Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Update On My Picky Eaters

I think most of you know by now that I've got a couple of picky eaters on my hands. But it's been a while since I've updated on Ryan and Lucas' eating habits. In a nutshell, they are driving me crazy!! I'm not necessarily looking for advice, but I just need to vent.
Ryan has been a fussy picky eater since birth. He even endured feeding therapy as a young toddler because he had such a difficult time eating solids. Lucas started out better, but grew extremely picky as a toddler and never improved. Since then I have read countless books and articles, and talked to many other Moms about feeding picky eaters. I have also consulted the boys' pediatrician and he always has the same exact advice. Time and again, I get the advice "Don't turn food into a struggle. You are in charge of what you serve them.  Serve them a variety of healthy foods. They are in charge of what and how much they eat".

Sounds like very logical, sound advice. And this is mostly what we've been sticking to for the past 5+ years. I don't make my kids a separate meal at dinner. I do try to make something they may like. But in general I plan healthy meals and serve them small portions and then encourage them to at least try each food.

And each and night I vow to never cook dinner again.

People told me they would outgrow the pickiness. Much like they told me Ryan would outgrow his awful sleeping habits. Surely he will sleep through the night when he's in school. Ha! He still struggles with bedtime and never sleeps through the night in his bed. And much like his sleep struggles, his eating struggles are not improving. In my opinion, over the past few years both boys' pickiness has gotten much much worse. It is becoming clear to Adam and I that our approach isn't working.

Imagine if you were a teacher and your child HATED school and dropped out. Wouldn't you kind of feel like a failure? Yep, that's how I feel. I'm quite informed about nutrition and I LOVE cooking. And yet I can't get 2 of my kids to eat a darned healthy thing. To me healthy eating habits are an important part of life, so I really struggle with this.

Most nights my boys eat nothing. I'd say 90% of the time Lucas leaves the dinner table without eating anything. He would rather starve than try a bite of anything. Ryan is more like 80%.  On the rare occasion that Ryan tries a bite of something, he will often gag. Not turning food in to a battle sounds like an excellent idea in theory. And yet I've found we can't avoid the battles! Ryan will eat nothing for dinner and then ask for nachos. Obviously I have to say no, and then a huge battle ensues. Or he sneaks off to eat chocolate chips out of the pantry when I'm not looking. The battles are unavoidable because the boys are never happy with the answer given to them.

And it's not just dinner. Almost every day Ryan comes home from school with his entire lunch and snack untouched. And breakfast? Forget about it. Lucas rarely eats lunch either because I honestly can't think of a single thing to serve him.

I see other Moms who have kids who eat a variety of foods. Or who at least try a bite or two of less-than-preferred foods. And I AM SO JEALOUS. I dream about my boys enjoying the food I prepare for them. Last night I made homemade macaroni and cheese. Chicken sausage. And a simple romaine salad with cucumbers. Both boys went to bed without even a crumb in their tummies. I want to give up.

Here is a complete list of every single food Lucas will eat:

Peeled Apple Slices
Kale Chips
Yogurt Tubes
Orange Juice
Apple Juice
Smoothies made with milk, peanut butter, spinach, banana
Ground beef
Tortilla chips
Fig Newton type granola bars
Plain Cheerios
Breading on Chicken strips (no actual chicken unless it's a McDonald's nugget)

As you can see, unless I cook ground beef every single night, Lucas is going to bed hungry. I am happy that there are some healthy foods on Lucas' list. Ryan's list of foods is a bit longer, because he will eat foods like plain hamburgers, french fries, tacos, nachos, and cheese pizza. He will not eat the more nutritious foods like smoothies, yogurt, kale chips or strawberries. What is concerning to me is that over the past couple years, I've seen these lists get shorter, rather than longer. I believe as they get older the variety of foods they are willing to try should be expanding! To me, that would be a good way to measure their improvement. But in fact, Ryan has gotten so picky that he would only eat 1 specific brand of peanut butter. When I ran out of it for a few weeks, he decided he didn't like peanut butter at all, even his preferred brand. So now that's off the list.

So that's where we're at. I'm ready to try a different approach. Bribing? Complete starvation? Just kidding. All I know is that our approach is not showing any tangible results. And I'm completely frustrated by the pickiness, the fighting, the sneaking treats, the daily question of whether my kids will eat anything nutritious. Do you battle with your kids over food?

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