All kids go through a phase where, for some reason, they seem to hate food. Being me, I hit the Internet looking for answers.
The most logical was the theory that very young children control very little about their environment, but around age three to four, they realize they can control what they eat. Let the battles begin!
Our oldest went through a phase where it seemed like all he would eat was macaroni and cheese, hotdogs and cold cereal for the better part of a year. He would turn up his nose at anything else and the loss of desert wasn’t enough of an incentive to get him to try anything.
Ryan has turned into a very good eater who will try just about anything and likes just about everything. He’s absolutely skin and bones, but so was I as a kid. The child grazes nonstop and still eats breakfast, lunch and dinner so I’m not too concerned about him.
My youngest has been a good eater since birth and has shown no hint yet of battling for “control” by arguing about food. Except for a tendency toward vegetarianism which makes me worry about her protein intake, I’m not losing any sleep over her, either.
Which brings me to my middle child, Ethan.
He started out as a great eater, but these days I’m not quite sure how Ethan manages to stay alive. He’s great about eating breakfast and he’s fine, not surprisingly, with snacks. Lunch and dinner, however, are another matter.
For the past couple of years I’ve tried to introduce more natural and organic foods into my family’s diet. One of the first things I did was switch from margarine to butter.
Ethan used to love macaroni and cheese, but now he won’t touch it. He says it tastes funny because of the butter. This is the same child who will scarf down buttered rice or buttered noodles and ask for seconds. He also loves toast. I’m not sure what kind of chemical reaction he thinks is taking place in the macaroni and cheese pan, but don’t even bother putting it on his plate.
Always a huge fan of fish sticks, Ethan recently turned up his nose at fish fillets.
“They’re the same thing as fish sticks, just in a different shape,” I tell him.
“I don’t like them!”
“You haven’t even tried them!”
“I don’t have to – I know I don’t like them!”
Butter and rectangle-shaped foods are obviously out.
While he loves dipping carrot sticks in Italian or Ranch salad dressing, duck and cover if you try to give him cooked carrots. Actually, I agree with him on this one.
Previously a broccoli and a mixed vegetable eater, now Ethan picks out the carrots, lima beans and peas and refused to touch broccoli. He tries to escape the green beans, too, but I draw the line at serving him mixed vegetables and having him reduce it to corn.
Butter, rectangle-shaped foods and any green or orange vegetables are out.
If it’s meat, it better be a hot dog or hamburger. Since hot dogs barely qualify as meat, that leaves hamburgers as Ethan’s only source of meat in addition to fish sticks. Occasionally, he’ll eat fried chicken.
Butter, rectangle-shaped foods, green and orange vegetables and most meats are out.
If it’s a new food, like beef stroganoff or stir fry or lasagna or lamb –don’t even think about it.
That doesn’t leave a whole lot except sugar. Withholding dessert if he doesn’t eat results in MUCH whining but that’s a non-negotiable rule so we have MUCH whining with virtually every dinner.
Ethan was a bit late starting this phase. In fact, it started about the time we moved from southern Ohio to Cleveland so maybe that whole “I don’t have any control over anything” theory has some basis in fact.
All I know is I cannot get this child to eat much of anything so suggestions from other parents struggling with food issues are welcome.