Why I Serve My Kid Food I Know He Won't Eat

kid crown asparagusThere have been many times when a single piece of broccoli sat untouched on my son's plate next to three nibbled pieces of chicken. "I'm full," he'll say. He's not really full because in about 10 minutes after I clean up, he'll ask for a snack. I stopped trying to reason with him. He's 5. I stopped getting upset about it. He's healthy. But I won't stop putting pieces of what he deems to be undesirable foods on his plate. I believe one of these days he will try it ... and like it.

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My son, on the verge of 6, has been a picky eater since we made the transition from smashed and pureed foods. He's at the bottom of those weight charts some of us stress over -- I used to be one of those stressed parents, too. But after a great conversation with a doctor who had four grown and healthy (in body and mind) children who all thrived at the bottom of those weight charts, I realized that it didn't matter. My son was active and happy ... unless you put a plate of sweet potatoes in front of him.

More from CafeMom: 10 Tips to Ensure Picky Eaters Get the Nutrition They Need

At first I let him avoid things he no longer liked. Anything that wasn't pizza, chicken, yellow rice, french fries, or mac and cheese needed to stay far away from him at the dinner table. I just wanted him to eat and focus on the things he liked. I wanted to see an empty plate; I wanted to feel like my kid was actually eating and getting nutrition. I will also admit that there were times I gave him foods that weren't the best for him just to get him to eat ... something. My little guy has quite the sweet tooth, and loves sugar and chocolate -- just like his mama.

Then his twin sister (who is much more adventurous when it comes to eating) starting talking about trying new foods. "Try it and you might like it," she said. And so I realized I had to at least get my son to try new foods -- or at least not freak out if something green was on his plate.

When I told our pediatrician, who is also a nutritionist, about my plan to get rid of the "junk" and work on the healthy stuff, he loved the idea. He felt it was important to always present the food you are serving to the whole family. And ask the kids to try it. He likened it to coffee. I'm a coffee lover, so this really struck a chord with me. When most people are younger and first trying coffee, they don't like it at all. I remember thinking it smelled awful and tasted worse. It was bitter and like dirt. As my need for coffee increased in college (adding tons of sugar and milk), I began to like the taste more and more, eventually appreciating the taste of coffee without so many sweeteners. The doc said that it's the same thing with foods with kids. Eventually, most kids will end up liking the thing they don't like. But the key is to keep presenting it so they try it.

More from CafeMom: 5 Mom Hacks for Getting Picky Eaters to Try Healthy Foods

When my son first tried broccoli, he licked it. I considered this "try" to be a small victory. I didn't push it for fear of creating a negative association with broccoli. No one wants bad dreams about broccoli, not even me. Instead, I'll have sweet dreams about my kid eating a plate of scrambled eggs. I'm aiming high! So the next time I made broccoli with a meal, I gave him a piece, too. This time he was okay with "trying a piece of the hair" which was one tiny bit of leafy. He said, "Mmm good -- I like it, Mom!" and I thought he would eat more. But when asked, he said, "No, that was enough." We haven't gotten much further than a few pieces of "broccoli hair" but I'm going one broccoli hair at a time here.

I do this same thing with everything my son doesn't like. Bananas, mashed potatoes, steak, tomatoes, carrots ... and while there hasn't been much more than licks and teeny bites, I'm still positive that day will come that he learns to enjoy it. After all, I can drink a whole pot of coffee in a day but if someone told me that was my future all those years ago, I wouldn't have believed it for a second. I think the future for my son is filled with broccoli hairs ... and maybe even some stems.

 

How do you get your kids to eat healthy foods?


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