Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Picky Eater Will Eat When She Gets Hungry

Dear Tazi:

My four year old daughter is a picky eater. She will only eat carbs! Her favorites are macaroni and cheese and french fries, but she will also eat spaghetti, white bread with butter, cereal, and of course sugar. Her pediatrician has said that she is healthy, but that I need to vary her diet in order to avoid problems like malnutrition and excessive weight gain.

I have tried putting vegetables in "Jennie's" mac and cheese, but she just picks them out. She does the same thing with the fruit I put in her cereal, and she will not drink milk unless it is chocolate milk - something I added to try and get her to drink milk in the first place. My husband is of no help in trying to get Jennie to eat a healthier variety of foods; he just suggests that we let her eat what she would like to eat, and as she gets older her tastes will change and so will her eating habits. His eating habits are just as bad - he will eat nothing but pizza and steak! I am at my wits end with both of them, Tazi! My husband can be responsible for his own heart attack, but I do not want my child to grow up thinking her eating habits are acceptable. Do you have any ideas on how to get my little girl to eat, Tazi?

Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated Mom:

I suggest that instead of catering to everyone's tastes, you plan a weekly menu - and stick to it. Be sure to incorporate some of the foods your family likes, like macaroni and cheese or pizza bites; rather than make these foods the main course serve them in a smaller portion, as a side dish. This will satisfy their desire for the special food but leave them with other, more nutritious selections to fill their bellies.

If your daughter refuses to eat anything on her plate except for her favorite carb-laden foods, do not offer her more of them. When she makes it known that she is done with her meal, take her plate away from her - even if most of her meal is still on it. If later in the evening she complains that she is still hungry, offer her the remainder of her dinner (reheated, if required). If she refuses it, play along by telling her that she must not be all that hungry. If she throws a tantrum, suggest that she must be tired and that it is time for bed - then follow through with the choice she makes: dinner or bedtime.

A hungry child will not choose to remain hungry for very long. Sooner, rather than later, they will come to the understanding that if they do not eat what is being served than they will not be eating at all. Once your daughter makes this connection, offer her a reward - like a dessert treat for eating some of each item on her plate. Up the ante each time by requiring she eat a little more nutritious food at each meal before she can have dessert. In time, she really will be full and not just pretending to be full so she can have room for dessert.

I have to add that these ideas are not my own, but the ideas shared with me from mothers of picky eaters - and every single one of them had the picky eater on a healthier track within a few weeks. I hope that these ideas work for you, too!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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