The Food Battle

[deleted account] ( 50 moms have responded )

Okay, I promised I would never ever make food a battle, I would never force food on him or keep food from him, but we now have a situation.

Our rule is that he must eat one food from each food group everyday before repeating a food group. Like--If he has a grain for breakfast, he can have a fruit or veggie for lunch. If he eats a fruit, he must have a veggie before he can have another grain or fruit. This worked great for a while, but lately he has learned that skipping dinner is not so bad, so for the past week, he has had no veggies--only fruit and grains. (he does not snack regularly. I do occasionally give him V8 Popsicles or frozen fruit, but he has not had any the past two weeks).

So, the night before last, he asked for mashed potatoes for dinner and I fixed them for him, then he wouldn't eat them. So my husband got angry and said that we would not cook him any more food until he eats the potatoes (or the potatoes go bad). He can eat what we eat, or he can eat the potatoes, then he can go back to having what he wants. The new rule would be he must eat from every food group before repeating, even if it was across two days--like if he eats a grain and a fruit Monday, but no veggie, he still has to eat a veggie before he can have a grain on Tuesday. It sounded good in theory, but here we are on day 3 and the child has not eaten.

I'm torn, I don't know what to do. I don't want to back down at this point because it has become a power struggle and he will realize that if he holds out long enough he will eventually not have to eat the veggie, or worse, apply the principle to other situations and get whatever he wants. Also, I definitely don't want to step on my husband's shoes or override him because I want our son to know that we are a united front.
On the other hand, I feel like I am damaging his relationship with food and putting a negative spin on veggies. Plus, I'm not sure if you've ever been around a 5 year old who hasn't eaten in 3 days but he and I are MISERABLE!!!! He's hungry so he's whiny, and is throwing tantrums over every little thing--you know how it feels to be hungry, imagine that without the impulse control and anger management skills we have as adults. :P I'm not sure how long I can handle it.

Please help!

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Jessica - posted on 06/09/2010

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you could try making something special for him & sneaking in the veggies. I make a chicken nugget with apple, zucchini, carrot & chicken. It taste very sweet from the apple, my son loves it & we both win. it is an annabel karmel receipe, she has some great ways to get kids eating. I've learned that parents never win food battles, but you can if you sneak in stuff they would never touch.

Amie - posted on 06/10/2010

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Kelly your family can zip it. =) I've more than once had to tell my family to butt out. They've raised/are raising their own, leave me and mine alone. There's a fine line between helping and being pushy. Too often they stepped over it.

Progress though! It does sound like his tastes are changing. He wants to eat but when it actually comes to eating it, it doesn't taste (or smell) like he thought it would. LOL!

Meghan - posted on 06/10/2010

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I just skimmed comments so I don't know if this has already been said.
My son is 20 months and while I know there is a huge age difference...but my son wouldn't eat anything besides pureed baby food until about 15 months (unless it was any kind of cracker or chips.) I battled and battled and was getting SO frustrated with him. I finally gave up my end of the battle. He got what I made and if he didn't eat it, he was SOL..."J this is what is for dinner, I would love for you to sit and eat with mommy" I found with in a day, he wasn't feeling my frustration. I wasn't getting up tight and therefore it wasn't fun for him anymore! Now he eats things that I never in a million years thought he would eat. I think no matter how old a child is they want to test. Maybe if you take a more laid back, non chilant (sp?) approach he will too??

[deleted account]

If you want him to eat all the food groups then try rewarding him for each he eats rather than punishing him for missing one by forcing it at the next meal.



Simplest way would be a colourful reward chart. He can help you make it. Have each of the food groups in one column going down and days of the week going across. Everytime he eats from one of the groups in a day (can even just be a bite) he gets to put a sticker on his chart (that becomes a reward in itself). If he completes a day he get a small reward. If he completes a week then reward him as such.

You give the power of eating back to him. It's definatly becoming a control issue for him and thats a very dangerous line to walk with food. It shouldn't be a battle.



Try to keep food seperate if that upsets him. Give him a choice of two healthy meals, no more and don't ask him what he wants without that choice.

Alison - posted on 06/11/2010

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Whew! I knew I wasn't alone. My son is 20 months and absolutely refuses to eat what my husband and I call "real food." I mean, of course, he'll eat snack food (graham crackers, breakfast bars, granola bars, goldfish, etc) and dairy & fruit products till the end of time. But when it comes to a nice meal of brisket & carrots with pasta side... forget it. He's gotten better, granted - he doesn't throw it off the table anymore. But he won't eat it either.

It isn't as drastic as what you're talking about, Kelly, but I thought I'd throw my anecdotal experience into the ring for examination to see if there are any similarities we might collaborate on.

