Do You Have A Picky Eater Too?

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Do you have a picky eater, too?  My goodness, picky eaters ABOUND in this household!

My husband has referenced me as “perfect” before.  There was a negative connotation to his voice, and in the context of our discussion it might have been, I don’t know, sarcasm…BUT, when it comes to eating food I do strive for perfection.  

I am a vegetarian.  I focus on eating clean GMO free foods.  I hydrate like crazy.  I have fruits and vegetables available on the table.  I have seen those moments on TV and the internet where people did not know what certain fruits and vegetables were.  To combat this, I send my husband and kids to the store with a list of vegetables to buy for me.  A sort of “find and learn the vegetable” scavenger hunt (I don’t think they’ve realized I have a hidden agenda – I think they think I just want the vegetables (Which, I do, but learning fruits and vegetables is important, too)).  This is the closest they get to these foods.  But, maybe it is just a step in the right direction.

I did.  I married a picky eater.  It was so much easier introducing him to dinners with my family by simply giving my family a list of the food he did eat.  It was about 10 items deep, and could not have any sauces or condiments near the food.   If we went somewhere and there was nothing from his ten item list available, he just wouldn’t eat.  (Well, he has learned the fine art of “Fake Eating” where one just pushes food around and off the plate).  Guess what?  We made picky eater children.

After trying to get my husband to expand his palette without success, I felt determined to have children that ate everything.  But alas.  It happened.  Picky eaters abounded.  AND they were even worse eaters than my husband!  So what do they eat at Christmas?  Thanksgiving?  Just pack a yogurt.  They wouldn’t eat any of the food provided.  Chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets.  No condiments.   And now none of them will eat the same thing.  This 5 person family has 5 different breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  Everyday.

I may not have the same meals, but with each child I have been able to expand their flavor adventures by degrees.  Here’s how.

LOGIC

My oldest son is 10.  He is logical.  If you need to attack and issue with him, best to use logic.  You like nachos?  Let’s try a taco.  Here is how they are similar.  You like tacos?  Let’s try a meatball.  Here is how they are similar.

He still won’t eat a sandwich.  Peanut butter and jelly?  Forget it.  But we’ve made it up a meatball.  We’re getting somewhere.

CREATIVITY

My middle child is 8, and flamboyantly dramatic.  She’s lovely.  She also can dig her heels in deep, and just like her dad, choose not to eat if the food is just not right.  She is the thinnest person in this family, although I have another child 3 years her junior.  So how do I get this clever flamboyant girl to eat?

Let her do the cooking!  Yes.  She likes control.  She likes to feel like she is calling the shots.  That things are her idea, and they are GOOD ideas.  Praise, verbal rewards and she will put together her dinner and try it with something new.  She is the only one of my 3 kids that will eat spaghetti.  She gets to cook it!  She loves the creative aspect of cooking.  

THE FOOD PASSPORT

What?  How cool is that?  My youngest child has Autism, and believe it or not, he is my best eater for now.  He still has LOTS of limitations, but in this house where each member will only eat 10 things, he will eat 15.  So that is something!

My son with Autism came home from school the other day with the coolest little book, his “Food Passport.”  He goes to the County Intermediate Unit for special needs preschool, and the classroom is full of picky eaters.  The teachers came up with this fantastic idea to make their own books like the ones sold here (beware the price!  Is that for real?!).  That week the kids were tasked with trying new foods.  If they successfully gave a new food a try, they got a STAMP on their page saying they visited that food.  And the teachers wrote down what they said for us parents to read.  What an awesome idea!  My little guy tried a couple new items like Ramen Noodles (Yum!) and Broccoli (That’s disgusting!)  New food choice!!  What a great idea!

Through the years I have tried many tactics to get “healthy” into their diets.  I have tried smoothies with hidden fruits and vegetables with SOME success, like the ones listed here.  I have fruits and vegetables available all the time.  I keep the processed food OUT.  And when all else fails, we go for the gummy vitamins.

In our Sensory Processing/Autism Spectrum Disorder house we accept there will be picky eating.  As a vegetarian, I would not enjoy being handed a hamburger and told I had to eat it.  I try to respect each member of our family’s food issues.  But HEALTH is still our focus.  How do you combat picky eating in your house?  Let me know!

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