Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/dooce/public_html/wp-content/plugins/hybrid-hook/hybrid-hook.php on line 121
Here’s where my mom brings up the apples and peanut butter | dooce® dooce® » I'm Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website. » Here’s where my mom brings up the apples and peanut butter
  • my2sons

    I feel your pain and remember, this too shall pass. Seriously, my 7 year old is getting better every day (OK, maybe every month) but I had to totally stop talking about food. My 4 year old eats next to nothing, nothing I would call healthy anyway.

    We have smoothies that started with ice cream and strawberries but now have banana and yogurt included, give it a try!

    For dinner, make your dinner as normal. Have 1 thing each night on her plate that Leta will eat and don’t say a word. We often have our youngest eat cereal – if that is all he will eat, his choice. If he is hungry, his choice.

    Good luck and keep us posted! I have often wished you lived down the street so we could sit down and have a chat – you rock and are always a highlight to my day!

  • carawahlgren

    Seriously. Doesn’t matter. This isn’t about food, it’s about control. Don’t try and fight her on it. Make what you and Jon want to eat and serve it to her and Marlo and if she doesn’t eat it SCREW HER. But really, if you only give a kid chicken nuggets because you know that is what she will eat, you will be struggling with this for much longer than you would if you expose her to NORMAL DAMN FOOD. Maybe not every night, maybe just 3 or 4 nights a week you say too bad so sad this is what we are having and then the other night serve her something that she is likely to eat. I have 4 boys, not talking out my ass here. I HATE DINNER TIME. IT’S THE WORST. But it will get better I swear to holy God. My 8-year-old used to pull that shite and he still isn’t all casual casual about dinner time but dammit he is very much starting to try new stuff and I don’t have to rip his arm off at the tendon to get him to do it. My younger boys, they are still in the thick of it as far as making me insane but I feel they will get better with it too. IT WILL BE FINE. UGH THOUGH.

  • helixiafox

    I think your therapist gives good advice. If you don’t allow it to be a situation where she can have control, there is no fight.
    That being said, since it IS an area of control for her, have you considered having her go to the therapist? Of course it’s normal for kids to have these control battles but if she’s having severe anxiety it could be something to look into.

    And the applesauce incident ain’t gonna scar her, but I just need to say the whole “your child will never remember that” logic pisses me off. No, babies don’t remember details but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact. A toddler might not remember being beaten but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect him.

  • melinda.hamby

    My oldest daughter is now 17. She is just in the last year started getting over her pickiness and trying new foods (I actually got her to try an avocado this weekend!). She went through a period of eating pasta with just butter, she went through a period where if the food wasn’t green she wouldn’t eat it (we went through a lot of food colouring!). She still will not eat hamburgers, though she will eat a taco now.

    Just hold on and hang in there. It does get better…eventually ;)

  • cclark16

    As a picky eater myself (I ate PB&J for lunch every day for 12 years), the only thing that worked for me was bribery. My parents made a deal with me that if I would eat anything they cooked for me for dinner for one month, they would buy me the latest Nintendo system. I came out of that month with a lot of new meal options–grilled chicken, fried chicken, spaghetti, green beans, lima beans, peas, mashed potatoes. If Leta likes condiments, perhaps put some of those out on the table for her to dip the food in to try. I put ketchup on everything and it makes it all better.

  • Nhiro

    My aunt used to mince food that my cousin didn’t like into really tiny pieces and mix it into food he did like, e.g. meatloaf into fried rice. He was none the wiser and thankfully he’s grown out his fussiness.

    Or if you want to be really devious, tell her those princesses she worships LOVE brussel sprouts and green beans. And that they didn’t become princesses until they had finished eating what the king/queen had prepared at the grand ball/feast/party. A little photoshop wizardry here is key. ;)

  • sweetpotatopie

    Forgive me for not reading the bazillion comments ahead of me to see if I’m being redundant, but what worked for us was to just DROP IT. Stop arguing about food. I have an only child (10) and yes, I make her separate meals. But you’ve got to pick your battles, plus I didn’t want her to grow up with food issues.

    They will eat when they are hungry and every now and then, they’ll surprise you by trying something new (usually at someone else’s house) and one day announce that they LOVE pomegranates. Or broccoli. Both of which my daughter now requests regularly. I am certain that this wouldn’t have happened if I’d forced those things on her.

    Good luck! It will get better!

  • cshearson

    Have you looked at Dinner: A Love Story?

    http://www.dinneralovestory.com/

    Even if Leta doesn’t like any of the recipes, reading the blog will make you feel better.

