I am almost embarrassed to admit that we’re raising one. Of course, my cousins who are likely reading this right now (hey y’all) are likely laughing themselves sick and asking, “What the heck did you expect?”
In the best of all worlds, I would call myself a discerning eater. In other words, I’m picky as all get out. In some ways I’m easy because I go on food jags. For example, at one point in my life the only thing I would eat for lunch was bread and butter sandwiches. Every day. For months on end. To the point that I honestly believe my mother should have been nominated for sainthood. And then, one day, I didn’t want bread and butter anymore, and I wouldn’t eat it for the longest time AT ALL.
And now, my discerning tastebuds have come home to roost because Ben is, um, discerning. And he food jags, too. For almost two weeks, all he wanted was popcorn chicken from our local grocery store. The fact that it was a protein and he was willing to eat it was just about all I needed. We bought them whenever we found them and woe befall us if we ran out and Publix didn’t have any. P actually went to three different stores in search of the magical chickens at the end, only to have Ben refuse to eat them anymore. Poor P.
Constants in his diet are Cheerios, Goldfish, and Cheddar Cheese Chex Mix. I am pretending to myself that these are healthy foods, but I do understand that they are not. Other foods that are met with varied success: peas, bananas, apples, grapes, blueberries, yogurt (but only if the fruit pieces are fished out first), pasta with no sauce on it (well, it can have had sauce on it, but there should be no evidence of the sauce to Ben), pizza (so long as he can pick the toppings he “no likes” off of it), oatmeal (I’ve managed to persuade him to eat the high fiber version, but must be flavored), waffles, pancakes, muffins, and homemade bread. He will sometimes eat a grilled cheese sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich. He drinks milk, 1 glass of juice a day, and as much water as he can hold.
I consider that water my personal triumph as I was not much of a water drinker as a kid, but he loves it because it’s what he sees us with most of the time (my current grading insanity not included).
We’ve been suggesting to him that when he turns 4 and is a “bigger boy” he will have to start eating what MomMom and Daddy eat for dinner. So far, he’s accepting this new very calmly. I suspect this is due, in large part, to the fact that he has no idea that he’s turning 4 in August and I’m not sure he believes that he’s going to have to eat what we eat.
We’re heading to a crossroad here, and I’m not sure I’m looking forward to it. We have been trying some new menu planning ideas that are working really well for us (P and me). I’m hoping that taking the actual stress of menu planning out of our marriage (which for us was HUGE STRESS by the way) is going to make the whole “get Ben to eat what we eat plan” a little easier, but I’m not holding my breath.
I just remember what meals were like in my house when something we didn’t like was served, it was pretty unpleasant. More so for my sister than for me, I think. She tended to be more picky than I was and more unwilling to bend on her dislikes (e.g., I don’t think a bite of fish has passed her lips intentionally since she was 6; she’s in her mid-thirties now). I don’t want to have to resort to timers and revisited meals (a la Joan Crawford) because, really, I don’t think I have it in me to force someone to eat something they don’t want to try.
Heck, Ben wouldn’t eat bananas six months ago. He watched me eat one and asked if he could try it. Since then, banana eating fool. I’m convinced the way around Ben is exposure and letting it go. He asks for things and he can try them. If he won’t eat it, I insist he let it sit on his plate until the meal is over. The fact that these days he’ll let anything sit on his plate, even if he doesn’t want it, is a miracle as far as I’m concerned. At one point, he was happier flinging than not.
So, what are your “tricks of the trade” to get a picky eater to eat or to at least approximate a healthy diet.