These are your stories!
It is true: You are not alone in your daily struggle! There are others just like you out there - parents who feel frustrated and desperate in their quest to feed their child a healthy diet. Parents who have tried just about everything and anything they could think of.
Do not despair, then, but find reassurance in the knowledge that your child's eating habits are not uncommon and that you are not doing something "wrong." Difficult eaters are everywhere, not just in your household.
Here are some of the stories readers have shared with me:
Dear Mostly Beige – my husband recently pointed me toward your website and the more I read through the reports of your daily struggle to feed healthy food to your child, the more I recognized my own struggles in your writings.
How familiar it all sounds!
My daughter's nutritional preferences remain limited to Spaghetti and Rice, enhanced with sour cream and ketchup. On occasion, she will eat a corn tortilla and some bread, preferably plain. Once in a while a slice of cheese. One banana every six months. With a lot of effort, she might even drink a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. She even rejects Nutella now – because it is mushy!
We went through the same trial and error phase as you:
Food has to be visually appealing to the child. I cooked potatoes and red beets with profound motivation and hope - and used them to create a pink mashed-potato castle. I made spires out of the sour cream my daughter loves so much. (I assume you know just how long it takes to cook red beets...). The end result was a frustrated mother and a frustrated child – who ended up having Spaghetti instead...
Result: Does not work! Daughter instantly notices strange flavor. We had the same result as you – food that was previously acceptable now gets rejected and the list of potential meals gets shorter. And don't even think about having herbs in a tomato sauce – or pepper... (White pepper works – it's virtually invisible!).
Serve the same dish until it gets eaten. The child will eventually be so hungry that she will eat anything.
Not so – our daughter would rather starve to death than eat something she doesn't want to eat.
Rewards! “We will go to the movies once you finish the fresh strawberry milk I just made for you.” (Note: artificial Nesquik strawberry powder mixed with milk is, however, just fine!).
Result: Everybody is angry and nobody goes to the movies.
“That lovely Frozen blanket will be yours once you have tried some new food.”
Result: Blanket remains in the closet and will end up being a present for a different child next Christmas. (Commentary from my daughter: “Oh well, I don't really need a Frozen blanket. I already have one with Rapunzel.” She never asked for the blanket again...)
We went to the pediatrician to find out if our child was ill. The doctor said she was fine – her hair is shiny and the child is full of energy. The recommendation was to try vitamin juices that would trigger our daughter's appetite. Unfortunately, doing so didn't work, either.
Initially we had hoped that sharing a meal with other children in school would positively affect our daughter. This, too, did not come true. Our daughter simply does not eat.
Just recently I read an article that advised that a child should only be allowed to reject a dish once he/she has, at least, tried two bites of the dish. What the article did not explain was how I am supposed to get these two bites into my daughter's mouth and how I should make her swallow them...
Frankly, if my daughter were to eat anything from your list of recipes, I would jump for joy. What variety! Instead, we are stuck giving her Pediasure formula while we console ourselves with reports from others who tell us that their children were difficult eaters as well that, eventually, got over it.
I will never forget a waitress in Seattle who told me that her daughter also refused to eat and to not worry too much about it. Or a friend in Costa Rica who told me that two of his seven siblings didn't eat. It just is!
Of course, there are some “Mum, can you make salmon again?” kids in our circle of friends, but most seem to want hot dogs and chicken nuggets. When I see what they eat, I wonder if I have any grounds for being upset that my daughter doesn't eat that kind of “super food.”
A while ago I read another article that talked about a British study that compared “healthy” eaters (children who eat a variety of foods) with children who only ate a very limited diet. Surprisingly, the study concluded that there was no big difference in the development of these two groups. In the end, what counts is that children get sufficient nutrients that allow them to grow. Yeah!
I suppose what we really need are strong nerves and deaf ears when it comes to people constantly wanting to impart their well-meaning advice. I keep thinking that a person can only relate to the sense of frustration and helplessness if they, themselves, have a child who refuses to eat.
Care to share your own story?
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