I can’t believe it! I spent all day shopping for the right ingredients, planning out the perfect meal, and then slaving away in the kitchen to make dinner for my family. And what do I get in return? Complaints, whining, and general disgust. I’m so frustrated and defeated. I’m tired of putting in all this effort just to have my meals go unappreciated and uneaten. Picky eating is ruining meal time for me.
But I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve been there too, and we still have our moments of frustration. But it’s not like this every day anymore. I can’t say that we’ve completely solved picky eating, but we’ve found ways to manage it and reduce the complaining. Even if not everyone loves every meal or side I serve, at least they’re willing to try a bite without causing a fuss.
The challenges of picky eating
Picky eating can present a number of challenges for moms, including:
- Constant mealtime battles and negotiations: When a child is picky about what they will and won’t eat, meal times can become a constant negotiation. Parents may find themselves constantly trying to convince their child to try new foods or eat more of a certain food, only to be met with resistance and stubbornness. This can be emotionally and mentally draining for the parent and create a negative atmosphere at meal times.
- Wasting food and money on uneaten meals: Picky eating can also lead to a lot of wasted food and money. Parents may find themselves constantly having to throw away uneaten food or buying special items just to get their child to eat. This can be frustrating and add financial strain to the household.
- The emotional toll on the mom: Dealing with a picky eater can also take a toll on the emotional well-being of the mother. It can be frustrating and discouraging to put in a lot of effort to prepare a meal only for it to be met with rejection. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy or failure as a parent and can affect the mom’s desire to cook and provide meals for their family.
My Kid’s Picky Eating Stole My Desire To Cook
Note: if your kids have long struggled with picky eating, you should talk to your pediatrician to rule out any medical problems that could complicate picky eating.
I Did One Push Up
Sometimes, when I decide that I want to get in shape or lose weight, I expect to see amazing results right away. For example, I might think that because I did a push-up yesterday, I’m suddenly fit enough to run a 5k today. I don’t mean to have unrealistic expectations, but it’s easy to fall into this mindset. The same thing can happen when it comes to picky eating. If you serve your children broccoli once and they don’t like it, you might be tempted to give up and assume that they will never eat it.
But just like one push-up isn’t enough to get you in shape, trying a food once isn’t enough to cure picky eating. Expanding a picky eater’s palate is more like a marathon than a sprint. You may not see success overnight, but if you stay focused and consistent, you will eventually see a big difference.
Decrease The Emotion
Fighting over dinner is not going to help your kids picky eating habits. Keep dinner light and fun. Let kids also encourage adults to try new foods with a good attitude. If everyone at the table is stressed, upset and disappointed, it’s not a good environment for dealing with pickiness. A simple strategy is to make eating new foods fun!
Picky Eating Food Game Ideas
- “Broccoli Trees Being Stolen By Giants”- The grown up “plants” broccoli trees but this pesky giant (child) keeps coming and stealing the trees. Make your responses big and funny.
- “If You Eat All of Your Carrots You Can Get Up And Do A 10 Second Silly Dance”
- “Be Your The Announcer And Cheerleader”- The adult pretends he is the announcer at a big game and announces the eating of the new food and then the crowd goes wild.
Laughter more than frustration is an easy cure for the reluctant eater to try new food.
Do not reveal to your children what they will be eating for dinner until after it has been served. If you write the meal plan on a decorative board or inform them, it simply gives them hours to come up with additional complaints, and it provides them the opportunity to come to the dinner table with a closed mind. If you tell them, it offers them the opportunity to come to the table with a closed mind.
Too Many Snacks
Your picky eater will eat snacks if you let him. So close the snack factory. You don’t need to bring snacks for fun or just in case. Eat snacks only at certain times and not too close to dinner.
Always Have a ‘Winner’ Food
It’s a good idea to include at least one food that you know your child will enjoy at every meal. This could be something like sliced apples, grapes, or rolls. You can offer this “favorite” food towards the end of the meal, after your child has had a chance to try some of the other foods. Remember, it’s best to offer new foods at the beginning of the meal when your child is hungriest and most likely to try them. As a general rule, you can require your child to eat a small amount of everything else on their plate before they can have a set portion of their favorite food.
