Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Picky? Picky?!? You haven't Met Jack

Irrisistable? Yeah, maybe to just about everyone else on the planet...but not Jack.

I'm not trying to sound like a smug dickhead, but when people tell me their son or daughter is picky when it comes to eating, I get this mental wry smile, because unfortunately I can usually top them.

Feeding Jack is a total nightmare. When he was first starting to eat solid food, he loved just about everything. I got right into making homemade baby food. Why not? That jarred stuff tastes like total crap, and if I don't want to even taste it, why should I expect my baby to love it? I got a great cookbook for making various baby and toddler food recipes, and there I'd be scooping portions into the ice cube tray to freeze, and then store the handy little cubes in labelled freezer bags. Then, at meal time I'd thaw out a cube of "chicken stew," or some actually tasty melange of cooked mixed greens. I have to admit, most of those recipes were really tasty. The only revolting one involved a can of tuna simmered in tomato sauce. Yecch. Oh, in case anyone is interested, the book is called "The Baby's Table" by Brenda Bradshaw and Lauren Donaldson Bramley, M.D.

Great book. Seriously. I even made the chicken stew for our own dinner one night.

As I was saying, Jack would eat anything, and with enthusiasm. I even have this home video segment which shows a chubby baby Jack eating profferred bites of apple pie like it was the best thing every created, and in the background I say something cheesy like; "I think Jack would eat apple pie until he bursts!" Ha ha, isn't that delightful...well that all went down the toilet. By about one and a half years of age, Jack started to hate all food. He wasn't really advancing through textures any longer, and his total dislike for almost all food just got worse and worse. When he was four, he actually loved pizza. It was one of the few foods he would eat. By the age of five we had to remove ALL toppings (you know, the yummy part?). When I say "all," I mean ALL. He would sit for a good few minutes inspecting that slice for the tiniest, tiniest spec of cheese that might have been missed. Now he won't eat pizza at all. He liked it in November, now, four months later, he won't eat pizza at all. We bought the kind he likes recently as a supposed treat, and he literally gagged on the first bite, which I evilly had to coerce him into taking for about twenty minutes in the first place.
Here is a list of foods, off the top of my head that Jack will NOT eat:
- chicken
- fish
- beef, though he will RARELY eat a McDonalds cheeseburger
- any pasta
- rice
- potatoes in any form, with the exception of a few McDonalds french fries
- all vegetables except the occasional carrot or celery stick

Oh hell, this list could go on endlessly. It would be faster to list the things he will eat:
*strawberry yogurt
*a peanut butter and jam sandwich, made with smooth peanut butter on crustless whole wheat bread (note, until the past few months, I made enough grilled cheese sandwiches to feed a nation, but he will no longer eat these)
* chocolate milk
* plain dutch chocolate
* mint chocolate
* chocolate pudding
* chocolate ice cream
* mint chocolate ice cream
* medium or mild cheddar cheese
* packaged instant oatmeal
* apple or berry juice
* the occasional McD cheeseburger
* the once in a blue moon weiner; usually after he's been eating very little due to illness, and his body has demanded protein whether he likes it or not
* rubbery grocery store Polish sausage, but once again, infrequently
* an infrequent bite of banana
* one begrudgingly consumed wedge of apple without the peel
* my super fantabulous nutrition crammed muffins (recipe coming soon!)
* a 'sprinkles' donut (the only kind of donut he likes)
* pancakes with syrup

Well gee whiz, I think that's about it. Imagine trying to feed this kid! Imagine that when his appetite is 'off,' like say, when he's sick, and he won't eat his pb&j sandwich. So much fun. Imagine what it would be like to go to a restaurant if you were that picky; "hey, do you want to come out and eat with us?"
-"No thanks."
"Why not?"
-"Yeah, I don't really like food."
"Whattaya mean you don't like food?!? Everybody likes food!"
-"Well, will they have peanut butter sandwiches on the menu?"
"Um, I doubt it..."
-"yeah, that's what I figured. No thanks."

I have tried everything to get him to eat. I've done all the bad things: blackmail, trying to force a lick of it into his mouth, anger. I've tried all the "right" methods: putting the food down before him wordlessly and letting him choose to try it or not. Yeah, good one. That one is a picky eater's favourite. I've tried to put out the meal and if he wouldn't eat it, not make him anything else till the next meal. That means I had the pleasure of his super bad behaviour for the next few hours, thanks to hunger. Plus, I don't think he'd ever, ever choose to eat something he thinks he hates. I know it's written in all kinds of books that a kid needs to be offered a new food fifteen times, or that a kid will never starve themself, but I honestly don't believe that in Jack's case. Call me crazy, but I believe he would indeed starve himself rather than eat certain things.
So, I've read lots of stuff, and I have come up with a personalized plan. More than a plan though, it's a hard, fast rule: Jack must try a bite of one thing that the rest of us are eating. It's his choice, but whether he likes it or not, he has to try one thing. I will make him his sub-par dinner, but he has to choose something from our plates. With much moaning, screaming, carrying-on, drama, tears, hitting me, calling me "poo poo," telling me to "shut up," trying to run from the table, etc, etc, he does in the end try something every night. He almost always gags, but sometimes he does not, and then he's always proud of himself. So, I figure I'm on an extremely long, long road to getting him to eat like everyone else. I figure he's lost about three years of advancement through food, via various textures, so he basically has to learn to eat all over again. Oh my white hairs.


  1. Okay I speak for Diane here since shes has not commented. Justin has Jack beat hands down! He eats nothing except nutra grain cereal bars, chicken fingers and corn and maybe a bite of cheese sandwich! That's it!!! Oh and cereal with no milk.
    He hates pizza too.

  2. My doctor asked me if Daniel was a picky eater and I said "I'd kill for a picky eater!!" I have a non-eating vegetarian who only eats broccoli and green beans. Pasta, the occasional mouthful of apple, small pieces of white cheese, goldfish...I think Daniel could beat Jack in a non-eating contest.Karen...Anonymous is Debbie.

  3. Debbie! Nice to see you here! Yes, you know--I meant to ask you if Daniel's eating had improved at all.
    Apparently it has not!

  4. I tell you we are living closely parralle lives. My son is not as picky but he is stubborn. I have learned NOT to force him to eat a bite of food he does not like and warned others, grandma and babysitters also. I have witness and so has my older son, the youngest upchuck his whole dinner when told he must try a bite of food that he does not like. Oh my god I thought older son and I were going to do the same with our dinner. I just looked at him and said, now that was gross. The stubborn child can not be bribed and will choose bed rather than eat his dinner. We have come to an understanding. I do not make him swallow, but the food must touch his tongue, I do not care if he has to get up and spit it out. It had to be this way or ruin dinner for the rest of us. His doctor is very well aware and is not worried, child is not malnurished. Good luck.


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