This Picky Eating Thing

It’s no secret to regular readers that Bowie is somewhat of a picky eater. And, I’ve also been clear that I wholeheartedly don’t feel responsible, because I made all of his baby food and he was a very adventurous little eater.

He ate every single puree I ever made for him. Corn, black beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, lots of other stuff I’m forgetting about, and I even mixed in a wee bit of pureed chicken, fish or beef from time to time. He gobbled it ALL up.

He first got a little picky when I started introducing textured food into his puree. Rice and orzo were my first tries, and sometimes they went over fine, sometimes not so much. Then, I made a recipe from an Annabel Karmel book, with finely diced veggies in it, and that stuff sat in the fridge for days, the freezer for months, and he never did take a liking to it.

When he started self-feeding, I kept it fairly healthy, I think. Cheerios, berries, whole wheat pasta, rice, sunflower seeds, edamame. I wasn’t concerned, aside from the fact that he didn’t seem to like chunks of fish or chicken.

As he has gotten older though, the list of things he will eat gets shorter and shorter. Things I know he likes suddenly get thrown at the wall. We’re down to a handful of healthy foods he will touch, and I’ve become one of those moms I said I’d never be: most evenings making my son his own dinner plate, separate from what we’re eating. I’ve gotten caught in a vicious cycle.

So, the other day, I get the 48035097th email about picky eating from one of the many mom sites I subscribe to. It was a list of healthy vegetable dishes “your kids will actually eat!!!” Of course I took a gander. If I walk away from those articles with just one new dish to try, I consider it a success.

There were the obligatory Carrots with Butter and Broccoli with Ranch (which never work for me), but one of the dishes was a chopped salad.

A CHOPPED SALAD.

Let me just tell you, if your kid will eat a chopped salad, you are winning at feeding your kid.

If you have to slather veggies in butter, douse them with ranch dressing, salt them to high heaven, chop them up into a salad, I don’t care what, if your child sees a vegetable on their plate (i.e. it’s not pureed and mixed in with other foods) and then eats that vegetable, you are 500 steps ahead of me as far as getting kids to eat veggies. You might think they’re picky because maybe broccoli and carrots are some of the only foods they prefer to eat, but really they’re not very picky at all.

Picky eaters don’t eat vegetables. They don’t eat most fruit. They only want one specific brand, shape and flavor of crackers. They won’t eat all shapes or colors of pasta. And crackers and pasta become very important, because they won’t eat grains in any other form. There’s only one variety of cheese they will deign to eat. And you can forget about meat completely.

And like I said before, picky eaters will have a certain dish that they love, that they adore, that they ask for at every meal. And just when you think you’ve found something they like that’s mildly nutritious and you’ve perfected the cooking process, they will turn up their nose at it.

Picky eaters also like things presented it just the perfect way. An example: Bowie really likes avocado rolls. But, if I were to just put avocado on his plate, he’d never touch it in a million years. He’s also picky about the way cheese is served. A dice or thin slice is ok, but shredded or stick form: no. Oh, and applesauce. He loves it in those squeezie pouches. But, the little cups, or from a jar? Forget it.

Far be it from me to discourage these sites from putting together articles for the mothers of picky eaters, in an effort to help them get their picky eaters to get a little more roughage in their diet. However, I find it absurd that they would imply that if I would just put a chopped salad in front of my son, he’d magically start liking vegetables, and would eat salads all the time. If your child will eat a chopped salad, your job is done.

Don’t feel bad if your kid is like mine, and wouldn’t touch that salad with an 80 foot fork. Their palate is still developing. Things that taste good to them today, might not taste good tomorrow. And as they get older, you’ll be a lot more successful at explaining to them that they should just try a bite, because you’re fairly sure they’ll enjoy the taste.

Having a picky toddler or preschooler sucks. It really does. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you don’t have to serve chopped salad to get there.

One comment on “This Picky Eating Thing

  1. I have a picky eater that has magically started eating.
    I honestly worried that he was starving since I refused to feed him junk. He would only eat cheerios and milk.
    Some of the problem was solved by making him mini burritos (with kale hidden inside) that he could hold himself 🙂
    When his little friends would come over and self-feed vegis, fruit, and a ton of other food I would feel so guilty (despite his giant size).

    Anyway – I feel you.

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