My boys didn't start out being picky eaters. It was quite the opposite really. Both of them LOVED food of any kind early on. For months and months, Jack's favorite food was green beans. Cal loved pepper slices and carrots. Now, I am lucky if they will eat a vegetable at all.
This is mostly my fault. I have perpetuated the bad eating habits. If they didn't eat what I had cooked for dinner, I would prepare them something else. That morphed into just preparing them a whole separate dinner almost every night.
I consider myself a good cook. I meal plan and find fun and healthy recipes that my whole family will eat. I try and stay away from strong flavors and spices but it doesn't work. They won't eat. 90% of the time, they won't even try it. Jack has a sensitive gag reflex and will vomit if he eats something that he doesn't like or doesn't want. I have seen it first hand. It's not pretty.
I won't be posting what my boys WILL eat because it's embarrassing and it makes me feel like a huge failure as a mom. Instead, I am planning for healthy eating habits for the future for them. I have made some changes in our house to help encourage them to try eating and trying new foods.
What I am doing:
1. For the past few nights, I have stopped making the kids a different dinner. They have been eating what I have made, no exceptions. I make sure that there are two things on their plate that they will eat (they always get fruit with dinner and usually an additional dairy like yogurt) so that if they decide they won't be eating the main dish, there is SOMETHING they will eat. If I happen to make a meal that is all out gross and I know they won't like it, they might get a special meal. This happens so rarely though that I can't see it being often.
How is this going? Well, nothing really changed. They are still refusing to eat the main dish and vegetable. One night it was a delicious steak stir fry chock full of veggies with Udon noodles. Another night, it was baked macaroni with beef served with sauteed zucchini. Tonight it's spaghetti with Italian sausage. Let's see if they eat it.
2. I am not making a big deal out of them not eating. If they don't eat it, I don't force it. I just say "okay" and take their plate away. If Jack says "I don't like this", I ask if he tried a bite. 99% of the time, he hasn't and so I say "Oh, that's too bad because it's really good". I can't force him to take a bite (see vomitting above) so that's the end of the conversation.
3. I ordered a few cookbooks from the library that have kid friendly recipes. I have already started talking to Jack about helping me pick out recipes for us to cook. That way, it gives him a say in what he will be eating. I am hoping he gets excited about trying a food that he has picked out. Here are some of the cookbooks that I have ordered. I will be sure and do a review of them once they arrive:
4. I want to give them choices. Cal can't really vocalize all that well yet, but Jack can. I am going to give Jack choices about the food I prepare. Even though he doesn't eat many vegetables, I can give him a choice between carrots and green beans.
5. Jack will be involved more in the kitchen. He loves to cook already but maybe if he is given the chance to help cook more dinners, he will try what he has cooked. Of course, this will take more prep and time on my end. It will increase my cooking time but that is okay. As long as he's involved.
Do I expect miracles? Not really. I know a lot of toddlers are insanely picky eaters. My goal is to get my kids to try new foods and eventually eat like normal kids. Will they starve? No because they pretty much eat kid friendly and favorite foods for breakfast, lunch and snack. Will they hate me? Probably, but I am okay with that. They will learn to appreciate this.