The more I read about how to combat picky eating, the more I think battling over food is pointless. It just makes mealtime miserable for us. We have gradually stopped forcing Ryan to take bites of new things. We strongly encourage it, but if he won't try something at the table, we don't make a big fuss about it these days. Sometimes he goes to bed hungry, because I just can't justify allowing him not to eat dinner and then rummage for a sugary snack before bed. However, on the rare occasion that I serve dessert after a meal, we let him eat it even if he hasn't had a great dinner. I know this might not make sense. But the idea behind this is that he can choose to eat however much he wants of what I serve. That includes dessert (he's not big on desserts anyways). But I'm not going to make him a separate meal or allow extra snacks after the meal. What I serve is what he gets, and he has full control over what he eats off his plate. One rule I do enforce is not snacking for about two hours before dinner. Ryan's appetite is so tiny that he needs to be really hungry at mealtime in order to eat anything.
On an average day Ryan doesn't eat much. He is just small and doesn't have a big appetite. I chose a random day last week and snapped pictures of everything he ate throughout the day. Is his diet ideal? No way. He is awful about eating fruits and vegetables, and he probably doesn't get many healthy fats in his diet. Here we go.....
School Snack and Lunch: Ryan's snack was an applesauce pouch, which he brought home uneaten. So he lasted until noon without eating anything. His lunch at school was a small piece of leftover cheese pizza, 5 homemade animal crackers, and a box of raisins. He ate the pizza and crackers and brought home the raisins uneaten.
Afternoon Snack: Ryan ate these two mini homemade muffins, plus a 3rd. I made them with whole wheat flour and added mini chocolate chips. He loved them. He also ate a few more homemade animal crackers.
Dinner: Dinner was chicken fajitas with kale chips and raspberries. You can see what I served Ryan on his plate below. Small tortilla, two raspberries, chicken, bell pepper, cheese, and kale chips. He wrapped the chicken and cheese in the tortilla and took a few bites, but then decided he didn't like it. (This was huge for him....I was shocked that he actually tried the tortilla!!) He ended up eating one more small piece of chicken by itself. He did not eat any kale, bell pepper, or raspberries.
So that's what Ryan ate in a day. I would say it's a pretty accurate representation of the amount of food he eats. I wish I could have gotten a fruit or vegetable into his little body. But some days he will eat apple slices, so that's better than nothing.