Monday, May 16, 2011

The Plan

My daughter is very strong willed and stubborn and also a very picky eater. If she so much as thinks she doesn't like it, she won't eat it. No amount of discipline, urging, prize-offering, or forcing will get her to eat the food. If you physically place the food in her mouth, at best she'll spit it out. At worst, she'll vomit. She's also sneaky in that she'll pretend to eat the food, only to hold it in her mouth and deposit it behind (or in) a chair. Foods she gobbled up 2 weeks ago are suddenly garbage to her today.

I'm at a loss. I followed all the "rules" when she was an infant and started her on solids. I was so proud of her eating mixed veg like it was candy at 18 months. She hit 2 years old and it's been a downhill battle since. She'll be 3 at the end of this month. I talked to the pediatrician after her told me she's underweight and I explained my plight. He said, "feed her picky foods." Well, that's not very healthful and I certainly shouldn't as a parent cave to her every whim. Caving results in an even more limited diet until she can manipulate enough to just eat junk food.

On top of that, letting her go hungry doesn't really work. Not only is she already a skinny minnie, but she'll just go hungry and then go find non-food items to munch on or just fill up on water or milk.

She's definitely a great candidate for tomato staking. But, I've been praying and thinking too how I can encourage her to eat more foods without WWIII breaking out in our household. Under all that stubbornness and strong will is a very sensitive little girl with a heart that shatters easily.

So, I'm going to put together a list of foods she actually does eat. That'll help me know what menus to create for her so she can have healthful meals 3 times a day. Nutrition is very important to a quickly growing body and mind and she's already proven that she won't return to a meal she doesn't like once she gets hungry enough to eat it.

Then, I'm going to create a chart of different foods and put 2 weeks worth of slots next to the foods. They say it can take up to 2 weeks (14-16 times) of trying something to get a taste for it. Every time she tries said food, she'll get a sticker and plenty of praise.

I can see this taking a VERY long time, years in fact. But, I'm done making meal time a very negative experience for all of us, especially her.

Does anyone else deal with extremely picky and strong-willed eaters? How did/do you handle it? I'd love advice and testimonies.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Kate, I've not had a picky eater, but a couple of things come to mind. If you want her to try a new food, maybe you could set up a time outside of mealtime--4:00 or so--when you set up a tiny tea set just for you and her, with a tablecloth and flowers, and the two of you have little nibbles of the new food off the tea set. I know my daughter would consider this a treat and not a punishment.

Also, if her pickiness is due to sensory issues--common in children--there are a lot of fun things you can do for this at home, putting on your occupational therapist hat. I recommmend The Out-of-Sync Child which has great lists of things to work on sensory issues using every day items. I have had experience with OT and it can almost be like magic. Feel free to e-mail me if you want.