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To think that eating food you don't particularly like is just part of growing up?

(84 Posts)
caitlinohara Sun 31-Jan-16 14:42:02

3 boys, aged 9, 7 and 4. All fussy about food in their own ways but nothing really extreme, no health issues and all a healthy weight.

The problem is that I find that I am spending hours a week meal planning and doing the shopping and cooking and all the budgeting that goes with it and it's getting me down. For example, ds1 will not eat any form of protein that isn't meat - so no cheese, no pulses, no nuts, and I have a bit of an aversion to eating lots of meat because we can't afford to buy free range/organic unless it's just for a couple of meals a week. Ds2 would live off purely carbs if he could, whereas ds3 won't eat starchy food - no bread, no rice and the only sort of pasta he will eat is spaghetti.

I am so tempted to just forget trying to please everyone or indeed anyone and make food that I like. My mum thinks this is awful and akin to bullying and will give them hangups about food - as a child I was very fussy and she made me whatever I wanted. Her argument is that I grew out of it and will now eat pretty much anything so it must have worked.

My argument is that as a parent I have a responsibility to put healthy food on the table, and if they don't like it that needn't stop them eating it. AIBU?

Sirzy Sun 31-Jan-16 14:44:16

It depends if it's a "don't want that" or "don't like that" if they really don't like something then I wouldn't be wasting time or money giving it to them regularly.

WorraLiberty Sun 31-Jan-16 14:47:13

It's interesting that you don't find that level of fussiness extreme?!

I have 3 DC and whilst I accept there will be some things they really can't stomach (for me it would be liver/kidney), they mostly get what they're given.

If they don't eat it, they can have some cereal or toast before bed.

They're aged 24, 16 and 13 now and all of them have come to like certain foods they used to dislike.

If I'd stopped giving it to them, they probably wouldn't know that they actually like it now, if that makes sense?

PageStillNotFound404 Sun 31-Jan-16 14:51:37

I think it depends if it's just they'd have a preference for something else but there's nothing actually preventing them from eating it and if they really don't want it then you deal with it in a matter of fact "your choice but that's all that's on offer tonight", or if there's e.g. underlying texture / sensory issues that would cause them real distress.

I can't eat "bouncy" fat. It makes me gag, and there's nothing I can do about it, it's a purely sensory thing. I'm not a fussy eater per se but if you put a plate of meat with white rubbery fat running through it, my choices are don't eat it or retch it back up over your dinner table.

theycallmemellojello Sun 31-Jan-16 14:56:26

To an extent I think you're right. But I guess you've got to be realistic about the fact that it's not a choice between you accommodating fussiness and them eating what they're given grudgingly. It's a choice between you accommodating fussiness, and them potentially refusing to eat the stuff they don't like - so that meal times become a massive battle and you get worried that they're not eating enough. Giving them foods they (reckon they) hate is not going to lessen stress in the short term I'm afraid. I think you can't really decide in advance that there will be no compromise - I guess just try out the new strategy and see how it goes. At the very least maybe you can get them to expand their repertoires. Could introducing new foods be an answer - eg give the non-starch-eater quinoa and not mention that it's a starch alternative, give the non-protein-eater tofu etc....?

ouryve Sun 31-Jan-16 14:59:39


But if having completely miserable kids every mealtime is the hill you really want to die on, carry on.

caitlinohara Sun 31-Jan-16 15:05:32

Yes I think there is a texture issue with ds1 - he doesn't like food that is 'grainy' (which covers beans, lentils, potatoes etc) or 'rubbery' (egg, cheese, I'm guessing tofu!).

The issue is that with 3 of them, it's almost impossible to come up with meals that they will all eat. It's the constant agonising over: will they eat it? is it healthy? can we afford it? I hardly ever seem able to answer 'yes' to all three! And no I don't think that any of them are extremely fussy, it's just that they are all fussy about different things, so combined, it's a nightmare.

