Hello, I’m Jen and I am the mother to a very picky eater!
It has been over four years now of begging, pleading, bargaining and negotiating, not to mention a bit of trickery.
For a long time I let the stress of the extremely limited list of foods my son will willingly eat consume me. I worried every day and searched the internet high and low for recipe ideas in the hopes that I might entice him to eat something other than peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches. More often than not the fruits of my labour have proven unsuccessful.
Sure, I can occasionally get him to eat broccoli but only if it’s dipped in butter chicken sauce. Yes, that is the only way my son will eat broccoli! Otherwise, if it’s green it ain’t happening. Seriously, if he sees one speck of green in his food, be it in the form of a vegetable or herb, he will not touch it. Either that or he’s picking it off his food which makes eating…That. Much. Slower.
Fruits are also tricky. He likes strawberries if they are in yogurt, but not just any yogurt. No, that would be too easy. My son likes the yogurt tubes they give with Happy Meals at McDonald’s. It cannot be any other type of strawberry yogurt, just that one. Luckily we found out that Danone is the brand that makes it and have been able to buy them. Other than that the only other fruit he will eat is bananas, but it has to be with peanut butter.
Let’s talk about peanut butter for a second, shall we. I’m glad my son likes it but unfortunately I cannot send it in his school lunches so that makes coming up with lunch ideas difficult. But that’s not why I brought up my son’s love for peanut butter. This kid loves it so much he eats chicken fingers and fish sticks with it! Yep, you read that right! My son eats chicken and fish with peanut butter.
Over the years I have tried a few little tricks to sneak in veggies and fruits into his diet. Little does my son know that his favourite meatballs are packed full of zucchini, peppers, carrots, onion and garlic. And those chocolate muffins he loves? Well, they’re made with apple sauce, grated zucchini and Greek yogurt.
Owning a food processor has been extremely helpful because it allows me to mix in an assortment of vegetables into the meatballs he likes, as well as meatloaf, casseroles and spaghetti sauce. Of course it has taken some trial and error. I have found that if I use too much green veggies mixed in with meat that it makes it look too green or easier to spot the vegetables in the mixture. So I will resort to carrots and red or yellow peppers a lot, but can still find a way to get in spinach or zucchini. I haven’t been as successful with fruits but I am still trying and always open to suggestions!
I don’t force my son to eat foods he doesn’t like, but I do encourage him to at least try the food before deciding he doesn’t like it. This is a task that doesn’t always come easy. But my goal as a parent is to teach him about healthy eating and eating in moderation. Step by step I am making some progress with him. The list of foods he’ll eat is slowly getting bigger, which gives us reason to celebrate! But then we’ll also have moments – like when my son once told me and my husband “I like (insert name of fruit or vegetable here) at daycare, but not at home” – that make us want to bang out heads against the wall!
So if you are a parent to a picky eater like I am, my advice to you is this – be patient. Trust me, this is advice that I am trying to follow every day and I am still finding that I have to remind myself to be patient with my son when it comes to eating. He is an otherwise happy and healthy boy, so I can say the worrying happens less than it did before. But I will continue to try new ideas in the hopes that one day my son will enjoy trying new foods.