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Picky Eater Kids

Spinoff from dcbride's thread. 

So I have a really low tolerance for kids who "won't" eat this or that. I grew up in a "here's the menu - take it OR leave it" house. And we weren't allowed to just eat all the bread, leave the veggies and then claim we were too full to eat anything else. There wasn't any junk in the house (that I knew of), so snacking didn't allow me to avoid certain foods at meal time either. How is extreme picky eating a thing? And why do parents tolerate it? Serious question. Is it just because it's like "I can't with this today, here are some fucking nuggets. For the love, just stop crying"? Or is it that the kid has previously gone on hunger strike due to the lack of McDonald's in the house?

This is such a first world problem to me. #ventover
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Re: Picky Eater Kids

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    I'm not a parent, but my thought is that it begins with an exasperated parent giving in and then the kid knows they can break the parent, and the cycle is born. 

    I come from a whole family of picky eaters, so my parents were willing to accept when we were picky.  That didn't mean they cooked us a separate meal, but we were always free to pour a bowl of cereal or fix a sandwich, as long as we sat with the family at dinner.  We were always encouraged to try new things but never forced to eat something we really didn't like.




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    I remember a post similar to this on here awhile back. I think it's a "thing" in most cases, but I have an actual, honest medical problem where I cannot eat certain things. I'm not talking allergy, but I'm missing specific enzymes that cause certain things to be intolerable to me. It's taste mostly (I'm also a supertaster), but I also get physically ill when I eat these items. My mom tried to get me to eat "normally", but thankfully, she gave up and started making specific meals for me. She didn't know she was making me sick by forcing me to eat things I didn't like.

    Basically, all I'm saying is that some people do have a legitimate issue and are picky for a reason. However, I'm surely the VERY small minority.

     







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    bethsmilesbethsmiles member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited February 2015

    I don't consider myself a picky eater and I grew up in a household similar to yours - we were expected to eat what was on our plate without complaining. However, my parents could not ever get me to eat peas at any point in my lifetime. When I was little they would try to hide them in other food I liked and I would spit them all out.

    I imagine some children are just like that but with more than just peas. If every meal is a battle it's going to get exhausting and I can understand if sometimes parents just aren't willing to keep fighting the same fight every single day.



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    I'm so with you. I think the parents just get beaten down and demoralized from fighting it all the time... but I can't help but think that being a little stricter when they're littler leads to less problems down the road. My BFF's older kid gives her all kinds of grief over food, and eats a very limited diet. She just relents a lot of the time.

    He eats really well for me though... I know that a part of that is just "showing off" for someone new, and not wanting to look like a little shit in front of someone who's not his mom. And I haven't been facing "NO!" every day. But he came to my house for an overnight Friday, and for dinner I said "we're having chicken fingers, and you can have either mac and cheese with broccoli in it OR butternut squash." He said he wanted just mac and cheese but no broccoli, I said that wasn't an option and I'd really love him to try it for me. He did, and said it was good! He ate two large (homemade, buttermilk-soaked) chicken fingers too, even though at home the only meat he eats is hot dogs. I just didn't give him another choice, and I didn't let either of them fill up on fruit. I gave them both a little applesauce, but wouldn't let them touch the pineapple until they'd eaten meat and veg.

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    I grew up picky and my mom condoned it. I remember her telling people that I was picky just like her. Ugh. But she was a struggling single mom so I don't blamer her.

    In reality I just had a shitty palette.

    I am not a parent but I don't understand why people feed children the most processed, fake crap that they would not eat themselves (or at least not regularly).



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    I admit that I was a very picky eater as a kid. Actually, I'm still pretty picky but I have gotten better.

    When I was little, the only things I could get out of eating were beets and green peas. Regardless of how much I hated spinach and broccoli and all other sorts of things, I  had to eat. It didn't mean I liked it but I still ate it.

    My parents gave us good healthy foods and we were expected to eat it and be thankful for the time they took to prepare it and be respectful by appreciating.

    I don't care how picky of an eater your child is, caving doesn't solve the issue. unless they have literally gone on a hunger strike and became malnourished, there is no other reason to just give in.

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    lurkergirl said:
    I'm not a parent, but my thought is that it begins with an exasperated parent giving in and then the kid knows they can break the parent, and the cycle is born. 

