Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Swimming in Circles

by Amy Platon

Why is it that when I cook for my kids, I see beautiful perfectly diced food with a spotless presentation on monkey plates with matching sippy cups, while they see this?

As if I would feed them something that I myself don’t love. Come on, I’m totally on their side. I remember having to eat pea soup as a kid. In fact, when my mom had heard enough of our complaining she actually let us bury it in the backyard!

Not only do I lay off the seasoning when I’m making a meal for my children, but I also delete some ingredients. The ones I know turns them off. Basically I am swimming in circles trying to make their food, not just yummy, but as close to what they are willing to eat as possible. My boy, great eater. My girl, if it ain’t pancakes or chicken nuggets then mommy’s out of luck. Mommy’s out of luck? Yes, because I usually end up making her something else. Alright, I’ll say it! I cave. Wouldn't you?

Then I remembered what my vet once told me about our dog not eating. She said, “Just leave it there for ten minutes or so, and if he doesn’t eat, pull it up. Don’t feed him again until the next mealtime. When he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat.”

Brilliant! That’s it! If she doesn’t eat dinner, then no food till morning - that’s the plan.

So, out comes the grilled chicken and veggies. No funky seasoning. No weird ingredients. Just chicken and veggies steamed in butter. Yummy right? Nope.

“I don’t want this!” She says.

"Well princess, you will eat this, 'cause Mommy’s not going to fix you anything else. If you don’t eat, then no dessert and you won't eat again ‘till breakfast."

She shrinks into the worst posture ever and eats a mere two bites of chicken. “I’m done.”

“Very well.” I say. “Go get into bath.”

Later on that night as I’m laying with her in bed telling her, her bones. She turns to me, “Mommy?”


“I’m ready for breakfast now.”

Related Articles:
Tales from the Sidelines
Confessions of a Housewife


  1. In my experience, pickiness is a learned habit, reinforced by my exasperation and giving in. So I have learned to ignore the pickiness. Both of these methods work well for me:

    1. I serve whatever I'm cooking for dinner, minus the heavy spice, bitter flavors, or difficult textures such as lettuce, where possible. It goes on a plate, my kids say "Yuk, I don't like this", and I tell them they have to try one bite before they decide whether they like it or not. After the one bite, they can say they don't like it and leave the rest if they want to, BUT they don't get anything else for dinner, including milk, juice, or desserts. There is no food battle, because I'm not battling. They can choose to eat it or not. Half the time, after "Yuk", I hear, "Mommy, I like this" and I turn around and it's gone, or they will come back later on and eat (I leave dinner plates out until bedtime in case they decide they want a "snack"). Or if they don't finish, I will save it for lunch the next day.

    2. I also sometimes use a "linear approach". This works best when they are hungry before dinner is ready. Instead of making them wait until dinner is ready and serving things all together, I have them sit at the table and I serve up one food at a time, starting with the least popular item. I don't offer a drink with this first dish. They may say "Yuk, I don't like this" but same rule: they have to try one bite to decide whether they like something, even if they have had it before. Then they are sitting hungry in front of a dish of food and looking at it while waiting for the next item, which is coming but I don't rush it. Even if they leave the first item, they will eat the next one and then be looking at the first one again while waiting for the third.

    Most often, they will eat every bite of what is served in this way, and then I can feel good about giving them a dessert.

  2. Ha....every mom goes through this. Brooke went through a mac-n-cheese period for about 6 months. We use the 'try one bite' rule for new things and it works maybe 25% of the time. She's not into veggies but absolutely loves salad...well, I should say lettuce with certain dressings on it. I sneak in teeney-tiny cut up veggies and she thinks it's in the dressing. I still put a little of everything on her plate, even though I know she won't eat it. She's turned into a pretty good eater. Pancakes for dinner sounds good though!