My mother's advice was "continue to make whatever you're making for each meal, offering him toddler-sized portions." With that method, he didn't eat for three meals in a row. So... I said "nevermind, I can't do that anymore" and went back to offering foods I know he likes (or thought he likes/liked) along with a new food on the plate. I reinforced the "we don't throw food we don't like" by ending the meal if he did that. Ten minutes later, if he was still cranky and out of sorts, we would try mealtime again, but only twice. If he threw food again, mealtime was over until the next snack or mealtime came up.

I have to say it's a terribly frustrating feeling, and your own experience with eating disorders sounds like it could have something to do with what your son is doing now. If you are worried that he's exhibiting behaviors that mirror your own childhood behaviors with food, get him evaluated by a professional as soon as possible and learn all you can about encouraging healthy relationships to food (which you sound like you've been doing already - you're a great mom, no matter what negative stuff your family says/does!).

All in all - you're doing great! Get help if you need help, and I hope I've been of some help (even a teeny tiny bit). ;-)

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Rebecca - posted on 06/21/2010

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my take on this is that these kinds of power struggles don't work at all. other mothers may say you have to sit it out, but i say don't get into such power struggles in the first place.

i know it is tough, but what is going on is that your son knows he can use food as a power issue and so he keeps seeing how far he can push it by insisting on less and less variety. so now he's down to nothing.

right now i would let him eat bread. see if you can buy fortified bread so that there is a bit more in it than just carbs. if all he will eat is bread it is sure as hell better than NOTHING.

i understand that giving in seems wrong, but actually, this has to end and you might have to be the one to lose face. it does occasionally happen ... kids have more energy to give to this form of power game because they don't have anything else to worry about.

if you give him nothing but bread for ages then he is going to get bored of it one day and ask for something else. in the mean time give multivitamins every single day.

my 3 yr old likes all protein and she eats bread and cereal, but the only veggies she will eat easily is peas and if egged on a little cucumber. i know that if i push she will stop eating altogether because she has done this in the past.

what is happening now tho is that she is gradually -- very slowly -- trying a few new things. like she is now having a different cereal in the morning. this is not pushed on her but the box is very colourful and i just said 'i though you might like to try this new cereal' and she did ... before this she has always been fussy abt breakfast and not making up her mind what to have for breakfast. the new cereal is a winner.

i believe she is trying new things because we don't make an issue of it. another thing is that if she is being iffy about eating, we'll let her be a baby and feed her ... i.e. take the spoon and play aeroplanes and stuff. she is a bit old for it, and it is not every time, but it does get her to finish her meal sometimes. my 6 yr old then sometimes asks that we feed her and we refuse, but maybe you could try this strategy for a bit.

so go right now and offer him a piece of bread!

[deleted account]

I've never been strict with diet, either mine or my kids. I was a fussy kid, refused to try anything new but as I got older I naturally started wanting more nutritious food.

My eldest started a good eater. He'd eat everything but when his autism kicked it up a gear (between 3-4 years old) he refused to eat anything but bread, cheese, chips (french fries if you aren't british) and tomato ketchup. That was so much fun! Eventually I got him to help me make pizza. To start with he just had some of the base. Then he tried it with a little ketchup spread on it with a little grated cheese. Then he helped me make proper pizza sauce with lots of fresh veggies. Then he helped me chop up different toppings for it. From there we moved onto pasta sauces. Now 7, he will eat pretty much eat everything now. Occasionally he really doesn't like something but he always tries it first. His fav food is still pizza!

My youngest (17 months) is all over the place with his diet. One day he'll eat nothing but bread, the next he'll want to eat whatever I'm eating. I offer him a good range. If he eats it great, if not, it's not worth getting upset about, as Amie and Dana have said, tastebuds change.

The best advice I was ever given in regards to what children eat is to look at a week as a whole rather than each day. It's surprising to see how much they actually do eat throughout a week even if they have a couple of off days.

Amie - posted on 06/15/2010

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It is entirely up to you what you feed him. There's nothing wrong with "junk" food in moderation. It's one of those things though that if you start offering it all the time, then a problem may occur. However if it's offered as a once in awhile treat then it' s not so bad.

Snacks are something I'm a little more lenient on, simply because my kids eat so well. They're all a bunch of hoovers and do eat their veggies, fruit, grains and meat throughout the day. So when it comes to any of the 3 snack times, they can pick. Sort of, I put the choices there and they choose what they want. Sometimes it's a banana, sometimes it's a pudding.
My kids eat 6 times a day too. Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, supper and bedtime snack. Since they are eating almost constantly, the portions are smaller and they have the full feeling almost all day. On busier days (especially now that summer is here) they up their food intake. They also burn it off though because of the added activity. The extra snack has to be a veg or fruit though. Once in awhile a sandwich if they are hungry enough.
I make sure they have enough fluid intake as well. If there's not enough, then they end up eating more since thirst can mask itself as hunger if you're not drinking enough.