    I come from a whole family of picky eaters, so my parents were willing to accept when we were picky.  That didn't mean they cooked us a separate meal, but we were always free to pour a bowl of cereal or fix a sandwich, as long as we sat with the family at dinner.  We were always encouraged to try new things but never forced to eat something we really didn't like.

    This. Then the kid can sense your weakness and will exploit it.

    It is scary the amount of stuff babies and toddlers can pick up on.

    BabyFruit Ticker
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    Growing up we had to try everything. I was a very picky eater  because I would literally gag on some food due to the texture (still do with a handful of things). My mother was very tolerant of this as long I tried something before deciding i did not like it. I will say though that if I did not eat what was served, to bad, so sad. Maybe a piece of fruit but no special meals were made. 

    I was also stubborn at a very young age. I remember my dad trying to force me to eat oatmeal for breakfast one day. I refused (I still cannot get this down). When I got home from school he tried to make me eat the same cold oatmeal for dinner. I might have been in 3rd grade, and was fine have not breakfast or dinner that day over trying to get down the oatmeal. 
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    I'm sure it's really hard on parents--you don't want to cave to the whims of a damn toddler, but you also hate to see them go hungry or just flat-out can't take the tumult sometimes. Plus there are studies out there that say if you push things TOO hard, kids rebel even more.

    On the other hand, I think there's a difference between "Oh, you didn't like the green beans today, but you tried them, good job" and trying again another day and "Well, Timmy just won't eat green beans, and I can't imagine why he would find the sight of them to be such a fraught thing given my obvious distress/"fight stance" every time I serve them!" Kids pick up on our anxieties, I think, so if you serve That Food with your trepidation written all over your face, I think they'll echo you. If you treat a kid's palette like the growing thing it actually is, and continue offering the same mix of healthy (and perhaps disliked) foods with the expectation that hey, maybe today you'll be into it! then I think they'll be more likely to follow suit.

    All of this of course comes with the huge caveat that I don't have kids, and was never particularly picky myself (I disliked certain things, but the rule in our house was "one bite" and it was never such a difficulty that I couldn't gag down one tiny bite, especially knowing that dessert was contingent on my doing so).
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    This baby knows exactly how I feel
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    Growing up we had to try everything. I was a very picky eater  because I would literally gag on some food due to the texture (still do with a handful of things). My mother was very tolerant of this as long I tried something before deciding i did not like it. I will say though that if I did not eat what was served, to bad, so sad. Maybe a piece of fruit but no special meals were made. 

    I was also stubborn at a very young age. I remember my dad trying to force me to eat oatmeal for breakfast one day. I refused (I still cannot get this down). When I got home from school he tried to make me eat the same cold oatmeal for dinner. I might have been in 3rd grade, and was fine have not breakfast or dinner that day over trying to get down the oatmeal. 
    Yup. I used to have to sit at the table until I finished my vegetables. Nothing is worse than cold brussel sprouts to an 8 year old.
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    I'm sure it's really hard on parents--you don't want to cave to the whims of a damn toddler, but you also hate to see them go hungry or just flat-out can't take the tumult sometimes. Plus there are studies out there that say if you push things TOO hard, kids rebel even more.

    On the other hand, I think there's a difference between "Oh, you didn't like the green beans today, but you tried them, good job" and trying again another day and "Well, Timmy just won't eat green beans, and I can't imagine why he would find the sight of them to be such a fraught thing given my obvious distress/"fight stance" every time I serve them!" Kids pick up on our anxieties, I think, so if you serve That Food with your trepidation written all over your face, I think they'll echo you. If you treat a kid's palette like the growing thing it actually is, and continue offering the same mix of healthy (and perhaps disliked) foods with the expectation that hey, maybe today you'll be into it! then I think they'll be more likely to follow suit.

    All of this of course comes with the huge caveat that I don't have kids, and was never particularly picky myself (I disliked certain things, but the rule in our house was "one bite" and it was never such a difficulty that I couldn't gag down one tiny bite, especially knowing that dessert was contingent on my doing so).
    Exactly. 

