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TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT
We've been at our wit's end with Martin's eating habits lately. Karin's no walk in the park either, for that matter. She doesn't like chocolate, cheese, bread or sauces. Martin eats his meals with tiny mouse bites and gags easily and won't eat anything that has the slightest discoloration or oddness to it: if it's too hard or too dry or too anything, he just won't eat it. Both of them are very decided about what edibles they "don't like" or "won't eat" but strangely, they're both usually pretty good about at least trying new things.

Yesterday, we were trying to use up leftovers, so I served salmon filets for dinner to go with leftover couscous & yogurt sauce (for Anders & I) and leftover noodles (for the kids) and apparently I'm serving salmon way too often because BOTH kids, despite liking salmon, turned up their noses completely. Karin ate hers with a side serving of moaning and groaning, but Martin took tinier-than-ever mousebites and basically pushed his noodles around on the plate until they were hard and dry and completely inedible, at which point I lost my temper and walked out of the room so I wouldn't yell at him again to just frickin' EAT IT ALREADY, and then Anders lost his as well. Martin got sent to his room and slammed his door on the way in.

Around this point, my mom called so I vented on her for a bit, and told her we were at our last straw with him and did she have any advice? Not surprisingly, she did. Maybe the kids are bored with the food we are serving? Maybe they're not invested in what's for dinner? I started and suddenly realized she had a very good point. We've, or at least, I've fallen into the trap of serving fast and easy meals for the family that consist of the same things week after week, and to top it off, we often serve the kids something simpler when we think they won't eat or appreciate whatever it is we're making. Both things that I've said in the past I didn't want to do, but after listening meal after to meal to complaints and groaning and whining about EWWWWW I won't eat this, EWWWWWWW this is gross, one tends to give up and take the easy way out.

About an hour later, I decided to beard the lion in his den, so I went to talk to Martin. He had put a note on his door that said DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT ASKING, so I knocked politely and begged admittance. He had changed into pajamas, turned off the lights and climbed into bed. So I, rather reluctantly, climbed up into the loft bed with him. We had a good talk about the problem, and I hope he saw my point, and I certainly saw his...well, at least most of it.

Would it help if we tried meal-planning for the week? I asked. Yes, he thought it would. Would he and Karin be willing to help choose the meals and be prepared to eat them, no matter what? Yes, again, he thought they would. (Karin was at the store with Anders or she would have been included in the conversation) We climbed down out of the bed, and I asked Martin to write a list of meals (not sushi or eating-out meals) that he actually LIKED and would be happier about eating. When Karin came home she checked the ones she agreed with and added some of her own.

We discussed the fact that sometimes they would get meals, like now, that they might not appreciate as much, and that it would help the family as a unit if they would try to not complain on those occasions, and try new things and eat those meals in return for being able to steer more of the menus on a weekly basis to choices they prefer. Not surprisingly, many of the choices on both kids' lists consisted of kid-friendly meals that I'm not particularly fond of: hot dogs, pizza, tacos, hamburgers. But there were lots of ideas that we wrote down that we don't eat very often that will make a welcome change for all of us: lasagna, tuna casserole, fondue, beef stroganoff, cornish pasty, sloppy joes, fishburgers, quiche, curry dishes, more potatoes & less rice and pasta.

At least now we have a good long list of meal menus to work with and a plan to put into action. And tonight, we're having homemade pizza.
 determined
mood: determined
music: Dylan Mondegreen—Wishing Well


Comments

Ah, sounds like compromise. I'm glad you were able to work things out. I've worked with 2 ultra-picky eaters, myself. One who sounds much like Martin - easy gag reflex... decided he didn't like cheese just as he saw his sister starting to enjoy it; ate only the whites of eggs because his 1st grade teacher remarked about doing the same :p You've come up with a pretty good list, there. You know I'm a fan of making lists with kids :)

That's only a couple of things from the list. It covers two columns on a piece of paper, so we have a lot of good ideas. :) We'll see how it goes.

(Anonymous)

Great Job!! MAking kids a part of the solution really should help! Love, Lizardmom

(Anonymous)

Just a tip! since you're not fond of hamburgers...skip the bun (for you and Anders at least,) with the additional of some topping, like Qreek style with fried eggplant and marinara sauce or ratatouille. Remember how interesting it was when your Dad did international dinners on Sundays? Lizardmom

(no subject) - (Anonymous)   Expand  

Sounds like a good idea! I like the idea of the kids helping with the menu. What about involving them in the cooking part too?

Joy

Next step :)

sounds like a very good plan. fingers crossed.

thanks! I need all the good luck I can get :)

You guys are SO never going to be a part of my job security plan.

:-)

haha! I should have called and talked to YOU last night! I bet you could have given me some more pointers! Maybe what to do about the SLOWNESS? I need to get the Mrs Piggle Wiggle books out again.

(Anonymous)

Great idea! I'm a bit at my wits end on this subject too, especially as our daughter not eating generally leads directly to a temper tantrum when her blood sugar drops too low. The side benefit, her favorite foods are all Czech so I'll finally learn how to cook like the locals ;-).

julia@kolo

Of course, if we served sushi and tacos and fast food take-in at every meal, I'm sure they'd eat it right up. Or popcorn and chips and ice cream! :D

I've wondered a little here and there if Sean will be a picky eater too. I never was a picky eater, except that I didn't want my food touching each other on my plate, but Robert was and still is very picky. He can make me really lose my temper over it so I hope it doesn't become two against one in our house. haha

Best of luck with your new approach. I hope it makes meal times easier and more pleasant for all of you.

ooh, I hope not. The not wanting your food to touch part cracks me up, though I used to have a bit of that approach myself. There are some things I don't like and won't eat, but they're not things like chocolate and bread and cheese and sauces!!

