The Diet Channel confirms that other parents are concerned about their child’s picky eating habits. When you stress about the sudden dislike, or because the food is one of your own favorites, the child often reacts to that feeling. Soon, everyone is unhappy, and the peaceful, healthy, dinner that you planned is history.
Mealtime should never be a struggle for power. The evening meal is one of the last events that families sometimes share. Use it to exchange upcoming events, schedules, and special thoughts, not as an opportunity to remind the kids that mom and dad are the bosses.
Breakfast is important; the most essential thing is each family member leaves with something in the tummy, ready to provide fuel for the day. Lunch is usually eaten away from home, with the exception of weekends. Dinner becomes the meal where the challenge from family members might arise.
“I don’t want any.” I am a picky eater (still). I can grit my teeth with the best of them. My dad and mom compromised with my by agreeing that if I still did not like the food after I tasted it, I would not be asked to eat it again. A separate item was not prepared for me, since there were other things to eat at the table. The only exception to this rule is if we were invited to dinner elsewhere, or if somebody besides mom cooked dinner. Then we were expected to eat anything placed before us with enthusiasm, thanks, and compliments. If I am invited out, I still abide by that procedure. It was an extremely fair solution. Dad respected my opinion, and I respected his rules.
Take a look at the National Agricultural Library Food and Nutrition Information Center list for consumers on general nutrition and healthy eating, which was updated September 2010. There are many guides to ensure your child is receiving healthy foods, even if he or she has decided not to partake of a portion of the evening’s meal. One entertaining title is “Nutrition for Dummies”, 4th edition, by Carol Ann Rinzler, MA.
When we found out our children had certain preferences, my husband and I assigned a day when each one got to decide one item for dinner: main course, starch, vegetable, or dessert. It led to some very unusual dinner combinations, but kept the peace. As soon as they were old enough to help in the kitchen (three years old is a comfortable start for most children), they enjoyed participating and creating food. Children generally enjoy eating something they helped create. Don’t get upset if they change their mind about eating the things they prepared; it may be that too many “tastes” preceded the meal.
We are fortunate to have access to a world of knowledge on the web. Discuss being kind to others with your family; then allow them to create. Before they start, remind them that creating also means cleaning. Two sites worth noting that have kid-friendly recipes are Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, especially the Funny Faces recipe,
and “Serious about Snacks” at Disney Family Fun.
The family will benefit from new, healthy recipes, reinforcement in social skills, particularly discussion, compromise, and courtesy, and enhance the respect and love that form their unit.
Cynthia York-Camden, MS, RD.LDN, Coping and Compromising with Kids who are picky eaters
NAL USDA, Eating Smart: A Nutrition Resource List for Consumers September 2010
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Fun for Kids
Disney Family Fun, Serious about Snacks