  • emilyp

    If it makes you more inclined to check it out if more people recommend it – I strongly recommend you look at http://www.ellynsatter.com, which gives the overview. If you want more detail, order one of her books.

    I can’t tell you the number of food battles we’ve avoided with our strong-willed daughter because of this. Hope it works the same way for you and for Leta –

  • Mrs.Mommy02

    Can 2 different women give birth to twins, and how far from Michigan is Utah? My 7 year old daughter is finally growing out of the “foods that start with peanut butter and jelly” phase. One day she borrowed a book from the library(aka her favorite place on earth). The book “Jam for Frances” is about a girl that insists on jam and bread everyday, every meal.One day she realizes the other good foods she is missing out on. When we finished the book we suddenly spun in a vortex and landed in the last 5 minutes of Full House. Message taken. We also decided to stop making an issue of food, and be more casual about it. I was concerned making an issue out of eating now, would continue into adulthood. She has always had the same shape as Leta and therefore I was concerned about her poor eating, then a doctor told me “If a child is hungry, they will eat and will not starve.” Now I cook and she eats, if not she takes her stink face to her room. However, keep my daughter cassidy in mind, one day you will see her winning an Oscar. I wonder if they have children’s theater in my area. She could convince any stranger that my secret ingredient is arsonic sauce. My daughter was 5 when the drama started and now she eats dinner pretty much every night. I also try to cook a good breakfast to start out the day, when she is hungriest. The rest is just a bonus. It will get better.

  • hbmorgan

    http://www.ellynsatter.com/ is all you need. and it’s what you’re already doing. make food a non-issue and save yourself the stress and battles!

  • lolab9442

    Both my boys didn’t like “green stuff.” My oldest son has outgrown this, while the youngest still won’t eat anything green. BUT…and this is a HUGE BUT…. They both LOVE LOVE LOVE indian food!? really???? you won’t eat anything green, but you eat indian food like its your last meal?!?!?!
    In my house this is the rule….Take it or leave it. You don’t like it, you dont get anything else. I don’t push the issue. No emotion over food. There are foods I don’t like and I wouldnt want anybody to push them on me.
    Leta will outgrow this…in the mean time….good luck!

  • mmh20cornell

    Here’s what we do with my (also picky) almost-6-year-old. At dinner, we fix him a small portion of what we are having – he has to take one bite of everything. After that, he can fix himself anything he wants (and it has to be things he can get himself) as long as it is healthy – fruit, veggie, whatever. There are still battles, though but it’s better than when we were feeling we had to force him to eat!

    Also, he seems to do better when he helps out with the cooking – gets excited about what’s being made and more willing to eat.

  • rainylakechick

    I have no children, but I too, was a picky eater. I ate Honey Nut Cheerios every day for 7 years straight, then woke up one morning in 8th grade and almost puked at the thought of having to eat Honey Nut Cheerios ever again. (No, I still haven’t taken a bite of Cheerios to this day. YUCK!) I put ketchup on everything and ate hamburgers at every restaurant. I was that weird kid. NOW? I love almost every type of food: I even will eat anchovies if you dare me! Leta will grow out of this… and maybe your therapist is right. Don’t let it be an issue where she can take control. Good luck!

  • clapifyoulikeme

    Also, you probably haven’t heard of it, it’s kind of obscure, so I’m sure no one else has mentioned it, but some random woman named Jessica Seinfeld wrote a book that will probably solve all your problems. Try that!

  • George

    I just wanted to say, one of the first things we learned from the experts when dealing with our kid who wouldn’t eat was exactly that. No emotions around food. None. No comments either. Don’t ever comment on their eating/lack thereof, or have any emotions surrounding their eating.
    That was probably second only to the first rule, the one that states that the number one reason kids stop eating is pressure/force. Never have any of that either.

    We had a much more extreme case than Leta on hand (yes, they do exist!), so there was a whole expert eating team involved from our local hospital, as well as the top-notch-expert team from the other hospital. And they all agreed on what I said over here. As well as “Healthy kids do not starve themselves”. Turned out, ours wasn’t healthy, but Leta is. So she won’t starve herself. It *will* get better.
    Lots of love and good luck to you guys.

  • mandypants

    Dude, my son eats milk and cheese. Sometimes cottage cheese and has progressed thanks to his dad to chocolate and chocolate milk. He wants candy everyday and chips. He will eat bologna but only if it’s on bread with mustard only and crushed pepper and salt. He’ll venture to a McDonald’s cheeseburger patty or steak but ONLY if dad is feeding him. He’s 2 and the doc says it’s fine. His sister on the other hand eats everything. Off the floor, out of other kids’ hands, off the street… so while I prayed for a kid who ate after my first, I got my second who does nothing BUT eat. Good luck.