    Like, when is your kid exploiting your exhausted self to get McDonald's and when are they truly hating something (like @morewineplease and the oatmeal)? 
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    plainjane0415plainjane0415 member
    First Anniversary First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited February 2015

    My mom and dad never forced me to eat everything on my plate or anything I didn't like.

    That being said, I am not and have never been a picky eater.  My favorite snack growing up was steamed broccoli with cheddar cheese.  I would beg for it... It was very odd.. I also liked buttermilk.  So my parents never really had an issue with what I would and wouldn't eat because for the most part I would eat anything.... and still do.

    FI on the other hand, is VERY picky.  Like, hamburgers and chicken nuggets only picky.  Since we have been dating, he has ventured out to mexican and chinese food, and really likes it now, but when we first started dating he wouldn't touch it. I'm not sure but I do think his parents kind of catered to him in the food dept by not having him try new things and stuff.  But I don't know that for sure.. I just know he's picky, always has been, but is now a little better.

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    My younger brother was a very picky eater when we were growing up. He wouldn't have any type of sauce on his food. It was definitely a texture thing. No sauce on his pasta, nothing bbq or with dressing of any type. My parents basically served him the same food we ate but without the sauce. His food always looked so boring. Yuck. But, he loved it. 

    I think many parents give in because they just don't have all night to deal with introducing foods and convincing, pleading with kids to eat it. I know a couple of friends struggled with their babies not eating what they were giving them. I know they resorted to known liked foods to avoid their baby from starving. 
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    You have just outlined my world. I grew up similarly to you-- if we didn't want what was being served, we didn't eat. I was lucky because my dad's a great cook and my parents raised very open-minded eaters. It's how I have a niece who's asked for lox and olives (and cake, of course) at her 3rd birthday party next month. (So proud!)

    The Kid is 15 and a beast about eating. He skips dinner most nights because he doesn't want to eat veggies. He's tried the "I'm too full" bullshit too many times so now he's forced to eat his veggies before anything else. I tried to let him keep some dignity when the extended family was over but he abused it so now his cousins see him eating his salad before he gets anything else. I'm making tuna casserole tonight (I didn't make it to the grocery store) so he'll get small portions at a time because there's a high likelihood of him eating the tuna and noodles while picking around the veggies. I used to do the yummy crunchy topping but I made the mistake of letting him serve himself and he scraped it off the top of the entire casserole. Asshole.

    The Kid is 15 and lives with us during the week. On weekends, he's with his mom and there's no food discipline- fried chicken, pizza, and chips. He occasionally gets his mom's home-cooking which is the same as what DH grew up with-- traditional Mexican cooking with almost no veggies. (Inner city Mexican-American cooking with lots of fatty meats, rice, potatoes, and minimal veggies.)

    We have the fight because The Kid is 15 and significantly overweight -- with 2 diabetic parents. He's healthy now but eats the free school lunch and breakfast every day (his mom illegally signed him up and we can't get it stopped)-- basically just a bunch of crap and an apple (that he throws away). He's in heaven because they give him the sausage biscuits, burgers, and grilled cheese that he wants while we serve veggies. DH was in horrible shape as a kid because of the same kinds of foods and caused his body long-term damage. We want better for The Kid.

    *end of rant*

    sorry
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    This is far from a one size fits all topic.

    Some kids have actual issues.  Some are just being PITA.  Yes, I've been around enough kids to know that some of them are just PITA.   They will do always do the opposite of what the parent wants just case they can.

    I think most kids fall in the middle somewhere.  Like adults they like somethings and not others.   I don't have a problem with pickiness as much as I have a problem with kids who only eat 3 items.     

    You don't like peas?  Fine, no a problem. 

     You will ONLY eat Mac-n-cheese.  Now that is a problem.

    I do somewhat agree this is a FWP.  A lot of the world just do to have the food options available to be picky.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
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    I'm sure it's really hard on parents--you don't want to cave to the whims of a damn toddler, but you also hate to see them go hungry or just flat-out can't take the tumult sometimes. Plus there are studies out there that say if you push things TOO hard, kids rebel even more.