Always try to have one “winner” at every meal. It may be sliced apples, grapes or rolls. You can offer the “winner” food closer to the end of dinner! You want to offer new foods at the beginning of dinner when your child is their hungriest and most likely to try what is set in front of them. A good rule to have is that the child has to eat some of everything else before getting a set portion of the “winner” food.
Build Your Own Meals
A good option for meal time is to have people build their own meals. When it comes to build-your-own meals, some excellent options are taco night, chilli bar, baked potato bar, and nacho bar. In addition to this, it presents the possibility of ensuring that everyone is content. You may provide your adventurous eaters with a wider variety of toppings, while keeping things straightforward for your picky eaters.
The Secret Weapons
There are two books that have changed my perspective on picky eating and helped me solve this problem in my family. I use these books often, not only for the recipes, but also to read over and over again when I find bad habits creeping into meal time. I honestly think these two books are the best secret weapons for beating picky eating. These two books are :
- French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved To France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules For Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters
- Getting To Yum: The 7 Secrets of Raising Eager Eaters
Finding solutions for picky eating
Finding solutions for picky eating can be a process of trial and error, as different approaches may work for different families. Some potential solutions for picky eating include:
- Trying different approaches: There are many different approaches that parents can try when it comes to dealing with picky eating. Some options include setting strict rules around what and how much a child can eat, offering a variety of options and letting the child choose, or using positive reinforcement to encourage trying new foods. It may take some trial and error to find out which approach works best for your child and family.
- Introducing new foods gradually: Introducing new foods gradually can help a child become more comfortable with trying new things. This can involve starting with small amounts of a new food and gradually increasing the amount over time, or pairing the new food with familiar favorites. It can also be helpful to let the child help with meal prep, as this can make them feel more invested in trying new foods.
- Encouraging trying new things: Encouraging a child to try new things can involve setting a good example as a parent and trying new foods yourself, praising the child for trying new foods (even if they don’t like them), and making meal times a positive and relaxed experience. It can also be helpful to make trying new foods a game or challenge for the child, such as offering a reward for trying a certain number of new foods.
- Setting a good example: As a parent, it’s important to set a good example when it comes to trying new foods and having a positive attitude towards meal times. Children are more likely to be open to trying new things if they see their parents doing it as well. It can also be helpful to model a positive attitude towards meal times and not get too frustrated or upset if a child refuses to try something.
Rediscovering the joy of cooking
Picky eating can certainly take a toll on a mom’s desire to cook and prepare meals for her family. However, there are ways to rediscover the joy of cooking and make meal prep and cooking enjoyable again. Some ideas for rediscovering the joy of cooking include:
- Finding ways to make meal prep and cooking enjoyable: Cooking can be a creative and therapeutic activity, but it can be easy to lose sight of this when dealing with picky eaters. Finding ways to make meal prep and cooking enjoyable again can involve finding recipes that are fun and interesting to make, trying new cooking techniques or ingredients, or finding ways to make the process more efficient and streamlined.
- Taking time for self-care: It’s important for you as a mom to make time for yourself and prioritize your own well-being, as this can help you feel more energized and motivated to tackle meal times. This can involve taking breaks from cooking and finding other activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as reading, exercising, or spending time with friends.
- Cooking and eating together as a family: Cooking and eating together as a family can help create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere at meal times. This can involve involving the whole family in meal prep, setting the table and enjoying meals together, and finding ways to make meal times a special and meaningful experience. By creating a positive and enjoyable atmosphere at meal times, parents can help foster a love of cooking and trying new foods in their children.
Dealing with picky eating can be tough, and it can take all of the joy out of cooking and meal time. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You may not be able to solve all of your picky eating problems overnight – some may take months or even years to overcome. But it’s important to celebrate each victory and recognize the progress that you and your child are making. My own picky eater is really proud of all the new foods she has learned to like and enjoys meal time much more now.
As a final note, my youngest used to really struggle with eating meat. She didn’t like the texture and found many cuts of meat to be too dry or chewy. We were able to solve this problem by cooking meat in an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot has completely changed her perspective on meat – she now eats chicken and beef on a regular basis and often asks for seconds. If you have a picky meat eater, it might be worth considering using an Instant Pot to cook meat. It could make a big difference in your child’s willingness to try new things.