Monday, June 29, 2009

Picky eater advice?

Tessa's whole life, she has eaten a wide variety of foods without hesitation, and even with glee. She loves sushi (California rolls with real crab & tobiko are her favorite), Thai food, cashew chicken, and any number of other foods that "regular" kids turn their noses up at. Greek, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, all seafood....all have been favorites. She has never liked asparagus or potatoes, so I've never forced those. Or beans - she's never liked the texture of beans. But everything else was a go ahead with a smile.

In the last month, this has changed DRAMATICALLY.

Suddenly, a banana will bring her to tears. The mere mention of fish for dinner sent her under her bed for a full-on tantrum. (I pointed out that I had written a note on the recipe when I made it last, saying 'Tessa loved it and asked for seconds' and she said, "I changed my mind!" even before she tasted it.)

The list of foods that Tessa enjoys can be narrowed down to the following:
1. Cheeseburgers
2. Grilled cheese sandwiches
3. Spaghetti and meatballs

Gone from the list is chicken curry, shrimp, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables....

HELP! What do I do? I have to believe it's just a phase - I mean, she loved all this stuff a month ago - but this is getting really tough. She cried like I'd broken her heart tonight because of what I cooked for dinner, even though I said she could have mostly white rice and pea pods - but she said now she doesn't like rice or pea pods (sugar snap peas). ONLY a cheeseburger would make her happy.

This Mama is not making cheeseburgers every night. No way, no how.



Anonymous said...

Has she read "Bread & Jam for Frances?" Frances' parents skipped the power struggle and let her eat cheeseburgers (or, in their case, bread & jam) and Frances quickly tired of the mundane menu

It is a rather old book and, if I remember correctly, a mention of a spanking...which we always skip over. Perhaps taking that approach...or reading the book together to see if it prompts any discussion with Tessa...might help.

Kristina said...

We have "A Bargain for Frances" which we love, so now I'll have to track down that one. Thanks for the tip!

I won't make cheeseburgers more than twice a month (partly too much red meat, partly because *I* don't want them that often and I'm only willing to cook one meal for our small family) but I'll see if the discussion will work.

Health/Life Balance said...

My stepmother used to say that "this is not a cafeteria" and she would only make one meal. However, your alternative was peanut butter if you would not eat it. Usually, after somebody ate pb for several days, they got bored and wanted "real food."

One thing I don't suggest, however, is what my stepmom did to one of her daughters regarding pea soup. Laura hated pea soup so much that she refused to eat it. Her mom told her that if she didn't eat the soup, she would have to eat it cold for breakfast. So the next morning she'd have a bowl of cold pea soup in front of her. Obviously, she still didn't didn't eat it (I mean, if you hate pea soup, then *cold* pea soup would just be hell!) That girl had cold pea soup put in front of her for like 4 meals in a row, said she'd rather die than eat it, and told her mother how much she hated her, and when she finally gave in and ate it, she then threw it up all over the floor.

I do hope you find an easy solution. Not being a parent, nor a picky eater, I don't have any personal experience with it. I do wonder thought if there's a possibility that Tessa has developed some sort of sensitivity/allergy to certain foods that might be making her uncomfortable when eating them. (Not allergic as in throat closing up, for instance, but just stressing her energy system - this is stuff I'm studying right now.) Are there any common denominators in what she won't eat? More than likely it's just being picky though and hopefully it'll pass!

Kristina said...

Sue, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I promise to never, ever, ever do a "pea soup"! That is a horrible tale.

I can not think of a common denominator - she suddenly hates fish, chicken, rice, Mexican, Japanese....just about everything. And she has LOVED this stuff before! It's like an overnight transformation. Is she emulating her (picky) peers? Is this a mama-daughter power struggle? Food sensitivities? Just a phase?

Oh dear God let it be just a phase....!

Krystal said...

Hi Kristina... I had food issues as a child. I can't say my parents won; more like the dog under the table won, but even she didn't eat lima beans. My thought would be: what if it isn't about food at all and more about independence and wanting to be self-determinining and in control of self or stress somewhere else that she is feeling at dinner time? For me, the tense discussions at dinner were stressful enough to not want to be in the dining room at all. Just a thought. Hope you find the solution too. I'll probably need your tips in about 4-6 months on the same issue. ;)

Kristina said...

Krystal, thanks for your note. I had some food battles that the dog won, too (LIVER - ugh).

I just wish I understood how a kid who like everything suddenly likes nothing? It's not just dinner time,it's snacks and everything. (Not liking cheese and crackers? Who ARE you, Tessa?!) I don't think our house has been stressful - if anything we're pretty relaxed becasue it's summer.

Tonight Tessa did have king crab with Grammy & Grandpa and she loved it, so I can add that to the list. ;-)

AnnMarie said...

My 4.5 year old is doing this too. I particularly resonate with the I HATE it! without even trying it with something she used to love. (Last night, it was carrots. And the entire rest of the meal.)

Two things we do are:

1. You have to eat what YOU take and/or one of each thing on the table, if you want dessert. (We don't have dessert at every meal, so this isn't used much.)
2. What you don't eat, is served the next day. She's never thrown up. But this is always with food she's used to eating.

We never, ever serve her something different. If she refuses everything or nearly everything, we just remind her when the next meal will be and that it's her choice to not eat what's there. She's REALLY big on choices right now, so sometimes, we offer a choice (cereal or bread for breakfast?) but not always. (Usually dinner is a set meal.)

Remember, normal kids will not starve themselves and will eventually eat what you serve them.

Oh, and she always has to drink her milk. But she has never refused that one!