    On the other hand, I think there's a difference between "Oh, you didn't like the green beans today, but you tried them, good job" and trying again another day and "Well, Timmy just won't eat green beans, and I can't imagine why he would find the sight of them to be such a fraught thing given my obvious distress/"fight stance" every time I serve them!" Kids pick up on our anxieties, I think, so if you serve That Food with your trepidation written all over your face, I think they'll echo you. If you treat a kid's palette like the growing thing it actually is, and continue offering the same mix of healthy (and perhaps disliked) foods with the expectation that hey, maybe today you'll be into it! then I think they'll be more likely to follow suit.

    All of this of course comes with the huge caveat that I don't have kids, and was never particularly picky myself (I disliked certain things, but the rule in our house was "one bite" and it was never such a difficulty that I couldn't gag down one tiny bite, especially knowing that dessert was contingent on my doing so).
    Exactly. 

    Like, when is your kid exploiting your exhausted self to get McDonald's and when are they truly hating something (like @morewineplease and the oatmeal)? 
    I would have to think it comes down partially to delivery on the parent's part. Like, if a kid says "Noooo, I don't want broccoli in my mac and cheese!" and you say "I'd love it if you'd try" a la Lolo, and they try it and hate it? Okay. But if they say "Noooo" and you sit there and force them to finish it even after it's cold and nasty, well, that's just setting everyone up to fail, in my opinion.

    I also think it partially has to do with how you tolerate tantrums in general. Listen, I was a HUGE tantrum thrower when I was tiny. I was a right asshole. But my parents ignored me when I screamed, but listened when I controlled myself. They didn't cave when I was freaking out, but they would reward my self-control if I got it together and "used my words" by considering my wishes. Kids who learn that shouting doesn't work are less likely to shout about food. Kids who learn that sometimes even being reasonable won't get them what they want (I could've calmly explained to my mom all morning why I really shouldn't have to go to dance class that day but it wouldn't have worked) will be more likely to take that one bite or try the new thing even though they don't want to.
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    This baby knows exactly how I feel
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    KatWAG said:
    lurkergirl said:
    I'm not a parent, but my thought is that it begins with an exasperated parent giving in and then the kid knows they can break the parent, and the cycle is born. 

    I come from a whole family of picky eaters, so my parents were willing to accept when we were picky.  That didn't mean they cooked us a separate meal, but we were always free to pour a bowl of cereal or fix a sandwich, as long as we sat with the family at dinner.  We were always encouraged to try new things but never forced to eat something we really didn't like.

    This. Then the kid can sense your weakness and will exploit it.

    It is scary the amount of stuff babies and toddlers can pick up on.

    They're like bears, they can smell your fear. Terrifying creatures, kids are.

    Truth. Respect the fear.
    BabyFruit Ticker
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    I'm picky but only texture wise. I won't eat onions or tomatoes because of their texture, but I will eat onion flavoured soups and ketchup.
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    My brother when through a period where he could literally eat only a few things. Like anything else he'd start gagging and end up throwing up. There was no medical reason why, it was just something with the texture is our best guess. 

    So for awhile there, it looked like my step-mom and dad gave into his picky eating demands. Where in actuality they were giving in to his "please dear god don't puke again" demands. 

    I was the direct opposite of a picky eater. I'd eat fucking anything you put in front of me. But my problem was cleaning my plate. I didn't. I'd eat a few bites of everything, say I was full, and leave the table. Only to be hungry again a few hours later. Which at first frustrated the ever loving fuck out of my parents. They thought I was just wanting to go and play. But I was really full when I said I was full, my metabolism is just funky that way. It's the same now as an adult. I feel full, stop eating and an hour later be hungry again.
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    MagicInk said:
    My brother when through a period where he could literally eat only a few things. Like anything else he'd start gagging and end up throwing up. There was no medical reason why, it was just something with the texture is our best guess. 

    So for awhile there, it looked like my step-mom and dad gave into his picky eating demands. Where in actuality they were giving in to his "please dear god don't puke again" demands. 

    I was the direct opposite of a picky eater. I'd eat fucking anything you put in front of me. But my problem was cleaning my plate. I didn't. I'd eat a few bites of everything, say I was full, and leave the table. Only to be hungry again a few hours later. Which at first frustrated the ever loving fuck out of my parents. They thought I was just wanting to go and play. But I was really full when I said I was full, my metabolism is just funky that way. It's the same now as an adult. I feel full, stop eating and an hour later be hungry again.
    The younger kid was like this the other day. He ate a respectable amount of each food, then said he was full. (Likely because he wanted to go back to watch TV.) OK cool, but half an hour later when he said he was hungry, he got his dinner leftovers warmed up. No granola bars, no more fruit. I'm not making you popcorn. (He did sit and gobble down two more small portions of his dinner - he was legitimately hungry again, not trying to game for different food.)

