You Know You Have A Picky Eater When…

Every time I sit down at the table to eat with my kids, I wonder how they can be mine.  I watch as they poke, prod, and scowl at the contents of their plates while I quickly devour my own meal with much ease and enjoyment, and I think how on earth are we related?

Because I like food.  Hell, I love the stuff.  I love to make food.  I love to buy food.   I love to watch food being made (sup Food Network?). And most of all, I love to put food in my mouth and eat it.

My children, on the other hand, generally want NOTHING to do with food.  To them, the four major food groups are: potato chips, chocolate, lollipops and fruit snacks.  Everything else is “for grown-ups”.

To his credit, my son has made a lot of improvement since graduating toddlerhood.  These days, he’ll even choke down a piece of lettuce every once in a while.  But my daughter?  Is the WORST.  Much, much worse than my son ever was.  She drives me insane.  I don’t think she’s ever eaten a whole meal in her life.  I don’t even understand how she’s still alive.

At almost two and a half years old, she weighs in at a whopping 22 pounds of teeny tiny toddler.

Here’s a fun fact: actual babies have emerged from their mother’s womb weighing more than my daughter does right now.  Seriously, I looked it up (and you thought your chunky nine-pounder was a butterball).

I'll tell you where you can put that dinner....

I’ll tell you where you can put that dinner, Mom….

Basically, I know a thing or two about picky eaters.  So are you in the same boat? Let’s find out!

You know you have a picky eater when:

1. Your child is much more interested in the utensil itself than the food she is supposed to be placing on it.  I once left the kitchen for a minute during lunchtime and returned to find my daughter eating her mac n cheese with a screwdriver (note to self: remind Big M that it’s only okay to leave a tool within arms’ reach of a toddler if he at least plans to fix something with it at some point).

2. The very prospect of running low on your child’s favorite food, otherwise known as the ONLY thing they will happily eat, is enough to keep you up at night, tossing and turning and contemplating a 2a.m. run to the supermarket.  And running out of it altogether?  Can we say DEFCON 5?

3. You will give into almost any food request.  I made my daughter a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich (!) the other day, and apparently that wasn’t heavenly enough for her because she refused to eat it until I slathered some butter over the top, too.  So guess what?  I whipped out that Breakstone’s tub and smeared like nobody’s business. Guess what else? She still didn’t eat it.

4. Remember the days when you honestly believed you would always cook just ONE meal for your whole family and everyone would sit down and eat it together? “I’m not a short order cook!” you would exclaim. HAHAHAHAHA!  Wasn’t that cute?

5. You rarely make your own lunch because you now live off of untouched leftovers.  Same goes for the dog (who’s looking like he might need a diet soon).

6. You often find yourself wondering how your child has not yet starved to death, considering that if you went that long without a meal your stomach would leap from your body and drive itself to the nearest McDonald’s.

7. You’ll do practically ANYTHING to get your child to eat, including but not limited to: airplane/train mimicking, deception, book-reading and TV-watching during meals, singing songs about food, dancing to songs about food, buying toys that look like food, allowing them to cook their own food, and prying open their clamped little mouths and just shoving the food in yourself.  For the most part, none of that ever works.  But you’re unfailingly willing to try.  My daughter sometimes responds well to a hearty round of applause after every bite she takes.  Yep, you read that correctly: applause after EVERY SINGLE BITE. It’s like being in the Wheel of Fortune audience while trying to eat dinner.  Isn’t it amazing that I haven’t jumped off a cliff yet?

8. This is a disturbingly familiar routine:  your child tries something new and LOVES it, finishing off every last bite until the plate is scraped clean.  You practically fall off your chair with excitement, then immediately hightail over to Costco to buy a six-month supply– only to find that she suddenly hates it and refuses to touch it the next time you give it to her.  Or ever again.

9. Dinnertime in your house is pretty much a three-ring circus.  One kid is hopping dangerously up and down on her chair while the other is trying to eat his soup with his toes.  One kid has to get up to pee three times and the other follows him into the bathroom.  One kid is crying hysterically because there are vegetables on his plate while the other is crawling around on the table and tossing food into the dog’s mouth.

10. You sometimes harbor actual feelings of animosity toward anyone with children who are good eaters, secretly wishing years of obesity on the whole family (okay, not really….but maybe just one kid….).

11. You resist the urge to roll your eyes and scream whenever people without children dish out unwanted advice on how to improve your child’s diet (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray).  Come to think of it, this is your same response to ANY bit of parenting advice given by someone without children (now I’m looking at you, Supernanny).

12. There is absolutely ZERO chance of your child eating a single piece of food when company is over, or on play dates, at parties, or basically anytime there is something even the slightest bit interesting or distracting going on.  Well, at least until it’s time for cake and dessert.

13. There is no limit to the excuses your child will give for not eating, since they know they can’t use “I’m not hungry” every time.  Here are a few examples, courtesy of my son: “the cereal is too spicy”; “I’m too tired to eat”; and my favorite “but I ate dinner yesterday!”

Okay, I'll give you "too tired to eat" this time.

Okay, I’ll give you “too tired to eat” this time.

14. You’ve contemplated buying stock in Pediasure, since you could have purchased a used car by now with the ridiculous amount of money you’ve spent on the stuff.  Seriously though, are crushed diamonds their secret ingredient?