Our once in awhile treats are pudding, jello, cake, baked goodies, etc. Anything that is more for taste than nutrition. LOL!

I think you get the point though. =)

Alison - posted on 06/15/2010

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Oh, Kelly - I want to reach through the computer and hug you! You sound like you need a hug. I need a hug, so there - I hugged you *hug*

I absolutely do feel like parenting is a balancing act, especially between "what I/everyone else expects from me" and "what really happens." There's so much wiggle room between our expectations for ourselves (and everyone else's expectations of us) and what really happens. It's exhausting.

I constantly wonder... Did our parents have these struggles? Our grandparents?

Also: you ROCK for getting your song checked out professionally. I would be so chicken-shit about it (scared to death, honestly) that I would be tempted to avoid the issue altogether. But you are a phenomenal mom, clearly! I'm so relieved to hear that he doesn't have that same predisposition that you did AND that you're working so diligently to dissipate the "food battle" that began this whole conversation. You are an incredibly brave and strong woman and I am inspired by you.

Did the doctors give you any hints/tips/tricks that worked for Jake's refusal to eat? I'm guessing he's eaten by now?

My kiddo's eating stuff like goldfish, etc alongside the healthier stuff. I mostly just put it on his plate and if he doesn't eat it, it doesn't get repeated at the next meal. I'll try again in a week or so with that same food. Tonight it was swedish meatballs - the biggest advance I noticed was that he TASTED it! Even though he decided not to eat it, he put it in his mouth! SUCCESS - I'll take it :) And... he didn't throw a fit or throw the food on the floor. Bonus.

[deleted account]

Btw, I did talk with my therapist about Jake Monday and he was seen today by my therapist and a colleague who specializes in children. They decided that he does not get the same empowerment I do from not eating, but continued struggles over food could very easily push him in that direction--so I need to end that battle. He is very strong willed and enjoys the "battle" whether over food or his outfit for the day.

I don't want him to have the same relationship that I do with food, and that is probably why I worry over it more than I should. I try my best to ignore my own gut feelings towards food and make sure he feels empowered when he eats, but not so good that food becomes a comfort.



Do you ever feel like parenting is like balancing a fragile dish on a toothpick--too far in any direction and everything shatters? That's how I feel. It's so hard to find that perfect balance.

[deleted account]

Thanks again, ladies.
I agree with Dana and Amie that this is just a phase caused by his tastebuds changing. I never thought about his taste changing, even though I knew it happened. I'm noticing that he is literally "afraid" to try new foods and to retry those he tasted that weren't so great.

Amie mentioned some "treat" food that were considered "staples of any childhood" and Jake hasn't had any of those, so I was thinking about introducing him to some of them, like goldfish or fruit snacks.

Sorry, Dana, I can't take credit for overcoming anorexia, as I'm still in treatment and I'm fairly certain I still don't have a very healthy relationship with food--junk food in particular. When I was 24, preggo with Jake, we had Pringles left over from a cookout. I decided to "treat" myself, so I put 3 of the chips on my plate with my lunch. I ended up eating the ENTIRE CAN!!! Needless to say, I cried all day and felt guilty for the rest of my pregnancy (although all of my dr's assured me I hadn't hurt Jake). I just don't understand junk food, and that is why Jake hasn't had it yet. Why eat something that has no nutritional value? I understand they taste good (and Pringles are REALLY GOOD), but there are a lot of things I would consider more enjoyable than eating. And even if eating were the most enjoyable activity I could think of, why pick something with no nutrition over something yummy that does have nutrition in it--they both taste good? Also, after eating all those Pringles, my body was so full I couldn't put anything nutritious in it--that is what hurt the most, the wastefulness of it all. Anyway, I'm totally rambling, but do you think I should give him goldfish and such type foods?

Alison - posted on 06/11/2010

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I am so proud of you, Kelly, for making the connection - this space is all about helping us help ourselves and our families, and if it helped you realize something important about your little guy... WOW that's amazing and I am blessed to have been even a tiny bit involved!

[deleted account]

Sorry about your struggle with food and WOW! for overcoming an eating disorder, Kelly.....somehow I missed when you talked about it above?? Anyhow, I reread the post and found it.....my apologies!

[deleted account]

Thanks Allison, I really needed the encouragement!! My mom's advice was the same as your mom's--in fact, that is what everyone told me to do, but, like you, it just didn't work for us--and I held out for 3 days!! I guess I'm lucky he never threw his food, he just sat there and gave it the evil eye, even back when he was just a toddler. He's always been picky, but then, so was I so I never minded--gets on hubby's nerves though....

