Kids who are picky eaters …. I think I am a bit out to lunch on this issue ….

Calvin

I recently attended a workshop that was hosted by Pediasure about “Picky Eaters….”

Going in to this I really felt like I was being made to sit through 45 minutes of a round-about talk, so that in the end I could be told why a product is so good, and then in turn I would have to tell you.

I am deeply suspicious of anyone trying to sell me anything.

I have a bit of a “shit alert” radar that goes off when ever I see a sales person walking towards me or a pretty yet inappropriately dressed woman in the local Pick ‘n Pay wearing a bright KNORR banner and asking me what I am going to be making for dinner.

I may appear hostile in the wine aisle as someone leans over to ask me if I need any assistance making my wine choice this afternoon.

Clearly she has no idea who I am and how much time and effort I have spent in choosing screw top wine over the years.

I feel I know me, and I feel that I can choose to use a product or not without the hard sell that is usually associated with it.

I approached this workshop with the same mild disdain and “concern” and sensitivity to the fact that at the end there will be a big “reveal” of a product that will solve the problem of picky/fussy eaters – and my guess is it was not going to be parenting classes.

The only reason I went along was because Stilletto Mom was going, and I figured a workshop was a good way to spend a quality two hours together.

We arrived a bit late –  my fault.  I kept arguing with my GARMIN – and ignoring it, and then we were late.

The location was the Deer Park Cafe.

Nice location, nice food – probably not the best for a workshop.  There were other people sitting there with kids, and kids just don’t understand they need to be quiet whilst a work shop is going on.  So they tend to keep getting up going over to the door that leads to the play area and either standing there going “mmmmmmmmuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” or leaving the door open – which slams or the tired looking mummy has to come over and close it.

Repeat a few dozen times and it starts to get a bit tiresome.

Tricky to pay attention when all the little bits of “annoying standard restaurant” stuff is going on.   I sat there and dutifully paid attention.  I really did.

The workshop was being hosted and the “discussion” was about “picky eaters.”

The problem is I kept waiting for the “sell” …….

Withstanding all the scientific experience and the frequent amount of mommy-hand-wringing associated with this topic I do have a few thoughts on it.

I think these may well be some of the reason for Picky/Fussy Eaters:

1.  Parents are afraid to say no.  

I think when junior throws a shit fit that they are not going to eat tomatoes, fish, anything white, anything that belongs to the pork family – then parents stand there and the easiest thing to do after your are exhausted and you really do not care what they eat, as long as they shovel it in, and go bath, go to bed, and hopefully have sufficient sustained nutrition to survive the next 24 hours.

In a panic the easiest thing to do is whip away the meal, and pass your kid the stuff you know they are going to eat. Repeat this a few times, and kids pretty much realise that if they just refuse to eat what ever you are presenting to them, they can “teach you” to give them what they want.

2.  Parents tend to be okay with meal times being a democracy.

I am all for kids feeling a bit empowered, and being able to put up a fairly good argument about pretty much anything.  I do think that too few parents are just not up for the challenge, and it is easier to have your child win the negotiations and then give him or her what ever she appears to be screaming about.

3.  There is way way too much discussion and a bit too little “you are the child, I am the adult, here is your food, eat it or go to bed – sorry no negotiation”

4.  Moms seem to be okay with the idea of chasing a child around the the room with a spoon trying to shovel something in.

Personally if I could continue reading my book, climbing the curtain whilst the “responsible” person ran around with a spoon trying to shovel rice and gravy into my pie hole, I think that would be far more interesting than sitting on a chair and feeding myself.

5.  In many cases (not all) in many cases the issue is that the child is actually not a picky eater, but wants to exert his or her dominance. The mom (or dad) are unable to deal with it on that level, so it becomes a “picky food issue” when the reality is that it is not a picky food issue but actually a behavioral issue.

6.  Kids are seldom picky/fussy eaters when they are at a party and there is as much chips, cake and junk food as they can breath in.

I do think there are children/people who for what ever reason do require a meal supplement or a vitamin.  But, and here is my but, it should be for a period of time or whilst the child is ill, or there might be an issue that is health related that needs to be resolved.

