I think my Three year old might be turning vegetarian, Any advice?

Sharon - posted on 08/15/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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For the last couple of months my 3 year old daughter has been refusing to eat most forms of meat and has requested only vegetables. She also has gone off potatoes and pasta in most forms, she will eat rice and bread and cheese and any fruit or vegetable she is given and will always ask for more. How can I ensure that she still gets the right balance of food in her diet without forcing her to eat meat?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, no one in the family is vegetarian so I am not too sure on how to acomodate her preferences.

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Pamela - posted on 08/28/2011

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I struggle with children telling parents what they will eat or won't eat. I see this is becoming a huge trend where parents continue to cater to the whims of their child's finicky eating habits, that just simply get worse the older they get. Like I said this is a struggle for me. I think children should be taught to eat what they are given. There are plenty of other things in life that you can teach them to make choices. If you give healthy meals and they don't want to eat, then they aren't hungry. People eat when they are hungry. Don't give a lot of snacks so that at meal time they are hungry. If they are following what they see on TV, maybe your children are watching too much TV. People may think I am being harsh, but I do know plenty of people who are grateful to have at least one meal a day, but we are teaching our children to be picky and ungrateful. When she can pay for her own food, then she can choose what she eats. Parents, we need to remember who are the leaders and it isn't our kids. Our are we going to let them be the parents and we the dutiful children doing all of their bidding?

Jane - posted on 08/29/2011

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Children go through alot of food changes. They discover different textures and flavor likes and dislikes as their toung muscle grows. Just like any other muscle it needs to be excersized. Also their bodies have different needs as they grow. Remember that becoming a vegetarian is a choice and isn't just not eating meat. It's getting the protein, iron, calcium and complex carbs that the body needs. At her age it's dangereous to leave out of her diet what she needs to have strong bones and healthy imune system because she's growing. She needs you to choose her diet wisely. I also found that my children, I have 8, didn't eat much meat untill after they got their 2nd. teeth. Vegetables, cheese, yogurt, soft meats are great for children. Don't have junk food be a daily choice and never a choice if what her body needs hasn't been eaten. She probably won't eat alot at one meal but snaking on vegies will help. My 28yr. old daughter still loves frozen string beans.

Janine - posted on 08/29/2011

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My daughter does not like meat either. I talked to the doctor about it and told him she was eating like a couple of bites about a few times a week and he said as long as she is eating yogurt, cheese and milk and taking a multi vitamin than do not worry about it. We instilled the three bite rule when she was three. She has to eat three bites of meat. She also prefers everything plain, no sauces, etc. so as I am cooking I keep that in mind and will set aside pasta and whatnot before the sauce goes on. The three bite rule is simply she has to eat three bites of meat before she can leave the table and/or before she can have more of whatever it is she may be wanting more of like more pasta, baked potato, milk, etc. We have added more bites as she's gotten older but she's now eight and we consider it fortunate if she will eat 4-5 bites. I think for her it is a texture issue. She will most of the time swallow the meat whole with a swig of milk so I keep the bites small. Fortunately, she likes most fruit and doesn't over complain about veggies.

Kim - posted on 08/28/2011

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Honestly, wanting to eat fruits & veggies isn't entirely bad. Will she eat eggs ? Peanut butter ? Dark leafy greens ?

While I agree serving your child what you prepared is best, in this case, it may also be that the meat upsets her tummy. Proteins are difficult to digest and if she has linked meat to an upset tummy, you'll just have to work around it. If it's just a phase, I suggest insisting on one or two bites of whatever meat you served for dinner being eaten on her first plate, and then she can have all the veggies she wants. Fruits in moderation - naturally sweet they may be, but sweets are sweets and too much is not good. Encourage her to eat making a rule that she has to try at least 1-2 bites of everything you have prepared Before she can have veggies. And fruits are for dessert.
JMO - I don't think this is a cause for worry, but make sure you set some ground rules so you know you're at least getting some of everything into her. Vitamins do Not replace healthy eating.
Blessings

Suzan - posted on 08/28/2011

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Small children are picky. As their parents, we widen the choices of good food available. She doesn't have a concsious thought about vegetarianism. Just keep offering good foods from the food pyramid, lots of milk and cheese and yoghurt and a little if the foods she currently dislikes. Don't fuss about which foods she eats just ensure the food she does eat is healthy and she will usually pick up her appetite.

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Bobbi Jean - posted on 01/04/2013

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Sounds like she is instinctively doing ok. Try to be sure she gets protein from different sources like dairy, nuts and nut butters, and beans and peas. Make ssure all the snacks she has are healthy. If you are unsure keep a food journal for her for a few weeks and check it out with your doctor.

