Thursday, August 27, 2009


This child is driving me crazy at dinner time! Seriously, what the heck is up with her? Each night she flips out when she sees what I have made. It doesn't matter if she loved it two weeks ago, now she hates it all. Most nights she refuses to eat. So far I have tried:
1. ignoring
2. sending her to her room
3. no dessert
4. putting it in the fridge until later
5. no food the rest of the night
The other problem is that she will eat a few bites and 'be done.' Do I let it go? Do I make her sit there all night? She hates vegetables, so unless it's corn, you can forget it.

Here is the kicker: I was a small eater (as a child). I hated veggies. I remember sitting there having to eat a stinking brussel sprout, spinach, or whatever gross vegetable my parents served. I gagged, whined, sobbed, and everything she is doing. I get how she feels. I know that she doesn't understand why it's important for her body to eat healthy foods. She's four for crying out loud. I want to scream!

My dad has repeatedly told me not to struggle with my kids over food. I don't want food to become a power struggle. That could cause a real problem down the road. I also don't want my four year old thinking that Chef Mommy is going to give her an extra big bedtime snack later on when she is hungry. Another issue is taking the kids for ice cream (like tonight b/c Ryan had two teeth pulled today) and knowingly bringing a screaming kid who can't have ice cream. It's not fun, and it ruins the fun for all involved.

I need some advice gals. Do I let it go? Do I stick with it? Do I tell her to "eat what she can" like my dad told me as I got older? I really don't think that I will get her to eat veggies whether or not there is a consequence or reward. HELP.

PS: She told me that it's not fun the way I treat her. Olivia also told me that I like Kate than her, because Kate will eat beans. I am 'the meanest mommy ever.' I am currently listening to sobs about the fact that she 8 or 20 bites so "what's the answer mommy? Can I play or not?" Oh and I just got asked what we are having tomorrow night. I told her maybe more green beans. She didn't see the humor in that.
Dear Lord.


Erin said...

Warning--LONG comment.
Oh, my little Olivia. I know this is driving you nuts, but reading about it is a hoot. For better or worse, here's my advice:

I agree with Dad, and my background also supports the idea of not making food a power issue. Kids have so little control over their daily routines. What I mean is, we dictate where they go during the day, we often impose (reasonable) expectations on what they wear, we decide when they have to stop playing and take a nape or get ready for bed, and we determine the menu most of the time. I always ask my students: "If Jenny doesn't drink all her milk, and you are insisting that she finish it, you'd better have a good reason. What is your rationale for making Jenny drink all her milk when she says she's full or doesn't want anymore?" That usually gets them thinking about how what we think is "good for the child" often sounds like a power play to their ears.

I tell the boys that it's okay not to like some foods but you still have to eat a few bites (3-5 usually). We take more issue with Grant's whining and moaning at the table than with how much he eats (or doesn't eat). I do let them have a snack later, but I limit the choices to strictly healthy items (applesauce, yogurt, toast--no ice cream, popsicles, etc). I think it's okay if she doesn't eat that much at dinner. Her body is probably telling her she's full. Think of it this way: how many women's magazines have told us we need to eat 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones? Olivia is probably naturally inclined to that pattern--her supper is one of 6 smaller meals and her snack at the end of the night is the final "small meal" of the day.

Finally, here's this: at least you're not preparing round steak. Blech!! Remember when that's what mom made for dinner? Hell, I STILL don't want to eat that.

TBRKO said...

She refuses to take even one TINY bite though. Last night she had her tuna hotdish for a snack, but no way would she eat a speck of bean. Ugh.
Round steak. GROSS. Sorry mom, but another gross one was hash. WTF?

Erin said...

I kept thinking about this as I showered and got ready this morning. Another thing you could try is give her two choices for the veggie that night and let her choose which one you should prepare. Doesn't guarantee she'll eat it, but sometimes it makes a slight difference for my kids.

What about bean bite chased with some applesauce or special juice to drink?

How important is it that she take one bite of whatever it is she's refusing? And is it worth the battle? That's the question, I guess.

ABCDH said...

I so feel you. I personally think this problem it two fold (atleast for me) because 1) you want your child to get proper nutrition and 2) It is SO frustrating to make a nice meal and then be SO unappreciated for it!
I know we have covered this topic before and I really don't remember what I said because, truth be told, I am pretty inconsistent when it comes to the dinner time thing.

When my Mom was visiting a couple of weeks ago she told me two things in regards to dinner. 1) no child who has food available to them has died of starvation or been sick because of unproper nurishment and 2) try and keep dinner conversations positive - even when it's in regards to them eating.
I get so sick of hearing myself or Bill say "eat your dinner, please" because I feel like we sound like a broken record. Also, because of the power struggle I feel like the more I say it, the more they just sit there and either screw around or whine about it.
One thing that has worked for me is to simply take dessert out of the equation. No one gets any treats, no matter how much or how little they eat. That way, when you're full you're full.
I DO have my children take a bit of everything. I don't think a 3 or 4 year old can say - just by looking at something - that they don't like it.
Also, it is a fact that a child has to be offered a food between 10-15 times before they know if they really like or not.
Unfortunately for my kids, I do not and will not make different meals for each person. On occasion if it's a "no cook" nights, I will let them choose a sandwich or cereal or whatever, but as a rule I make one meal for the entire family. I think that is common in most households. And I always make sure there is atleast something that everyone likes with the meal (example: piece of bread=CeCe, strawberries=Laney).
Lastly,(and this got REALLY long) my general rule is either sit nicely at the table and eat or get down, but if you refuse dinner don't be asking me for anything else because it's not happening. (but if they are seriously hungry before bed I may give in because by that time they have probably forgotten all about the dinner struggle)

TBRKO said...

