, and it was all super-healthy stuff. Well, almost all of it. Over the years, I’ve gotten a little less uptight strict about the junk food, and my kids do get an ungodly amount of some treats.
Mom 1: Why is she so high and mighty about junk food? She’s judging me, isn’t she? She thinks I’m a bad mom for giving my kids junk. It’s just a few goldfish in their lunches, for crying out loud! Does she expect them to live off of nothing but spinach?
Mom 2: You give your kids goldfish? Mine eat raw, organic vegetables that I grow in my own garden.
Mom 3: I feed my children nothing but organic gardening soil and water, and they complete their nutrition through photosynthesis.
I’m sorry, readers. I assure you, I am not judging. Maybe you’re pre-masticating your children’s organic foods before air-steaming it with the warmth of your own breath. Or perhaps they live off of week-old McDonald’s fries that they find stuffed between your carseats. Either way, I’m fine with it. I’m here to commiserate with you!
Because you see, dear readers, my children have turned on me. Those four little stinkers went from eating anything and everything to turning up their noses at almost everything I cook. Here is that same, sweet, baby girl, Emma, who once turned down chocolate cake in favor of green beans.
“We are on a diet that prevents us from eating sweet potatoes, enchiladas, taco soup, and other gross stuff.”
Well, I’m here to serve you, your highness.
So, what’s a mom of a picky eater to do? I say, beat them at their own game. You love those little buggers, but if you have to hear one more whiny “Chicken again???” you may just have to cut your own ears off. But you know you can sass right back, right? Here’s another actual conversation with my sweet little Emma:
Emma: What are we having for dinner?
Me: You have two choices: leftover steak or leftover soup.
Emma: Ugh! Why are you always offering me stuff I don’t like?! Here, you’ve got two choices. you can have princess stew, or—
Me: Ooh! Princess stew!
Me: Here, I’ve got a big pot. You climb in, I’ll get some water.
Emma (meekly): No. I’m too big.
Me: Hmmm…you’re right. Here, climb up on my cutting board. I’ll just use your feet.
Emma: NO!! You can’t have princess stew!
This method may not get them to eat, but it makes the unappreciation a lot more fun.
One last thing. Always have wine with dinner. If you’re anything like me, you already know this, but “wining” makes “whining” a lot easier to take. I think I’ll have some right now.
What about you? How do you deal with your picky eaters? I’d LOVE to hear from you!