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Fussy eater. Am I being too strict?

(13 Posts)
TowerOfJoyless Tue 17-Nov-15 18:49:05

Hi, looking for opinions and if possible, to hear from those who have come out the other side with positive experiences!

DS age 5 has been a fussy eater since a toddler, even though he ate just about everything when weaning. For a long time I would pander to this I guess, if he refused a meal I would go and make something else (not a full dinner from scratch but maybe some toast etc). However I have decided enough's enough and now put a plate of food in front of him and if he refuses I just take it away after a set period of time and refuse to give him anything else except some fruit a bit later on.

Tbh I feel like a bit of a nutritional nazi and bad when he gets upset but am just fed up! I know on previous threads re fussy eating the odd MNer has stated they ended up with food issues later in life when their parents took this same stance. Should I persevere? Please, someone tell me this worked for their kids!

dodobookends Tue 17-Nov-15 22:29:55

As long as there is at least one thing on the plate that you know he will eat, he should be fine. Feign a complete lack of interest.

TowerOfJoyless Wed 18-Nov-15 13:18:58

Thanks dodo I will try that

CharlotteCollins Wed 18-Nov-15 13:36:07

I agree. As long as there's a range of stuff on there (and maybe avoid mixing food for the moment) then if he refuses all of it I'd assume he's not hungry.

SurlyCue Wed 18-Nov-15 13:51:31

Hi hope you dont mind my perspective. I am the adult who was a fussy child (i have a thread in food/recipes explaining some of my issues)

I think you are dealing with it the right way. I agree with making sure there is always something on the plate he will definitely eat. Also i dont know if you do this but i wouldnt make pudding dependant on a clear plate. In fact i wouldnt create any relationship between eating dinner and getting pudding. It can create an unhealthy "reward" relationship with sweet foods (voice of experience)

I would also get him involved in making the meals. For me food was a scary topic and i really think if i had been involved with cooking my own meals from a young age i wouldnt be in the situation i am in now.

Also, and I know this is very hard, but please dont 'label' your son as fussy. At least not outloud that he can hear you. I really wouldnt let him know there is an issue at all. He will absorb all that and label himself as fussy and it can become a permanent thing if he believes thas what he is. I really cant stress that enough. Just serve him dinner, all smiles, positivity, no pressure and no disappointed face when the plate isnt clear. I do know its hard but it will be the difference between normal childhood fussiness and a lifelong food issue.

QuizteamBleakley Wed 18-Nov-15 17:03:52

I second the idea of getting him involved. What does he eat or like in particular? Lets see if we can take his core of favourite foods and work them into other recipes / ideas. Get him to try different foods by rewarding if he does (not a full plate of jellied eels, just a tiny nibble of a new food.) Are there any texture / temperature / consistency issues?
What's a typical day for him, foodwise?

TowerOfJoyless Wed 18-Nov-15 20:04:26

Thanks for all your replies. His favourite foods which he will eat without question for dinner are pizza and tomato soup. Other things he will have are tomato pasta and garlic bread, macaroni cheese, chips, beans, gammon, steak pie and also fish fingers and chicken nuggets but he tends to refuse these quite a bit. No pattern on tastes or textures etc but we find if it's a hot dinner he refuses to eat any more once it really cools down.

He won't eat veg of any sort (although likes fruit) and we dont really do puddings after dinner. He gets a treat on a Friday after school which he picks himself from the local cafe.

I have been doing a sticker chart recently whereby he gets a bus or train ride for trying new foods but it's very hit and miss whether he will even try in the first place (although I feel this has improved recently, maybe influence of school?).

SurlyCue Wed 18-Nov-15 20:16:46

Personally i hated any attention on my eating, even if it was praise for trying something. A sticker chart would have felt like an immense pressure for me to try something at every meal and more often than not would have lead to disappointment. Not saying this is how your DS feels but just offering one perspective from someone who has been that child.

Witchend Wed 18-Nov-15 21:21:54

I agree with SurlyCue as another fussy eater. The more pressure I felt to eat the harder it is (yes, I still struggle with it) to eat.

What helped me is taking all pressure off.
You don't want any more, that's fine, down you get. Come and tell me if you're hungry and you can have some fruit.

And not putting anything that is known for me to really dislike on the plate. Certain things turn my stomach totally. Putting it on the plate can mean I really can't touch anything.

steppemum Wed 18-Nov-15 21:30:21

I totally agree about lots of ignoring and put a plate in front of him, once he has eaten ask if he has finished, then remove plate.

As well as making sure that there is something on there that he likes and he will eat, I would regularly put new foods on there without comment. So a few peas, of a few pieces of carrot. Don't mention it and don't comment if it is eaten or not. Over time he will eventually try it.

Nicknamegrief Wed 18-Nov-15 21:40:21

As well as many of the suggestions here, I generally serve most meals 'family' style (serving dishes etc) and let my kids help themselves to quantities and what they like from what I have cooked. I also use small plates (side plates not kids plates) as I think big plates can feel overwhelming. So far I have got 1 child who isn't fussy, another who is growing out of it (9), another who is the throes of it (6) and the toddler who is too young to really know what will happen yet.
I just don't argue about meals and if they spend 30+mins picking pepper out of the chilli that is fine.
Good luck.

TaliZorah Wed 18-Nov-15 21:44:37

Another fussy eater who just wishes people wouldn't make big deal out of it. I tried a LOT more food when I was ignored, when people focused on it I felt awkward and shy.

Grittzio Wed 18-Nov-15 21:59:37

My DS was so fussy, he had a very limited diet of good basic foods, pasta, eggs, toast, broccoli, carrots, cheese, porridge, maybe chicken and drank lots of milk (still does) in the last couple of years he eats what we eat, his choice, I got so stressed in the early days that I gave him what he wanted, from the age of 9 he got more interested in food and also cooks, he's 11 now and has a very good varied diet, fortunately he had no interest in sweets or crisps either and that remains to this day although he now loves chocolate but I guess he gets that from me!

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