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04/18/2010

Confession: I Have a Picky Eater

4391966411_60c3a79a7e_m My husband and I will eat almost anything once. We grow and serve a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as they come into season. Humanely raised meat of many kinds and eclectic grains accompany our meals. Ethnic foods make the rounds in our meal plans too.

But my daughter doesn't eat them.

Like so many kids, Lil munched up on orange peppers, tofu, mango, asparagus, broccoli, and more as a toddler. She tried food of all flavors, at one time enjoying sucking on raw limes.

Now, this is what she *might* eat: chicken and fish with no brown or colored bits, meatballs or sausage with no offending flavors or textures, milk, kefir, yogurt, rice, pancakes, waffles, some kinds of potato chips, plain pasta, whole wheat bread, pretzels, carrots, apples, dried cranberries, and bananas. If we count worthless unhealthy food, the list expands to include cheesy chips like cheetos, corn chips, chocolate anything, lollipops, and several other candies. Note: backyard fresh eggs from our chickens are not on the list.

Garden fresh veggies are a slim possibility for Lil-approved eating. She loves being out in the yard and often will chew on fresh mint while she putters around. Last year she occasionally ate peas and beans from the vine. This year she planted them in her garden "for you to eat, Mama".

I am not in a panic because many four to seven year olds go through a picky stage. It's developmentally appropriate, she is still growing, and at least one study has shown that even picky kids choose foods that get them appropriate nutritional content.

Yet this is a frustrating phase. If nothing is served that makes Lil's list, she fusses or doesn't eat which results in fussing later. To serve a Lil favored meal every night would bore the adults in the house. Restaurant dining has turned into a disaster because Lil doesn't even like traditional kid foods.

Our solution is to make what we want to eat and always have rice or chicken available for Lil. We put veggies on her plate and ask her to take one bite each night. I've read that kids must try a new food ten to twenty times before they might like it. There are many vegetables Lil has tried at least twenty times that she doesn't eat, but we will keep serving them.

We don't force our daughter to eat anything or hide healthy foods into her diet. The first sets up power struggles I don't want to have. Being a Sneaky Chef is just too much work. Besides, Lil is almost always cooking with us so she would likely be wise to any sneakiness.

Instead we wait for the day when Lil is a more adventurous eater. It will come. At the very least in 15 years she will move out and can eat the same boring meal every night at her own house!

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post. Rachel blogs about her lessons from an urban homestead at Hounds in the Kitchen.

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