Stop force feeding kids! Getting picky eaters to try foods without being an asshole.

Getting Kids to eat fresh fruit and veggies with a fight
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lGetting Kids to eat fresh fruit and veggies with a fightOh. My. God. I’ve seriously had just about enough of some sanctimonious parents wielding the “my kids eat what I serve them or else they starve or vomit” card. I have been all over the board today over an article I read about a mom who forces her kids to eat whatever she serves, even to the point of vomiting, because that’s just how those little bastards learn to not be picky.

Fun. That household sounds nurturing and full of healthy choices. I understand the frustration of having a kid, who claims to be no less than starving to death for the moments leading to dinnertime, then look at the food in front of him and refuse to eat it. I get how frustrating it is beacaue I have a child who, for the better part of toddlerhood subaisted on cheese and cold hot dogs only. One bite of celery or 4 raisins a night were about his variety for a solid 6 months. My inner raging control-mom wanted to shovel whatever leafy green I put on his plate into his little child trap… but I didn’t because, for once, I’m not an asshole.

I need to be clear here – I am, in fact an asshole but not about this.

I believe in picking my battles and I have spent the majority of my kids lives cleaning up their bodily fluids. (I have actually spent a decent oart of my existence cleaning up bolodily fluids… why?) Why the fuck would I intentionally want to make one vomit at the dinner table? I really do not feel so strongly about the need to eat fucking broccoli that I will cross into full on dictator.

Here’s the really cool part. Not only do I not care if my kids eat something they say they don’t like – but I also don’t care if you think my kids should eat something.

My kids have tasted a variety of things and have, based on their preferences as small humans, determined they don’t like certain things at this point in their lives. The biggest kidiot won’t eat any vegetables with the exception of carrots, avocado and potatoes. He limits his fruit to apples, raisins, craisins and… nope… that’s it. He has tried other vegetables and fruits and a variety of other meal components and made decisions about his likes and dislikes. Same with the middle kidiot. She has been developing HER own likes. It doesn’t really bother me that I can’t run the gamut of available vegetables, I buy and serve what the people I’m feeding will eat. It doesn’t seem like I am, what this article referred to as “causing psychological damage by catering”. It feels like I’m doing the fucking opposite.

The thing about kids is that, especially during the formative toddler years, they’re trying to exercise their own sense of self. They want to discover their boundaries as little people. I think food is the best place to let them exercise their free will (within reason). Having nutritious options on hand to replace whatever they decide they don’t like is a way to let them choose.

It seems that some parents think that simply because my kids isn’t eating asparagus that he must be eating processed, sugar and chemical-laden ‘non-food’. It’s not like I’m feeding them Tide Pods for fucks sake. Instead of asparagus they eat corn. Call protective services, I’m a bad parent.

I pick my battles and I would rather make a kid wear pants to Wal-Mart than eat a Brussels sprout.

I am an adventurous eater. I try really exotic foods without hesitation. I love vegetables. I want my kids to be able to choose for themselves what they like and learn what is healthy for them.

By saying “try this bean. If you don’t like it just eat carrots” I get a kid to at least try a bean and eat the damn carrots. I feel like a total winner, no one vomited at my dinner table and my kids will probably grow up to be reasonable fucking human beings with the confidence in their choices. Thats all i really want them to be when they grow up anyway. It’s all we can hope for.

If parents want to pull and all out war over the power-struggle of dinner with kids, I guess to each their own. It will not be happening in my house.

I also have gotten flack for not making my kids sit through dinner. There’s a little more to it than that, but it’s true, they can be finished when they are finished. The only thing I tell them that they have to finish at dinner time is their water. Water with dinner and nothing else and it has to be gone so they can leave the table. They’re pretty good about it too.

I never really understood the whole “you’ll be finished when I say you are” parental argument. So, what? The kids is going to sit their waiting for you to agree with them all the while thinking you’re an idiot.

The thing is, being full is another choice. I don’t know if they’re full or not. I don’t know how their little tummies are feeling that day and have to let them communicate that to me. If 10 minutes after they get up from the table they come back, then they can finish their plate. At least they can make that determination. Then, when I’m done with dinner plates go away and bed time ensues. Uauallybtheyre so pissed about bedtime, if they were still hungry they’ve forgotten.

So here’s some of my tips to calm the food-fight

  • Just one bite. Before kids decide they don’t like something ask them to take at least one bite. Usually I revisit the food again later but I don’t press the issue of they say they don’t like it. We just move on. I never offered my kids avocado after the first time. One day a few weeks ago I was happily enjoying my avocado and my son asked me what it tasted like. He tried again and now he likes avocado.
  • Give choices. I know people abhor allowing their kids to make a decision for themself, but if it saves some sanity, I’m all for it. When the Kid tried broccoli and didn’t like it, I keep carrots, corn and celery on hand always because that’s what he will eat. I ask what vegetable they might like with dinner and because the choice is 3 things I know they’ll eat…. I KNOW IT WILL GET EATEN WITHOUT A FIGHT. Weird.
  • Let them serve themselves. Letting the kids be involved in making their plates gives them the freedom to decide they want to try something. I also will let the kids watch or help me cook so they see all the ingredients in something. Maybe something they “don’t like” is comoised of all things they do like, they just didnt realize it. Now they’ll give it shot!
  • Drink water. I love water and so do my kids. Water is important and I do make a fuss about drinking water, especially If water intake is low. If a kid doesn’t want to eat soemthingI have them drink a glass of water and go on their way.  I don’t have any good reasoning behind this tip other than drinking water is important. I have no proof this helps them eat better, but I’m satisfied.

Chilling out is my main tip. Nothing is worth fighting to the point of vomit over. My kids know how to decline food politely and express their hunger or lack of with respect. Thats all that I’m really going for! Healthy and happy going hand in hand.

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