Today we’ll get together with family and enjoy some good times and good food. Well, some of us will. My oldest daughter won’t enjoy any food. She’ll whine and complain and basically act as if I’m asking her to eat monkey brains if I offer her something as exotic as a hamburger.
I have a picky eater. I guess in some way I deserve it, since I myself spent much of my life thinking that I didn’t like various foods based on scent and appearance alone. It wasn’t until I got pregnant with her that I realized the error of my ways and opened up my mind to new foods. Like her mother before her, my daughter spends much of her mealtime with her face scrunched in disgust, refusing to so much as sit near the offending foods.
It wasn’t always like this. Knowing my own history, I introduced a wide variety of foods, hoping to avoid a repeat of my own issues. As a one year old, she happily ate anything on her plate, from black beans and rice to salmon and from edamame to peanut butter sandwiches. But as she grew into a headstrong toddler, her repertoire of foods began to shrink. Foods that were once welcome and loved were refused, accompanied by tears and tantrums.
Now I have a six year old who sometimes seems to exist on air and chocolate milk alone. We’ve fought about food. We’ve ignored her issues. We’ve invited her to cook with us. We’ve asked her to leave the table. We’ve done just about everything I can think of to break the cycle of picky eating. I’ve come to dread meals with her. They are stressful and exhausting. I just want to manage a pleasant family dinner that provides some sort of sustenance for her body and her mind.
Of course I blame myself. I try not to beat myself up. I reason that I have two other children who will happily eat what I give them. They do have their preferences and tastes. Lorelei doesn’t want anything to do with mashed potatoes. Sawyer’s tastes change from month to month. But they eat. So I’m left with Annabella, my skinny, stubborn, and sensitive soul. And I’m still left with questions of what to do.
What do you do? Have you struggled with picky eaters? What has worked for your family?