(no subject) - (Anonymous)   Expand  

Great idea of your mother.
Hope it works.
Alex is a picky eater, not fun.
Emil eats most things.
I might start to do somethiing like that too.
Let me know how it works.

I think ALL kids are picky eaters, to one degree or another, and so are all adults, since they've also learned what they like and don't like. What we really have a problem with is the super-slow eating and the refusal to eat anything that isn't completely perfect.

Dress up as a referee and slam your fists on the table while screaming, "FASTER! FASTER!" :) Or maybe he needs a lot of siblings who steal food from his plate if he doesn't eat it FAST! Worked for me :)

I hate slow eaters. L-G's mum used to chew her food 1,000,000 times each mouthful and took FOREVER to eat dinner. His brother is no better and even his family complain about it, but to no avail. It drives me bonkers every time we eat with them.

Perhaps him helping to pick a meal might encourage him to be more enthusiastic. I think that adding variety may help to make meal times more enjoyable for all concerned. If there are special meals Martin loves, then maybe you can work on some kind of reward chart for good behaviour. If the week has gone well, then make Friday or Saturday night Pizza night or "eat what Martin/Karin chooses night".

Well, Friday nights are already traditionally pizza or tacos or out-for-sushi night, since Anders and I usually don't want to deal with cooking, so I'm not sure trying to switch that as a "reward" would work.

I know that I actually eat TOO fast, but honestly, there has to be a happy medium here somewhere! I like the referee idea, though!

Edited at 2009-01-04 09:57 pm (UTC)

Aaron, Emily and Will are picky eaters too, and it drives me crazy, because one of the few talents I have goes completely unappreciated.

Thank Heavens for Haley who will try nearly anything, and likes most everything. With the rest of them, I try to have at least one thing I know they like, so that if they hate everything else, they can at least eat something.

I just serve good food, encourage them to taste it, and leave the rest up to them. I don't even monitor what they eat or don't eat because it just got to be too much of a power struggle. The same with Will being a slow eater. If he wants to take an hour to eat six bites, so be it. I'm eating my nice dinner, the rest of them can do what they will.

I bet some day your talent in that department will be very much appreciated. It's the waiting to get there that kills you, eh?

How do you keep your temper, though? I find it nearly impossible, these days. Same old buttons getting pushed every night. ARGH.

(Anonymous)

I love this solution (and love that your mom helped you find it). The thought of Martin already in his pajamas with the note on his door hurt my heart a little. I think you're right, in that many kids are picky to certain degrees, I know I was. Here's hoping that your solution will work and they will become more agreeable at mealtimes. Too, if they help out cooking, they'll understand that it is work and understand how it feels when that work is rejected. I totally wish my parents had involved me in the kitchen more, instead of regulating me to cleanup!

You're an awesome mom.

:) Sam

The slammed door drama and the notes on the doors (and notes under doors) and the "I hate you's" are always awful. I remember my own drama days, and I'm sure my mom does, too, as I was REALLY good at them. Kids really know how to hit you where it hurts, when they need to. I'm glad I went in and talked to him too, and I'm glad my mom happened to call just then, which gave me a chance to both vent AND get some help.

aaaaaaaaarrgh!
Enough said?
Oh the pain of trying to a)feed everyone b)fit it into a day c)keep 'em healthy, never mind d)make 'em happy.
argh.
Good plan though. I might even try it if I can get over my arghs.

I've been doing an awful lot of my own aaarghing lately so I can totally sympathize with you! :D

(Anonymous)
kid meal planning

What a good idea to include them...one of my friends did that with her FIVE children. They each were responsible to plan a meal for the week and help prepare their meal (and do the dishes later). When you have 5 kids that means they only have to help once a week! (I think they rotated through the other 2 days between left-over night & eat out or something) Anyway...one thing that caught my attention with this was that my friend stressed the importance of a 'good looking plate' with her kids. That means that the plate of food they choose had to be colorful...so not an all "white food" (starch) meal could be served. I think there had to be at least 3 colors on the plate. I always liked that idea and I'll use it when Maya gets older or pickier. Right now she justs eats what we do... more or less.

You're such a good mom! BTW

OOh...and it's me, Carol in Sweden

Re: kid meal planning

3 colors at least is a really good indicator :) I'm thinking that getting the kids involved on all parts: planning, shopping, preparing, eating AND cleaning up is the only way to go!

Well done!

Very near to what I would have recommended too.

George is a massively picky eater so I've been teaching him how to cook and help prepare. Seems he'll eat just about anything if he sees it being made and helps.

I like the idea of the list and the planning and think that would help too.

We had a regime a few years ago when the kids were smaller. I had a ten-day rotation schedule, mainly of things they liked, with an agreed one meal a week "adventure" and something JF and I wanted to try. That was the one six-month period in our long marriage when I actually cooked. *I* thought it worked, but after I went back to administration and laundry and he went back to cooking and shopping, we all went back to JF's...uh...tyranny?

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