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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Henry wants to do the right thing. | Main | Introducing… »

Please, oh please, no advice.

This week over at Momversation, Rebecca brought up the topic of picky eaters, and I laughed; oh, how I laughed. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you may remember my periodic rants about Henry's eccentric eating habits. I wish I could report that my son's diet has evolved even a little since that time, but alas, I cannot. We are dealing with it, in our usual clumsy manner, with the help of a nutritionist. It is not easy. Our son is more than a little strong-willed. It is a characteristic I'm sure I will someday come to admire.

As you may have noticed from the title, up there, I am not seeking advice, thank you anyway. But feel free to share your own picky-eater stories.

Reader Comments (127)


June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
We've been lucky with our picky eater so far...what he likes is actually fairly healthy. No meat whatsoever, except hot dogs (which I refuse to buy, but he gets at school) lots of fruits, only veggies are corn and the occasional carrot. Pasta, cheese quesadillas, cheese pizza. Sometimes yogurt, sometimes cereal. I don't know how much he eats at school, but he doesn't come home starving. He's growing fine, and since kid vitamins taste like candy he digs them.

But I am a little worried now about what is ahead...I really hate cooking, to be honest, and the idea of making an extra meal for him when he's older bugs the heck out of me. But I might be ok once he gets old enough to make his own mac n cheese. Which if it's Kraft or microwave he'll have to buy, I hate that crap.

But you know, I distinctly remember thinking Chef Boyardee ravioli was the Best Food Evah as a kid, and that is some nasty stuff. So I'm kind of thinking kid tastebuds are messed up period.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee
My little one just turned 4 months, so I have no idea what the future has in store for him in the palette department; but my little sister (now 9) is the strangest eater ever. She'll go through stages of being extremely picky and then trying whatever you put in front of her. She tried beets and loved them, but wouldn't touch her couscous, and then the very next weekend she refused to eat anything besides condensed chicken noodle soup. Then, the other day, I swear I saw her eat a mixed salad with balsamic vinaigrette before later snacking on edamame. I never know what to expect with her when she visits.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaime
Ah, the pickiness is just starting at 19 months. The fishsticks have already been shown the door. When the Mac n Cheese goes, I'll probably break down and weep. However, tonight we were at a friend's house and my son wolfed down grilled portobello mushroom like it was the best thing he'd ever tasted (well, maybe it was!). Never in a million years would I have thought...
I'm hearing a lot of dissent for "making one meal, eat it or not" for the sole reason that it can lead to eating disorders. Well sure, that tactic can lead to eating disorders, but so can having parents who are picky eaters, and a multitude of other factors. As long as there's variety at meal times, the kid's not going to abstain from food to the point of starvation. *shrug* I gotta agree with Dana.
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm
as a teacher of elementary school children, i have witnessed how palettes can change and how so many 12 yr olds still demand a bland, white diet of bagels, yogurt and string cheese while others receive lunches of sushi, ethiopian leftovers from the night before, aloe vera juice, etc. i know i had preferences when i was younger, which have evolved immensely as an adult. in due time, everyone finds their food rhythm. so long as henry is growing and thriving, what's a little pickiness? in a few years, it'll be something to tease him about when he's taking you all go out for malaysian food with his new girlfriend. :)
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbklyn76
i've got a picky eater. was a time the list of foods she would eat numbered at 3 AND she wanted to eat fifty times a day. excellent. i have never made a big deal about her eating, never pressured her at all. whatever. i mean, if i don't want something you're not going to convince me to eat it by pestering me so i figured that wouldn't work with her.

eventually she tried new things of her own volition and over the past year she's eaten a lot of new things. still we do not make a big deal.

last night she tried very spicy chana masala and at half of a samosa. the world has spun out of control with the insanity of it.

