Getting a Picky Eater to Open Up

I’ve read the books and magazine articles about sneaking food into your picky eater’s macaroni and cheese or grinding extra vegetables into spaghetti sauce. I don’t disagree with them, particularly when a child clearly isn’t getting sufficient nutrition. But for so many of us, that isn’t the problem. Our kids are average heigh and weight, they’ve got energy to spare, and we’re not permitting unhealthy snacks to be the norm.

Our problem is that our kids just aren’t interested in the good food we cook them. They like t eat the same thing every day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In exasperation, I’ve even told my son, “Some day you’re going to wish you had a good cook like me making your dinner!” He was unimpressed.

Since I’m tired of fighting over food and I’ve read all I can read on the subject, I’ve developed my own food philosophy. Here it is, in a nutshell:

  1. As an adult, my eating habits are totally different from when I was a child. I can remember eating bologna sandwiches, devouring hot dogs with ketchup, and mayonnaise-and-white-bread sandwiches. Odds are, my son will not eat this way forever.
  2. Keep offering it, but no pressure. If he wants to try sushi, great. If he’d rather eat plain white rice, that’s fine too. The point is, I will continue to make interesting, nutritious food available.
  3. One bite, once a week, 52 weeks a year until he is thirteen years old will probably introduce him to piles and piles of new foods. I can live with the one bite rule.
  4. Let others take the lead. Any parent will tell you that kids can do amazing things when their parents aren’t looking. Left to their own devices, they usually find their way.
  5. Get them cooking. I already include my son in the kitchen and I’ve enlisted his help cooking and tasting new recipes. He won’t always taste what we cook, but he is developing an interest in the kitchen that I hope will grow over time.
  6. Savor this time. If all goes as planned in a couple of years my son is going to be stealing my edamame stash, biting into my homemade empanadas, and snitching chicken tikka. I need to enjoy this time when all the good food in the house is mine!
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