  • lindseym

    Something that has helped some children who have actual sensory reactions to certain foods is to introduce foods in play experiences. Setting up a kitchen, pretending to eat fake food, and pretending to grocery shop all are somewhat effective measures to introduce foods to kids who are picky eaters.

    Leta is old enough that she can participate in food-making. Since your New Years resolution invovles cooking more, perhaps you could make it a family thing. Let Leta choose a recipe, go grocery shopping with you, and participate in preparing the meal. She may be more likely to try something new in that instance.

    Finally, there are flavor sprays available that come with mini sponges. You can spray the flavors on these little sponges and let her lick them off. This is often a good precursor to the actual food. I know they use these with children with sensory disorders and swallowing disorders who cannot digest normal consistency foods.

    On that note, be grateful that Leta is picky and not just unable to eat foods because of a sensory or swallowing disorder. I have a picky eater too so I know you want to punch people in the face when they say “things could be worse.” But it’s true. Also, try to remember (I forget this a lot) that you are not a failure as a mother because your child won’t eat.

  • MB_INNM

    I grew up with a family friend who only ate Miracle Whip sandwiches on white Wonder Bread. Only. For years. She was skinny as a child, but she did grow up into a healthy adult. Also, have you seen those TLC shows where people have weird eating habits? Like the 20-something girl who consumes 30 regular Cokes a day—and she’s not fat? Our bodies are pretty amazing and I think they can handle a lot of things that aren’t necessarily optimal for them.

    My advice would be to stop making such a big deal out of food. (Believe me, my kids are grown and I have been there!) I would tell her that you’ve been talking to the doctor about this and he/she said that there will be no more special considerations for Leta’s meals. I would make her a plate of what the family is having for dinner and if she doesn’t like it, then she doesn’t have to eat it, but she needs to sit with the family and not whine or complain about the food. Either eat it, or be quiet. If she throws a fit, then bedtime comes early that night. No discussion, those are just the new rules. She may go for a few days without eating much, but eventually she’ll learn to be more adventurous. And if she doesn’t for a long time, at least the stress and arguing, cajoling, etc. will be gone.

    I also like the idea of getting them to help prepare dinner. And talking to them about the benefits of fruits, veggies, etc. If they’re like my kids, they won’t believe it until someone outside of the family tells them, but at least I planted the seed of knowledge. And that way she learns that different foods provide our bodies with different nutrients and have different purposes, and you’re not just trying to force her to eat something “gross.” Good luck!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    Think of it this way….Leta is getting a heck of a lot of attention with this food game. She now has to compete with another kid for your time and attention. The therapist is right to have you say “I dunno”. It is a way of not acknowledging the negative behavior. You do not make separate meals for kids. They will eat when they get hungry. Then if she eats what is served, then you can say something minor only. Also maybe Leta can help out and set the table because giving responsibility to a child gives them self esteem. It is something she can do that Marlo can’t do.

  • kagreco

    I have a picky eater like Leta. What he WILL eat: carbs of any kind, cheese (but not string cheese – he prefers manchego), milk, broccoli, carrots & greenbeans (all raw – no cooked veggies), and tofu. That is about it.
    I have handled this picky eating thing both well, and horribly depending on the day. I have now reached the point that your therapist has guided you to. I ignore it. My philosophy is “eat or don’t eat – but don’t ruin my meal doing it.” I am a foodie. I love to cook, eat and enjoy company around the table. To have a child who would rather scream and gag and eat cereal – well, that just about kills me. So I ignore it. I cook WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT for dinner. My other 2 kids will eat what I put in front of them and they may like it or may not, but they will eat it. I cook fish of all types, vegetables, ethnic dishes….whatever makes me happy that day. My theory is, he can have some choices at breakfast, and I put in his lunch things he’ll eat (mostly peanut butter sandwiches and raw carrots, but still…) so dinner is MY choice of what to eat. I am hoping that by putting these foods in front of him daily ,he will eventually eat them. I am certain he won’t starve though.