she's definitely still a picky eater but she's coming around. i don't think she'd be eating broccoli and samosas if i'd pressured her. in fact, i'm certain of it.
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdenice
I remember the 3 food years with fondness (now). Peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and pizza were the entire mainstay of my son's diet for about 2 years. That combined with the I'm going to throw up retch, that could, and did bring up anything outside of the Holy Trinity, drove me crazy. At 14 he is eating me out of house and home. Now it's 4 square meals a day, and 3 snacks that could definitely pass for square meals. A snack is a 12 piece sushi package, and dinner is salmon with potatoes, caesar salad, and broccoli. Although much healthier, I would love to go back to the 3 food years, it was much easier on my pocketbook. - Beah -
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeah
Thank you for that comprehensive list. We are having similar issues with boy #2, who thinks that if it grew from the ground and isn't wheat or rice, it is poison and not to be eaten under any circumstances. He will eat blueberries if he picks them himself. I am ready to shoot the birds myself who are eating them off our blueberry bush. Apple Fries from Burger King are ok too. I'm on the verge of washing and saving the little bags so he thinks the apples I buy and slice myself are apple fries. But unlike your guy, he does merely exist from pizza to pizza. And he would sooner eat the dog's fur than any mac & cheese.I make great mac and cheese. My 14 year old nephew tells me he loves me when I make mac and cheese. Really. It's that good. But both my kids swear it makes them puke.SIgh.
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMemeGRL
And then I apologized! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it...and I couldn't delete my earlier comment!
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoelle
I finally checked out the Momversation site, and I have to say you crack me up on every one you are on. Keep it up, I think you are covering very important topics.
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily B
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June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLotro powerleveling
I'm not a parent, but my fiancé and I are from wildly different eating backgrounds, and it is amazing to me the difference in how he was raised and how I was raised and how that affects our eating habits today.

My parents never made separate meals for us. We could eat what was on the table and there was no fighting it. There was no making something else. That was it. You eat what's on your plate. When it was something my brother or I didn't like, we sat at the dinner table until we ate it. I remember my father, sitting at the table reading a book, waiting for us to eat long after everyone else had gotten up. The waiting game ended one of two ways: either we ate what was on our plates before bedtime, or bedtime came and our plates were saran-wrapped and refrigerated to be eaten for breakfast. Needless to say, I ate cold creamed spinach for breakfast many times as a child, and it is one of maybe three things I still won't touch with a ten-foot pole. But because of this, I'll eat anything. So will my brother.

My fiancé on the other hand, will eat basically the same things your son will. His mom made him separate meals when he was little, and continued to throughout his adolescence, and still will today if we're at her house. It is only now, because of me, that he will eat pasta with red sauce on it, and there are plenty of things that he absolutely will not eat, no matter what, no exceptions. I cook what I want, and most of the time I can leave sauce off of things for him if he won't eat them, but it's a huge pain in the ass. And I know that this, my fiancé, is every mother's nightmare. The one who didn't grow out of it.

We've had to have several conversations about how he's gonna have to suck it up by the time we have babies, because I will not tolerate the "Daddy gets to, why can't I?" argument from my kids.
June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKat
My mother literally threw me in the garbage can outside in the driveway when I was a kid b/c she was so fed up with my picky eating. I could chew on a grain of rice for the whole meal. And we had rice at every meal. I spent many nights asleep at the dinner table since I wasn't allowed to leave it until I was done with all the food in my bowl. It was definitely a power struggle, and no one was going to force me to eat anything I didn't want. I don't think that anyone wins using that tactic.

I did however turn out to be a chef with a very adventurous palate. And I'm grateful I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of food growing up, whether I'd eat it or not.

Karma's a bitch, now, my 4-year old son puts me through the wringer.
June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbittermelon
I was one of those moms who was so judgmental of the way people fed their kids -- I saw a mom feeding her kid Froot Loops and was all "can you believe that?!"

Now, I am reaping what I deserve -- a 7-year-old who is majorly picky (no cheese, no eggs, no bread, no sauce, etc.) and a 5-year-old with a feeding tube.

