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Need help with my fussy eaters!

(13 Posts)
Stase Mon 12-Mar-12 21:17:54

After another dinner in which about two thirds of the boys' meals end up in the bin, I think I've got to find a way to get them eating more. I'm just starting to wean DD, and the way the whole family eats is on my mind.

Background is...

I'm a lover of all good food, have worked in catering all of my working life, for some chains, but mostly for healthy/veggie/wholefood settings. I will happily eat anything, and frequently do!

DH is a fussy bugger by my standards, but maybe not that freaky compared to some. He won't touch fish (except chip shop fish hmm ), or lamb, or beef unless it's minced, or game, or pork unless it's sausages, ham, bacon, etc

DS1 is 5.6 and has been fussy since he was about 18 months. I take some responsibility for this, as was very anxious during his weaning, and often persisted in trying to feed him when he wasn't hungry blush He may have inherited some fussiness from DH, who sympathises with him, and isn't always supportive when I'm trying to encourage him to try new things.

DS2 is 3 and is more adventurous, but as I tend to give him whatever DS1 is having his diet is becoming more limited I think.

The boys are both fit as fiddles, and like what I would consider fairly healthy foods, but the list is just so short, and it's awful when we eat out or go to anyone's house, having to explain that DS1 will only eat pasta with no sauce and the cheese on the side <sigh...> He'll eat most fruit, but veg-wise only carrots, cucumber a nibble of broccoli, the odd broad bean, peas are out, cauli is out, tomatoes, peppers, etc all out. I can't hide veg in sauces as he won't eat sauces. hmm He likes all the starchy carbs, but no meat, even chicken (roast, homemade nuggets etc) but eats plenty of beans and nuts. He eats what looks like a vegan/raw food kind of diet, plus sweets, cakes, yoghurts, rice pudding, custard (but god forbid I put pie or crumble under it).

My approach has been to put new foods on DS1s plate, alongside things I know he will eat, small portions so he has a hope of finishing it, no pudding unless he has a good go, but he never tries a new food. He just eats what he knows. He doesn't fuss or freak out, he just won't eat it.

Sorry this is so long - I feel the time has come to get a plan together, get DH on board and get the whole family eating more widely. Otherwise DD is just going to get on the bandwagon and become a fusspot too!

Any success stories or experiences would be really useful.

OldMaWills Mon 12-Mar-12 21:32:23

Sounds like a nightmare, I completely sympathise. What is his reaction if he ever eats anything new? Only asking because my middle boy will actually make himself physically sick if I can coerce him into trying fresh times.
My instinct has been to ignore completely. Craft family meals that he loves in order to boost his confidence and take the heat off him. Heap him with praise for eating up. Even if it's beans on toast!!
I get him to help me cook so he's more interested. I feel like he's getting there and gently trying new things. He even ate some courgette soup the other day, I nearly wept!!
Take the heat off him. Cook stuff you know he'll love. Heap him with praise when good, ignore the bad stuff. Reward charts work a treat. 10 good meals and he gets to choose a new toy??
Don't blame yourself at all and insist your husband come on board....he needs to lead by example. Good luck, he'll get there!

I'm writing a food blog, might help?

4madboys Mon 12-Mar-12 21:35:13

i think you are doing the right thing but just putting the new foods on his plate and not making a fuss.

in our house i make one dinner and thats its, my kids either eat it or they go hungry! they are involved in menu planning etc so they know that a couple of times a week will be something they really like, i spag bog, or chilli etc but sometimes they dont like dinner, my attitude is if they eat it great, if they dont they wont starve! we dont make a fuss or pander to anything, we all sit at the table together to eat and have a chat etc and then at the end of mealtime the plates are cleared away.

ds2 has gone through really picky phases but he never starved himself to death and now at 9 is a really good eater, tho he would given the chance add tobasco sauce to everything!

ds3 is good but bizarrely as the moment 'not liking' things that were firm faves a while ago, he generally does eat up after a few grumpy faces and moans which are ignored!

ds4 has been my pickiest of the lot and is a work in progress! he is gradually, very gradually getting better, he has been picky since weanign (we did a mix of blw and mashed stuff with all 5) no idea why, he is just a different personality.

ds1 would always eat anything put infront of him and dd, (no 5) so far is the same as ds1, tho at the moment is very keen on feeding herself, we had meatballs with sauce and roasted peppers, courgette and couc cous last night, that was very messy! (she is 15mths)

and fwiw i think your dh IS fussy and it would be good if he could lead by example and try a few things or at least not collaborate with them when they make a fuss smile

4madboys Mon 12-Mar-12 21:37:08

oh and get them involved in shopping, choosing foods, chopping, prepping and cooking they are never to young and it really helps! smile

Stase Mon 12-Mar-12 21:46:38

Thank you for your response, I'd actually already had a look at your blog! Looks great smile
I agree about taking the heat off him. I try to involve him in cooking and meal planning, although now he's at school he doesn't tend to come shopping with me any more. He would often suggest new things in the veg section, but for me to eat, not him!