  • Sunski

    Some grown-up foods that our picky eater has (surprisingly) liked:

    Cous cous (maybe because it’s fun to say)

    Sushi (the kind from the grocery store tastes mostly like sweet rice)

    Edamame (in the pod – fun with food)

  • ZuzuZum

    My son was picky but not **picky** but my husband is! I blame years of smoking (prior to our marriage and none since) on destroying his taste buds because Mr. can taste a tomato the size of a pin head in a chicken casserole! So two bits of advice . . for my hubby I never let him see what was going into the dish or else the anxiety over what he was eating would start and he’d end up at Burger King before I plated it. Instead I did as your therapist suggested and would say “dunno know” when I knew there was tofu in the fruit shake and once I had him hooked, I’d confess (but only if he saw the tofu in the fridge and asked whats it for, otherwise I’d stay mum)and he’d be okay with it. For my son, I would do the same, slip a pureed sweet potato into his spaghetti o’s and tell him it tasted the same to me. But I would also put the same meal in front of him that we were eating and tell him to take three bites then he could be done or I would then and only then make an alternative dinner for him. There are still things he doesn’t likes but I believe the “three bite rule” has opened the door for him because now he’ll try just about anything (yesterday he ate his first artichoke – whole darn thing! – and asked for another one). He loves sushi and broccoli but won’t eat fried chicken unless its a drum stick, carrots he’ll only hit raw not cooked, etc. My 5 year old daughter isn’t as adventurous but she has the three bite rule as well and is starting to explore new food groups. Oh another thought, I used to shop at a gourmet supermarket where they had strange and unique fruits and vegetables. I would let my kids pick out one that we would take home and try out, even if it was only one bite and we threw the rest out the idea is to be open to new foods and be a part of the decision to try something different.

  • sadiejay1988

    I have an 18 year old who was always a very picky eater. He says that most food simply just does not taste good to him. When he was little I tried the “he’ll eat when he gets hungry enough”, but that didn’t work. He would go days without eating and he was already underweight. So I would fix one thing with each meal that I knew he would eat and once he was big enough to reach the stove and microwave, I taught him to cook the things he liked. Probably since he was 7 he has fixed a great deal of his own food. No stress, no emotional damage! And he does eat a few more things now, but his diet is still rather limited.

  • emanderson

    Oh I feel your pain! Dinner is a struggle every.singly.day with my 2-year-old. She convinces herself that something she not only enjoyed, but asked for specifically as early as the day before is yucky today and will only put it in her mouth after pressure and threats, but will then proceed to gag on it and throw up. This has actually happened 3 nights in a row just this week. The first night it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the second night it was buttered noodles, the third night is was scrambled egg. Seriously kid?! I’m not feeding you chicken liver! The “eat it or your going to bed” threat has actually been relatively successful for us. We have had to put her in her bed a couple times in which she begs and pleads to then go downstairs and eat her peas. Good luck to you! Good luck to me!

  • annstarrr

    Oh, it’s no big deal. As I child, I didn’t eat: processed meat, red meat, jelly, peanut butter, fried products (they tasted “like fat”), or french fries. This excluded burgers, hotdogs, potato chips, and PB&J. I was a hit at children’s parties. I only liked veggies, lean meats, fish, and dairy. However, I would eat a paste of butter and sugar that I made myself from the fridge.

    Now, I do not eat: peanut butter (never grew to like that one). I *do* eat: everything else. I’m a total foodie. Luckily, I no longer eat a paste made out of butter and sugar, although I have a weakness for English toffee, which is pretty much the same thing.

  • Twinkie

    Our son is a picky eater – and it’s my fault for catering to it.

    I’d serve dinner, only to hear that my kids weren’t hungry…until dessert. I originally used to make dessert as a special treat a few times a week, then it turned into being hounded about whether or not we were having dessert that night.

    So it became our policy: there are several choices for sweets every night after dinner that they can choose, but in order to have dessert our kids must eat what they’re served. I offer reasonable portions – they can always eat more, include one food that is certain to be eaten and then let it go.

    There are many evenings that the food is unpalatable for our son and he goes to bed hungry. That’s his choice. On the evening where I make something he loves, and he isn’t ‘challenged’ in any way to try something new or eat something gross – he is very appreciative.

    A few suggestions that my kids like:

    baby carrots – served with hummus or ranch dressing, or dipped in peanut butter.

    banana sliced, then frozen 10 minutes. Dip in melted chocolate chips (add sprinkles, crushed m & m’s or nuts) and refreeze until set.

    fruit prepped in different ways: instead of peeling oranges and separating the segments, I cut them crossways so there are 4 or 5 mini segments that come apart easily. It looks juicier and more appealing.

    homemade pizzas on slices of bread

    yogurt with add-your-own toppings: cheerios, cut strawberries, blueberries or nuts.

    soft tofu – Unknowingly, of course. I add it to juice or milk based smoothies or incorporate it with cheeses in lasagna. I only prepare these when no one is looking; you can’t taste the tofu and get the benefits of protein.

    nachos served with refried beans and cheese

  • Hettle

    to motivate my 5 year old daughter to eat anything other than a bagel….I let her cook, it takes a bit of time, but I created a little excitement over making chinese food. I pre-cooked rice set it aside, cut up small bite size pieces of anything she might like..and a few she might not. When things were cut up super small she didn’t seem to recognize it anyway, the only ” rule” of stir fry was to add rice and at least 3 things from the cutting board, and I let her stir it in the saute pan and serve it, and yes she did eat it.

