Your picky eater is all yours, so you love him, of course, but do you ever have those days where you think about how much easier life would be with a kid who just loved to try new foods? If you've had daydreams where you imagine serving up delicious and even experimental cuisine that your kid gobbles up with enthusiasm, or if you dread fixing dinner because of the inevitable power struggle, you may be the parent of a picky eater.
The good news is that the 'picky' stage most likely won't last unto adulthood. The bad news is, until she is an adult, you're stuck trying to come up with new ways to stuff your little darling with as much nutrition as possible, while making it all taste like French fries. Chances are you're becoming quite the expert, but there are still those days when it seems like everything you make goes over as well as liver and onions. You're not alone, although it may be small comfort during those moments when you're at a standoff over a plate of peas.
If you're the mom of a picky eater, join the club. Here are five things only you and other moms like you will understand:
1. Ketchup goes with everything -- From broccoli to waffles to meat, ketchup and any other dipping sauce your sweet, little dumpling will put into his mouth are your new best friend. Without reservation, you slather that plate of stir fried rice with whatever will coax him into taking a bite and hope to find success. Just try not to look down because seeing a plate of perfectly tasty dinner smeared with ketchup may be enough to make you lose your own appetite!
2. You keep a very small number of meals on regular rotation -- She'll eat mac-n-cheese with hot dogs? Chicken nuggets and canned corn? Mashed potatoes with a ton of butter and salt? Sold! Why fight the tide? There are some times when you're ready to battle over the pork chops, but most days, it's the same five things to eat over and over, like Groundhog Day. It's been so long since you had an adult meal that you're ready to give away all your non-plastic plates.
3. Restaurants are not your friends -- If you ever do eat at a restaurant, you have to plan it apart from your kid or else you're forced to choose a place that you know won't start an epic meltdown. Is there a happy compromise? If so, consider yourself lucky. Most of the time, picky eaters aren't just picky at home.
4. You're a short-order cook -- Yes, you planned a nice meal of chicken piccata and new potatoes with a balsamic reduction and a side salad, but don't forget to microwave the chicken pot pie for the little commandant, or else you'll never hear the end of it. Tired of treating your meal times like a restaurant selection? Maybe you're happy to cook endless options to avoid the tantrum of the century. Either way, until your picky eater grows out of this phase, keep lots of food options on hand and make pre-meal prep your new go-to strategy.
5. It seems like there's more food on the plate after the meal than before it -- How your picky eater seems to get more food onto the plate than you gave him is a mystery. However, it's most likely the result of the chewing-spitting-right-back-out process. Tired of the games? Consider yourself lucky. At least he's not spitting it into his napkin for you to find later!
Living with a picky eater is (usually) only temporary, so keep fighting the good fight! The more opportunities you have to get at least a taste in that little mouth, the better the chances are that exposure will help down the road when the food is introduced. Pick your battles and don't give up.