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What To Do When Your Kid Is A Picky Eater

Christmas dinner with a picky eater
I probably should have written this post 10 years ago, but here we are.

A few weeks before Christmas, I decided to poll the family. I wanted to know what they wanted to eat for Christmas dinner. This is a challenging question for me to ask, especially with a picky eater in the family. Turkey has proven to be pretty low on our kid’s list of great Christmas dinners. It seems only Heather and I enjoy a good roast turkey, so I thought I’d put the question to them. The results of that conversation were revealing. And kind of freeing!

My son Zachary has always been a bit of a challenge when it comes to foods. He doesn’t really like vegetables, seafood, meats or fruits. He never really liked most beef, like steaks or roasts. “Too chewy”, he’d say. That pretty much leaves mac and cheese, hamburgers, and pizza. But when he was a toddler, he would try and eat most of what we served. He loved prawns, salmon, and many fruits and vegetables. Today, not so much. A classic picky eater.

He’ll argue with us that he “never” liked this food or that, yet I know full well he would eat them with gusto when he was a wee lad. (Sorry Zach, I don’t have any photos to prove this) But as he got a little older, many foods became unwelcome on his plate. So we started developing ways to hide the good stuff in his meals. Yams were pureed and mixed into the sauce for his mac & cheese. Other veggies were ground into fine dust and blended into lasagna. I stressed over creative ways to introduce nutritious foods into his diet. Much time was spent surfing recipe sites for sneaky meals for a picky eater. The struggle was real!

Meanwhile, my daughter Beth-Rose was the definition of “carnivore”. Although she has become more of a picky eater lately.

I Am A Slow Learner

And yet here we are, almost 16 years later, and I’m still concerning myself with what my kids will eat. I’ve spent far too much time catering my meal plans to a picky eater. No more! It’s time to rise up and reclaim my right to a healthy dinner, without fear of reprisal! My rebellion begins…16 years after it should have…!

Time To Cook For Me

Since I am the chief cook in our house, I’ve been the one to choose the menu for any given night. For the last year or so, Heather has taken on the dinner prep for Wednesdays. She usually makes a soup, so I affectionately call those “Soup Wednesdays”. (My creativity knows no bounds!) And we’ve made various half-hearted attempts at having the kids take one night a week each for their own dinner creativity. Their participation has been pretty inconsistent. So my dinners usually revolve around ground beef, chicken, pasta, and cheese. Lots of cheese!

But after a few odd health scares over the last year or so, I’ve learned that I need a bit of a diet adjustment. Turns out that lots of red meat, cheese, very few vegetables and maybe a tad too much beer is not very good for me. Weird huh? Who knew? So it’s time to start cooking for me again, like I used to do before kids messed with my diet. I say that knowing fully that, when my children are older and in therapy, griping about how their parents ruined their lives, they can’t blame me for forcing them to eat horrible food.

I recently read a great, funny, enlightening article about dealing with a picky eater. The author reiterated how she spent the first few years with her picky eater toddler. And the pressure she created for herself mirrored my own. And eventually she found herself in a place that removed the stress of providing the perfect nutritious meal every night. This information has been reinforced by many dieticians and pediatric health practitioners; don’t sweat your kid’s meals.

A Picky Eater I Shall Not Be

I look forward to my newfound freedom to cook for me. I have avoided so much good food that it has had an impact on my health. Foods that were looked on with disdain, or disgust, can now find their way back to my plate. Imagine! Salmon and shrimp! Colourful vegetables! Whole grains! Nuts and seeds! (I’m still not eating kale!)

Really I can’t blame everything on my kids. I haven’t been drinking enough water, and I rely on leftovers for my lunches. The unhealthy leftovers from those cheesy, beefy dinners. And they can’t really be blamed for my love of a good craft beer. (I can’t help it, doctor. They drove me to drink!) But the exciting part is, the choice is mine and mine alone. If they want to eat the foods I prepare, great! Otherwise, there’s the fridge. Make yourself something. If you want to be a picky eater, that’s up to you. I shall no longer care. So why has it taken me 16 years to come to this decision!?

The Poll Results

So what was the result of my Christmas dinner poll? Well, turkey was, as expected, rather low on the list of acceptable dishes. So naturally I decided on a couple of turkey thighs. Beth-Rose was keen for roast beef, which is good, since I had already decided I wanted a nice prime rib. And as for everything else, no one could agree on the rest of the menu. Other than dessert. Heather’s Trifle is always non-negotiable.

Ultimately I had free rein. I’m cooking, so my choice. But the amazing thing was, Zach filled his plate. He had a chunk of roast beef, which he declared was quite good! Potatoes, yams, broccoli, stuffing, the works. He just skipped the turkey thighs.

Sometimes my kids surprise me.

Zachary-a picky eater
Yours truly trying to get Zach to try something new. The struggle is real…
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[…] addition, I’ve learned that, when you have a picky eater in the family, it’s a good idea to let them do some meal planning and cooking. Zachary […]


[…] (mostly) of lifestyle and diet choices, so I do have to think about that. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the food I put in my body going forward needs to be feeding me more than just my appetite. I […]

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