Picky Eaters! It’s Rude! It’s Embarrassing! Part II: 8 more reasons nobody should have to eat anything, ever

Aug 30, 2012 by

Mom brings out a new casserole with artichokes, chicken, cream sauce, and noodles. The kids begin to freely complain: “I don’t like that.”

“You haven’t even tried it,” Mom responds. “You have to take at least one bite. No dessert unless you eat dinner.”

It continues:

“This tastes weird.” “What is this stuff? I don’t want it.” “How much do I have to eat to get dessert?” “Can I have some cheese sticks instead?” “Yuck!”

What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s unacceptable dinner table conversation, that’s what. It’s shocking. It’s embarrassing. It’s boring! Just because you have a picky eater doesn’t mean this kind of stuff is OK.

Picky kids are being rude to their mom about the food she cooked. Mom’s allowing it, as if the children might eat better if they get to talk that way.

If we force a child to eat, he’ll defend himself and rail against the food. That’s a normal…

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The “Anna Karenina Principle”: Six Steps to Avoid Picky Eating and Achieve a “Happy Family”

Aug 2, 2012 by

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  

—  the opening lines of Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Broad is the way that leads to unhappiness in a family; the ways to go wrong are limitless. No question about that. If Tolstoy is right, there’s also only one narrow path, a certain set of basic foundational requirements, to achieve a happy family. What if we apply this principle to family meals?

Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs and Steel

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The World’s Simplest Solution to Picky Eating: Freedom Within Limits

Jun 26, 2012 by

The other day a man was telling me how one of his kids had been a picky eater.

As I always do, I asked him what he did about it.

“We’d sit there with him and tell him he had to eat certain amounts of the various things on the table. We’d sit there and insist until he did it,” he told me.

A typical strategy, I thought. And a counter-productive one.

Then he added, with a note of curiosity: “We noticed, though, that if we actually left the room for awhile he would eat.”

I wasn’t surprised by those results. Just another proof of the Push-Pull Principle.

Nobody likes to be pressured and forced to eat something they don’t want to eat….

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Dinner Table Showdown: Hunger Games with Picky Eaters

Jun 23, 2012 by

Beth, mom of an eight-year-old and a six-year-old, wrote me with the suggestion that maybe moms of picky kids should simply offer them a “healthy” alternative, like pasta, whenever they don’t want what’s served. Good idea, right?

“I don’t want them to have to eat things they seriously don’t care for,” she said, noting that her kids don’t have medical, developmental or sensory processing issues or other such real problems. They just aren’t crazy about certain textures. Or probably, they just would rather have pasta than what’s served sometimes.

Thus far, I agree that no one should have to eat anything against his will.

“That being said,” Beth admits, “it upsets me that I have to make separate meals for them. It means we eat at different times and eat different things. 

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Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Parent of a Picky Eater

May 30, 2012 by

Want picky eating to become a way of life at your table? Here are a few tips to guarantee it does.

1. Make feeding chaotic. Feed your child whenever he’s hungry, or let him forage for himself. Let him eat whatever he wants. That’s more natural than being all structured and organized and strict about it.  Don’t refuse him anything he wants. If he’s not hungry when an actual meal rolls round, just force him to eat anyway.

2. Allow your child to eat wherever he wants: on the couch, in front of the TV, running around outside or inside while playing, in the car,  and not just at the table. Again, don’t refuse him what he wants. Children need to be free.

3. Press him to eat if…

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Kids Who Eat & Run: What’s a Mom To Do?

May 20, 2012 by

In response to my recommendations on how to get kids to eat instead of dawdling at the table,  a mom named Laurie asked me:

“What about the opposite problem?  I tend to be the last one to sit down and the kids are often done and gone before I’m finished. How can I entice them to stay a bit longer, or wait for me before eating and running?”

This problem is not so much a question of how to entice the children to do what you want them to do. It’s rather a problem of habits and training. And giving no choice.

For everything, there is a season. Sometimes it’s time to let a kid choose, and…

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