A note about picky eaters…

by

The other day my son came up to me and said, “You know what would be the perfect day, Mom?”

“What?” I asked.

“A day where I could have orange chicken for breakfast, orange chicken for lunch, and orange chicken for dinner.”

This from my picky eater.

Actually, he’s not picky anymore, and his most recent favorite food–you guessed it–is orange chicken.

If you would’ve asked me a year and a half ago if I thought my son would like orange chicken or any kind of Chinese food, I would’ve told you a resounding no.

In fact, there was a time when all he wanted to eat was plain burritos. Seriously.

I know there are different schools of thought about picky eaters…

Teach them young, make them eat what everyone else is eating, and don’t give in.

or

If they want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner instead of the chicken and vegetables and salad you spent two hours cooking, so be it. What’s the big deal?

Honestly, I’ve gone both ways over the years.

It’s been a balancing act between trying to encourage my kids to eat a variety of foods, not wanting to make food an issue, and picking my battles wisely.

And while I think there’s tremendous value in introducing different foods to your kids at a young age and encouraging them to eat what the rest of the family is eating, I also know from personal experience that doesn’t always work.

More and more, I’ve come to recognize that kids have their differences, and that includes taste. Some kids–my son being one of them–even have an extra-sensitive gag reflex. Certain textures (broccoli for example), are hard to eat, if not impossible. (Believe me, we’ve tried.)

But here my son is at age nine now, and he’s eating almost everything we put in front of him and liking it. (Minus the broccoli.)

So if you have a picky eater, hang in there. I know it can  be hard. Meal times can be a challenge (never mind going out to dinner if there isn’t grilled cheese on the menu), and it can be stressful making sure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need (a daily vitamin is key).

But it does get easier.

Some people–usually moms who were a little older and a lot wiser than me–used to tell me not to worry about my son being so picky and that he would outgrow it.

I remember clinging to that hope as I envied other moms who had successfully gotten their kids to eat sushi by the age of four, or to prefer raw celery sticks for snacks.

(I, on the other hand, would spend extra time making creative smoothies for my son, just so I could stick some vegetables or protein in there. And when I fed him yams, you could barely see the yam because it was buried under a pile of brown sugar.)

But you know what?

Those moms were right.

My son did outgrow it.

And now, looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have worried so much about his picky eating.

Because in the scheme of parenting and life,

whether he eats everything on his plate for dinner,

or asks for a grilled cheese sandwich for the third time in one day,

it’s just not that important. :)

What do you think? Do you / or did you have picky eaters? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences! :)

Updated: This post was featured at Mamapedia. Click on over there to see the discussion and comments!
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