    I don’t usually have time to do this more than once a week, but it has changed the dynamic at the table, sometimes.

    Best of luck.

  • joyluck76

    I thought of one other thing. V8 Fusion Juices have a full serving of fruit and full serving of veggies. So it’s the only juice their allowed to drink in my house. They are really, really good, actually, and now they also make them with green tea.

  • mojo

    Sounds like a lot of fun! ;)

    Here’s my suggestions -take them or leave them.

    Plant a garden next spring. Have Leta and Marlo help you plant seeds. Take them out there everyday so they can see their garden growing. When the veggies come, have them pick and eat them right off the plant. (although I’m not sure if it will work for Leta or not) My Zoe is the same age. She hates to eat anything we’re eating. Until she grew her own Peas. She now LOVES peas (canned or fresh) crazy. I KNOW! My middle daughter – would never even look at a tomato for fear that it would explode and poke her eye out. She now puts tomatoes on everything. And my oldest… well she has always been a veggie kid.. so no help there.

    I guess the point is maybe if she sees where it starts and how it gets to the table – she might be a little more apt to eat it up?

    Either way good luck. She could still grow out of it too.

  • rke

    My four-year old is more enthusiastic about eating when he has some control over it. I would suggest any sort of “Make your own _______” or “_________ Bar.” Start with things like small pizza crusts and an assortment of toppings; let your daughter top her pizza with anything (or nothing). You can do the same thing with tacos – serve separate tortillas, meat/beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa, etc. and let everyone assemble a taco to their taste at the table (or eat components separately). The same can be done with salad (large bowl of plain leafy greens and a variety of toppings on the side) or with soup (make a pot of just stock and chicken/beans and serve a platter of steamed and/or sauteed veggies on the side along with fresh herbs, croutons, grated cheese, etc). Also, make your own sandwiches at the table.

    As your daughter becomes more willing to assemble and eat a variety of foods, begin to add components back to the “base” food, e.g., put potatoes in the soup or add a couple of chopped veggies or seed to the bowl of salad greens until you’ve eventually worked your way back to serving normal dinner.

  • merpeople_sing

    If she likes a specific condiment….I would put it on absolutely everything new she tries until she can develop a taste for the food without it.

    I was such a picker eater, and still am. Texture is what I don’t like about food. Somethings are too soggy, squishy, crunchy, or chewy for me. One thing that I found changed my opinion of trying new things is meeting new people who liked food I didn’t. I would get her over other people’s houses around meal times (maybe let the parents in on the deal so they don’t think you are stingy and pawning off your child at dinner time)so she has another influence on her eating habits. In the cafeteria all anyone is concerned about is getting outside to recess so there is no time for persuasion! (:

  • Pokeyann

    Long story short I have 4 toddlers. 3 can be picky. It’s so not about the food, it’s about the power. Disengage is my only option too. It didn’t work fantastic but did widen their horizons…I took them to the produce section and let them pick whatever they wanted, whatever looked good to them. They ate about half of what they picked out, but that was way more than I could ever get them to eat before. Supposedly no child will starve themselves, so I repeat this like a mantra. I also make sure they get a multivitamin everyday…maybe they work, maybe they don’t but at least they eat them and it’s something. They really like pinwheels, no idea why. Put ranch on a flour tortilla, then layer lunch meat, cheese, shredded carrots and diced tomatoes and lettuce. Roll up and then cut in 1-2 inch slices. Sometimes they fall for the “they fixed it” game, so I let them help me in the kitchen. I’ve turned that into a huge deal because well it’s not “help” and it’s hard on me so it is a big deal. Mostly we focus on manners at the table, whining, complaining and drama get you excused and you can spend that time in your room while the family finishes dinner. They may not eat very well, but they aren’t starving, they are growing, even exceeding developmental marks and the stress and anger has greatly diminished. So, go ahead and walk away, you will all be happier in the end.

  • johjoh

    This is not just a girl thing, my nearly 5 year old boy is also a very picky and particular eater. For my sanity I’ve given up on serving him any vegetables at dinner and I do make him a separate meal for dinner, usually chicken, with rice and a few slices of apples. I’ll make up several plain chicken breasts and keep them in the fridge for several meals (if no chicken is prepared I’ll resort to frozen chicken nuggets). I also make a big batch of pancakes (made with white whole wheat) on the weekends and freeze them for use throughout the week.

