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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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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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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Simple Strategy to Avoid Food Battles: Create a Diversion

Apr 27, 2012 by

Your child bangs her cup on the table and glares. Or she yells, “I hate beets!” and grabs a handful and rears back for a pitch. Or she may simply say, “Yuck! I’m not eating that!” to your sumptuous dinner.

What next?

Wouldn’t you do almost anything to have a little peace at the dinner table?

At such moments, wouldn’t it be great to have a way to keep a child on track without the usual yelling, threats, arguments, lectures, punishments—all with limited effectiveness? Wouldn’t you like to be able to have a meal without misery (your child’s or yours)? Do you need a path to resolving conflicts of will where nothing’s broken, no one’s screaming and no food is thrown on the floor? Are you sick of meeting headstrong resistance head on and getting nowhere?

The good news is that nothing extreme is called for. The solution may be very simple.

How to…

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