I've been in treatment for my eating disorder since I was 20--Wow, I can't believe it's been almost 10 years!! I stopped when I was 27, but I eating again too, so I guess I'll be in therapy forever. I really don't want that for Jake, so I was hoping that if I did everything right at the beginning I could avoid that for him. I am going to ask my Dr. about it next time I am in. I've told him about Jake being picky, but it has never bothered me and I never made the connection until this little episode.

Dawn - posted on 06/10/2010

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You definitely have a power struggle on your hands. I went through something similar with my daughter until I read an article in her Taekwondo magazine. The rules were when you sat down at the dinner table you got a "taste" of each food item equivalent to your age. So, for a 5 year old it would be 1 tablespoon of each item. Rule 1: When you sit their plate in front of them they are not allowed to make negative comments (or make a face) about the food or they would lose 1/2 hour of a privelege such as tv time or bedtime. Rule 2: You must eat all of each item. If you don't you get no more food. If you do, you get to have 2nds and even 3rds of what you do like. Rule 3: If they get hungry later and didn't eat all their "tastes" then no snacks, but they do get the opportunity to retry their dinner plate. NO, they do not get served that same food for breakfast or the next dinner. The next day starts a new day with a new plate of food.

I realize that at 5 your son may not be old enough to understand all of this. I did it with my daughter at about 5 1/2 and now she eats almost everything & is always willing to try new things. You may want to change the size of the "taste". If you feel a teaspoon is easier to deal with, try that. I hope something helps. I know this is tough for you!

[deleted account]

Oh, Kelly (((BIG HUG))).....I hope I never go through that with Roxanne! The more and more I hear you talk about it, the more I realize that it's just a phase. When Roxanne was about 15 months she refused to bath for 2 1/2 weeks.....she'd scream bloody murder if I tried to put her anywhere near the water.....we tried everything....bathing with her, we wiped her down with clothes....we got by without bathing for a few days even and then one day she just asked to have a bath again....I thought we'd never get through it but thankfully we did! You'll get through this too!

Dr. Phil has some great advice about toddlers and food....what to do and more importantly what NOT to do! You should check it out.....I'ma try 'n find a link to it now!

French toast is great....try and use whole grains and eggs are way more than just protein, especially if you buy the ones with Omega 3 & 6 in them.....eggs have a nutrient called CHOLINE which is great for mental function and memory....SELENIUM, which is a mineral and a powerful antioxidant that our bodies need for a strong immune system.....B Vitamins FOLATE and RIBOFLAVIN which help convert food into energy....Vitamin A for cell growth and healthy skin and Vitamin E....the list goes on and on....

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that even though we might not necessarily know ALL the benefits things are providing some foods are multipurpose.....try not to sweat it!

Milk isn't just calcium.....it's protein, it's healthy fat, it's iron and vitamins etc.

Did you know oranges are just carbs?....they're high in calcium

Haha, I'm rambling on and I hope it doesn't come across as a lecture? I just really want you to try not to worry to much about it....it'll work itself out! Gah....ok, I promise I'm done now! And if you're just having a bad day, feel free to just vent!

[deleted account]

I do have the Deceptively Delicious book, but he won't eat anything in it :P
I gave in and let him "win the battle" (as my family is calling it) yesterday. He does eat V8 Popsicles and the jug says one serving is a 1/2 a serving of fruits and veggies. So I guess that's good. It's just that I'm offering him any and every thing I can think of (besides junk food) and he just won't eat any of it. I even took him to the store yesterday to pick out food that he would eat, he got some yogurt (Danible Crush Cup), eggs (for French toast), a pizza, and Stoffers frozen lasagna. He hated everything but the French toast, which I guess is progress since he wouldn't eat French toast before AND French toast is more than one ingredient, and while it's not a veggie, it is a protein....

I wish he would just TELL me what he wants....but I guess he doesn't know either. He asks for stuff, but then he won't eat it.

[deleted account]

That brings up a really good point Megs....kids pick up on our moods. If he knows you or your husband are frustrated, even if you're trying not to be outward about it, he may sense it causing him anxiety and therefore he doesn't wanna eat. I can totally understand your husbands frustration but from everything I've read it's best to not make a big deal about him not wanting to eat....as long as he's drinking fluids and peeing the phase should be short lived! Anyhow, I keep rambling.....hope things get better soon Kelly!

Jaime - posted on 06/09/2010

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I also like the smoothie idea that Dana suggested. I used to make those every morning for my nephew and myself and it carried him through right until lunch really. Full of healthy vitamins and packed with all of the nutrients a kid would need as an energy booster in lieu of a sugary snack!

Jaime - posted on 06/09/2010

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Erin, I believe that Jessica Seinfeld wrote the book I'm talking about. Thanks, I couldn't remember the author, but I knew she was connected to someone famous!



