A few days ago I decided to do (another) internet search on the topic of picky eaters. I still like the book I’ve read about the subject, and haven’t taken it back to the library yet; but I was feeling like I needed a little more perspective. Since I’ve searched this topic many times before (without finding much that was helpful to me personally), I was surprised to come across an article that I felt was actually very insightful. It is found on the “Real Simple Magazine” website and was written by a mom who decided to put her family through a “picky eater boot camp.” She created five simple rules and established a time frame of two weeks. Then she recorded the experience as she went along. My absolute favorite part of her article is the end where she describes what her family dinners are like after the experience. This is what she wrote (click here to read the full article):
“That was just the beginning. These days, the kids are voracious and zealous omnivores…oh, who are we kidding? They still interrogate me every time we order cheese pizza. Bryn remains offended by kids’ menus. Dash hasn’t eaten another black bean. (And I occasionally still serve him chicken nuggets. So sue me.) Still, I consider the boot camp successful.
“Our dinner rules—we’ve kept all of them, except glamorizing vegetables—have helped the kids understand what’s expected, which has meant fewer tantrums. Each one now tries food when it’s offered. Plus, they’ve discovered a couple of dishes they’ll both eat (the quesadillas and the turkey burgers). This may not sound like much, but it increases our repertoire about 300 percent.
“What’s more, I’ve changed: I’m more relaxed, even when the kids refuse to eat. Yes, I care that they have a varied and healthy diet, but I’m learning not to be so invested in every bite. And that means I can spend more time enjoying the people at my dinner table—and less time worrying what’s on it.”
Don’t you just love that? I do.
So I’m setting up a boot camp for us too. Mine, however is not just focused on dinner but on all 3 meals plus the afternoon snack because, for us dinner-time is not really the problem. I have, since before they were born, been pretty good at preparing a balanced meal each night and everyone has to eat a little bit of everything. But what has happened to us is that I have been letting them have the foods they like at breakfast, lunch, and snack (out of laziness on my part). So, they just eat a small dinner and get the rest of their calories during the day. The result has been a diet that is heavy on carbs and processed foods and low on fruits and vegetables. And I want to turn this around…or at the very least get them used to seeing more fruits and vegetables so that they realize they really are an important part of each meal.
Below is my meal plan for this week. I planned it as close to the guidelines from the USDA as I could. But it’s not perfect…and it does have some processed, not-so-healthy additions. My intent was to create a well-balanced menu, but at the same time to not overwhelm my kids with too many meals they don’t like. I’m pretty proud of it; it took awhile to do, but I think if I keep practicing that I can get better and quicker at doing this.
My plan is to do just like the author of the magazine article and keep a journal of how it goes this week right here on the blog. I may not be able to share everything because I don’t want to embarrass anyone in my family, but I’ll try to share what I’m experiencing and learning the best that I can. I also am going to adopt her rules (because they are simple and I like them). My hope is that I can improve things around here, but also that my experience may be helpful to someone else who is struggling too!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject, so feel free to share in the comments below!