I mean, who doesn't like rice? Seriously?

ethelb Sun 31-Jan-16 15:08:10

The issue is that your children are basically eliminating entire food groups with their 'preferences'.
I would say its fine to not eat certain foods you don't like, but to exclude entire food groups on the basis of preference is not reasonable behaviour on their part tbh.

caitlinohara Sun 31-Jan-16 15:08:21

ouryve what would you do then?

caitlinohara Sun 31-Jan-16 15:16:15

ethelb It is sort of the money issue though. The fact that we are on a budget means we can't just eat meat/fish and vegetables, even though that's probably the one meal they will all eat. To be fair to him, ds2 is the one most likely to declare he doesn't like something but then eat it anyway - with him I think it is really that he just doesn't particularly fancy it today but he will tolerate it.

I could understand it if I was trying to get them to eat complex things like curry or something, but rice? RICE? Sorry to harp on about it, it's just about the blandest thing there is!

comingintomyown Sun 31-Jan-16 15:17:47

My DD is 16 nearly seventeen and to some extent I cook around her as myself and DS eat anything . I wish I'd adopted my Mums approach when she was much younger that you eat what you're given or not but there's no looking around for something else you would rather eat.

I'm at the point of doing that now but I'll have a raging 16 year old to deal with and it will be stressful for a while but I'm sick of the limitations of what she deems accepatable.

Op nip it in the bud now is my advice

theycallmemellojello Sun 31-Jan-16 15:19:41

What about buying non-organic meat? Assuming you're in the UK I don't think it makes a huge amount of difference healthwise.

comingintomyown Sun 31-Jan-16 15:20:00

God I've just read your OP again and see your Mum and I are of polar opposite viewpoints !

AlanPacino Sun 31-Jan-16 15:22:57

Op I have the same issue here. I'm considering doing a buffet every night of foods that store well with a different element each night. I'm thinking of granary bread, salad, cold meat, sauces with baked potato one night, rice another and so on.

alltouchedout Sun 31-Jan-16 15:23:10

It depends. DS2 has food issues of the kind that had us working with a psychologist for some time so the "eat what you're given or don't eat" approach (which, by the way, the psychologist was very much against) would not have worked at all. I don't mind making alternatives tbh, maybe because I was a veggie in a family of meat eaters from age 10 onwards and massively appreciated every time my mum would do me an alternative meal smile The only time I am strict about it is if they have asked for, or agreed when offered that they would like to eat, something and then change their minds once I have cooked it.

enterthedragon Sun 31-Jan-16 15:23:11

Not sure how you would cope in my house, I eat most foods, DH has a limited diet, DS has an extremely limited diet, DD has a fairly limited diet, but is getting much better.

When we were little we had to eat whatever was dished up, we were not allowed to leave the table until we had eaten everything on our plates, each of us have issues with certain foods purely for that reason.

I said I would never force my children to eat something they don't like, so I will cook them food that they will eat and enjoy. I know people who don't cook certain things because they don't like it but I wouldn't do that either, I would just cook myself something different. Every day of the week I cook at least 2completely different meals.

No one in our house has changed their minds about the food that they don't like in the last 14 years, but DS and DD have expanded their list of palatable food through their own desire to try new foods.

BarbaraofSeville Sun 31-Jan-16 15:33:17

Agree that you need to nip this in the bud ASAP. It's shit tieing yourself in knots trying to deal with conflicting preferences. You do not want to get into a situation where you are cooking multiple meals, spending more than you can afford, compromising on health or producing a load of young men who think that a meal is not a meal unless there is a big slab of meat on it.

You say that your DM made you want you wanted but don't mention siblings - surely she wasn't cooking different foods for lots of people? And if she was, surely she can see how wearing that is?

Will they eat stewed meat? These can be made with cheaper cuts that can help on the budgeting front. How about cottage pie with lots of veg and less meat?

The older 2 at least are old enough to appreciate the issues and understand that they can't have their own way all the time. Give them a load of cookbooks or recipe websites and tell them to come up with recipes that meet your requirements that they both like.

Maybe allow them all one opt out a week where they get soup, toast or an omelette for dinner?

Witchend Sun 31-Jan-16 15:34:03

I'm not a fan of the "you'll eat if you're hungry".

I'd have loved it if my parents had done that. I wouldn't have eaten, and been perfectly happy. The thing is the longer I haven't eaten for, the less hungry I am, so I would have beaten them without trying.