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    amelisha said:
    My mom has run a daycare out her home for 26 years and has worked for probably a hundred families in that time, and she has strong feelings about this because she's never not been able to cure a child of "picky" eating. She has never-broken rules in her house about mealtime (everyone has to try at least three bites of everything, and no one gets a different meal, and no one has to finish everything and may have more of the parts of lunch they DO like if they do the three-bites thing with the rest) and as a result every kid she's ever worked with ends up eating stuff they would never eat at home and accepting new foods readily. But my mom has a ton of patience, is incredibly no-nonsense, and is less likely to be swayed by emotion than a parent is. If I have kids I pray I'll be half the caregiver she is, honestly, but it takes an incredible amount of time, coolheadedness, and consistency to deal with this in some cases.

    Some parents, I think, just don't have the energy to fight it. While my mom can stay placid through ten food-related tantrums, knowing the end is in sight, I think a lot of people who haven't worked with hundreds of kids over the years can't always see the forest for the trees and allow extreme pickiness for the sake of harmony. And maybe that makes their homes a more pleasant place to be than my mom's sometimes, honestly, but I do think it does kids a disservice if you let it go on too long, because our palates ARE shaped by what we eat as children and a child that eats only chicken nuggets and peanut butter is way more likely to be an adult who lives on French fries and white bread.

    Parenting is hard and I don't like to judge other people's choices too much but I have seen SO many parents and their different styles growing up in my house and I am pretty convinced that trying new foods is a battle worth fighting. When I was a nanny in Spain I was always so amazed at how all the children I met would dig into, like, squid cooked in its ink and all manner of vegetables, but it was a cultural thing and expectation there that kids eat what their parents eat, so almost all kids did. Because in North America we have this weird culture of "kid foods" it's totally different and such an uphill battle. 
    I think some of this has to do with not being the parent too. A friends kid was acting up Christmas Eve when she did not want to try any of the polish food that was being served. She gave her mom a really hard time, but was sitting next to me at the table. I talked to her and told her she did not have to like everything but she had to try a bit of everything before deciding she did not like it. 

    We went one by one through each option, some she ended up really liking and others not so much.She was far more receptive to me, but I don't know if it was my approach or just that I was not MOM. 
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    I had a try a bite of everything and eat your veggies to get dessert rule as a kid. I didn't have to finish something if I didn't like it, and if I didn't like the meat I could have more of the side dish without having to finish the meat. My parents usually served veggies I liked and once they realized I'd never eat fish no matter how many times I tried it they'd start to cook an extra portion of dinner the day before fish day for me.

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    I grew up in a household of "clean your plate, and sit there until you do." (Because there ARE starving children in Africa.)
    Man, I hated peas. Still do. 
    Looking back, my parents didn't cook with a whole lot of variety, but they always served a protein, starch, and veggie for dinner. Every lunch had to have a sandwich and fruit. 

    Getting me to eat anything not homemade was a battle. I guess, looking back, I was picky because I wouldn't try new things like at restaurants or, gag, airplane food. 

    That being said, once I left college and moved to a place with a much greater variety of restaurants, wow did my palatte expand! Thai food? Sushi? Heck yeah. We never attempted to eat that stuff growing up. 

    Last summer I attended a presentation from Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods). He gave the best story of why he loves trying new food. Long story short, he could not get his son to try root beer floats. When he finally succeeded, floats became his son's go-to dessert and he wanted them all the time! Moral of the story: you just never know what'll become your next root beer float. :) 
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    Spinoff from dcbride's thread. 

    So I have a really low tolerance for kids who "won't" eat this or that. I grew up in a "here's the menu - take it OR leave it" house. And we weren't allowed to just eat all the bread, leave the veggies and then claim we were too full to eat anything else. There wasn't any junk in the house (that I knew of), so snacking didn't allow me to avoid certain foods at meal time either. How is extreme picky eating a thing? And why do parents tolerate it? Serious question. Is it just because it's like "I can't with this today, here are some fucking nuggets. For the love, just stop crying"? Or is it that the kid has previously gone on hunger strike due to the lack of McDonald's in the house?