Also, try not to make food an issue. I would go to reasonabe lengths to accomodate my kids food preferences. Other than that, if they didn't want to eat, they were excused from the table. They could have all the water they wanted until the next scheduled meal or snack. Both of them grew up to be healthy adults without weight problems. (Daughter turned into a vegetarian.) Best of luck

Mechelle - posted on 08/30/2011

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could be texture of the meat. It could be the type of meat. My daughter was like this. she hated meat but now that is almost all she eats.

Meghan - posted on 08/29/2011

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She may not have picked anything up from TV; many people just don't like the taste of meat for whatever reason. I was the same way as a child and to this day only eat seafood, no land-meat. She can get plenty of protein from nuts, whole grains, and dairy products - which the whole family can enjoy, too! Don't worry too much about it. It could be a phase or a life-long thing, but there's plenty of research that suggests eating vegetarian is a perfectly healthy, nutritional option for your daughter. Give her more healthy sides and the rest of your family can enjoy the meat you cook as their main course. :)

Aretha - posted on 08/28/2011

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The only thing she's missing is the protein in her diet try giving her something that has protein in it but please don't force her to eat something that she doesn't like or want at this time she may change

Debbie - posted on 08/22/2011

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Hi, Sharon! SO very glad she is getting back to her normal eating. My cousin couldn't -stand- the texture of meat when she was little. She would only eat small bits of chicken or hotdogs if they were swimming (almost literally) in ketsup!!! My point? Well... our kiddos (and adults too)... go through eating phases. Sometimes I can't stand the sight of chili, but then we go back to eating it a few times a month! It takes several tries to introduce new foods to children (or adults) before they might even consider actually eating some. I require my family to -at least- taste each item I put on the table... if they don't like it, they don't have to eat it. Though... that is a hard rule to force on a 3- year old (mine, too!)!! Good luck, girlfriend~!!! We are all in this wild party (of life with kids) together!!

Carla - posted on 08/18/2011

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Thanks for letting us know she is doing better, Sharon. If you are satisfied with the advice you have been given, would you close this thread? If you would like to continue a while longer, that is fine.



God bless, sweetheart, we pray for you, as for all our mothers, that God will direct us to feed our children with the food He has provided, and that they will grow healthy and strong.

Sharon - posted on 08/18/2011

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thank you for all your comments. she has been doing a bit better over the past few days. i have been giving her smaller amounts of meat cut up very finely and more vegetables. she has been finishing her plate again. i think it could be a fad as well, although my nine year old son is the opposite, he loves meat and struggles with most veg! she has been asking for more milk and cheese and yoghurt of late so i am not to worried about her protein intake.

thanks again for all your advice and suggestions. at the end of the day kids are kids and go through funny stages and fads and we as parents have to accomodate and use our own common sense in knowing when it has gone to far.

Angela - posted on 08/18/2011

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Hi Julia, I've never had a drink made with a rusty nail in it and yes, it probably IS a folk remedy but my story about the cast iron cooking pot is entirely true! It had a rusty bit in the base which I always use to scrub away with Brillo pads before cooking, however, rich iron deposits still got into the food - didn't do us any harm!

Some posters on this thread are knocking the vegan or vegetarian diet as though it's deficient in essential nutrients. There is no need for it to be deficient. Any diet, be it vegetarian OR omnivore CAN be deficient if people are "sloppy" in planning or not aware of nutritional needs.

As far as health issues go, the main concern with omnivore diets isn't the consumption of meat, it's dairy products. As mammals, we need to remember that cow's milk is for calves, goat's milk is for young goats etc ... And we only consume human milk in infancy, milk's not meant for lifetime consumption. Lots of omnivores who don't have issues with conscience on meat consumption will often have meat-free days for simply economic reasons. It's rare for an omnivore to cut milk out! I personally drink soya "milk" but being a cheese addict, I'm never going to be able to cut out dairy foods completely!! Have nothing but admiration for committed vegans.

I'm glad that you've stated one of your vegan friends was a doctor. If it was an unhealthy or unsuitable diet a doctor wouldn't follow it!

Really MUST apologize to Sharon for de-railing her thread!

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Angela, you make it sound like you totally disagree with my post but you only mentioned a difference in iron supplements. I am not against iron supplements and I shared this because we had two foreign students from India and they were strict vegan, and one was a doctor in India, but they told me that occasionally vegans become anemic and their doctors will recommend for them to eat an egg to get their counts back up. As far as drinking water that had a rusted nail - I would caution, I understand it may have been a folk remedy and I use slot of homeopathic medicine, it may cause tetanus or lock jaw...