15. You’ve found yourself examining the ice cream carton for calcium content, and you’ve conceded that a few squirts of ketchup is perfectly acceptable as a serving of vegetables.

16. Going to bed without dinner is neither a threat nor a punishment to your child; it’s more of his preference.

17. You would happily travel to the end of the earth (or pay for international overnight shipping, anyway) for anything your child likes that has even the slightest amount of nutritional value.

18. All poor eating habits seem to magically disappear at Grandma’s house.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about!  She ate her whole dinner for me.” Argh.

19. You’ve witnessed your child eat random, inedible objects off the floor since the day she learned how to crawl, yet she still won’t eat anything you put in front of her.  Apparently, Cheerios taste better after marinating in dust bunnies under the couch for a month.

20. Bribery. So, so much bribery.

11 thoughts on “You Know You Have A Picky Eater When…

  1. Love this post! It reminds me of my third and fourth sons. They are super picky! My first two, no problem. My third child influenced the fourth. He didn’t like lettuce on tacos! I’d never met anyone who didn’t like lettuce on them. Well, now I have.

    Good luck! It’s gotten much better as they’ve aged. In fact, my third son (now 16 years old) actually ordered lettuce on a burger the other day. I think the heavens parted, and I heard angels singing. 🙂

  2. Pingback: My Daughter Is Skinny & My Dog Is Fat… Getting My Toddler To Eat. | The Pinterested Parent

  3. This is kids, you perhaps need to revise your game plan if this is a true account of dinner time at your house.
    I’m not sure you want help however going on what you said you need to be a bit tougher might be stressful at first but should have benefits in the long run.
    Eat together….you havn’t said that you don’t but all eating the same thing at the same time is always a good starting point. Get your kids involved I will often ask my 2 year old what she would like given her a limited choice such as “peas or sweetcorn” and if and when’s possible get them involved in the making ….we made a pizza which she helped top!
    Add a new thing to try but don’t make something new the whole dinner offer it as a side and then if it goes down well you have leftovers!
    Grow herbs and tomatoes get children to help plant and look after the plants and reap the rewards when time is right for harvest.
    Offer new choices several times as it takes a child 7-11 try’s before they truly know if they dislike a food.
    Keep calm don’t fret or threaten ignore the behavior and you should see an improving over time as you arn’t feeding into the stress. Lastly only choose one dinner don’t prepare several think of the extra time you could spend with them.
    Hope this helps, I apologize if it’s unwanted advise 🙂

    • I make it a point to keep my blog as humorous and lighthearted as possible, not to ever really be taken too seriously. If you scroll through my archives, you’ll see this is the case 99% of the time. I find that people generally relate to my insanity, which makes us all feel a little better as parents.

      That being said, I appreciate your advice. The thing is, it was much easier when I had just one child. Now that I have two, and the second is so picky, the solutions are far from simple. If I don’t go the extra mile to get her to eat, whatever that mile entails, then she simply WILL NOT EAT. She will happily go to sleep on an empty stomach, day after day. It’s a very stressful thing for a parent to watch their child refuse to eat all the time and worry about their overall health. We do eat every meal together as a family, as that is important to me, and not EVERY night is as insane as the one I described in my post. But some nights are. As you said, this is kids. Kids are bonkers. That’s why I write a whole blog about it. Thanks for reading!

  4. hahahahahahaha! But I had dinner last night!! That was priceless! My son was a great eater, and so it never occurred to me that other kids had issues. Then my sister had twins, and her boy twin loved bread, loved to eat, and all but self-weaned because he liked real food more that breast milk, whereas his sister was a grazer… we learned tons of tips and tricks (putting lots of little foods in an old egg crate or muffin tin so she could walk by and get what she wanted), and that was difficult until she had her next one… and this 3 year old doesn’t eat… “No, I don’t want that.” “No thanks” “No, I’m not hungry”. It really is stressful to watch your kid NOT EAT! It freaks me out! I was feeding her new baby (8 mo old) and when the 3 year old wanted to try it, I said “no, it’s baby food, gross!” and my sister freaked out!! “I can’t get him to eat anything, so never say no! Always let him try it so that I know he at least had something besides a french fry today!”

    Yeah… good point! LOL.

    • Ha! I know exactly how your sister feels. It’s maddening! That muffin tin idea is a good one, I might try it out. Although, there’s a good chance it will end up overturned next to the dog bowl. Still worth the try!

  5. My 5 year old is a very picky eater. Just the other day I was making fish sticks). He tells me, “Mom, I don’t like fish sticks.” to which I reply,”you just ate them 2 days ago!” He says, “yeah, I liked them when I thought they were chicken nuggets.” I told him to close his eyes and pretend they were still chicken nuggets because that was lunch 🙂 On the other hand, my 3 year old tells me that he won’t eat his dinner because there isn’t enough broccoli on his plate (he ate all of it and asked for seconds)…go figure.

    • “I liked them when I thought they were chicken nuggets.” Haha! That’s definitely a picky eater. Your other son reminds me of that ranch dressing commercial where the kids are walking around eating stalks of broccoli like ice cream cones; I think it’s for Hidden Valley. So funny 🙂

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