    This is such a first world problem to me. #ventover
    I grew up in a household exactly like yours. I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I had finished everything on my plate either. I'm SO grateful I was raised that way. I will never understand this either.

    Formerly martha1818

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    MagicInk said:
    My brother when through a period where he could literally eat only a few things. Like anything else he'd start gagging and end up throwing up. There was no medical reason why, it was just something with the texture is our best guess. 

    So for awhile there, it looked like my step-mom and dad gave into his picky eating demands. Where in actuality they were giving in to his "please dear god don't puke again" demands. 

    I was the direct opposite of a picky eater. I'd eat fucking anything you put in front of me. But my problem was cleaning my plate. I didn't. I'd eat a few bites of everything, say I was full, and leave the table. Only to be hungry again a few hours later. Which at first frustrated the ever loving fuck out of my parents. They thought I was just wanting to go and play. But I was really full when I said I was full, my metabolism is just funky that way. It's the same now as an adult. I feel full, stop eating and an hour later be hungry again.
    The younger kid was like this the other day. He ate a respectable amount of each food, then said he was full. (Likely because he wanted to go back to watch TV.) OK cool, but half an hour later when he said he was hungry, he got his dinner leftovers warmed up. No granola bars, no more fruit. I'm not making you popcorn. (He did sit and gobble down two more small portions of his dinner - he was legitimately hungry again, not trying to game for different food.)
    That was (is) totally me. My parents would go "Fine, you can have what you didn't eat at dinner" and I'd happily eat it up because it was good! It didn't take them too long to figure out I was really full and I'd get hungry again so to be ready.

    My grandmother on the other hand would threaten to tie me to the chair and make me sit there and eat every single bite. She never did tie me to the chair and my dad was like "WTF lady? Knock it off" but she wouldn't excuse me to go play with my cousins. So I'd just sit there by myself until I got hungry again. Then I'd eat the food cold until I was full. Sometimes that'd finish off the food sometimes not. So she was convinced she'd "worn me down". Nah bitch I got hungry again.
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    KahlylaKahlyla member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment Name Dropper
    edited February 2015
    I think having a hearty appetite to begin with has to help somewhat. My husband and his brother, for example - they have always had enormous appetites, and growing up would eat everything on their plates (lots of garden-fresh veggies, always meat, and always some sort of starch), ask for seconds, and be making peanut butter sandwiches an hour later.

    Their little sister was, arguably, indulged a lot more and would assert that there was a lot she didn't like. Their mother did the "you have to at least try it, that's all I ask" thing, but with her, it never really led to her developing her palette because she would actually be full after trying the offensive food and eating the things she liked. She always left food on her plate, and to this day she eats like a bird, even with things she likes. Now in her mid-twenties, her palette is finally expanding a bit, but the guys will eat anything and are huge foodies and excellent cooks.

    My sons (4 and 5) are like them, and I'm sure just the fact that they seemingly have two hollow legs has helped them to not be picky. If they "don't want" something, we just wait a few minutes, then they will. ;)

    Also, one of our biggest goals when starting solids was just starting savoury foods first. There's nothing wrong with fruit and the occasional treat, we just wanted them to first get used to the idea that food doesn't have to taste sweet to be enjoyable. So they were eating broccoli before they ever tried bananas, for example. (Granted, baby cereal and even breast milk do have a kind of innate sweetness.) Of course they love sweets now but they have no problem with the taste of vegetables.

    To be honest, one of our other tricks involved taking them to McDonald's - for the Play Place - without even ordering them any food. We would get ourselves coffee so we weren't just mooching and maybe order a juice or milk to bring home, but we let the kids play without them even realizing that getting food there was a thing. They've also never really known chocolate milk to be a thing, whereas I've known kids who've been chugging chocolate milk out of sippy cups since they were 2 (and then their parents wonder why they have no appetite). Kids don't just discover these things on their own. If you don't give them chocolate milk, they won't whine for chocolate milk.
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