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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How to Stumble Over the Cure to Picky Eating on the Road to Duty

Aug 1, 2013 by

“Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on the road to duty.” — Dr. Bob Jones Sr.

If your child is a picky eater, you are looking for the cure. You are probably working hard to get him to eat more of the things you want him to eat. You are probably talking about it a good bit at mealtimes. You are probably offering your child incentives to eat. You may dread mealtimes. You no doubt worry a lot about your child’s eating. You might be changing what foods you offer in response to your child’s pickiness. You’re doing all you know to do. You are looking for happiness.

The problem is, and you’ve probably noticed it, that pressuring your child to eat isn’t solving the problem. It’s not that you don’t care or aren’t trying, but working hard at solving the problem is getting you…

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Dad & the Picky Eater: 4 Steps to Setting Up Kids for Eating Success

Mar 21, 2013 by

Two-year-old Amber knows there’s chocolate cake for dessert. So at dinner, she turns up her nose at the roast chicken and creamed spinach. She’s holding out. So her dad commands her to eat and makes sure she does it. The battle begins. Amber’s secret enjoyment in getting Dad’s goat is even greater than her objection to dinner. It gets ugly, but Dad “wins.” Amber ends up eating the absolute minimum requirement of her dinner, then she gorges on chocolate cake.

“I thought that’s what I was supposed to do: make them eat,” different dads of picky eaters have told me when I suggested otherwise. “I thought I was doing the right thing, just what I ought to do to be a good dad.”

It’s a tough question: Where should we hold the line as parents? When do we let it go? Should we let them eat what they want or make…

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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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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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