Full confession: I am a picky eater. I always have been, and I think I always will be. My husband told me that as I got older my taste buds would change, and to some extent, they have! Yeah! But there is still an array of things I do not like and will not eat. I have my quirks and I am ok with them. But what do you do when you want your child to be healthy, eat from all the food groups and you won't touch half of what you feed him? I admit that in the beginning I felt guilty because I wanted my son to keep eating the foods he so willingly ate before he got a mind of his own, yet I wasn't going to sit next to him and eat it with him. So what was I to do? Lets start at the beginning...
He ate all sorts of food as a baby! He loved anything we put near him. Then somewhere around 1 1/2-2 years he decided...NO THANK YOU to most foods. Understand, that my children are both in the 5th percentile for weight. So I wasn't too concerned about what he wanted to eat because truthfully he needed some fat. My child's favorite foods consisted of pasta, grains, carbs and chicken. Thats it. He didn't like fruits, he didn't like vegetables and he didn't like any other meat. But my thought process through it all was this: he's growing, he's developing just fine, he's never been sick, he's healthy and happy, and I hated being force fed foods I didn't want to eat, so I'll let him be. I let him eat from those groups, asking him periodically if he'd like to try something we were eating. I often put new foods on his plate, along with his usuals, to see if he'd try it and to get him exposed to new foods. He didn't like them. Our philosophy was, you don't have to like it, but you do need to try one bite and be polite about it (a new post about manners next time!! We didn't tolerate yelling, screaming or being rude.). If you don't like it, say no thank you, and the discussion is closed. And this is how the next 2 years went. He did add some things to his repertoire such as, taco meat, chips, apples, pretzels, and eventually carrots. Not exactly the best diet, but we were getting somewhere.
***Side note: We did talk to his pediatrician about it to make sure he was getting the vitamins and such he needed. We were told to let him eat and grow the way he is for now and not stress too much about it. We just kept exposing him to different foods, hoping he would branch out. We also did give him a vitamin supplement in his drink so that he did get more.
Then something happened! Around 4, he started looking at what we were eating and saying, "can I try some of that?" Of course!!! We stuck to the same rules of be polite even if you don't like it and you only have to try one bite. Oh man!! The doors of new foods started to open left and right! He now eats spinach, salads, corn, bananas, cheese, yogurt, soups, casseroles, and he will try ANYTHING you put in front of him no matter what it is with no complaint!
About a month ago, something else changed. He said, "Mommy, I don't want to have to eat chicken anymore. Why do we ALWAYS have to eat chicken?!" My response was simple, "because you won't eat any other meats." From then on, he asked for ANY meat but chicken. This kid now eats, burgers, steak, chicken fried steak, ham, turkey, pulled pork and pretty much any other meat you put in front of him. Yeah for him!!
This is what I learned from all this. I am proud of him! And I am glad that I wasn't so harsh about it in the beginning because he may have grown to not like more and resent us for making him eat something he didn't want to. My husband made a good point the other day about how he learned he could trust us and that helped a lot. X knew that when we said only one bite, we really were only going to make him eat that one bite, so he never complained about having to try something. And his response to did you like it, usually was, "no thank you." But eventually his plate got boring and he was ready to venture out. I love that now, I can put anything on his plate and he will try it. Most of the time he will eat it all and then say I don't want that again or that was delicious! I try to respect what he likes and doesn't and steer clear of some of his dislikes. And there have been times when I order him or make some meat and he turns his nose up to it. His option is eat that or the chicken nuggets from the freezer. He usually replies with "I'll just eat this". Seriously, this kids is so anti chicken right now. This has also made our lives easier in the dinner department because whatever I make, everyone eats. I no longer make a meal he'll approve of and then make a meal the rest of us will eat. Life got way easier!
I could learn a lot from X. I need to start trying one bite of something and seeing where my taste buds will take me too! So to all the parents of picky eaters out there, don't stress too much, give them some choice and freedom to like or dislike something and let them come to you when you're eating something thats way better than what they have...and healthy too!! Until next time...