I have taste-tested one of the muffin recipes that had raspberry puree, along with squash and beet puree and you would never have known there were veggies in it! The book is well worth it...especially for picky kids. Dinner doesn't always have to be about the staples...sometimes it's okay to mix it up a bit. Kids get bored easily with food. When I was in school my mom kept our lunches interesting with things like: Instead of taking a peanut butter sandwich to school, she would put pb on a hot dog bun and give us a banana to add to it at lunch...a different take on the sandwich and more fun! Another was the pizza cookie...her homemade monster cookie that was the size of a small pizza and cut into pizza-shaped slices with m&m's or smarties baked in.



Eating shouldn't ever be a battle for kids and parents. It's not fair for us to enforce specific rules and expect our children to follow them to the letter every day. I think it's noble to want to try and get all of the food groups in one meal, but sometimes it just doesn't happen for one reason or another. Doesn't mean the kid is never going to eat that food group again...just means they are exercising their right to refuse to eat what they don't want to eat. So really the only thing that should be eliminated would be the sweet snacks/treats...and if those are already few and far between then it might be time to get sneaky and creative with the meals.



I agree with allowing a child to have a few choices...but those choices should coincide with what EVERYONE will be having for that meal. Too many choices is confusing to a child and lends weight to their ability to refuse altogether when they feel it just doesn't suit them. When there are limited options given, it gives them a sense of importance, but also a sense that there are boundaries too.



I also think that kids hit a certain stage where they just decide what they like and they stick with what's familiar. The reward chart suggested is a great idea...and the sneaky cook book will allow them the pleasure of having a 'treat'...while allowing you the pleasure of knowing that their treat has a dual purpose!

Erin - posted on 06/09/2010

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I second the recommendation for Annabel Karmel's recipes. There's also a book written by Seinfeld's wife about how to hide veggies into other foods (I guess similar to the one Jaime-Leigh suggested).

That's about the extent of my advice I'm afraid. Apart from a 2 week episode about a month ago, when my daughter had tonsillitis, she is a fabulous eater so I don't really have any personal experience with this. But I know my friend is having similar struggles with her 4 year old son (he doesn't want to eat anything but weet-bix and spaghetti). She has actually taken the route suggested by Cathy and is doing a reward chart.

Good luck!

[deleted account]

If he would eat sandwiches at any meal, what about making fruit sandwiches (eg banana sandwiches) or vege sandwiches (like tomato toasted sandwiches) - with the toasted sandwiches, use cheese as well and then the melted cheese makes the veges stick a bit better to the bread so that it's just that bit harder to avoid them.
JL - I'm going to try to find that book, I'm intrigued!

Jaime - posted on 06/09/2010

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Go out and get the book "Deceptively Delicious"...it's a great book and it shows you how to disguise veggies in things like brownies, chicken nuggets, muffins, etc. It might solve a lot of your food woes and prevent battles where the need be none.

[deleted account]

Sounds like a phase....hang in there! Does he drink milk? You could also try giving him a toddler formula that has nutrients and vitamins built in as well as extra calcium, iron etc? OR blend up a smoothie with yogurt or milk and add fruit and veggies to that? Roxanne usually gets one a day because she's not much of a milk drinker!



Hope he moves past this quickly! Feel free to vent away in the meantime...

[deleted account]

Thanks Ladies. Cathy, that is an awesome idea, I'm going to make the chart tonight and try it over the next week.
Dana, I do offer him several choices at each meal--at least I had been up until the potato incident.

Amie, I'm sorry if I sounded smart. I am frustrated, but not with you at all, just with the situation in general. I'm actually grateful for your input, as everyone around here (in real life) told me that giving him the cereal & applesauce this morning was an awful thing to do, so you are actually the only person who supported my decision.
(I'm not sure when I implied that I take his food away or keep food from him, but just to clear it up, I don't. I make him what he asks for and give him the choice to eat it or not, He is choosing not to eat it. I do limit the choices to healthy items, but that is the only limitation)

He used to eat almost everything on the list above, but now he won't eat any of it. I wouldn't be so worried if he were adding foods for the ones he now refuses, or eating some of the old ones again, but that's not happening.
I do wrap the food that he asks for and doesn't eat up, but he never wants to eat it, then it goes bad so it must be thrown out. At any given point in the past 2 months I've had at least 4 containers of his leftovers in the fridge. I offer them, but he won't eat them.

Jessica, I used to sneak stuff into homemade pizza, he used to LOVE that, but he stopped eating it about 3 weeks ago. That was the only thing he ate that had more than one ingredient.

[deleted account]

Well said Cathy and GREAT idea about the food chart! What an awesome idea.....I can't wait for Roxanne to get a lil' older and protest....I'm gettin out the construction paper and makin a chart now! YAY ME!

