Nutrition is important to me.
While I love cheese and bread and dessert, I’ve learned that my body feels best when I stick to whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables and legumes. There isn’t much I won’t try and enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with new ingredients, tastes and textures.
For the most part, my family is enthusiastic (although they draw the line at my serving clean eating treats to their friends; I get this, as when I was a child, my father bought only ground turkey, not ground beef like everybody else. I was mortified to have friends over for dinner on ‘hamburger night’. Turns out the man was way ahead of the game, ground turkey being a fabulous source of lean protein…).
My husband will eat most anything I put in front of him (although he frequently feels the need to add ‘more’ to my recipes). My 7 and 12 year old sons are a little less accepting, although they’re always willing to try and more often than not end up enjoying my latest culinary exploration.
My 9 year old daughter, however, is a picky eater. Not your garden-variety-I-don’t-like-green-beans picky eater. A GIGANTIC, ENORMOUS, PULL-YOUR-HAIR OUT PICKY EATER!
This is what she eats;
- Cheese pizza (no sauce)
- Cheese quesadillas
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Bagels (plain, of course) with cream cheese
- Cheese strings and toast
- Goldfish crackers (which are flavored with, you guessed it, cheese)
- Rice cakes with melted cheese
- Cheetos and cheesies (not real cheese, but the same orangey-color as cheddar)
- Plain pasta with ‘sprinkle cheese’ (Parmesan; not the fresh grated stuff, only the pre-shredded powdered variety)
Oh yes, and tonight, she tried (and liked, although not enough to eat the whole thing) a home made, whole wheat cheese scone.
Are you sensing a theme here? Her whole diet consists of variations on the ‘bread and cheese’ theme. Thankfully, she is okay with whole wheat, having never been exposed to white bread.
Oh yes, she also likes chocolate (cookies, cake, ice cream, brownies, bars, chips and syrup, but not, curiously, milk).
The only other foods that regularly touch her lips are peanut butter (on a spoon), waffles (with chocolate syrup, of course) and Cheerios.
No fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry or fish has been knowingly consumed by this child since she was about two.
Can you tell that this drives me stark-raving mad!?!?
What’s a nutrition-conscious mom to do?
I’ve tried bribing and cajoling. She’s more stubborn than I.
I’ve attempted starvation (okay, not really, but not allowing her to eat anything other than what I’ve served for dinner and going to bed hungry). She’s fine with that.
For years now, people have been telling me that she’ll outgrow it. She hasn’t.
I do have a couple of tricks for getting healthy extras into her;
- wheat bran, quinoa flakes, flax seed and eggs in her waffle mix
- pureed banana or applesauce or zucchini or carrots in her chocolate chip muffins
For what it’s worth, I have a theory about why she’s so resistant to trying new foods. It has something to do with her early health issues and hospitalizations and the urgings of our pediatrician to forget about introducing fruits and veggies to her at 4-6 months. She needed to put on weight quickly before an important surgery and we were encouraged to give her calorie-dense foods, including sweetened yogurt, high fat cheeses and scrambled eggs made with whipping cream. My theory is that we simply missed the window of opportunity when a child is willing to explore new tastes and textures through food.
Maybe, maybe not.
Regardless, I am at an impasse. There are no answers in this post. I am keenly aware of the danger of making food an issue with a young girl. I don’t want her labeling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I would however, like her to develop a more adventurous palate and of course, to be eating from all four food groups on a daily basis!
Do you have or have you ever had a picky eater in your family?
How are you dealing with it? How did you resolve the issue?
Suggestions for me, please?