Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why my picky eater eats veggies

He takes joy in harvesting cucumbers.
It's tough when you have a picky eater. You worry they will grow up with bad eating habits. They'll just eat junk food. They'll never embrace vegetables.

And it'll be all your fault!

When Brady was young, I got a lot of judgmental comments about his picky-eater-ness. I, personally, didn't push it too hard. I think I had a feeling about it.

And, thank goodness, because little did we all know he had a terrible egg allergy that meant - until age 4 - he never knew what would make him throw up or feel nauseous.

Guess I'd be picky too. But once we discovered it, the work of overcoming his caution toward food began.

To this day he remains cautious of eating new things. He doesn't like stuff all mixed together. He wants to SEE and KNOW exactly what he's eating. He may always be that way. I think what starts early can persist throughout life.

So, we don't make it a battle. We eat mostly the same things, but sometimes in different ways. We introduce new things in a structured way.

But I have to say, if I had to pick one thing, just one thing, that has made the most difference, it would be:

our garden.

Everything we grow - okra, butternut squash, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, carrots, fresh basil - he tries because they came out of the garden. If we grow it, he'll eat it. He trusts it.

We laid in bed the other night planning what we'd grow next year, including cantaloupe. He said, "I'll bet cantaloupe we grow at home is way better than from the store, especially in our garden."

Hear that ownership? Awesome.

If you have a picky eater, consider throwing some seeds in a pot or in a little space of land next year. See what grows and how your child grows as well.

Are your children picky or open to all foods? What methods do you use to help them open up and try new things?



20 comments:

  1. I have a picky eater too, and it's not because of any allergies. He simply doesn't like veggies. As he gets older, his tastes are changing so that he'll at least eat them without gagging.
    I read once where there are people who are 'super' tasters. Green veggies in particular can taste extremely intense. I've always wondered if this wasn't what made Sweet Pea so finicky.

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    1. I think lots of kids are particular, but so are adults! My ex is certain he is a super taster and I've looked it up, it seems like a very real phenomenon. Brady has a hard time with certain textures, they just make him gag. You know, adults cook what they like, so I just don't get making kids eat a lot of something they hate.

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  2. My two kids were born with completely opposite taste buds. My son is picky, picky, picky. My daughter will happily try and eat just about anything. And yes, I'm parenting them the same way. Go figure!

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    1. That is so interesting, one picky, one open to everything. So much of it is their deep down personality and physiology, I think.

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  3. When our daughter was born, we made the decision that she was going to be exposed to all types of foods. We had friends who had children that would only eat hot dogs or hamburgers. So, she had the opportunity to try many different foods. She loves, and always has, most vegetables and fruits. Meats she eats very sparingly.

    Her children are also good eaters and absolutely love fruits and vegetables. For the most part they will eat just about any vegetable. Our granddaughter (5) is going through a phase of saying she doesn't like something if she hasn't tried it. But if you get her to try it, she generally likes it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I love introducing new things. He doesn't always like them, but he knows they exist. And I make a variety of the things he DOES like. My kiddo calls all meats "chicken," ha! It's the funniest thing. He likes them all, just thinks they are all chicken. Thanks for your comment, Regina :)

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  4. My older one was picky, and like your little chap, he too doesn't like things mixed together. He's become a lot more receptive to eating different foods though he does balk at the beginning every time! I totally support your way of giving it time!

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    1. It's funny, but him not liking things mixed together makes him a healthier eater overall. He wants a meat, grain, veggie, fruit and dairy, that's it. Forget the lasagna or mac and cheese or pizza. Thanks, Roshni!

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  5. Cute picture! My husband is a little picky, so I thought this was really interesting about having a garden really helping with that. Mine has tried a few new things since we've been married . . . like sour cream on tacos. He was 25 years old before he has randomly willing to try sour cream and found that he liked it. hehe I have no idea what to do to change a picky eater's pickyness though. I think they have to decide for themselves.

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    1. Wow, I'm amazed he had not had sour cream on tacos. I thought everybody had! But then again my guy would NOT like a taco mixed together. He'd love to have the ground meat, the shell or tortilla separate, the cheese and some green pepper, but put them together and he'd hate it. So strange. But I figure, it's not big deal if he's having what we're having just all separate, ha!

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  6. Growing a garden is an awesome way to encourage picky eaters to eat! I also found that getting them to help in the kitchen with meal preparation and menu planning (with guidance of course) worked wonders. They grow it, they plan it, they help make it... it's all trustworthy and edible! :)

    ~Lorelai
    Life With Lorelai

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    1. Yes, that's such a good point! More ownership and trusting of what's on their plate. Makes sense to me. Good life skills too.

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  7. I have two picky eaters. One only wants to eat fruits, vegetables and chicken which isn't so bad since those foods are healthy at least. My other one just want junk food. I've tried and tried to introduce new stuff to both of them to no avail. I'm hoping they out grow it soon!

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    1. Oh boy, that would be tough! Hmmmm... maybe you can find a way to make homemade "junk food" that's actually healthy? Yes, I'll bet if you persist, they will out grow it and open up more.

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  8. I was a picky when a was a kid. I didn't like veggies and spicy things till I was in college. I started eating "pecel" (Indonesian salad with cabbage, long bean, spinach, kangkong, green bean sprout, and peanut sauce). I didn't like it, but I had to eat it because it was the cheapest food around my boarding house. My money was almost finished at that time as my parents hadn't send yet. I started enjoying it. Then when I started having date with my husband, we had supper in "Padang' restaurant with its spicy veggies. I loved it.
    I have been so regretful that I didn't want to try those veggies. Now two of my sons are picky eaters. We try to "force" them eating veggies. Your story is very inspiring to me. Thanks a lot.

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    1. Funny how necessity turns into something you actually like! Sounds like better college food than mac and cheese! I have found that pushing Brady with something so elemental as eating almost always backfires. He gets disproportionately upset and then that food becomes like an enemy. But a little at a time, in a structured way, with some flexibility and him helping to put food on the table has helped a lot. Thanks for your thoughts, Adelien.

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  9. My husband is an extremely picky eater We are trying to not let him influence the boys. Unfortunately his is eating vegetables. He is not a texture guy. No cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, pumpkin and so many others. Good luck with your little guy. I like how he takes ownership of the garden and wants to enjoy from his own made things.

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    1. Oh, that is SO hard when one of the parents is picky too as they do watch and see what you do. But, as long as they see you eating a variety of things, they will most likely give it a shot too. Textures can be hard, that is a lot of what bothers Brady about certain foods. I need to grow green beans and peas so he will at least give them a chance before gagging!

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  10. That's cool he enjoys helping with the garden! :)

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