Making Peace with My Picky Eater

November 12th, 2013 by Dionna | 9 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Feed with Love and Respect, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Making Peace with My Picky Eater

Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3.

After that, meal times were a little more trying for me. Foods that had once been hits were suddenly meltdown-inducing. Even from one night to the next – a dinner that on night 1 was “the best meal EVER!” became “disgusting! I’m not eating THAT!” on night 2.

I bribed. I threatened. I begged. I guilted. I did. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

I was tired of making meals that I thought would be accepted, but were snubbed.

Logically, I know that a child’s palate is not a reflection of my ability as a cook. Emotionally, it sucks to make two meals.

And so after a couple of years of trying different things, I’ve come upon a plan that we can both live with.

If my picky eater does not like the meal, and assuming he tries at least a bite (and preferably two), I will make him something else.

The something else is of a very limited selection. Most often, it’s tuna salad and a veggie. There’s protein, a vegetable, and it’s quick and easy to fix. If we have the supplies on hand, I’m also happy to fix a bean, spinach and (Daiya) cheese burrito. Again – protein and veggie – it’s a compromise I can live with.

Coming from a family where we were normally expected to eat what was prepared, this compromise initially made my inner child cringe. But I’ve accepted it because I am at peace with giving my child a little bit of autonomy. I fix the meals, he doesn’t always get a say, so he can have some small say in what he does end up eating.

And for the record, we’ve tried several times letting him pick the menu. Even when he does that, he’s apt to hate the food. Now that is annoying.

I have found, too, that me relenting on some nights means that on other nights, after some initial resistance, he’s more likely to give something a few more bites and will end up eating it. Slowly but surely, he’s overcoming his pickiness.

Have you had a picky eater? How did you respond?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon November 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Nut Free Desserts for the Holidays — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama will be talking about navigating the holidays with peanut allergies in the family.
  • Making Peace with My Picky Eater — Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3. Thus began the dinner chronicles at Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s house.
  • Foodie Morphed by Motherhood — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis reflects on the changes of her family’s food culture since becoming a mother, and shares a snapshot of their current food rhythm.
  • Introducing First Foods — Wondering what your little one should take a bite of first? That Mama Gretchen explains baby-led weaning/baby self-feeding and answers a number of questions that may come to mind!
  • Feeding Your Family — Coconut Oil!!! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a coconut oil devotee. In this post, she shares her favorite ways to include coconut oil in her family’s diet as well as why she feels it is important to do so.
  • We Thank the Earth for its Food! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle spends hours in the kitchen each day trying to make medicine in the form of food.
  • Focusing on Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what her family is doing to eat healthily along with her recipe for gluten-free peanut butter oat bran muffins.
  • Intolerancesustainablemum laments the misunderstanding surrounding food intolerances.
  • Don’t Let Food Sensitivities Ruin Your Holidays! — Rachel, the Titus 2 Homemaker, talks about ways to enjoy the holidays even if you wrestle with food sensitivities.
  • Losing grains, keeping empathy: Paleo and fat acceptance — Lauren at Hobo Mama vlogs about her family’s decision to cut grains to improve health — and hopes she can retain her position as a proponent of size acceptance even as she loses weight.
  • Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness.
  • Extended Family Dinners — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about sharing family dinners with housemates and why it works for her.
  • Five Suggestions for Eating Healthy During the Holidays — No need to feel powerless when it comes to our highly sugared/processed food culture during the holidays &emdash; Andrea at It Takes Time offers tips to stay on track.
  • How to feed your family — no food required! — Jessica at is kind of obsessed with food. But, lately she’s realized there’s more to nourishment than what she cooks up in the kitchen.
  • Food as family medicine: living gluten-free and beyond — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama sticks to her gluten-free guns but sees room for improvement in her pursuit of a real-food family table.
  • Feeding My Family — Challenges and Growth — Susan at Together Walking shares what has been most challenging about feeding her two kids and how she has grown in the kitchen since becoming a mother.
  • How I Lost 75 Lbs — What I Eat & My Top 5 Tips — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how she and her family became healthy, happy and active.
  • The Weight of Motherhood — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution rethinks her relationship with food after struggling with post-pregnancy weight gain.
  • Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties — While Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and family might have food sensitivities, their geekery knows no limits. So, when faced with a desire to recreate Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, they do not shy away!
  • Pumpkin Harvest Muffins — This summer Mama is Inspired and family grew pumpkins, and this autumn they are baking scrumptious, healthy muffins out of those pumpkins.
  • Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares some of the considerations she explored before transitioning from a vegetarian diet to reintroducing meat as a protein source and a few tips on making it an easy one.
  • Thanksgiving Meal, Thankful? — Jorje of Momma Jorje has never felt terribly thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Perhaps that could change if she’s a little more invested?
  • 5 Ways to Use Healing Bone Broth — It’s that time of year again, when unpleasant little bugs make their way into our homes. For Megan of The Boho Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, homemade stock or bone broth is a natural remedy.

