Monday, July 16, 2012

Who Picked This Pickiness?

One of my first posts when I started this blog a year ago was about my frustration at having the pickiest eating toddler in the history of civilization.  Just like they do on TV about old shows no one has thought about in decades, I thought I’d do a “Where Are They Now?” look at, well, where we are now in regard to the diversity of the Little Dude’s palate.

Spoiler Alert: It still sucks.

I expected his picky eating to be a phase that he’d grow out of, as countless people assured me it would. I suppose there is still time for that to occur, since he’s only 2 ½ years old, but it seems like it never will. Especially when we are at kids’ birthday parties and the inevitable cheese pizza is served. Mine is the only kid who would rather eat a bag of Baked Snap Pea Crisps than that mozzarella-covered cardboard they often try to pass off as pizza.
Mandatory Kids' Birthday Party Meal
You might be thinking that it’s much better for him to eat baked vegetable snacks than greasy pizza, which is probably true health-wise. I often wonder about the social component of his pickiness. People have suggested that he’ll evolve when he is around other kids. Um, he’s sitting next to 20 other kids who are all eating pizza and he’s not. Must he go to Burning Man for a bigger crowd?

We are very lucky to have a happy, healthy boy who is consistently near the top of the growth chart, so I shouldn’t be complaining. But the frustration caused by his unwillingness to even taste certain foods is compounded by the fact that he frequently talks about them. Yes, my son is an E.T., an Eating Tease.  

Sometimes Mrs. Dude or I will ask what he wants to eat, though we know it’s really a rhetorical question since he eats the same 5 things every day. Occasionally he’ll surprise us and say he wants pizza, for example, and immediately qualifies his request with “for real!” to add validity.  So we make the pizza, put it in on his plate, and watch as once again he’d rather skip dinner than suffer through the horror of cheese baked on top of tomato sauce and dough.  And every time this happens I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football. Good grief. 

The Little Dude’s eating repertoire has been virtually the same for the last year and a half. He does have an affinity for breakfast food, but beyond that I’m running out of ideas.  This is the same kid who ate Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for dinner EVERY NIGHT for more than a year, and that only ended because we stopped giving it to him every night. Now the great majority of his evening meals are anchored by (Nitrate-Free) Turkey Dogs, aka the only type of “meat” that he’ll consider eating.

There is one exception to his edict of not trying new foods, and that is if he determines that an item is a cookie, cake, candy or other type of sweet. He can hone in on a dry-looking Do-Si-Do from 20 yards away even though he’s never seen one before but the thought of a dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget is torturous. How he developed that sixth sense, I’ll never understand.  
Double-fisting vanilla cones
People who know me well have suggested that this is my payback for behavior from 25-30 years ago. You see, I was a picky eater once, too. In fact, I ate the same lunch virtually every day from kindergarten through 6th grade: peanut butter & jelly. I’ve broadened my horizon since then, but even at my pickiest stage I ate at least a few other items. I think I can count every item the Little Dude eats on my fingers and toes. And that’s including both Original and Honey Nut Cheerios.

So what should we do? As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating on so many levels.  We can’t go to a restaurant without packing a full meal, because the likelihood of him eating something from the menu is almost nil. Unless they serve hotdogs.  And even then, he won’t eat the French fries or carrots served with it.  He’d much rather eat a half-dozen Trader Joes rice cakes.  Maybe he has the right idea after all.

 How have you dealt with a picky eater?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

14 comments:

  1. I feel your pain. My three year old eats a handful of things, most of them must be saturated in BBQ sauce. If she gets chicken nuggets, I must first peel the breading off. No "crust" for my little one, which btw is not limited to bread. Pancake a little well done? No good- it's got crust on it. Sausage patty cooked? No can do, the seared part is rocks and must be cut off. It's maddening really.

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    1. I know a lot of kids don't like crust, but that's an interesting take on it. I know how maddening can be. Just keep trying...

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  2. :) just last night for dinner my 2.5 year went for the bowl of VEGGIES and bypassed the hotdog and cheetos (please don't comment on what i'm feeding her; it's too hot to cook). she's crazy about her veggies, it's SO bizarre to me- much like her love of the horrid color of pink! ;D

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    1. My kid eats more hotdogs than the Oscar Mayer taste testers. No judgement. Gotta do what you gotta do.

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  3. Hey Dude, this is the story of my life! I have a 15 yo who is a carb boy (pasta, pizza, meat only as ground beef and turkey sandwiches) and an 8yo meat boy who doesn't even eat pizza (I know!!!). It's impossible to make one thing that everyone eats. But I just make 2-3 different meals and wash it down with wine ;)

    Oh and Dude, if you could enable Name/url commenting (it's under setting let all comment), that would be awesome for us self-hosted wordpress users.

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    1. I've heard about scenarios like that. Hoping that doesn't happen here. I can't understand why anyone doesn't like pizza. Especially my kid.

      Changed that setting. Hope it works better for you.

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  4. Only my wife – she won't eat any fruit except for watermelon, and she puts ketchup on everything else.

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    1. Watermelon is my least favorite fruit. It's waaaaay too much work to eat it.

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  5. Wow! The part that got me is that he teases you. Loved the Charlie Brown analogy.

    Have you thought about visiting a nutritionist? Aren't you in California for goodness sake? They have to have some kind of groovy pediatric picky-eating specialist out there. But all kidding aside, I would really explore that option. Ellen

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    1. Thanks, Ellen. Yeah, we've considered it. Talked to a few friends who are nutritionists. Nothing interesting came out of it. Maybe I'll try again...

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  6. I've worked in the Early Childhood Field my entire career. I've been a Director for a Private Preschool and I am a mother of a reformed picky eater. My best advice: stop worrying so much. He can totally sense your stress over the situation (in most cases). What helped with my daughter is we made a Menu together. Yes, she ate about the same variety of foods your son probably eats..but I would make a list of 5 yummy, fairly nutritional foods, and she would pick 2 to try a month. Only 2. I'd only have her try a bite or two, and if she didn't like it she could spit it out. Getting her to agree to try things was a freakin win!!! Let him pick the two items. Let him help you prepare them. If you try to involve him as much as possible, that might help, it might not. Kids usually have a veryyyy rational reason for doing irrational things...have you asked him? I'm not trying to sound like a B at all...but my daughter's huge thing was texture..but SHE didn't know that the texture bothered her. She just knew she wasn't eating it. Does that make sense?? I have a page on facebook, I'm A.D.D. Music Mamma. Feel free to message me if ya wanna talk/vent more!! I don't wanna go on and on and sound like I know what I am talking about...I know what worked for me. Parenting is a TON of trial and error. You just have to find what works for you and stick with it. Like you said, he's healthy. That's the main thing!!! :) Embrace his individuality!! Best of luck & many hugs!!

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    1. Very interesting advice. There's a good chance I'll email you for more insight. Thanks for sharing, Cyn.

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  7. Cut out all sweets. I feel strongly that it spoils the pallet. Then slowly and consistently introduce new foods. I make mine try something cooked at least 3 different ways before gheyvcan decide they don't like it. Its a little tough love....but mine will eat anything and love the sweets when they do get them....rarely.

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    1. There's definitely something to that. Might be worth a shot. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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