Thank you friends, moms, and ladies! I have tried drink chasers, ketchup drowning, and all else. The only veggies she will eat is corn. Do I make it nightly? Is it a big deal that it's really the sweetest vegetable out there?
I am sure some people think that a child should eat and like everything. I was not that way, so like I said, I get it. But, dang it if it doesn't drive me crazy!

ABCDH said...

I'm pretty sure corn has no nutritional value. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Erin said...

Olivia is just like her uncle Kris--only likes corn. It's a starch in my book, not as nutritional as any green vegetable. That said, I am SO THERE with AJ's mom's advice. She's not going to be undernourished if she doesn't eat veggies right now. Serve a tiny bit on her plate, encourage her, and clamp down on the drama part of "I don't like this food." When she does give in and take a bite, let out a little cheer and tell her how proud you are that she tried it even when she thought she wouldn't like it.

HHLSS said...

Mix all her food into a mush, melt some butter and shredded cheese on top and add salt and pepper. Call it something special! My mom used to put butter and salt and pepper on anything we didn't like (or claimed we weren't going to like). Otherwise vitamins should cover any deficiencies. Maybe try giving everyone else veggies and not her....she might want something because she is being denied! :)

Jenay said...

My girlfriend Heidi is an RN that works with families to coach them on healthy lifestyles. This is her thought and it has really worked for us!

We decide what they eat and they will decide when to eat it.

So for us when we sit down for dinner we make them sit there, if they don't want to finish their plate-fine. However,they have to sit at the table until dave and i are done. We leave their dinner plate on the table until they go to bed. Nine out ten nights Evan comes back to the table and eats it. It has really helped to turn our high stress disasterous dinners around. The other thing i did was cancel dessert until futhrt notice! I will offer it once in awhile, if we have an awesome night where they both clean their plates.

The other thing that i do to make myself feel better is to offer my kids the V8 Infusion fruit juice. They love it and each serving has a full serving of veggies-they have no clue!

Dr. J said...

Yes corn has almost no nutritional value...
Find a picture of some insanely fat unhealthy young kid and tell her this is what happens when you don't eat your veggies! ok I'm kidding, kinda, hey it might work...

TBRKO said...

Questions people:
1. Jenay what about the food going bad? I can't stand to let it sit out. We did refrigerate Olivia's supper and she did eat it..minus the beans last ngiht.
2. V8 Fusion is great BUT it gives Olivia diarrhea.
3. Ryan I already have a daughter WAY too into her appearance (Kate). I want to keep Olivia as uninterested in her body as possible. Thanks for that though.
4. Heather...tried that too.
5. I am asking for a food processor for xmas. That way I can reallllllly hide stuff in the food.

Jenay said...

Bonnie- Have you tried V8 splash? It's not as concentrated.. I guess, I really don't worry about the food going bad. (which is probably bad, I know.) Depending on what it is, I will put it in the fridge and nuke it. Otherwise, it sits for 30 minutes and he comes back to eat it. With my kids, I can still be cleaning up dinner when they come to me and tell me they are hungry.. UGH

Kara said...

Bonnie, our food safety guy at work said that food can sit up for 4-5 hours. We asked a couple months ago when we had a bunch of meetings and food was going to sit around for awhile. Although things with mayo might not follow that timing.

Pout Baby Boutique said...

I have no advice, because I'm pretty sure Isabelle is the pickiest eater ever. She is literally down to about five meals she will eat, plus fruit. I'm at a loss and so tired of figting it.
Hang in there and let me know when you find the magic solution.


Erin said...

Jenay, do you expect your kids to clean their plate or just finish more of their dinner? I'm curious to try your idea!

Anonymous said...

teaching our children to eat their food on the plate was all in the training we did with them from day one. I would suggest you read the book To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debbie Pearl. It is a very easy read and costs about $4. From following the suggestions in that book our children don't have eating problems. Hope it helps.

Melissa said...

Well I tried to post a comment right after this post and it would not work. It looks like in the mean time all subjects were covered. A famous lady once said,"Let them eat cake!" Even though Queen Elizabeth was not meaning literally because England was starving at the time she may just have had the right idea. Have you seen the book by Jerry Seinfeld's wife that has recipes you can hide veggies in? I have heard great things from mom's on this. Good luck! I say tonight you make a smorgasbord (sp?) of veggie's...:)

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, I say leave her alone. If she's hungry, she will eat. The arguments, etc. over food will seem so trivial in 10 years! I agree with AJ's mom- she will not starve or be malnourished.
You seem to have a thing on beans. I take it you mean green beans. My dad (an agromonist) always said that you couldn't eat green beans fast enough to stay alive.
Have a good one, Love, Vic

Jenay said...

Erin- sorry i just reread this... No, i do not expect my kids to clean their plate. I expect them to eat until they feel full. I was and still am a very picky eater. I remember sitting at the table as a kid for what seemed like hours after everyone else left. What did that ever do for me? Nothing! I stil hate peas, roast, stew etc.

Anonymous said...

OK, now you know- I do read your blog!

Please forgive me, it's the Cliff Klavin in me- It was the French Queen Marie Antonette (sp?) who said "let them eat cake" during the french revolution in response to her ministers telling her that the people were hungry and had no bread. Shortly after making that crude remark to hungry people, she was beheaded. This all took place prior to Napoleon's rise so somewhere in the 1780's or so. Vic

TBRKO said...

Vic have I told you I am now teaching early American History this year? I might need to make a special trip to borrow some of your Civil War books, and to get a major lesson from you.
Maybe we should tour colonial America together. It would be fun. And, best yet, I won't call you any mean names...:)