Angela - posted on 08/17/2011

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I'm NOT a vegetarian or a vegan but I disagree with Julia's post. Iron deficiency is very easily remedied. There are iron supplements available. At a fairly crude level there is even the use of iron cookware to help iron levels! I used to have a cast iron cooking pot that was rusted in the base. I'd give it a good thorough scrub before use every single time I cooked in it, but food from it was always rich in iron. It did the same thing to my food digestion as iron tablets did to it when I was pregnant! Some sources even say that a rusty nail dropped into a hot drink provides iron - and it's probably true!

Here's a link to a vegan website about iron in the diet:

http://thevegandiet.blogspot.com/2009/03...

I personally believe that Sharon's child is NOT thinking of turning vegan/vegetarian anyway. Like I said in my earlier post, it's probably just food faddiness. But there are so many misconceptions about vegetarian diets and my defence of these is born of research and knowledge from friends and associates who are vegetarian/vegan. Personally, I'm an omnivore - and likely to remain so.

Carla's reference to Peter's perception of clean and unclean meats in Acts is valid, but what about those who avoid meat (and other animal products) FULL STOP? They're not interested in which animals may be seen as "clean" or "unclean" - they don't eat ANY animals!

Sorry if I've hijacked your thread, Sharon by discussing vegetarian issues. I sincerely hope and pray you and your daughter can resolve her issues with food.

April - posted on 08/17/2011

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Try kidney bean salad, they are not meat and still a great source of proten any kind of bean really also eggs and peanutbutter. My son had a short phase of not liking certain meat and still sometimes doesn't like some like hotdogs or pork chops. But loves turkey pepperoni and ham. It's all about trial and error. Not everyone will like everything. And some foods take 3-4 times trying it b4 they like it (sometimes more).

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I agree with the previous comments that she is too young to decide that unless she has picked something up on tv. The tv telling her through verbal communication someone talking from Pita, Sesame Street talking about not eating any junk food, girls in skimpy clothes may suggest or even say in a commercial to only eat certain things. It is amazing what you can learn on tv both good and bad. That being said, she needs a balanced diet. As far as protein try these: boiled eggs (you can even color them for fun and have a bowl of them in the refrigerator for her a snack or meal. Also beans of all types, can even cut up hot dogs into small bitesizes to put in the beans. Pulses are great and I love split pea soup, I make it with bacon pieces or pieces of smoked jowl and it is great! Do not over cook them as then they get puréed unless she likes it that way. Textures can be a big part of eating as well as vomiting up something. Many times if someone has vomited up something they no longer want to eat that substance. My daughter anything with cinnamon do to monkey bread and one of my best friends any noodles... So, I agree it would be wise to talk with her about why, ask her questions if she has heard something that has made her decide to eat or not eat certain things. I understand not wanting to eat animals and yet I understand that our bodies require things that sometimes are not in veggies. There are enzymes and nutrients that only come from certain things. Yes, you can get protien and iron from things but often vegans become low in iron and get anemic especially during periods. It can also cause osteoporosis if not getting the proper amounts of nutrients.

Kelina - posted on 08/16/2011

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Tha sounds more like a picky eater to me than a vegetarian. I agree ask her why she doesn't want meat, and as for pasta, try whole wheat noodles and stuff like that. I can't stand white noodles, they taste different. You can also try looking up tofu recipies and seeing if she likes them.

Carla - posted on 08/16/2011

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If she watches a lot of TV, I notice they are pushing kids towards a more vegetarian lifestyle. When Jesus told Peter to rise, kill and eat the meat, even things that had been unclean to the Jews for thousands of years, Peter had a fit and told Jesus he had never eaten anything unclean (In Acts, Jesus, through a dream talked to him). Jesus told him not to call anything He had made unclean. I find the vegetarian fad-thing more of a mis-guided care of animals than a benefit to human bodies. Anyway, I digress. My 4 y/o granddaughter has a hard time with meats, so I break up her bacon into little pieces, hot dogs, chicken, etc, and she is happy.



Have you asked her WHY she doesn't want meat? I bet you might be shocked at the answer.



God bless, honey, motherhood is sometimes puzzling ;)

Angela - posted on 08/15/2011

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Try some different varieties of food. I think 3 is a little young to make a conscientious choice to be a vegetarian, but if she's not keen on meat, why not offer high protein pulses?

If she's also off potatoes and pasta it indicates that this is more a case of faddy eating than a choice to be meat-free. But you can try her with small portions of new foods and also very small portions of the foods she seems to be rejecting - but prepare, cook and serve them a different way maybe?

If she was at least 6, then I would be inclined to take more notice of her apparent vegetarian preferences. This IS important. My niece chose to be a vegetarian when she was about 9. A school dinner lady poured gravy over her food and claimed it was meat-free (it wasn't) because she thought that children choosing vegetarian diets was "affected" and she thought she could "stop the nonsense".

But at 3 years old, I'm inclined to see it as faddy food choices.

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