[deleted account]

Haha! Funny story.....we had whole grain Rotini with a meat sauce last night and even mozza cheese sprinkled on top and Roxanne would only eat the cheese.....today she had her leftovers for lunch and ate it up no problem! LOL! I figure cheese is high in calcium and protein....it wasn't the worst dinner she could have had?! LOL!

P.S. She also LOVE LOVE LOVES cauliflower......I cooked an entire head and made soup....pureed the cooked cauliflower, added some full fat plain yogurt, ham and cheese.....She LOVED it!

Amie - posted on 06/09/2010

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Oh and I forgot to mention something. It could be as simple as his taste buds are changing. They do change from time to time. It could be all in the preparation. It might be the texture that is putting him off now. Try fixing foods in new ways.

[deleted account]

P.S. For the record, Roxanne is almost 21 months and right now she LOVES grilled ham and cheese sandwhiches, pasta, avacado (cubed) or mashed as a dip with crackers, CHEESE (always mild white cheese; no dyes), and of course for breakfast she alternates back and forth between, cottage cheese mixed with yogurt and frozen blueberries, raspberries etc. OR oatmeal with yogurt and fruit.....

I try and give her choices from each food group at each meal but if she refuses any or doesn't eat it all I try not to sweat it....

GOOD LUCK!

Amie - posted on 06/09/2010

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Oh god, the list is long. LOL! I'm not trying to be offensive at all and I'm sorry if my post has gotten your back up.

My kids have a range of treats/options. It also depends on what he (your boy) normally liked beforehand.

Mine eat:
Cheese (all kinds except Blue, I refuse to buy blue cheese, ick)
Cottage cheese is one of their favorites.
Crackers usually go with the cheese as well as some meat. Generally what was left over from supper the night before.
They are huge fans of yogurt, we buy Danino.
They adore pickles, I have to hide them. /:)
Grapes, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, watermelon, oranges, kiwi, are some of their favorite fruits. Depends on the season and what we can get.
They like asparagus, beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, radishes, potatoes (raw, which is why I mention them), bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, etc.
They like crab meat, fish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, most things actually.
They gobble up pasta like it's going out of style.

For treats when we don't give them "real" food we have:
Goldfish, teddy grahams, animal crackers, welch's fruit treats, sunkist fruit treats, dried fruit, fig bars (those are mostly mine LOL!) granola bars, pudding and jell-o (which are giving sparingly but are a staple for any childhood), nutri grain bars. We also have some things we buy as special treats. Wagon wheels, chips, etc... things that are really not good for them in the least but giving it to them for things like family movie night keeps them at bay with wanting to over indulge. It helps that we don't keep these things int he house either. They can only eat what we have after all.

There is very little mine won't eat now. Even with that though they still go through phases. All people do, why would children be any different?

It's about weathering through it. It will end but taking away food is not how to handle it. It's tiring, I get that. I've gone through it 3 fold already with 1 more to go.

Also, don't throw out the food. Just wrap it up and keep it. Either in the fridge or freezer. No need to waste food just because your boy has decided to play silly buggers. He can eat it at another time or it's a quick meal when you or your husband are in a hurry.

[deleted account]

Give your son several healthy choices at each meal/snack time and let him choose.....if Roxanne refuses all three choices, she gets nothing! It's not about giving in for me but offering choices and allowing them to choose gives them a sense of independance and will make the world of difference, IMO......this isn't a battle I would fight with him.....as long as he's not eating junk all the time, let him make his own choice!

I should mention that I just quickly read through the other comments so I apologize if I've been redundant etc.

Lemme know how it goes and what solution you come up with...

[deleted account]

What do you feed them?

I don't buy junk, so he doesn't eat it, but we are down to nothing but bread, and bread is essentially nothing but carbs-sugar--great for immediate energy, but no lasting value. He needs the nutrients in fruits and vegetables for his immune system, mind, and over all growth. He does take a vitamin, but I cannot believe that the nutrition packed into that tiny little gummy is enough to subsist him. To help, yes, but to be all he gets, no.

The night of the potatoes, I had cooked for him 3 different meals--all of which were requested by him. I did not force him to eat, I cooked three different items at his request and still he ate none of them. I had to throw them all out.
This morning, he requested cereal & ate it. Then for a snack he requested applesauce. That, he did not eat because he said it did not taste good. For lunch, he requested applesauce again and again, he is not eating it. I took a few bites, it tastes like it always has. I don't know what to feed him. I have offered him every fruit and vegetable in this house and he has refused every single thing I have offered.

You said it is wrong for me not to feed him, what should I feed him?

Amie - posted on 06/09/2010

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Apparently I wasn't clear. It's a phase. It will pass. Just feed him. It doesn't have to be junk. My kids don't eat junk and managed to weather these phases just fine.

[deleted account]

Amie, I understand you have a "serious issue with the way my husband and I are going about this" but you have yet to offer any advice.

What exactly are you suggesting I do? I came here for advice. I KNOW what I was doing was not working--that is WHY I asked for other suggestions.



Furthermore, I never took away his nutrition. I offer him nutritious food throughout the day--all day, every day. I am not going to let him eat junk all day just because he doesn't like anything else. To me, that would be irresponsible.

Amie - posted on 06/09/2010

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Kelly I have to agree with Jess on this one. It is being used as a privilege. You can not force a child to your will, whether it's through physical force or through taking away privileges. By taking away his nutrition source you have turned food into a privilege. If he doesn't comply with your rules for food, he doesn't eat. That makes it a privilege.

I am having some serious issues with how you and your husband are going about this. I will remain nice since I like the ladies here but this is so wrong. 3 days without food. No wonder he's sick and throwing up! =S

ALL kids go through phases, just because he doesn't like certain veggies now does not mean it will always be this way. It's a phase. It will pass and by trying to force it to pass you are making it worse. My own children don't always eat their veggies, oh well. They get over it eventually and start eating said veggie again.

Again I have serious issue with how this is being done. I would severely kick my husband's ass if he tried to impose something so potentially dangerous onto our children.

[deleted account]

Jess, I think you may have misunderstood. I don't use food as a privilege, he is offered food at every meal and offered snacks when he is hungry (provided he ate at meal time). The only thing I require of him is that he eat from every food group each day. If I don't do that, he would literally eat nothing but bread and I cannot allow that. He doesn't even have to eat every food group at each meal, just once at some point in the day.



I agree that we need a system we all agree on, but I don't know what that system would be, which is why I posted--I'm asking what to do.

[deleted account]

Something I just thought of, and has me a little worried. Tell me if I'm being ridiculous.

I had an eating disorder through most of my childhood (Anorexia) and I feel empowered and strong when I am hungry--like I can do anything I try to. When full, I felt out of control, overpowered, and weak. The full feeling is harder to describe, but it was unpleasant.



Anyway, in relation to this post. My son does not mind the hunger he feels from not eating. My fear is that he gets the same empowerment from it that I do.



I distinctly remember having those empowered feelings from my hunger when I was a very young girl, I would say probably about 6-7, although the negative feelings that come from being full didn't appear until late elementary school or possibly early middle school. When I was little, I refused to eat often, (much to the dismay of my family) but not because I didn't want to be full, I just liked being hungry. During that time, my family often forced me to eat, they stood over me with a switch and struck for every 10 seconds I didn't eat, or they made me stay at the table until the food was gone--often all night until it was time to leave for school in the morning.

I have always felt (perhaps incorrectly) that it was those struggles with them trying to make me eat that eventually produced the negative feelings of disappointment and weakness that came with being full. So I promised myself that I would never force Jake to eat in anyway thus to avoid any possibility of anorexia in him.

But now, I wonder if it is unavoidable. My liking for being hungry came before my family tried to make me eat. It was a natural tendancy. What if the negative feelings from being full were not manifested of the power struggles over food with my family, but were natural as well? Is there anyway to avoid this for my baby?

Jess - posted on 06/09/2010

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I'm sorry I don't really understand your food rules so I can understand why your son might not get it... or why he is rebelling.

Food is so essential and its a right not a privilege. And I understand that you don't want to undermined your husband but its time to end this food war. Round 1 to your son ! Perhaps you and your husband need to work out a strategy that your both comfortable with that won't make your little boy unwell if he won't co operate !

[deleted account]

We do always tell him it is his choice whether to eat or not. The only consequence for not eating is hunger. I usually give him about 30-45 minutes to eat the food, and if he hasn't eaten it he gets nothing more until the next meal.

[deleted account]

Just one more thing I think is worth mentioning... Tell your son at meal time that he has the right to eat or not and that it is HIS choice. Don't force him and don't get mad if he decides not to eat. If he decides to eat, it has to be what is on the table.

this way he understands that he has a choice but still within the acceptable parameters

[deleted account]

most likely will not eat what YOU pick for the first few days... because he's at the point where he knows not eating is going to work and he will in the end get his way. no kid will starve themselves long enough for it to become a problem. I would suggest that if you are worried about him getting all the nutrients he needs you supplement with a children's multi-vitamin.

"This morning he was sick. He threw up in my bed, and all the way to the bathroom. It was just water, but I'm fairly sure it was the not eating that made him sick. So I feel horrible."

