Food Battle

[deleted account] ( 7 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.

I don't want to back down 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!

Edit Delete

PS, we do let him help us cook, but he will not eat foods that are mixed together. We also always put a small portion of what we are eating on his plate, and have been doing so for about 3 yrs, but he has never tried that food. He is 5 yrs old.


View replies by

Jane - posted on 06/11/2010




Additionally, you might want to have him evaluated for a Sensory Processing Disorder, as that can interfere with eating and drinking as well. Sometimes, they even interfere with whether or not a child actually FEELS hunger.

You and your husband are on the right track, but sometimes you have to back off and re-evaluate. I don't imagine your hubby wants much weight lost or sickness over mashed potatoes, either.

Jane - posted on 06/11/2010




Ok. This is a 3 year old. The rules are simple. You try three bites of everything on your plate. There are no seconds until the plate is cleared of firsts. You are not a short-order cook, you are mom. He eats what the family eats, or he doesn't eat. If he doesn't eat, it's back for breakfast. Then back for snack. Then back for lunch. Then back for snack. Eventually, he will get hungry enough to eat it, or at least try the three bites of it. Kids like things that are done by their age (you're three years old, so try three bites. You're three years old, you get three animal cookies, etc)

Bethany - posted on 06/11/2010




oh man, you started it. Just with the whole this then this then this. What is that? That's not balance, that's starting it.

Each meal time is an opportunity to present the kid with healthy options, and they eat what they eat. If you want all the food groups eaten, blend them and use it as a sauce or a bread spread or dip.

We have to trust our kids minds and bodies at some point to lead them to the right choices. It is up to us to only have good options for them when they do.

As I said, you started it, it's up to you to finish it. Chuck the system and just enjoy your food and your company. Well, that's my humble opinion anyway, but we'll see when my little birdy 16 mth old gets to that age. If I obsessed over what she ate, I'd be a mental patient. She's only 17.9 lbs and eats about a table spoon per meal. But that system of yours does sound a little OCD to me.

[deleted account]

Thanks Sara, we have the same rule in addition to our food groups rule, basically, if he doesn't finish a meal, no snack until the next meal (but he rarely snacks anyway). Unfortunately, he usually leaves the veggies for dinner time, skips dinner and loads up on grains and fruit for breakfast the next day. So he's not getting veggies.

He used to be a really great eater--he only ate single foods, but he ate a wide variety of them. But lately, one by one, he is plucking off foods that he used to love and won't eat them anymore. A few months ago he stopped eating most of the fruits he loved, now he's attacking the veggies. Before long, all he will be eating is bread.

[deleted account]

Kelly you have a tough little one! It seems like he would eventually break down and just eat if he's hungry. Our "rule" is you don't have to eat, but you're not getting anything else tonight. Breakfast and lunch are good. Supper is the hard part for us. Sometimes she eats supper and sometimes she doesn't. When she doesn't, she eats a huge breakfast, usually eggs, toast, and fruit. I can usually get her to try anything if it has ketchup on it. But Eliza is I don't have perspective on how to get a 5 year old to eat.

[deleted account]

Thank you for taking the time to respond, Kim, but I do have a question. What do you do if they won't take the required bite? How do you get them to take it?
My son will not ask for more food no matter how little I serve him. He would rather just be hungry at the end of the meal than to take a bite of something he doesn't approve of.

Kim - posted on 06/08/2010




OMG! You make a different dinner for him. Why are you making this so hard on yourselves?

Serve every food group at every meal. The group he doesn't have for breakfast becomes the snack food. Do the same at lunch.

Dinner is what you make for the family. The entire family. I cook for a family of five. I know my youngest doesn't like her food mixed. So on her plate I put the spaghetti beside the sauce. She still has to take one bit of everything AND I have to SEE her take the bite. Those are the only the two rules.

Serve them what you want them to eat. The things they like, serve a little less, they will ask for more. More happens when they have tried everything on their plate. You could require 3 bites of veggies or whatever, but don't make this a battle field. Dinner time should be a time to talk about the day or thoughts or troubles, not fighting about food.

I have 3 kids, the only veggie my son won't eat is asparagus. He even likes squashes and prefers sweet potatoes! My oldest will eat everything, however it comes. There has never been a 10 year old boy as excited as mine to try new foods. I can only say that is because he has been exposed to many tastes. And we don't have food fights.

When my youngest says "I don't like it" I just say, "I know, but it's the rules" and she takes the one bite required.

Kids should be eating what you are from the time they start on 2nd stage foods. Steamed veggies, rice or potatoes, and a meat. Sauces can be added at the table, and spices can be left off one portion of the meat. If your food isn't appropriate for them, maybe it really isn't the best choice for you either.

Good luck and talk with your husband about making the dinner table a conversation time and serve your son what you are eating, no fights, just 'the rules'. It is crucial you are able to talk at the table especially when they are teens. If it is a stressful time, you will miss out on knowing what is going on with your son. The habit of talking about everything carries over to when they have real difficulties as teenagers and actually share them with their parents. But you have to start the communication now.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms