Moving Down Mom’s Hierarchy of Foods: How “Finding Something Your Kid Will Eat” Entrenches Picky Eating

Oct 21, 2013 by

“We wonder how we get started doing these things, but we do them.”  — Mom of a budding picky eater

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When I was little, sometimes at dinner my mom might ask me if I wanted more of something, let’s say a dish called “Spanish Rice” (that’s something I remember not liking much as a child),  and I might answer, “I’m full for that.” I might often have been “full for” the main meal, yet if dessert was forthcoming, I was usually not “full for” that.

We all have a hierarchy of our preferred foods. If we are extremely hungry, we may feel “hungry enough to eat a horse” or horse meat, or even a hunk of hard, dry, unseasoned liver. Hunger makes food more appealing. If that horse, or horse meat, or even well-prepared liver appears on the table, though most people will pass on it unless they are truly about…

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“My Toddler Will Only Eat Peanut-Butter-&-Jelly Sandwiches!” How it happens, how to avoid it, how to change it

Apr 29, 2013 by

When your baby hits toddlerhood, a lot of normal changes occur, but a couple of things in particular:

  1. His appetite becomes less reliable. He’s not growing as fast anymore, for one thing, so sometimes he won’t feel like eating at all, or less than before.
  2. He starts asserting his individuality. He starts wanting to call some of his own shots.

Where parents go wrong in response to these changes:

    1. They think it’s not OK if their toddler doesn’t eat anything or very little one day. They get worried. They get the mindset that he has to eat something and that it’s their job to make sure he does. They begin to interfere with his natural appetite and natural ability to self-regulate. Said toddler also notices that not eating gets an interesting reaction from his parents.
    2. They offer the toddler something else to eat in an attempt to get him to eat something. This is…
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Best book ever for picky eaters and their parents: Bread & Jam for Frances

Oct 1, 2012 by

If you are the parent of a picky eater and haven’t read Bread and Jam for Frances, I would rush right out and get a copy.

In the 1964 children’s classic by Russell Hoban, Frances, a little badger, wanders into the picky zone, but only temporarily. How, within two days, she escapes her rut of eating nothing but bread and jam  is an inspiring tale full of lessons for parents and picky human children alike. It’s beautiful, humorous and understated. I get misty-eyed each time I read it.

A Good Example

First off, I love the father badger in the story. Each meal, he sits down and makes a cheerful and positive comment about what’s on the table.

“What a lovely egg!” he says at breakfast. “Now that’s what I call a pretty sight. Fresh orange juice and poached eggs on toast,” he says the next morning.

“What is there nicer on the plate…

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How to use the Push Pull Principle on a food-throwing toddler

Sep 24, 2012 by

My friend Elaine has an adorable 17-month old, Wade. Every meal, Wade always starts throwing food once he’s eaten. As soon as he no longer needs it as food, he turns it into a toy. It’s a normal stage for a baby. A one-year-old discovers that he can throw food and enjoy doing so. But it’s been going on for awhile and Elaine doesn’t know what to do about it. She scolds him, but he doesn’t let that bother him.

I asked her if she took the food away from him when he did it.

“I don’t want to take the food away,” she said, “because I’m afraid he’s not done eating.”

That fear is the crux of the matter and so it continues.

Mom is the only one who’s afraid here. Wade has no concerns at all. He’s in charge and he knows it. He likes throwing food and he likes having…

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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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How to Get the Picky Eater to Eat: in the Woods or in the Pasture?

Mar 2, 2012 by

 

Getting kids motivated to eat is a lot like getting sheep to eat.

If sheep are allowed to run free in the woods, they are in danger. When they get hungry there, they will probably eat something harmful instead of the right things. Not much good grass in the woods.

The sheep might even fall in a hole or off a cliff, or be terrorized by a rushing stream. They could be eaten by a wolf, run over by a car, or shot by a hunter.

So the shepherd watches over the sheep and places them within limits. The shepherd selects the best pasture of green grass he can find, and builds a fence around it. He gently lures his sheep…

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