Picky Eaters: It’s Rude! It’s Embarrassing! Eight reasons why nobody should have to eat anything, ever

Aug 28, 2012 by

Imagine you welcome your adult friends, Sharon and James, into your home for dinner. While you’re eating together and chatting amiably, you notice that James doesn’t take any of your cauliflower puree.

“James, you need to take at least one bite of the cauliflower puree,” you tell him.

Then, you notice Sharon is playing with her fried liver and trying to hide it under her pile of cauliflower puree.

“Don’t you like the liver, Sharon?” you ask her.  “You’ll have to finish that liver, or you won’t get any of the chocolate cake I made for dessert.”

Of course, you don’t carry on this kind of talk at the table with other adults.  We don’t openly scrutinize what our guests eat. We remain cheerful. We pretend we don’t notice and are mortified only inwardly if our adult friends reveal in some subtle way that they don’t like what we’ve cooked. Of course we…

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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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The Little Miracle of ‘Family Style’ Meals: How It Helps Kids be Less Picky

Apr 5, 2012 by

“I know I should serve them family style, and usually I do,” Debra, a mom of a picky eater, told me when I visited her house on a Supper Nanny visit.  “But since this is something new tonight I knew they wouldn’t want to eat it, so I plated it up.”

Debra was talking about using serving dishes and passing them around for kids to dish up their own food, “family  style,” versus placing filled plates in front of each child.

Hmmmmm. When kids might not want to eat is exactly the time NOT to plate it up, I thought to myself.

I was at Debra’s house for the second time to help her figure out what she could do to get picky Jonathan to eat something beyond the ten meals she was cooking. This serving of filled plates was one of the…

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