Is it your job to get kids to eat?

Do a quick search of “picky eater” and you will discover parents are constantly stressing about picky eaters. But what if we didn’t? What if we served meals and let our children choose whether to eat it – or not? Is it ok, as a parent, to not make my kids eat?

I wish I could do that, but it just annoys me when he doesn’t eat. It bothers me that I (or my husband) cooked food and he refuses to even taste it. It gets under my skin that he claims he doesn’t like “anything.”

Providing nutritious food to my children feels like one of my main objectives as a parent, and because I am intrinsically motivated to complete objectives, I work hard to get them to eat.

Not interested.

I’ve tried these strategies:

1. One bite of each food based on your age. Simple math.

2. If there are 3 things on the plate you must finish two in order to do X activity after dinner. (Fractions are fun!)

3. You don’t have to eat what I cooked but I’m not cooking anything else. (The theory here is he’ll eat a better breakfast).

4. You don’t have to eat what I cooked and there is no dessert or “bedtime snack.” (Motivation. Or bribe.)

5. Reverse psychology! “I’m leaving the table, when I come back, all that food better be there!”

6. When you’re hungry later, I’ll re-heat this dinner for you.

Sometimes I just give up. Even though I feel like it’s my job to get him to eat, I know there is no end-of-the-year review of my performance.

Do you ever give up?

Ideas for Picky Eaters

Last weekend, Marty’s Market hosted the official launch of My Food Notebook. Lots of kids and families stopped by to try new foods and used pages from My Food Notebook to record their opinions. While not too many were eager to try to the almond-pine-nut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, the grilled cheese on sourdough and chocolate meringue cupcakes went fast!

Kids who tried a food and journaled about the food could enter to win free copies of My Food Notebook or gift certificates to Marty’s Market. The agave gummy bears were a big hit at the market. Special thanks to Porter Loves Photography for these excellent photographs of the event!

Look for a giveaway for more Marty’s Market gift certificates in January – I love celebrating great local businesses!

 

Even my selective eater tried something new!

First try at My Food Notebook

A delicious spread thanks to Marty’s Market!

Book Launch and Tasting Party!

All are welcome!

A Little Magic Helps Picky Eaters

 

Do you adore grocery shopping and cooking?  Who doesn’t love making your way down the same old aisles of thestore, grabbing the few standard ingredients needed to tackle the next chore of cooking and then suffering the whines of our kids as they complain and push their plates away?

Re-discover the magic of choosing and preparing food.

Cooking is like magic – you transform separate ingredients into a complete meal. And we learned that we could transform our picky eaters into willing taste-tests by including them in the grocery shopping and cooking. While it seems like a chore to most adults, to kids it’s brand-new and gives them a chance to experience aspects of food that adults take for granted.

Many times, picky eaters are simply scared of the unknown. We have found that when our kids can choose which bunch of broccoli looks “most delicious” at the store or which “new flavor of cheese” they want to try, they are less intimidated.

It was the Irish Soda bread that opened our eyes. Would our pickiest eater ever touch this? No way – there were 


raisins in the bread! But thanks to his cooking class at our Kindercare, he participated from start to finish and loved the bread so much he had trouble sharing it. He knew what was in it and I believe he felt more comfortable trying it!

At home now, we try to include our kids in as much grocery shopping and cooking as possible. Dylan is now quite skilled at making scrambled eggs from start to finish. It’s one of his favorite foods and I love that he understands how much work goes into preparing food.

We try new recipes together, like the very simple process of making homemade tortillas or family favorites like pizza bagels. Starting with something simple and offering options like pesto or black olives is a great way to encourage tasting new foods, too.

Inspired by this discovery, My Food Notebook has a Notes section that allows kids to record what they would like to buy at the grocery store and paste or write their favorite recipes. My older son likes to use the Notes section to invent menus for different restaurants he would like to open. I’m not sure about some of his ideas, but I promised him I’d at least give his recipes a try!

Moms of Grumpy Kids – You’re Not Alone!

I’m the mom of a grumpy kid. Like other moms, I look for ways to help my grumpy kid not be so grumpy. In the search for a way to help understand that he could choose to be grumpy or choose to be happy during his days, I told him a little story.

What started as a story just for my son Dylan turned into the children’s book The Bumpy Grumpy Road. And now other moms are telling me it’s helping their grumpy kids, too.

After I wrote it and read it to Dylan, I mentioned the story to a few close friends. They shared it with their kids and told me the idea helped them, too. So, I wrote an essay about our family’s struggle and slow road to success and sent it to one of my favorite magazines, Family Fun It was a delight to learn they also enjoyed the story and published it in their April 2012 issue. [The story has since been republished on the Parents website.]

Not long after the issue came out, I received notes from other moms who said reading my essay felt like they were reading about their own families. I received emails, Facebook messages, even a handwritten note from a mom!  It was a relief  for all of us to know we’re not alone, and that’s something I try to remind my own children – they are never alone when they feel sad, angry or frustrated. We’re always there to help them find their way back to the smooth, fast road.

“Steering Clear of Grumpiness” April 2012 Family Fun