How do I get my step sons to eat healthy meals when their mother lets them choose and won't make them eat anything they 'don't like''?

Amy - posted on 11/13/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




Hi All,
I'm a step mum of 3 wonderful boys, 10,7,5. My husband and I have 50/50 custody with his ex wife.
We are both getting frustrated with the fact that they won't eat vegetables or anything that is 'outside the box' . We have been trying for so long to get the kids to eat different fruit and veggies, and are getting frustrated because all we are hearing is 'i hate that' or 'im not eating that' because they are allowed to be fussy at their mothers house.
She hates cooking, and i love it. I try to come up with new recipes for the kids to try for both dinner and school lunches, but i feel like i'm talking to a brick wall because it's always the same answer from the kids, even when i know they haven't tried it because i've talked to their mum.
She is a very fussy and visual eater and won't make the kids eat anything that she doesn't like, which makes it hard for us as we love veggies and trying new foods. We have spoken to her about it and our frustration at how much food gets wasted. She doesn't seem to care because its not her food or money. (she is very money orientated).
We have the 'eat what is there or go to bed' rule in our house, and we make sure the kids eat something at least before they go to bed, but i don't know what to do.
I'm sick of missing out on veggies or having to make 2 dinners each fortnight. My brain is overloaded with exhaustion of ideas to try.
Has anyone else had the same issues? Please help me!


Jenn - posted on 11/14/2011




I wouldn't make a big deal about it, kids aren't going to starve themselves. And although it seems as though they are living off of junk, their diets tend to balance out pretty well when you look at it over the course of a week or two instead of day to day. I would just make one meal for the family and if they are hungry they will eat if not then fine. When kids are hungry they will eat. They are just being difficult because they know they can get away with it with their mom so they are testing you to see if it will work for you too. Make one meal, no exceptions. Maybe try to get them involved with the food prep and choosing the meals, shopping etc. Kids are more likely to eat if they feel like they have been a part of the process. Also, try giving them a choice between two or three healthy dinners and let them decide which one they would like then prepare that meal, that way you still win with the healthy meal but they feel as though they still got a choice in the matter. Bottom line: Do not be a short-order cook. Parents often make mealtimes much worse then they have to be. When i was a kid my mom made one meal, if i didn't eat it then i didn't eat, and had to go hungry until my bedtime snack. And not once did I come close to starvation.

Jodi - posted on 11/14/2011




10, 7 and 5. Old enough to make some toast or a sandwich themselves if they refuse to eat what you offer. I wouldn't make 2 dinners. No way.

Kelina - posted on 11/13/2011




I agree stop making two dinners. At my dads he made three vegetables and we had to eat two and were not allowed to leave the table until they were gone. Believe me it made for some long nights when he made spinach, turnip and squash lol. Send healthy lunches with them to school, only offer them fruits and veggies as snacks after school, and offer them healthy dinner and healthy breakfast. The healthy breakfast is important because that's one area where many moms(including me, I love sugary cereal) will slip in which case the boys will eat 3 bowls of cereal in the morning and nothing else the entire time they are there. Another thing you can try is the book deceptively delicious. It tells how to incorporate vegetables into everyday foods like mac and cheese that the kids will actually eat and it's healthy for them. It involves a lot of purees and it's awesome!

Lacye - posted on 11/13/2011




Stop making 2 dinners. That is telling them that it is ok not to eat the veggies. Tell them that they have to wait until you and hubby get done with supper before they can get up from the table and they have to eat at least 2 or 3 bites of food before they can get up. Be firm about it. Have your husband be firm about it as well. They will eventually come around.


View replies by

Stifler's - posted on 11/15/2011




Just make what you normally eat and offer it and if they don't eat it too bad they get nothing else.

Tracy - posted on 11/15/2011




I have 4 girls, and at one time all I could get my 1 daughter to eat was bread, grapes and yougurt( she wasnt quite 2) I could offer her a bazillion things and she wouldnt touch it! My kids can be picky eaters at times, but now that they are older they like more veggies. At our dinner table as well with the picky eater, she didnt eat much meat till she was almost 5. She would eat chicken nuggets at McDonalds, yah. so i would make her have 2-3 small bites of meat with her meal. Variety eventually came for her, she still doesnt like ground beef or hotdogs though, she is now 13. She eats salad often with her favortie dressing, will eat a whole cucumber, bags of snap peas, raw carrots. My 7 year old the youngest isjust coming around to eating more veggies now too.
I think my biggest tip would be, let them try the veggies raw, they do taste different, and although dip isnt always a choice a parent wants to give, let them try different dips. There is also a cook book out there called Delisously all has recipies where you add steamed smashed veggies. Like cauliflower, mashed into potatoes...and I make those, kids dont know at all, especially if they can add favorite toppings like bacon bits, butter and cheese. The only one in the book that wasnt so good, was the ravioloi...couldnt pass it off as normal pasta,lol. Also meatloaf is a great place to hide mashed steamed carrots. There is cupcake recipies that have zuchini in them as well.
stay consistant,offer something you know they will like and make it optional that they can pick from 2 veggies served that night. So it leaves the kids to still decide on 1 veggie of their choice, and you will also feel better that you know they are getting a veggie into them!
as for the split raising, kids will know what flies at each house, they will always push buttons to see what works!
good luck!!

Amy - posted on 11/14/2011




I try and get as many veggies into their dinner as possible.
I don't end up making 2 dinners usually, but my hubby and i get sick of them not eating it - we do it heated for breakfast or lunch etc, have tried every line (and followed through) that we know of, but we are massive veggie lovers so i will cook something with the main ingredient we all eat, and then we will eat different veggies eg brussel sprouts.
Our youngest is soy and lactose intolerant, however we do have cheese he can eat.
Hubby is very firm and is totally behind making them eat it. It's frustrating due to his work hours, quite often his work hours means he is home when it's time for the kids to go to bed, but he always makes sure to check they have eaten them.
I will definately check out the recipe book as i'm always keen on new ideas. Thanks for the help ladies, i will let you know how it goes!

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