This is manipulation at it's best. I think you know deep down that it is. don't feel guilty for putting your foot down and expecting your son to stop this behavior. he's expecting you to cave in and when you don't he tries something else to see if that will be more efficient.
I know this may sound harsh but I really think your son is playing a game and trying to get his way. I think your pediatrician is right in saying you should wait and he will eventually eat.

it's your decision in the end but I think you are inflicting yourself a lot of stress by letting this situation go on.

let me know!

[deleted account]

btw, I did call the pediatrician this morning but they cannot see him until Friday. I can take him to the Urgent Care center up the street, but I would rather see his usual doctor, and I don't think they could really do anything for him there anyway.

He is back asleep right now--very unusual for him, but I guess I need to let him pick out what he wants for breakfast and let him eat it when he wakes up. I don't think he is going to eat anything I pick out for him. Is that right?

[deleted account]

No Amie, that is correct. 3 days, no eating. He did drink a glass of milk and some V8, but no food. I have offered food at every meal, and even snacks, but it had to be what I was making for myself or the potatoes. Last night, hubby made the potatoes into potato cakes, which my son loves, but he still wouldn't eat them, even with ketchup. (also, I have been purposefully making things for myself that I know he likes to eat).



This morning he was sick. He threw up in my bed, and all the way to the bathroom. It was just water, but I'm fairly sure it was the not eating that made him sick. So I feel horrible.



Everyone, even his pediatricians, keep saying "just wait and he will eat" but I really don't think he will, and I don't know what to do aside from letting him eat whatever he wants to all the time. He eats healthily, usually grains for breakfast (dry toast, sometimes cereal with milk), and lots of fruits, and he drinks milk for his dairy intake b/c he won't eat cheese or yogurt. But can he really be okay without veggies or proteins?

He used to LOVE several veggies--including potatoes--but over the past two months or so, he's been limiting what he will eat even more. He no longer likes eggs, sweet or white potatoes, corn, bananas, pears, lima beans, or any bean for that matter, and he used to love all of those things. I just don't get what's going on here.

Amie - posted on 06/09/2010

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3 days? He's eaten nothing in 3 days? Am I understanding this right? Please tell me I'm wrong. =S

[deleted account]

Oh wow! I would just give him what you cook and wait... I think your little guy is very patient and smart. I think you will have to stick to it. He gets what you make for the whole family and that's it. You will have to be more patient and determined than he is. Which by what I've read so far might mean quite a few days.
The journey might (pardon my French here) SUCK but I think that letting this behavior drag on might just makes things worst in the end and not necessarily only only food-wise... These issues can transpire in other areas of life and become a bigger problem. You said it yourself:

"I don't want to back down at this point because it has become a power struggle and he will realize that if he holds out long enough he will eventually not have to eat the veggie, or worse, apply the principle to other situations and get whatever he wants."


Good luck. Keep your head up and push through. Whatever you decide to do, you are doing it for the best and the well-being of your child. Keep that in mind when you think you are about to crack under the "crabby mood" of your hungry son..

Please keep me posted on this. Even if you only need to vent :)

[deleted account]

Hi Mylene, he does help us cook a good bit of the time, he just won't eat the food he cooks--he won't even eat a roasted marshmallow! He loves to cook, he just won't eat foods mixed together, if that makes sense. Like, he likes carrots and peas, but he will not eat them together, it has to be one or the other.

I was the same way as a kid, so I guess that's why I've let him eat what he wants (as long as he gets all 3 food groups) for so long.

We always put a little of what we are eating on his plate, but don't require him to eat it. Thus far, he's never tried any of it. We've only been doing that for about 3 years though. I guess I should have started when he first started solids, but I didn't think of it until he was around 2 yrs old.

So I guess I just need to hang on until he eats what we fix for ourselves? I just don't know how much longer I can take it :P

[deleted account]

I would just serve him what you cook for yourself and your husband. At home, the kids eat whatever I make when I make it. They are free to eat or not. if they don't, they will have to wait until snack time or the next meal. I understand your struggle here and I think it is quickly turning into a power struggle between you and your son.

I am not sure I understand your food group rule completely. However, I think this method is no longer appropriate for your family. I would try involving your son in the cooking. I gave my step-sons a list of recipes we could make. One would choose the meal and help me cook, taste the food and stir the pots. I want the kids to know how to cook for themselves when they are older and I figured it would be the first step. Moreover, I know it is important to you as well that your child has a positive relationship with food. i think cooking and knowing where your mashed potatoes started is a wonderful way to do this.

Even further, you can try to find cooking classes for children and visiting farmer's markets, farms, orchards and the like so that your son knows where his eggs and apples come from.

I really hope this helps you deal with the food situation. maybe also try to explain to your son that when he doesn't eat, he doesn't feel as good and becomes less fun. Explain that you enjoy spending time with him when he is in a great mood and that not eating is not helping him feel happy.

Good luck! Please let me know how it works out!

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