Picky eating....it's a topic most parents struggle with. How to deal with it? Do you allow it?
Picky Eating Has Advantages....Yes, it really, really does. At least in my very, very limited scope of experience. My children who are picky are naturally thin and more in tune to their body's natural feelings of fullness and satiation than my child who is not picky. I've seen these children (on occasion) leave the bottom half of an ice cream cone because they were full. They frequently leave food on their plates. I consider that a good thing, because they don't overeat...ever. Even if it's their favorite food, they don't overeat. In our society nowadays, that is big. That is HUGE. That ability to be in tune to your own body and not overeat is major. Maybe if we lived in a society where food is scarce, this would be a disadvantage. But, in the land of the plenty, I consider it to be an advantage.
My experience with adults is even more limited, but I think adults who tend to be a bit picky may be a bit less likely to overeat and a bit more in tune their body's natural feeling of satiation. Just a generality and there are a million and one exceptions, but very, very generally speaking the people I've have known who have been on the picker side, tend to be a bit on the thinner side. Again, there a million exceptions, or course.
Since some kids are naturally choosy about what they eat, we only let them choose healthy foods. We generally eat a very whole foods, natural diet. My kids can't be all, I'm only going to eat frozen chicken nuggets and Kraft Mac N' Cheese and Lucky Charms, because I never buy those things. Never, ever, ever. Our weekly grocery shopping cart generally consists of things like milk. cheese, yogurt, meat/fish, eggs, butter, oatmeal, whole grain bread, peanut butter, "natural" jelly, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, baking supplies, large amounts of fruits and vegetables and of course ice cream (which is only for Sundays).
We don't buy convenience foods or packaged foods or things like that. So, my kids can't decide to only eat crackers and chicken nuggets and peanut butter fluff sandwiches because we don't buy those things.
I try to make at least one thing each person likes at each dinner. Our dinners generally consist of meat/starch (rice or pasta or potatoes)/vegetables or something meatless like homemade macaroni and cheese, homemade pizza or bean dishes. Each child does not have to eat everything, but they have to eat something and they have to eat at least a very tiny portion of vegetables.
If they are still hungry after dinner. If they absolutely don't like anything (besides the vegetables), they can choose to eat an acceptable dinner alternative, but they have to get/make it themselves. The choices for this in our house are pretty much yogurt (whole milk, plain, organic), oatmeal, peanut butter sandwich, cheese sandwich or eggs. I don't cook a second dinner, but I don't prevent them form making their own healthy alternative either.
I don't make them clean their plate. If they don't finish everything, I put it away and usually Ben or I will eventually eat it as leftovers. I'm not picky that way.
I make sure they are hungry. I've found that not allowing snacks in the 2 hours before dinnertime encourages better eating at dinner. If they're hungry, they eat more, eat better and are less picky.
I don't sweat it. In my experience, most kids do outgrow picky eating and become a bit more adventurous as they get older. They may still not eat everything, but they eat more and more.
Some big parenting expert...can't remember who...(maybe Dr. Sears? maybe Ellyn Satter? anyone know?) once said something along of the lines of your job is to provide healthy foods, your child's job is to eat it. It was something like that anyway. The gist is, the parent decides what is served and when and the child decides if they want to eat it or not. And, that is what we do. Starting with babies. I basically do child fed weaning, which means I let my babies self-feed themselves, starting with table food, right around 6-7 months. They basically feed themselves from then on. Yes, this is quite messy, but they get pretty adapt at feeding themselves and using utensils earlier than they probably otherwise would. And, since they are given table food right from the beginning, they never have to transition to it, they just start eating it.
This is what we do. It remains to be seen of course, but I'm hopeful that our children will continue generally healthy eating habits once they are grown.
How do you handle picky eating in your house? Any tips or tricks? What works and doesn't work for you.