    The foods that I know he likes I try to make as healthy as possible: whole wheat bread, crackers or pasta; white whole wheat pancakes; smoothies made with banana, frozen berries, a little juice, yogurt and protein powder mixed in. Because we started out eating these things in the first place he doesn’t know any different.

    Fortunately most of the foods he does like are *relatively* healthy: peanut butter on wheat bread (no crust, jam, or honey), pancakes w/syrup (no butter), scrambled eggs, deli sliced turkey or ham (darker skin cut off edges), chicken (with salt and pepper), steak, pork chop, bacon, quesadilla (cheese must not be squishing out the sides), apple (the only fruit or vegetable he will eat in “plain” form), homemade smoothies, pasta (plain, no sauce), mexican rice (no visible veggies mixed in), crackers, milk. He is also very odd in that he does not like all the usual kid favorites: cake, ice cream, juice, soda, cheese sticks, gogurt, etc.

    I do have to say that he was willing to try some parsley on pasta after he helped his grandma plant some and watched it grow in the garden. And best of all he ended up liking it!

  • skittzokitty

    Hold On A Second!!!

    Forget about “new foods”!! You need to back up and start (or keep?) making plain old regular food. Don’t make anything that Alice on the Brady Bunch wouldn’t have made. I’m serious. Meatloaf. Tuna casserole. Pork chops. Mashed Potatoes – Plain old 1970′s food first! Then make ONE dinner every night, and serve it. She should have the option of not eating any of it. But do not give her other options if she doesn’t eat the dinner. The key is to not make anything “weird”. Keep it simple. She will figure out that people don’t die from a green bean, either that or starving really sucks. I am the mother of 2 boys under age 8, and have never, not once, make 2 dinners in one night. They don’t tip enough to do that! Hope this helps.

  • Genesis

    I was an extremely picky eater as a child. I’d eat a hamburger patty, no bun, and God forbid it had “grill marks” on it. No veggies, no fruit. Eggs made me throw up. And so on, and so on, and so on. My parents were terrified that I’d be malnourished and resorted to all sorts of games, bribes, threats and more to get me to eat. But I didn’t have any health issues growing up and survived to adulthood just fine. It took me a long time to get to this point, but now I eat a wide variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables but not many fruits (it’s a texture thing).

    What I remember vividly is that I HATED it when people made a big deal about my eating. The more attention they drew to it, the harder they tried to get me to eat, the more I dug in my heels. The absolute best tactic for me was to just ignore me and let me eat my brown and beige food. When I did start to (very gradually) try a new food here and there, it made me very skittish and likely to reject the food if anyone made a big deal of the fact that I tried it. Even “positive reinforcement” can be too much. Try to just keep it as low-key as possible. Good luck, and don’t worry so much!

    Oh, and I also loved croutons – a bowl of croutons for a meal still sounds pretty good to me!

  • MauraC

    I have no children, but was a notoriously picky eater as a child. No red meat, no pizza, no many, many things. Looking back, I think a lot of what I did was for attention. I still remember my delight when my mother talked to the pediatrician about my weight. For me it was a way to have some control and get some attention in a family with 4 children born in 4 years.My parents coped by paying no attention to my compaints. For dinner,I could eat whatever the family ate or have a bowl of cereal or toast. It was a non-issue.Zero concessions were made for me. I went for years just eating potatos for dinner. Luckily we had them pretty much every night and I liked them.
    I don’t think I suffered too much and I’m 5’10″, so my growth wasn’t stunted.
    You’re totally doing the right thing. She’ll eat if she’s hungry. Good luck! I remember how difficult I was and don’t envy your plight.

  • Spookagain

    I entirely despair, actually. My older son drinks pediasure (aka bear milk). Today, all day, he had two rectangle crackers with some cheese between them and two small Hershey bars. Because of his ADHD we have recently discovered that chocolate makes him easier to deal with when he’s off his meds in the late afternoon. So we ply him with chocolate for OUR sanity. So far, this works. What does he eat? Oyster crackers. Vanilla milk shakes and chicken fingers from Friendlys. Pediasure. Breakfast is one saltine cracker. One. Rice. The pasta from Annie’s Mac-N-cheese bunnies… WITHOUT the sauce. Other pasta. Pizza and spaghetti from the local House of Pizza. A few french fries. Popcorn. Mac-N-Cheese from Burger King. (I know it’s Kraft, but it’s special THERE.)