He looks at me like I'm the best mum in the world when I do him jacket potato with beans and cheese, and I nearly cried when he got all excited about roast chicken and potatoes. Not sure why the chicken has fallen out of favour since.

I try to pay no attention to whether he eats or not, because I think it is about control somehow, rather than really not liking things. And fear maybe too. He used to ask for 'supper' (cereal) at 8pm, which my DH would give him because he didn't like to see them go to bed hungry, but I've put a stop to that which DS1 has accepted without much fuss.

Maybe I just need to be more patient. I am loath to go down the reward chart route, as I am in the 'clean plate club' myself, and don't want him to grow up to be an over-eater. I think it's more important at the moment that he is relaxed around food, and enjoys mealtimes, and the rest will come later. DH is on late shifts this week, so not home at dinner-time. We're having fish pie tomorrow, which DS2 loves when he has it as nursery (he's never had my version, so we'll see how it measures up...) and slow cooked shin of beef with rice or quinoa on Wednesday. No idea how that will go down, gravy is definitely out for DS1.

Wish me luck!

Stase Mon 12-Mar-12 21:51:49

Thanks 4madboys. I'd say 'blimey, you've got your hands full' but I bet you hear it all the time, and it gets a bit annoying? grin

We did BLW with DS1, and he would live on finger food now if he could. With DD I'm going for a mixed route and NO PRESSURE! She's such a chilled little soul I can't believe she'll be a fussy eater, but I may be proved wrong.

Thanks for the vindication re DH and his fussy ways. There's no way I'll get him eating lamb or fish, but you're right, he could definitely back me up more!

4madboys Mon 12-Mar-12 21:56:50

i do indeed hear that all the time, i wish i had a £1 for everytime i had heard it! grin

i think you are doing all the right things and it is something that will come with time, no pressure and remember they wont starve themselves!

re finger foods we do often have foods they can eat with theri fingers so quiche, pizza, lots of veg etc to dip, they like hummous or falafels and pitta bread etc, its good sometimes to just put a selection of stuff on the table adn let them help themselves, no pressure.

also we opt for small portions and then top up if they ask/want more as i think a large plate of food can be daunting for small children smile

OldMaWills Mon 12-Mar-12 22:00:12

I'm sure he'll get there. I meant reward for trying new things as opposed to eating up. But whatever you feel is best. I would personally keep cooking things he loves (healthy obviously) to remove the pressure and focus from him. Then creep new things into the menu bit by bit. I adapt meals for my fusspot. He likes dry beige things. He doesn't like sauces or fresh veg.

Casseroles have to have the meat fished out and wiped clean of sauce, I make 'islands' of food so he has all the components but he can pick and choose which it's he eats. Faff but worth it for us all the sit down to the same meal.

I hope he'll one day just start nibbling on a carrot. You can hope!!

Lots of luck! Hope the fish pie goes down a treat!

Stase Mon 12-Mar-12 22:28:23

Sounds like I'm not alone. I have to do the sauce-removing thing too OMW, but even that isn't acceptable quite often. And islands of food is a familiar concept too. Might try a reward chart for DH trying new things! Maybe they have a competition, the first to ten new things gets a new lego set! That could get heated! grin

Stase Tue 13-Mar-12 20:28:42

Just to update anyone who is interested <delusional>
DS2 loved the fish pie and asked for seconds, which made me well up slightly - how sad is that? Was glad I cooked it because it's not fair that he doesn't get to eat such a wide diet because of DS1s foibles. DS1 had broccoli and mashed potato, but not fish or sauce, and we talked about trying new things. I said that for every food that comes 'off his list', one has to go on that's new. He seemed to think that was reasonable, and tried a strip of raw red pepper, which he pronounced palatable. I call that a success of sorts!
Thanks for all your advice and reassurance!

5madthings Tue 13-Mar-12 21:27:40

well sounds like progress to me! keep up the good work smile

Stase Sat 01-Jun-13 19:27:53

Just resurrecting this thread, over a year since I started it, to say that nothing has changed at all. It's so frustrating.

DD will eat most things offered but has a preference for breakfast cereal. DD2 wolfed down dinner today, which was cottage pie, cauliflower and broccoli cheese, and peas and broad beans. DD1 ate 5 broad beans, peeled. sad

He wouldn't even try any of the other things. I am utterly sick of it. I am tired of his limited diet limiting the rest of us. As described in the OP, my husband has plenty of foods he won't touch, so there are already things that are off the menu unless he is on a late shift week. I am running out of ideas for meals that the smaller two and I will enjoy, that can be adapted for Mr Fussy-Bollocks.

Is he ever going to suddenly decide to at least try some new things? I dread him going to friends' houses after school, hoping he'll be given something he can eat, and hoping he'll be polite if not. And I'm really sad that he's missing out on what is one of life's pleasures for most people.

I must have gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Stase Sat 01-Jun-13 20:13:32

Some of those DDs should be Dss... Never mind.

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