Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coping with Picky Eaters - Ten ways

My kids and I are picky eaters - especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. In some ways my kids are very picky eaters. Growing up, I was a very, very picky eater.

I don't usually like cheese (except mozzarella) and only when it's melted.
I don't like mayonnaise.
I'm not big on leafy green veggies. Though I do like this spinach recipe.
I'm not very fond of salads, though occasionally they're okay.
I'm not fond of (hot) spicy foods (this combined with the cheese thing eliminates most Southwestern dishes).
I don't like mushy vegetables (this generally eliminates soups & stews).
I don't like beans - this is a part of the mushy thing; green beans are okay, but they're mostly pod, not bean!

They don't like many fruits except bananas & applesauce - usually.
They don't like potatoes - except french fries.
They don't like crispy vegetables (this pretty much eliminates salads for them as well as conflicting with Mommy's veggie preference).
They're not particularly fond of spicy foods, though one is more adventurous than the other.
The only beans they've eaten are green beans because I can't get over my bean aversion and cook them!
They don't generally like to try new foods, though one is making more progress than the other.

So, how do I cope with all this pickiness?

One: The rules apply to everyone. No exceptions just because I am the cook or the parent.

Two: I do not make 4 different meals for 4 different people. I make what I make and the rule is everyone must try a bite of everything (including Mommy & Daddy!) Most of the time we make them eat 2-3 bites, but sometimes if it's something very new to them, we only expect them to eat one bite.

Three: I try to have at least one thing that each person likes. Hubby is easy. The rest of us are a bit more difficult, fortunately there's a fair bit of overlap these days between what we do like.

Four: Be strategic. Don't introduce weird new food when you're the only adult home to enforce the rules. When Daddy's not home for dinner I fix foods I know they'll like. I don't have the energy for supper battles. When Daddy is home - there's strength in numbers!

Five: I tend to use the same seasonings & flavorings on many different foods. This makes the unfamiliar more familiar. Our current favorites include: garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon pepper (not used all at the same time!).

Six: Compromise. Cut vegetables in varying sizes to accommodate everyone's preferences.

Seven: Complaining is not allowed. Complaining will result in the loss of all dinner.

Eight: Dessert is served only occasionally, and when it is - it is only served after you've eaten your vegetables and/or fruit.

Nine. Be persistent. Many vegetables and fruits are seasonable. My kids tend to forget they like watermelon from season to season. But by late-June I'm pretty sure they'll be back on the watermelon train.

Ten: Introduce new foods gradually and repeatedly. (This is part of being persistent.) Two years ago my children did not like asparagus. Now, they do. Why? Because I have gradually introduced it - about once/two weeks each spring. I've also been persistent in trying several different recipes, until I found one most of us liked.

This approach to our respective pickiness has worked well for us and is beginning to pay dividends. My older child is now more willing to try new foods than he was two years ago. The younger one is coming along a little at a time.

For more fun top ten lists, visit ohamanda.


Anonymous said...

Good list! I like #7 best:)

Christi said...

I am really lucky that my picky eater only dislikes the idea of things. He "hates onions" but has discovered that he likes my spaghetti sauce and I always put onions in. So then it was hate onions in everything except spaghetti sauce. LOL
With his list of food dislikes, I couldn't cook so I just don't tell him.

Storm said...

Good luck with your continued process of not letting your kids get to be "too picky." It is very good you have some rules to stick too. It is even greater that you are trying not to allow your very, very picky tastes rub off on to your children. Happy belated Tuesday.

Jenni R. said...

It is nice to find someone who doesn't have a taste for beans and too much cheese also! (Can make Mexican food a little challenging huh?!) Thanks for this great list--encourages me to stay on track at meal times!


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