    My other son eats toast, Alphabet cookies, Animal crackers, oyster crackers (from a different maker than his brother), popcorn. Taco shells. Rice from the chinese restaurant. Fortune cookies from the chinese restaurant. Goldfish crackers. Cheese sticks. Grape juice. Sparkling water.

    So, you’re actually drawing a line in the sand, more than we are. YOU are actually making a plate of YOUR food and then dismissing her with NOTHING else if she doesn’t want it. We gave up and only present the food they want and eat our food in front of them. They never, EVER, EVER want our food. But they DO get hungry later. And THEN there are histrionics. I would think you were just postponing the histrionics until later if you just say, fine, don’t eat. She’ll get hungry but STILL refuse to eat YOUR food. That’s what would happen here.

    The whole thing just makes me tired. Very tired. I *love* food. I’m no foodie… I couldn’t eat most of the stuff they serve on Iron Chef America, but I *do* like food. I eat food to celebrate… These guys? Food is something they endure. All I can say is good luck and stopping the drama is all good. I just don’t see where you’ve eliminated it… Only postponed it for a few hours (or days, if you’re experienced in days-long food strikes).

  • StyronieWife

    Be thankful that she is just a picky eater. Ours is allergic to EVERYTHING and wants to eat what his brothers eat. It’s extremely stressful having to withhold pizza from your 2 year old when his brothers can eat it but he can’t! I’m sure both of ours will grow out of this weird place in their lives and one day look back on it and laugh.

  • meeps

    I don’t have a picky eater, but I was one. I wasn’t so much a picky eater, I guess, as I was extremely stubborn. I chose to challenge my mother over a plate of spaghetti one night when I was about Leta’s age. She basically told me that I would not be given anything else to eat, and sent me to my room for the rest of the night. I was offered, and refused, the plate of spaghetti for the next two meals. Starving and weary, I broke and ate it for dinner the next night. From there on out we ate what we were given.

  • whatdoiknow

    Barefoot Contessa has a few recipes my children love…(1) Chicken tenders on a skewer and (2) Fusilli with lemon, tomatoes, arugula (I am not kidding. Every child I feed this likes it hot or cold. They just pick out the tomatoes and arugula. (3) Chicken pot pie with biscuits but I make them in individual ramekins.
    Cream of tomato and dill soup with grilled cheeses.
    Greek yogurt “parfait…a la Fancy Nancy” where she can add granola or fruit or oreos, who cares. I add honey or agave syrup to make it sweet for them. My son lives off of chicken salad. He is 10. Old school toast with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Pimento cheese on celery. Ribs. I think this has more to do with Dad cooks them on the grill but who cares. If you ignore it, per the therapist, it will go away. My rule is if you didn’t cook it and you complain about a meal/don’t come immediately when I call you/act like a jerk at dinner, enjoy whatever the cafeteria is putting out the next day because I am not packing your lunch.

  • emily n

    Heather -

    Pickiness prevails at our home. It is all about texture with my older daughter (too mushy, seeds?, slimy? etc.). Oh, and smell too. She often smells the bread to see if she likes it. Gah!

    I’ve been judged a zillion times in regards to my daughter and her food. But, I’m totally over it. My bottom line? Feed her food that is as nourishing as possible and disengage from any kind of food battles. It is so hard and I certainly forget the rules when bread smelling comes into play, but I do work hard at it because, eventually, when my girls are older I want them to be normal eaters.

    No new information. Just letting you know that you are NOT alone. I am in my kitchen working hard to make food nothing to write home about.

    Emily
    http://www.redbirdcrafts.blogspot.com

  • goosinmarie

    As a child and teenager, I ate NO fruits and vegetables… not ONE. My diet consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, rice with butter, pepperoni, and a few other things. My parents never made a big deal out of it (that I remember), and that was probably the best approach for the child I was. Have hope that Leta will come around, even if it’s only once she gets to college. (I had my first grape in college when my husband-to-be dared me to eat it, and I cut it in half. :) I am now a better eater as an adult.

  • tracy976

    Many years ago, before I had children, a friend told me she always had one thing on the dinner/lunch/breakfast table that her picky eater would eat. She would then serve whatever she chose to the remainder of the family, hoping her picky eater would try it. I have tried to maintain this with my very own picky eater. It was years before she would try spaghetti and still at 12 she hates every vegetable. I read in a book many moon’s ago that eating and using the bathroom were two areas we cannot control and our children know this. Fortunately we have persuasion but as you know, it doesn’t always work. I still cringe inside when my 12 year old insists on eating only bread for dinner, but I maintain hope that someday she’ll pick up a broccoli spear and eat it. All the best to you and yours.