A child that is allergic to a food that makes their windpipe close and their tongue swell clearly should not have that food and this can be excluded from their diet.

Short of that it often comes down to who ever is going to win the supper hour fight that exists in every single home where there are children and parents and people trying to get kids to eat food.

I could easily label any of my three as fussy eaters – instead I opt to go with the rule “its on your plate eat it!”

I realise that Connor might like tomatoes less than Georgia, or Isabelle is not a big fan of meat, and so on – but they all get the same meal, and some days it is all the stuff Connor likes, and well some days it isn’t.

That is the way the cookie breaks guys – suck it up, eat, and get a move on.

I {personally} believe that if your child eats a balanced diet then they do not need meal supplements, milk supplements, vitamin supplements and the like.

I think there is a great deal of “sell” on retailers shelves, in mommy magazines about why you MUST include a supplement.

The advertisements seem to play on “moms and being able to meet all their child’s needs” – and again if you don’t give them supplement ABC then you are not letting them be all they can be.

Or what ever the tag line is.

If your child is not eating a balance diet – then adding something in as a supplement or a vitamin is not correcting the issue.  You are merely throwing a band aid at the problem, and not addressing why your child is not eating a balance diet.

All kids are natural manipulators.

All kids will always try to push a situation to their benefit – no matter how detrimental it appears at the outset.

All kids, once they realise they are able to get their own way in a situation, will learn that they will always be able to get their own way if they just continue to resist for long enough.  They know you will give in.  The question is just when.

That is my theory.

Not scientific, just my theory.

I was presented with a Pediasure hamper – and I have not used it yet.

There is something and it sits with my resistance to start to give my children supplements when in actual fact they are quite capable of eating a proper meal.

pediasure_complete_logo_sm3

I do realise I am probably not the ringing endorsement of product advertising that a PR company would hope for.  Sorry about that.

When do I think it is okay to introduce a supplement?  When there is a medical reason that your child is not consuming food – and the supplement is an interim measure for the issue to be resolved.  Your child might be on medication that makes eating a full meal difficult, or your child might be ill, and the result is he or she is not able to eat regular meals and take in sufficient vitamins and minerals.

Your child saying “I don’t want to eat it….” is not a medical reason.

I feel that in many of the issues around “picky eating” is not an aversion to a food, or a food type, it is often a behavioral problem that needs to be addressed – and actually it has nothing to do with food.

I saw this piece of advise on a site recently and I think it should be on a t-shirt somewhere:

NEVER cater to a picky eater, it just prolongs picky eating. If a child says they don’t like a food – keep serving it on a regular basis. Serve what the family enjoys and let the picky eater accommodate to the family’s tastes.

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6 Comments

  1. Zaakiyah

     /  October 2, 2013

    I agree with you, if there is no medical reason, then they WILL eat it, no debate, I swear it’s like some parents are scared of their kids!

    Reply
  2. Alexandra

     /  October 1, 2013

    Am so with you on this.

    P.S. If Nikki happens to check back – where/when did your father practice?

    Reply
  3. Tania

     /  October 1, 2013

    Supplements are good if you have a child(ren) who are very active & alot of time is spent on the go & you have days that you just cannot make that extra nutritious snack that little johnny or little jane need. It took me only but 10+ years to click onto the fact that if the child(ren) drink(s) too much fluids during a meal, whether it be water, juice, or whatever, they will be too full to finish their meal. The food that is sold to us these days is also not near as good for you and clean and healthy as it was when we were children. All the antibiotics, chemicals, GMO’s, preservatives… giving your child(ren) supplements or vitamins is not helping them be picky eaters, it’s just good sense.

    Reply
  4. I am like you when it comes to meal times and my 5 year old knows that ‘there is not democracy at meal times. It is a dictatorship, you eat whats on your plate’

    Reply
  5. Love this post! My late dad who was a pediatrician always maintained that no child will willingly starve themselves and if they are not getting the correct nutrients in their diet, it’s because parents are not giving it to them. Snacks and drinks sometimes fil these kids up at meal times and then they are not “hungry” for real food. But, I thing Sharon from the Blessed Baroness will attest to the fact that picky eaters can sometimes be related to sensory issues and this must be ruled out.

    Reply

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