So, no advice here, I'm just glad that there are other moms out there going through the same things as me. Who won't be judging me when I'm giving my kids Froot Loops for dinner. You guys do that too, right? Um, guys?
June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
First son ate everything from that rotted Norwegian fish to sushi to every vegetable and ethnic food known to man. He could have traveled with that Food channel guy that eats raw bat meat and curried squid. I thought ALL kids were like that. Hahahaha. Then six years later we have son two, a child we eventually nicknamed "our little air fern" because seriously we had no idea how he was growing since he never ate anything, except sometimes sugar. I didn't sweat it at first because I figured he was still growing and seemed happy, but then I watched some 20/20 type show about parents who had been arrested for neglecting their son and they showed pictures of the "poor starved wee beastie" and I looked from those pics to my son with his skinny, skinny arms and legs and they weren't too different. I ran out and bought some ensure and he actually liked it (it was sweet and there wasn't too much in one can) and thus we avoided arrest ourselves. On the up side he is 13 now, 6'3" and has substantially broadened his eating horizons to the point that we can now take him with us when we eat out at the many and varied ethnic restaurants we love to visit; he'll try anything now (won't eat it maybe but he'll try).
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiscopitbull
"because of this, I'll eat anything. So will my brother"

I'll have the self-righteousness with a side of post-hoc errors, please.
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSlim
I remember growing up in my large family, all of us kids would eat anything put in front of us. We were always so hungry at dinner and if we didn't grab a good serving on it's first way around, there wouldn't be any left. We were all astonished when our youngest brother came into the family and would only eat hot dogs. For years. And still. We all just figure, well whatever, more for us.

On one hand, I have the brother that will stand in front of the fridge, with the door open staring for hours trying to find something to eat, claiming to be STARVING the whole time. And then I have the other brother(s) who at every hour, on the hour, will open the fridge, reach in and blindly consume any edible content.

They all annoy me to no end, one with all the picky WHINING, and the other all Robber-Barron in the night with the eating of my leftover pizza that I was saving for breakfast.

Leftovers and hot dogs, they don't stand a chance in our house.
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbecky
OH! It's a family joke that my mom once tied my pesky brother to the chair and force fed him mashed potatoes. It had nothing to do with being a picky eater. The story goes: My mom kindly asked my brother to try the mashed potatoes at dinner. At 6 years old he challenged my mom to a battle when he said 'I bet you can't MAKE me eat those mashed potatoes. What, are you going to tie me to the chair?' She did.
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbecky
I don't have kids, but we have the world's pickiest beagle. Does that count? I offer all kinds of good people food, stuff most dogs would chew off their own arm to get to, and she just turns her nose up at it. She eats peanut butter, most of the time (but not always) she'll eat chicken, and about 60% of the time she'll eat her dog food. And sometimes she just doesn't eat at all. For days. I've even resorted to opening her mouth and placing food inside... and she spits it back out. OK, I'm sure it's not as bad as having a picky kid, but all of you moms have my empathy!
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergeeky
I have absolutely no advice.

I am, however, married to The World's Pickiest Eater.

He, at the age of 34, will eat nothing with vinegar, sour cream, mayonnaise, or cream cheese. This includes anything that CONTAINS those ingredients, so all condiments (mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc.,) are OUT, including all salad dressings. He will also not eat olives, tomatoes, and cheeses other than cheddar/provolone/mozzarella. I can't sneak anything: I once had to throw out a platter of pork chops because the minimal sauce had a QUARTER TEASPOON of mustard.

I blamed his mother for the longest time until she told me that she cooked as she pleased, and that he would get up from the table with his chicken, go to the faucet and RISE IT OFF.

Nothing but sympathy from me.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAzucar
One of my daughters does not like fruit! This seems insane to me, but it happened. Either the fruit is too sweet, too juicy, or too sour. I discovered not long ago that she loves pineapples (which are both sweet and juicy but go figure) and now I find myself buying them all the time. Pineapples are expensive though! If it were up to her, however, she would eat nothing but cheese.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRainuh
My 4 year old subsists on "square cheese" which is Kraft singles and bananas. Occasionally when he's feeling adventurous, bread. plain. He is super polite about it though. "no thank you, I'll just have square cheese".
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
I don't have children so I wasn't aware of how tough the picky-eating-child can be. Do you think its a breast fed / formula issue? I've always wondered what the does to taste buds!
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAC Siapno
AC Siapno I nursed both of my boys and ended up with one super-eater and one air fern. Highly doubt (from my uncontrolled, limited population study) that that has anything to do with it.
June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiscopitbull

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