Many people have asked us what we mean about our statement “End the Picky Eater Syndrome” on the home page of our website. We also have received emails from moms saying their kids are such picky eaters they could not imagine getting them to eat anything other than the four or five dinners they have been preparing for the past few years. Well, let me elaborate a bit. Although we realize kids may not agree with us, we do not think chicken nuggests, mac n cheese from the box, and plain pasta with butter is an example of kid friendly meal planning. Not that my kids don’t love this stuff- they most likely would give me the big thumbs up if I put this on the table at night. However, one of the big things I have learned over the past 13 years as a mother is that kids will become better eaters if they are not given these foods as choices at dinner time and over time they will start to come to expect and LOVE homemade healthy food every night. I believe this wholeheartedly!
Of course I had my trials and tribulations along with everyone else and made tons of mistakes. However, one of the things that always stuck with me and caused me to rethink my dinner time routine was when I was a relatively new mother with my daughter Abby and son Daniel (she was about 3 and he was just under 2-they are now 13 and 11!) and I was sitting in my mom’s kitchen talking to my Aunty Dona (well not really my Aunt but my mom’s best friend forever so we grew up calling her Aunty Dona) about how I had to make separate dinners for Abby and Daniel and then my husband and I since my kids would never eat the same food as us- a big woe is me story. Her very matter of fact comment to me was “Do you think your mother made separate dinners for all five of you kids at night? No, she made one dinner for the family and it went on the table. If you were hungry, you ate it.” It was one of those “aha” moments when I realized I was setting myself up to become a short order cook from now until the kids went to college! Definately not what I wanted. From that point on I never bought into making different dinners for the kids vs the parents and although there was initial resistance I would say after 6 months of being persistent my kids waved the white flag and no longer asked for the mystery meat in the package at dinner time. I have never, ever gone back and our family rule is “if you don’t like it we will not force you to eat it but you cannot go have a bowl of cereal or peanut butter toast at the dinner table instead- you have to wait until we are all finished” Almost always they will end up having a taste (although ususally they are moaning in the process) and realize its not that bad. “Hey, I might even like this!” My kids now are so used to this rule they don’t even ask for something else and end up eating what is prepared. For the most part, all three of my kids are good eaters and the requests for something else are few and far between.
Of course I consider their tastes when planning our weekly menu and do not do green curries or hot & spicy meals or things of that nature. So, the lesson I learned was one of the keys to get your kids to NOT be picky eaters is to NOT give them a choice for the old fallbacks. Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. I would love to hear how it went if you do!