  • Kristabell

    I would make it a point to get her involved in cooking whenever you can. Even just dumping cans of stuff into a pot can make her more interested. You don’t have to talk about whether or not she will eat it, just thank her for helping with the family meal. And baking is fun too. She will get the pleasure of seeing other’s eat food that she contributed to and that may open her horizons a bit.

    My picky eater likes whole green beans versus cut green beans simply for the “french fry” look to them. I drain the can juice and simmer them in chicken stock to liven up the taste.

    She will also eat baked beans sans hot dogs. And ham cut up into little squares.

    Thank you so much for sharing the advice of your therapist. I needed to hear that and resolve myself not to get emotional over whether my daughter is having an eating day or not.

  • cysmagic

    I raised a picky eater. He’s 28 now and will eat stuff. By the time he was in grade school, the approach I’d figured out was much like the one you’ve settled on, with the variations being that if he didn’t like the looks of what I’d fixed, he was 1) strongly encouraged to try a bite; 2) whether or not he did that, he was welcome to get some cheese and bread out of the fridge (his favorite things) and dine on that; 3) he was welcome to stay at the table (at which we ate and talked about fun things), in fact required to, unless he started bitching and moaning about food, at which point he was ejected from the game because I absolutely refused to listen to him or his brother talking smack about the food their dad had worked hard to put on the table and I’d gone to the trouble of cooking. I never fixed a separate meal, he had to get up and get his substitute meal himself. I think a lot of times it was sheer laziness and hunger that compelled him to at least try a few bites, and all of a sudden most of it was gone.

    After reading a NY Times article last year about grown-up picky eaters who never got over it, it sounds to me as though it’s a form of phobia. The point of (unemotionally) encouraging kids to try new foods is that it’s basically implementing the “exposure and response prevention” technique that is the standard treatment therapists use for other kinds of phobias.

    Good luck! My son still doesn’t like fruit much, in fact I’m not crazy about his food habits, but at least he can go out to eat or over to people’s houses and eat like a normal person. It does get better.

  • Openshrew

    I’ve been blessed with a son who’s always been a good eater… and I say blessed very sincerely, because I’ve watched my sisters and one of my BFFs struggle vehemently (almost violently!) with their horribly finicky children over the years. In every instance, the coddling and accommodating did NOTHING to solve the problem… but when they all adopted the exact M.O. your therapist is recommending, the picky eaters came around. My friend’s son did not eat dinner for almost NINE MONTHS… I know!… but he lived, and he’s just fine, and he’s actually broadened his culinary horizons… a little. Eliminating the double helping of EMOTION with every meal seemed to do the trick… and as soon as Leta sees that you will no longer engage in the nonsense, she will come around. GOOD LUCK!!

  • farrahmin

    I have struggled with this as both a kid and a mom, and I have to implore you to please keep making Leta something she will eat, even if it’s different from what you’re eating. The reason I say this is because she will feel controlled, and can you imagine putting something you absolutely hate in your mouth, chewing it and swallowing it down? Makes you gag, huh? Dont force her to do it out of hunger or control, because when she’s old enough, she will seek out the foods she wants to eat, but hoard and hide them, and probably overconsume them. Family meals aren’t ruined when one participant is only eating spaghetti-O’s. You still get to share the meal together and consume calories, and isn’t that what it’s really all about?

  • Sarah C

    You are a great mother, and it will get better : )

    And I totally agree with your therapist. If she doesn’t want to eat what you guys are eating, then she can go to bed hungry. I know a child hunger strike is probably tougher on you than Leta, but you’re in charge. At least just try it, if it doesn’t work after a couple weeks than you can go back to accommodating her palate.

    Side note: I have a 12 year old cousin who eats bread for dinner every night (plain bagel untoasted, or yeast rolls if it’s the holidays). Enough is enough…

  • azarifopo

    I really think it has something to do with birth order. My 6 year old girl has been picky since day one, while my little one (same birthday as Marlo, btw) will eat absolutely anything. She even asks for sliced peppers and avocado regularly.

    Our 6 year old is served the same food at dinner as the rest of us. We gave up arguing with her; now we tell her if she wants to eat, this is what we are having. If not, she still has to sit with us until everyone else is finished. She’ll usually eat a few bites, and lots of times she’ll even decide it wasn’t so bad… which is promising for the next time I serve it up.

    The biggest thing is: just a tiny snack after school, and no more. Then she’ll be hungry enough by dinnertime to actually try a few bites of whatever you’re having. Well, hopefully!