How do you get a child to eat real food not just junk food? My 3yr old will eat and eat junk food but will hardly eat real food. She will ball her eyes out so bad that when she crys she can' catch her breath. i have tried everything, any suggestions?

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Marianne - posted on 11/13/2008

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Everyone has such great advice - I agree with most postings. My dad is a dentist, and we grew up with no pop in the house. Ice cream was about it for treats and it was "go brush your teeth" after that. I know it's hard to let your child go to bed hungry, it means she may get up in the middle of the night because she hungry, but it is worth it. But you will win in the end, stay consistent! You're establishing the foundations for good food choices she will need to make for the rest of her life. I tell my kiddos "eat/fill up on the good food first" and let them have ice cream/smoothie if they have room. That's available 2 to 3 times a week. I also tell them if they have complaints about what's for dinner, they will need to make their own dinner - healthy, not snacks. I've sent my son to time-out (when younger) and he's gone to bed hungry. But it's been years since any issues, and I think that's because he knows my rules don't bend. Believe me, he's ADHD, very head-strong and I've had to become proactive about more than just food. You might find that this kind of approach has a positive effect on more than just food :) I wish you luck! Let us know how it goes -

Amanda - posted on 11/13/2008

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At the risk of sounding blunt, I have got to say that you just don't buy those things. She is three so it is you that has to change and then she will. My kids eat fruit like it is candy. Maybe start by providing many fruit options so her sweet tooth is satisfied and then move on to other things, but she wont eat junk food if you don't buy it. Of course she will cry and be mad at first, but you are her mother and not her friend so let her be mad and she will eventually get over it.

Jana - posted on 11/13/2008

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My daughter is old enough but my sister in law did this with her 4 kids. She told them that they could only have 5 things they didn't like to eat (of course the list was made before meals) then if they said "I don't like that" she said that they needed to eat it, or they could change something on their list, but made them eat the food they took off of the list. Their list was always changing but they were also eating something they previously didn't like.

LESLIE - posted on 11/13/2008

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another cool thing to do is to allow her to help make the meals with you and to make meal time and snack time fun and appealing to her....try not to make it a battle. if she fusses excuse her from the table and she will come around...kids won't go so far as to starve themselves...hang in there i went thru the same thing with my oldest...

Jessica - posted on 11/13/2008

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They will eat when hungry. We have the catching breath deal and after a few times with no positive or negative response from us it has stopped. We do the same where there is little junk food around so it is not an issue. I also started right away we all eat the same thing. If you do not eat and are hungry later you have this for a snack later- no special snack or meals. This is SO hard at first but it did not take long for it to set in. We also went to the library and got a kids cookbook and had our son help plan meals this helped him pick what he also wanted to eat. Good luck we have all been there!

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Bushra - posted on 02/24/2013

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my 7 yearlod son is very picky when it comes to food.I tried leaving him hungry for long & when he did feel he insisted on having chocolates than the cooked food,he was so adament that i had to surrender to his needs,after having a large bite or 2 of chocolate only he agred to have the food.His motor skills are poor and that keeps me worried all the time.Can some help out of it?

[deleted account]

I agree with those who say try not to have the junk food in the house. I have read that it is almost impossible for a child to not beg for a food they like if they can see it or know it's there. The are simply not capable of mastering their desires at that age. I ended up either getting rid of or hiding foods I don't want my 3 yo eating, and had to show him we didn't have them, but eventually he stopped asking. Also, I love using the veggie puree method. We make a whole bunch of purees at once and then freeze most of them. I keep one of each kind in the fridge and can easily just dump some into whatever I'm making. I have read both the Jessica Seinfeld and Missy Chase Lapine versions of the cookbooks, and Lapine's are much better. Lapine also makes one with more grown-up foods. I highly recommend them. Because of her my children eat roasted chickpeas and think it's a treat!

Valerie - posted on 11/13/2008

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I did forget one thing our doctor told us when my kids were little and meal time was a battle..Put a small scoop of icecream on their plate with their meal..I know it seems weird but they get a little they know they need to eat the rest of their plate to get more(remember portion size they don't eat like us I sometime used to forget) It seemed to work and meal times were nice!

Valerie - posted on 11/13/2008

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There is a book called the sneaky cook try it! You can make chocolate chip cookies with so much nutrients it doesn't matter that she eats it for breakfast luch and dinner!!lol They good news is my children although it took a while are now eating very good food. I think because they get familiar with the taste in small amounts by sneaking it in other foods

[deleted account]

You could also try dips or cheese. My 3 yo is very picky but will eat things if I put cheese on them or give hime ranch or ketchup to dip.