However my parents were of the sit and eat this variety. The result is that I can't even smell brown bread without throwing up and mashed potato is something else I can't bear to be near. Both things my parents thought were part of a stable diet.
Dh eats nearly everything. His parents believed they should eat a bit of everything even if they did didn't like it. He had one thing (sprouts) he didn't like. He still had to eat one, even at Christmas. The result of this is that he now won't touch sprouts. I suspect he'd like them if he tried one now, he likes similar things, but because he has that association he won't try.
So totally counterproductive.

With rice it's the texture rather than the taste though. I love the texture, but I can understand if you don't.
My db used to say "I don't like melon. It doesn't taste of anything!"

mommy2ash Sun 31-Jan-16 15:34:33

I would class that as very fussy. My dd has certain things she doesn't like such as onions or tomatoes but it's only if she visibly sees them. I quite often give her her dinner and tell her afterwards there was onions or tomatoes in it. It's more of a mental thing.

I wouldn't make a meal solely full of things she wouldn't eat. I put up regular reasonable food on the bustle and it's up to her if she wants to est it or not

Coldlightofday Sun 31-Jan-16 15:36:17

"The only form of pasta he'll eat is spaghetti" - given that all pasta tastes identical, that is just sheer fussiness.

WitH my own, I have taken the approach that you eat what is on the table, you don't get an alternative meal, but if you're starving before bed then toast with your milk is ok. We also spend lots of time talking about which bits of your body different foods are good for ( Fish is SO good for your brain, eat it up and I'll look in your ear to see how much bigger your brain is!) DS is v v interested in all that stuff, so will go for most things if I tell him it's "good for him"

With the chuldren with autism I used to work with, we gradually expanded diets by presenting a bit of less preferred food with lots of a preferred one, lots of reinforcement for eating less preferred, until it became not an issue, at which point we'd start a new target food. Never failed.

What about a family meal plan reward chart? Everyone gets to pick a meal in the week and everyone who eats it gets stickers towards a reward? Or maybe have a "food of the week" - lots of ways of making it a bit fun.

fuzzpig Sun 31-Jan-16 15:37:05

Depends on personality I think. DD will try stuff and can understand the necessity to eat a good range of food. DS just WON'T.

Thetruthfairy Sun 31-Jan-16 15:37:32

Could you do a weekly meal plan together? They choose a night each where they have their food choice (may end up being the more costly nights but you can balance that out over the rest of the week). The other days, you make cheap healthy food and there is no other option.
Could the older ones help cook a little bit more? My daughter is more willing to try food if she has made it.

hollinhurst84 Sun 31-Jan-16 15:43:26

Can you get them (with your help) to do a list?
As in will not eat, don't like but will eat, new foods to try, foods they love? Maybe with a recipe book to help
For instance I can't eat pistachios due to overindulgence many years ago! On the other hand I don't like sprouts, but I can and will eat them if they're put in front of me

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 31-Jan-16 15:45:19

I have four. They are not particularly fussy, but because there are four of them there is always something someone doesn't like. So one doesn't eat rice, one doesn't eat bread, two don't eat potatoes, one doesn't much like fish, one doesn't like Chinese type flavours, one doesn't like anything vaguely stew like out of the "big pot" hmm. And don't get me started on vegetables.

Basically I just ignore them all. If you don't like what's for dinner, make yourself something on toast or a baked potato. All the more for the rest of us.

Mistigri Sun 31-Jan-16 15:48:14

My nearly 13 year old is incredibly fussy. I've given up trying to get him to eat a varied diet - he generally gets served what we're having and if he doesn't eat, he goes hungry. He does get nagged to eat a vegetable from time to time, and I will occasionally cook an alternative if I know he won't touch what the rest of us eat - for eg I made him a piece of grilled chicken last night when we were eating chicken and mushroom risotto - he is very picky about "mixed together" foods.

Most of his calories come from breakfast, and bread - I doubt he's ever eaten his five a day and he doesn't eat a huge amount of protein. Yet he is a normal size for his age (slim, but not underweight) and the very picture of health.

If all yours are fussy in different ways you'll just have to "cycle" their favourites, so that each child gets a meal they like a couple of times a week.

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