How I Avoided the Dreaded Picky Eater

Before I had kids, I was the world’s best parent. Seriously. I knew what I was going to do and what I wasn’t going to do. And you know what?

I attempted food art for my kids. They weren't impressed.
I attempted food art for my kids. They weren’t impressed.

I’ve only stuck to one of those “nevers”: I’ve never catered to a picky eater.

I’m pretty proud of this.

When we started talking adoption, we assumed we’d have one baby, or “singleton” as parents of multiples call them. Much to our surprise, we adopted newborn twins, and when they finally began eating solid foods, we instituted a hard and fast rule: We serve two things for dinner. They’re called “take it” or “leave it.”

We had to. You know how it is being a parent—you barely get to sit down for a meal, let alone eat your food while it’s hot. There was no way my husband or I were going to make two or even three different meals. We were already sleep deprived, there was no way we’d all get out alive if we were starving, too.

Luckily, my cousin is a 20+ year veteran registered dietitian with the Women, Infants and Children’s program. For years, she’s been helping pregnant ladies eat right and coaching parents through toddler eating phases. So, naturally, I leaned on her heavily for some awesome advice and I’m going to share it with you. It got me through the tough times and helped me keep my sanity. Here it is: Children are incapable of starving themselves. Their brains aren’t wired to allow it to happen, so if they’re hungry, they’ll eat.

That was the best thing I ever heard. I know, there’s no magic bullet in any parenting situation, but this one has really saved me. Our kids know this is it. If they don’t eat it then, that’s their snack. There’s no pretzels or granola bars after dinner, either. If you don’t want to eat dinner for your snack, fine. You can wait until breakfast.

Sounds harsh, I know. But it works! We rarely have fights about eating dinner, and when we do, we stick to the party line. Next thing you know, there’s a kid in Olaf pj’s at the table happily eating meatloaf at 7:45 p.m.

Like I said, there’s never any “poof” that will make every parenting situation magically resolve, but this one is the best I’ve seen so far. But if you have some “poof” you should bottle it and sell it. You’ll be rich!

Do YOU have a picky eater? What is your “picky eating” strategy?


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