Wednesday, September 2, 2015

From Picky Eaters to Not-As-Picky Eaters

I wish I could say my kids will eat anything and everything but, ahem, we're not there yet.  However we are moving in the right direction!

Can I get an Alleluia?

We were sitting at dinner and I was watching the kids eat their chicken, and salad and cauliflower-mashed potatoes (just throw a chopped up head of cauliflower in the pot with the boiling potatoes ~ instant added nutrition), while hearing them rave about the simple meal, and I thought about how far we've come.  

JP & Andrew, so cute!
Eamon & Gammy
I think they ate mashed potatoes and rolls this Thanksgiving.

Our oldest is a great eater, always tried everything and rarely complains about any food I serve.  But the next three were quite picky, and we grew accustomed to making them typical kid meals - chicken nuggets, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, pizza.  I would bribe them to eat their pizza so they could get ice cream, whatever it took!  There were times I was just desperate to get food - of any variety - into their bellies.

Maggie Moo and her incredibly sweet teeth.
I would see other kids eating soups and salads and casseroles and wonder what on Earth had happened to my children.  Where did I go wrong?  I decided to reclaim their taste buds.  

Reclaim our whaaaaat?
We stopped buying a lot of processed foods and started cooking real foods just for health reasons.  I made sure to add at least one vegetable to dinner and fruits throughout the day.  We cut back on sweet treats for dessert, and give them things like fruit smoothies, yogurt, and sliced fruit instead.  We stopped giving milk with dinner, and instead gave them water so that they would eat more food.  Milk is now served as a before bed filler-upper.  Cuz you know they're gonna say they're hungry.

The kids would always eat a couple of veggies like corn and broccoli, so I kept adding those to their plates while adding in sneaky nutrition wherever I could.  Ground turkey instead of hamburger, pureed veggies in the meatballs, sauces and soups, flax seeds in the muffins, spinach in their smoothies, bone broth in the gravy, whatever I could do!  I figured I could make them eat healthier without them even knowing so that they were growing accustomed to the tastes.  I started making soups that I knew they would like the flavor of (like Bacon Cheeseburger Soup) knowing I was able to get in all sorts of veggies.  They loved it and I couldn't believe my kids finally ate soup!  

Eating a fancy meal of Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Slowly, we started adding more vegetables and new foods to their plates instead of trying to hide it.  We would rationalize with them "You love sour cream and onion chips, so you actually do like the taste of onions!" or "Spinach doesn't even have a taste, it's like an invisible superhero!"  Gradually they just adapted and now I can serve them such a wide variety of food (except seafood, I haven't won them over in that department yet, but this Lent it's my goal).  I don't even have to puree all the veggies and hide them anymore, they will (mostly) eat it even if they spy a chunk of tomato or pepper or onion.  I also have them help me in the kitchen, or ask their opinions when I meal plan, and they love feeling involved and seem to eat better.

It's also become so much easier the older they get, but even my younger ones are eating much wider variety than my older ones were at the same age.   And if they choose not to, well...they don't get anything else.  It's their choice, I'm their mom not their short-order cook!  But I will still give them a cup of milk before bed, because I'm also fond of sleeping :)


  1. I love this post! I have a 10 month old who is just starting table food and I'm on a mission not to become a short order cook. He isn't really all that interested in food yet except for puffs and mum mum crackers, I swear it is beginning already! I keep putting the vegetables on his tray and of course he still gets formula to fill his belly. Do you follow the nothing else but what I serve rule even with the babies??

  2. We found that not giving our kids any sugary sweets until their first birthday cake and then as little as possible for as long as possible after that really helped them eat more healthy foods! Babies don't understand the "eat it or that's it" rule so I always fill their bellies with the healthiest things they will eat. I do puree a lot of veggies at this stage and put it in meatballs, meatloaf, mashed potatoes for them if they won't eat them plain. I don't implement that rule until they are about 2 and can really understand the choice they are making - I should have been clearer about that, sorry!

  3. I hear you!! I heard the words "I love soup" come out of Leo's mouth last night and I swear the heavens opened up and God shone on us directly. We started off eating a terrible diet but as I keep exposing the kids repeatedly to healthier options, they give in. And I don't feel bad that their snack at school is a banana or applesauce. Because I worked hard to get their taste buds to think that those are deliciously sweet!!

  4. Got it, thanks for the clarification! I haven't tried disguising any of the green vegetables in the ones that he does like (sweet potato/squash) or in the fruit purees, I'll have to try that. I also appreciate the advice on sugars. Much to his aunties and grandparents distress, I have not allowed any ice cream or sweets yet. :)

  5. Yep. I'm where you were. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, spaghetti, burgers, etc. I do serve a veggie with every meal and give yogurt or fruit for dessert. Everyone except Rhett will try what I put in front of them, but Rhett is a stubborn mister. The only time I've gotten him to willingly eat veggies is in zucchini bread and the only way for fruit is a fruit smoothie with orange juice. That's it. I keep presenting the good stuff and just hope one day he'll eat.


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