He Said She Said: Dealing with Picky Eaters


We have some picky eaters on our hands! Whew! Lady C used to eat anything we gave her and now she only wants a limited list of items that fall within her box. Fortunately it DOES include vegetables and DOES NOT include candy (she actually hates hard candy… weird). Lady H, on the other hand, has never been interested in experimenting and currently only wants meat (of any kind) and broccoli.

When it’s time for dinner The GreenEs have very different philosophies on how to deal with picky eaters. Come see why at He Said She Said.

HE SAID: YOU EAT WHAT I COOK 

I grew up with my grandmother in the Caribbean. I repeat: a Caribbean grandmother. Now I’m old school so she was NEXT LEVEL old world attitude. She grew up in a time where there wasn’t a lot to go around. She and her 5 siblings lived in a 2 bedroom house and had to walk 30 miles to school each day…uphill…both ways…in the snow…in Trinidad! The point is that, even though we were in a far better place financially, Granny still didn’t act like were rich.

As a result, you ate what was on your plate. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t EAT! Period! Stew chicken?  yummmm! Sure! I’ll eat that. Tripe? YUCK! I ate that too or starved!  My grandmother was not making two pots. And she definitely was not adjust HER menu to cater to MY tastes. Now this meant that I ate a lot of great tasting food but I also ate some nasty crap like liver and tripe. And I didn’t die! Or starve. It’s no wonder that I adopted that same philosophy towards feeding children.

When Lady C was younger, she ate everything we put in front of her. Then suddenly she became very choosy about what she would consume. It frustrates me to no end to think about whether there is something that my child will eat in the fridge as opposed to whether there is food period. And her tastes are very different to mine. The child won’t eat shrimp!! I can’t trust anyone who doesn’t eat shrimp who isn’t allergic to it (update: I have since come around to her point of view though. They do look kinda creepy sitting on the plate from a kid’s perspective).  I want her to eat healthy foods so I try to make her eat a wider range of foods but it’s gotten to the point where it’s actually easier to prepare two meals than try to mask or alter the thing I want her to eat. Every now and again I’ll introduce something different (like baked potatoes which met with  opposition, stating “I don’t like potatoes!”. I reminded her that fries were made of potatoes and therefore she stop eating those too. Clean plate) and put my foot down but I don’t do it often. It’s not worth the battle at the end of the day!

SHE SAID: FIND OUT WHAT THEY LIKE TO EAT AND MAKE SURE THEY EAT PLENTY OF IT.

When I was growing up I was a VERY VERY picky eater. Looking back, I don’t know how my family dealt with me! I only wanted to eat what I wanted or I refused to eat at all. Many tactics were used against me by family members….

I was forced to sit at the dinner table …. allllll night long until I finished my plate. (which never worked, I always outlasted the grown ups)

I was put on punishment for not eating my meals. (*shrug* still didn’t eat them)

I was made to eat foods I did not like “Because I said so”.

I even had to watch commercials that showed starving children in other countries and was told to be grateful for the food I had.

NONE of these tactics worked… none… the one thing that worked… PATIENCE.

When I was really little my mom told my pediatrician that I would only eat ice cream… his advice was… MAKE SURE SHE EATS A LOT of it. Now, that’s pretty silly to make a kid only eat ice cream but I think the crux of his statement was – find what she likes and make sure she eats plenty of it. That worked for me.

I only liked string beans so when a plate of brussel sprouts was placed in front of me, I REFUSED to eat it. (Still to this day I’m not a fan even though I’ve had it fried and cooked at some of the best restaurants… nope, don’t like it). I never understood why I just could not have some string beans… I mean, why fight and fuss about it when they are good for you! Just give me my beans! As I got older I grew out of the picky eater stage. Although I still don’t like certain foods, by and large I am very open to trying anything. I love exotic foods and I just needed time to adjust.

For my own children, I’d rather not waste hours arguing over food. So long as it is balanced, they can eat the same thing each night. It does not concern me to have children that love quinoa and couscous and avocado though – that would be nice. I do insist that they at least TRY something once… just try… taste it to see if they like it and that has worked to expand options. But if they try and don’t like it, I move on and don’t insist they finish the plate. So if Lady C wants to eat cut up chicken, pasta noodles and broccoli each night… cool with me… she’ll grow out of it and be having sashimi with me in no time!

Tell us – how does your family deal with picky eaters?

6 thoughts on “He Said She Said: Dealing with Picky Eaters

  1. I’m mostly team He Said. I had a similar upbringing being raised down South and my parents cooked and you either ate it or you didn’t. I, however don’t worry if they don’t eat much, since our ped said that it really all balances itself out. They aren’t going to starve, and chances are if she’s eating a fairly well balanced breakfast and lunch then it will be ok. I just don’t have the energy to cook two (sometimes three!) different meals. I do agree that kids need time to adjust and there are so many things I hated as a kid that I now love as an adult. So maybe I’m a little team “He Said” and with a smidge of team “She Said” mixed in.

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      Good point about not working about the AMOUNT they eat. These kids seem to manage to gain weight and be active. We also notice that Lady C eats way more breakfast than anything else!

  2. MsNay says:

    I have stopped trying to win this battle. That means most nights we all eat chicken (made different ways) and rice. Did I mention that my Diva calls all meat ‘chicken’. She does question it sometimes but I say it’s chicken. Also, I am the mother of a master manipulator. She claims to be allergic to things she doesn’t want to eat or like. I am hip to her game. According to her she is ‘allergic’ to all vegetables except corn and broccoli from the Chinese restaurant. I have to agree with what ‘She Says’ on the one. Find out what they like and give them lots of it but also insist they try things at least once. I have to say that has expanded the options on my house a little.

  3. Mommy Ninja says:

    Allergic to jelly… smh! Growing up there were no choices period. I was not a picky eater but I am with you guys on brussel sprouts and tripe. YUCK. My daughter was not a picky eater either. I am old school however, this is what we are having for dinner. End of conversation. I have watched my roommate and her 5 year old grandson go through some fierce food battles. I am so not the one. I have learned to mind my business and go back in my room during those times. And, from afar I hear things like, “_____, come and eat.” “No, grandma that’s not what I want.” “Boy sit to this table and eat this food.” “No grandma, that’s not what I want.” And eventually he gets what he wants. It’s one thing if the conversation begins with, “What would you like for dinner?!” But if it doesn’t then clearly there is no choice in the equation. Just an old lady’s opinion.

  4. Nay Hop says:

    If Lady H’s little friend had it his way, he would eat macaroni & cheese and drumsticks all day EVERYDAY! If he doesn’t like dinner he will refuse to eat it. I was a picky eater and my mom never forced me to eat stuff that I didn’t like; she cooked around me and I do the same for my kid. But I do recognize that his old school (buy still young) great-grandparents and other family members may not do the same when I’m not around. So I always make sure there are Pediasures and carrots in his bag.

    He once loved spinach and all the green veggies that mommie loves but now he throws them back at me, literally. Sometimes I blend it with purple grape juice and ice and he thinks he’s having an icee. I also sprinkle a little sugar on veggies – which I know is bad, but it’s better than the ketchup he’ll waddle to the bottom shelf and take – isn’t it?

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