Calling All Parents Of Picky Eaters. Help!

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Okay folks, I need your help. Parker is a notoriously picky eater. He’s sensitive to textures, colors and of course, taste. It used to be that he would only eat chicken nuggets, meatballs, plain spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and pizza (none of which I’m particularly thrilled about anyways) as his main sources of protein. While you could occasionally convince him to eat an egg or a turkey dog, it wasn’t a sure thing. Now, he won’t eat anything with regularity and I’m not sure if his eating habits are changing or if he’s just testing his boundaries. Regardless, I’m starting to dread mealtime because it’s become such a battle.
Here’s usually how it goes:
Me: What would you like for dinner Parker?

Parker: What are my options?

Me: Your options for dinner are meatballs or chicken nuggets.

Parker: I want something else.

Me: Would would you prefer instead of meatballs or chicken nuggets?

Parker. Can I please have macaroni and cheese mama?

Me: Sure (I then make the mac and cheese).

Parker: (Takes two bites). I don’t like this, I want something else.

Me: That’s not an option. You requested mac and cheese and now you need to eat it.

Parker: *Cue the whining, arguing, pleading, fussing*

Me: *Cue digging heels in and sticking to my guns*
Now, I’d like to state a couple of things for the record. I’ve tried every variation of this conversation. I’ve forced him to pick from the choices I initially offered, I have removed choice entirely, I have left it open so that he can pick what he eats. Suffice it to say that we always get to the “I want something else” battle.
Now, he will eat carbs and fruit endlessly, but strawberries and goldfish don’t make a meal. He’ll also consistently eat straight peanut butter or a cheese stick, but I feel like we need add in a bit more variety. We always offer to let him sample what we’re eating for dinner, but 90% of the time, he won’t even taste it (even for a bribe). Part of the reason for that is his issue with herbs (of all things). He found a speck of parsley on his pizza and wouldn’t touch another bite until it was removed. I mean, this is the kid that will happily eat boogers, dirt and grass outside. What gives?
I think that I’m doubly frustrated because I’m already offering him things that I consider to be crap. Sure, I can buy the organic mac and cheese and 100% natural chicken nuggets, but they’re still processed foods.
So that’s where you all come in. Please help! How do you get your picky eaters to eat? What foods might work easily that I haven’t thought of? I haven’t tried making cute shapes with his food or going the creative route. Has anyone had success with that? Seriously, any feedback you could give would be greatly appreciated over here. I just want dinnertime to be happy again and Parker to eat the best foods I can get in him.
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3 thoughts on “Calling All Parents Of Picky Eaters. Help!

  1. ~Lori~ September 28, 2010 / 10:40 pm

    I wish I had some advice for you. Christopher is the pickiest eater ever!! Good luck!

  2. Michelle September 29, 2010 / 9:01 pm

    So, I dont want to sound like "I told you so.." but the first mistake was making something seperate from what you and your hubby eat. From day one of eating solid food our kid ate what we ate and she is by far the best eater. She eats a huge variety of things form salmon to asparagus to suchi. At this point, start retraining and make only one meal for the whole family.. it will suck for a bit and he may go to bed hungry.. but it wont last long. No kid ever died from missing a meal here or there. He will learn and start to eat what you eat and try new things. Trust me. You are such an amzing cook.. can you imagine raising a super picky eater who will make his wife nuts?

  3. Cyn September 29, 2010 / 9:39 pm

    Michelle – in hindsight, I know you're absolutely right. Parker's teacher told me the exact same thing today. Without getting into a huge back story, my mother-in-law was living 2 blocks away from us for about 6 months when I went back to work (when Parker was 12 months old) and we ate mostly at her house. She took care of feeding Parker and it was typical American fare (chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, etc…) I was too sleep deprived and inexperienced to think about establishing patterns. Then, we continued it because it never seemed like a good time to deal with the whining, etc… Not making excuses, just being real. The other issue is that I'm already used to cooking separate meals for my husband and I since he's a carnivore and I'm not so I didn't think anything of it when I was cooking something different for Parker. I'm going to regroup this weekend and start with cooking a single meal on Monday. If he's hungry, he'll eventually eat. Lord help me in the interim, but at least I know what NOT to do with our second one!

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