Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Picky Eater Cure-All

Before we get started, let me just say that if you're perfectly content having picky eaters, this post is NOT for you! :) You might as well go click to another site. Perhaps you enjoy meal-time battles or enjoy cooking 12 different entrées each meal just so each member of your fam will eat something. Again, if that is you, please don't bother reading any further. :) But, if you sincerely want to pretty much rid of the whole picky eater issue ..... then read on and find out the simple cure. It truly is a pretty simple issue.


Are you ready? Honestly, it isn't rocket-science! We're talking e-l-e-m-e-m-t-e-r-y simple! Here goes.

Brace yourself.

Hungry children will eat.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it. It truly is SO simple.


There ya have it. What I like to refer to as the "picky eater cure-all".

Now, where it gets complicated is tearing yourself (and your child) out of the "I don't like it" rut of self-indulgence. Yes, I said, tearing yourself. One of the main things I've observed over the years in watching picky eaters is this .... "usually" the picky-eater being looked upon also has a mom or a dad who is a picky eater. Now, there could be rare exceptions, but I'm being honest here. It's only what I've observed time and time again.

So, if you're like me you like the practical ... and are wondering how this is lived out.

Read on.


Each member of the family is served dinner, including a portion of each item the 'cook' has prepared. THANKS is given for even having a meal to eat. Small children receive child-size portions of each item. Everyone eats. Ta-da! Simple.

But, if you're like our family, it might not have always gone quite that simple. We've had a couple over the years that could have easily won on the 'picky eater' mentality. One child in particular who gave amazing effort in claiming war. :) Every time we went back to the "cure-all".

What was it again?


We refused to make a mountain-sized issue out of it. That totally ruins mealtime for everyone. So what do you do? Take the meal, cover it, place in fridge. The next meal that rolls around .... remove meal from fridge, reheat and with a joyful attitude give the child the meal. Here are a few things you do NOT do!

1) Do NOT make the child anything else to eat!

2) Do NOT provide a snack between failed meal and when the meal is re-offered. (if child says they are hungry, remind them their meal is in fridge and let them know you'd be happy to heat it up for them)

3) Do NOT back down. Even if it takes three mealtimes for breakthrough. (I've been there, I know!) They MUST see you follow through. It likely will have to happen only a very few select times and the battle will be forever over, because they will KNOW you mean it.

4) Do NOT beg/whine/plead on the issue. It's simple. HUNGRY CHILDREN WILL EAT. Wait for hunger to occur.

You see, #4 is the key thing. MOST of our kids have hardly EVER felt REAL hunger! Oh, sure, they say things like .... "Mom, I am HUNGRY!". But they really do not know what deep hunger means. When real hunger comes, a human will eat.

Here are a few additional helpful hints especially if this is new to you.

a) Start with SMALL portions of each item. In our home, everyone is required to take a small portion of each item served. Once they have eaten they are welcome to request seconds. This is a HUGE help for small children. If they only received 3 bites of each item and they are really more hungry than nine bites total, they are gonna clean up that plate and ask for more. You are helping them to establish variety instead of filling up on a BIG pile of fave food leaving little to no hunger to try and choke down least fave item they left sitting on their plate. :) (you can increase portion size as they mature in the process)

b) If this is new to you, have a family meeting and inform the children of the change. This truly goes for ALL of parenting. There are times we have to adjust. It is OK to say ... "things are going to be different, here are the new rules". HELLO! :)

c) Get your kids involved in meal planning and preparation!!! It is completely NORMAL to have favorite foods! I didn't say your kids will LOVE each food, but they will eat if hungry. If Johnny is having a hard time eating spaghetti on Tuesday, he'll be encouraged to remember that Wednesday is the night for his FAVE dish of tacos! GREAT incentive for Johnny to eat on Tues!, cuz by now he KNOWS he will NOT enjoy Wed's meal until Tue's meal is gone.

You might be asking WHY? What is the issue with being a picky eater in the first place? It's really a reflection of the heart. Are we grateful to even have a meal? Have we stopped to think that many do not have one? That is reality. And if you think that's just some silly line your parents use to say to you to "guilt" you in to clearing your plate then STOP and think AGAIN. For MANY .... that is R-E-A-L-I-T-Y. Teaching your children to appreciate what is prepared can be a great blessing for them in the future. What if God calls your child to serve in a foreign country and be around foods very unfamiliar to them? What is your child grows up to serve in the military and needs to learn to live on "pre-packaged" MRE's? I've been told those are not like home-cookin'. :)

Mealtimes can be such a great time in our day! Ours have not always been. Just recently I was told by a certain person in my family they were going to refuse to eat even if it took til death. You can imagine my shock, since this is the same child that lost the battle YEARS ago. Sometimes that little thing called "hormones" can rally up strange things. He got a fresh lesson in gratefulness for even having a meal. :) I should add here that said child is also an amazing cook! And I anticipate him never serving mushroom pizza to us when it's his turn to cook. :) I'm ok with that.


  1. This is such a wonderful post, Shelly, oh my goodness. Before Abe, we always scratched our heads at all the parents who say things like "our kids don't eat such-and-such" as if it were a fact. I thought to myself, well, if your kid "doesn't eat" curry, then what if he had been born in India? Would he starve to death? NO. Kids will eat what we give them, period. When Abe was not even two, we had a battle over a bowl of lentils, a food he had loved up until the day he decided to battle us. It was the first time he went to bed hungry. He has eaten lentils every day since then, no problem. There have also been numerous times that he won't eat what we serve and then ends up finishing up his dinner right before bed. If more parents would realize this simple fact that hungry children will eat, mealtimes could be so much easier. Great post.

  2. ps: oh, and a big issue for us too is being a good guest, so we never want our kid(s) to turn down what they are offered at a friend's house. We hosted a Thanksgiving dinner the first year we were married, and some kids there didn't eat a bite of what I cooked (and had been preparing for days prior). I found it to be so incredibly rude to see the mom cooking them boxed mac-n-cheese an hour before dinner when I'd cooked for days. We determined then and there that our kids would be gracious guests, no matter what they were served.