9 Responses to:
"Making Peace with My Picky Eater"

  1. Rosemary   rosemarymjones

    Oy. Yes, this. Our girl seems to go through phases of adventurous eater and then “I will survive on fruit, carbs, and air only” and anything else is arsenic. We also have the one-bite rule (both Green Eggs and Ham and Daniel Tiger have been helpful in implementing this!), but your kiddo’s alternative meals are great! I struggle to get protein and veggies in her.

  2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Glad I don’t have a picky eater! That must be so, so, so, so, so frustrating. Heh heh. Ok, just joking.

    I’ve noticed things getting slightly but consistently better with age and patience as well. I also swore I’d never be one of those moms who “tolerated” a picky child. Um…yeah. Sometimes you have to get over your own hangups and just feed your kid, you know? Why make meals a battlefield? Or that’s what I tell myself!

    I’ve also been reassured through reading about traditional diets that there are some thriving people groups who eat very, very few vegetables. So I just imagine my son is a descendant of one of those and leave it be. ;)

  3. Becky   craftygrdenmama

    It’s good to hear that he is trying bites. Our little one is not picky, but has food allergies, so we have another path to navigate.

  4. Jessica @ Crunchy-Chewy Mama   crunchychewy

    Thanks for sharing honestly! I’m so glad to hear it! My two kids are so different. The first ate most anything and still does at 7.5. The second (3) is picky but in a ridiculously inconsistent way. One day she’ll have nothing to do with peas in broth and the other she’ll ask for more and want me to make more when she finished even the extras I set aside just in case. I think she just really wants control. Temperament, birth order, who knows? Let’s assume that as long as we eat well, eventually they will too!

  5. Deb @ Living Montessori Now   DebChitwood

    My son was never a picky eater, but my daughter was. I was a picky eater as a child, so I didn’t really worry about my daughter’s picky eating. As adults, both my kids and I are willing to try new things and focus on eating healthily. Actually, my daughter and I are probably more willing to try new foods than my son is. ;)

  6. I have no experience of this at all except for a few months in this last year when my youngest went off a few things she had previously eaten. She now eats anything and everything thankfully! I am always intrigued as to why this happens. I have a copy of My Child Won’t Eat by Carlos Gonzalez to read at some point.

  7. Susan   susanmay15

    I also find it interesting when children who previously would “eat anything” suddenly won’t. My son’s diet is limited (I resist calling him picky ;-) He also still breastfeeds at 4 years old. I’m grateful that he does. I know some people like to say “wean so they’ll eat more!” and that never made sense to me. I mean what if he doesn’t?? (and I believe there is a good chance he won’t!)

    I think our kids are great at forcing us to grow. Before we were parents we all had our “ideas” about what being a parent means and what our children would be like… it’s like they are here to prove that they are really their own people.

    It sounds like you have awesome, nutritious alternatives for him! Right now we feed our son fish sticks (from a box) almost every night… and I’m actually quite happy that he’s eating those!

  8. Appreciate your honesty as usual and love hearing the solution that you came up with. We do something similar, now that my then more choosy kid is old enough, I tell him the menu in advance, if he doesn’t like it, he knows to meet me in the kitchen and prep something for himself :)

  9. John Barban   quickscream

    Oy. Yes, this. Our girl seems to go through phases of adventurous eater and then “I will survive on fruit, carbs, and air only” and anything else is arsenic. We also have the one-bite rule (both Green Eggs and Ham and Daniel Tiger have been helpful in implementing this!), but your kiddo’s alternative meals are great! I struggle to get protein and veggies in her.

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