Just a thought. Good luck :)

Christa - posted on 11/13/2008

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Emily, have you tried playing the blind fold game? Sometimes if you can't see it you will try it. Set some food aside and have her sit at the table tell her that you are going to play a game. put the blind fold on and have her sample some veggies, friut and meat. It took a couple minutes but my 2 kids finally palyed and now that's all they want is the veggies and fruit. Worth a try any way. Good luck!!!

Debbie - posted on 11/13/2008

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I have to agree with all that have posted a comment so far - don't have it in the house. Use puree's to 'sneak' it in. Also, try a variety of things - I have come to find out one of my sons hates salad, but loves cabbage, asparagus and broccoli!! Remember they go through stages also of what they like and don't like. We have four kids (15,13,9,5) and have been through it all with different appetites, likes, dislikes, etc. We have the same rule as someone mentioned - what's for dinner is what's for dinner - don't like it? Then breakfast will taste even better tomorrow. We started this from the time they were eating table food. They just know that is how it is and they either eat it or go hungry until breakfast (or next meal). There are also certain rules around the table - one is the crying. They are aloud to cry and complain about their food - in their rooms, not at the table. They can either choose to go by themselves or have me or dad take them to their rooms and they can decide when they come out by their attitude. You'd be amazed at how young they pick up on that. Good luck.

Sherry - posted on 11/13/2008

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Out of site out of mind. Stick to it and they will give in...It's a long haul! Kids can be very headstrong.
Don't worry about your child not being able to catch her breath...she will! It is common for a child to hold their breath while in a crying fit. I was worried about my son when he used to hold his breath til his face would turn blue, then a doctor told me to just leave him cry. I tried it. As hard as it was to watch him, in no time he got past that stage.

Dominique - posted on 11/13/2008

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My child also went through fases where she'd refuse to eat certain foods. Just keep at it. The other thing was that she was so full from everthing she had at school that she would not be hungry at night. Just keep on introducing healthy foods. I agree that eventually they'll eat if there is nothing else. Mealtimes are not suppose to become a battle ground. So just keep with your stand point and don't give in. I find that the more you try and force them, the less they'll be inclined to give in. Just take the junk food element out of the house! Good luck.

Melissa - posted on 11/13/2008

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We have the "mommy isn't a short order cook" rule. Everyone gets the same thing, no exceptions. If our 4 year old won't try it, she doesn't eat. And she doesn't get anything to replace it. Snack wise or anything. It was a struggle at first with some things. But she's gotten a lot better.



We also have the "you have to try something atleast once before you say you don't like it" rule. It usually ends up being more than once though. Because she doesn't always remember she has had it or remember the taste.



I Personally dislike Jessica Seinfeld's book. I had a really good look through it before deciding not to buy it. If you're a mom who's always on the go, its a lot of work trying to puree everything and hide it. Atleast that's what it was for me.

[deleted account]

My son quite often goes to bed with very little lunch and no supper! He will look at his plate and start screaming. This gets very frustrating because in the evenings 6-8 he will get very cranky and it can really wear on us. We have even stopped giving him snacks so that come meal time he will be hungry and I refuse to make seperate meals for everyone. So I'll be very interested to hear what others have to say about our problems.

Heather - posted on 11/12/2008

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You just tell her that this is what's to eat and if she decides to fuss then tell her it's this or nothing and then 'ignore her' until she realizes mom means what she says.

Heather - posted on 11/12/2008

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Get the "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook. And sneak those veggies in where you can. Make it into a game for her.

User - posted on 11/12/2008

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Hello power struggle! I do not envy you at all. The pediatrician adive below is right--she will eat eventually and they also say you have to put food in front of a child 15 times before they will like it. If the junk food isn't around, then she can't eat it and you definitely don't want to start making her something different than the family eats. That started to happen when my (now 10) daughter was young and we were advised to nip in the bud, which was great. Be sure to offer her two or three choices so she isn't fighting to have her own way. Good eats!

Emily - posted on 11/12/2008

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My dad is a pediatrician, and his standard line is, "Kids will eat anything if they're hungry enough." We went through this with our eldest, and got to the point we just wouldn't keep junk food in the house. It was better for us and better for him. And it's easy to say no when you can add, "We don't have any of that." A cookbook I've loved for sneaking in good things is Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious". It's all about hiding vegetable purees in recipes - my kids loved the chicken nuggets and had no idea they were breaded with sweet potatoes!

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