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Children's bad eating habits.

(25 Posts)
Yith Mon 08-Apr-13 22:07:03

We are working on having our first child. And all my friends are excited. They all got little ones of their own, one of the things about being in my early 30's. My friend circle is full of parents. And I love children, so I don't mind them bringing along their little ones when we go out to eat. I've noticed though that no matter how health conscious my friends are, be they vegetarian, or gym fanatics, or obese, all of them seem to feed what I'd consider really unhealthy food to their kids.

Almost always when we are out with the ones with 3 - 5 year olds, they will get themselves, salad or pasta or whatever from the menu, and their child will have pizza, or just a bag of crisps, or a plate of chips. The ones that is a little bit in the know of what they feed their kids will look at me apologetically and say "oh, she wont eat anything else, it's better she eats something, at least until we get home." I expected it from some of my friends, but not the ones who'd I consider fairly healthy.

Is this a common problem, is it that hard to train or make your child eat something other than carbs and cheese? Will I be doing a futile struggle if I expect my child to not eat these kind of things? Is this a short cut that most parents turn to when just want to see their child eating something without too much struggle when out and about? Is just some kids picky eaters, or is down to the parent?

Thoughts and advice please.

shrimponastick Tue 09-Apr-13 10:45:54

Not. It isn't hard. You just eat with your DC and eat the same foods.

It is down to the parent.

Start as you mean to go on, once you start weaning just feed the DC regular food that is healthy and nutritious. I used to feed my DS pretty mucch the same as I was eating - meats, vegetables, potatoes etc. As he got past the age of 1 he was happily eating more exciting fare such as curries and chillis.

shrimponastick Tue 09-Apr-13 10:47:19

Oh, and I never asked him what he wanted to eat for lunch/dinner. The food was placed on the table, and we all ate it.

jenduck Tue 09-Apr-13 10:55:17

Agree with what shrimp says. It is only as hard as you make it.

We have DSes 4.4 & 2 and both eat what we do & always have. On the odd occasion I will do fishfingers & oven chips for them, but they eat what is put in front of them, I offer no alternatives. There is the odd thing they don't like, but surely the same is true of adults? Even when they were weaning & we made purees for them, I would give them what we were having before any salt/stock had been added. Things like curry are toned down with extra yoghurt, but actually DS2 quite likes them hot grin. It is a pleasure for us to take our DC out to eat at a McDonald's, a pub, a posh restaurant, anywhere, because they behave well & eat well.

I am, however shock at how many of the children of even DS1's age I know who will only eat nuggets/fishfingers/sausages & chips while out (and sometimes at home, too) & even more shock at the parents that allow it. One friend's DS (4.5) will not eat any food out of the house whatsoever, not even lunch at pre-school or picnics!

Disclaimer: We may just be very lucky with our DC & I do recognise that SN/illnesses/allergies etc can make things more difficult for other parents.

EasterHoliday Tue 09-Apr-13 10:57:34

you know eating out is meant to be a treat? and that the occasional plate of nuggets and chips is not going to create an obesity issue? let's not get too judgy about this, and try to remember that the healthy option caesar salad that the mother is eating quite probably has more fat in it than the nuggets / pizza

MERLYPUSS Tue 09-Apr-13 21:32:30

A pub local to us was doing a deal that was £5 for a dinner and a desert (kids menu £3.99). It was a basic steak, gammon, chicken, veggie/beef burger or battered fish with chips/jacket/mash/boiled pots and veg or salad. Desert was cheesecake/sponge or icecream combo type stuff.
So many people were buying the mystery meat nuggets or the inch thich pizza from the kids menu with tinned spaghetti and potato shapes. But for that price you did get a super sugary drink and a choice of lurid coloured deserts.
We got the boys an adult meal each. OK, it wasn't exactly a gourmet choice but when they found out there was corn on the cob with it, it was a no brainer.
I hate thick pizza - where is the 'growing food' element in that?

gemma4d Tue 09-Apr-13 21:42:14

If they were having salad.... a lot of salads wouldn't make a meal for a 3 year old. Lettuce doesn't contain much for growing kids. Of course I am thinking of healthy salads, not the sort of salad that has a 3 course meal on top.

steppemum Tue 09-Apr-13 21:45:10

I used to think like you op, until I had kids.

My kids all eat a really healthy diet at home and when we are out, they often eat 'real' food, some as us.

BUT because we don't eat out often, when we do I let them choose, which means that they will choose chips as a treat which they don't normally have.
So the snap shot you see may not be the whole picture.

Kids menus though are rubbish.

mummysbigsmiles Tue 09-Apr-13 21:52:24

I don't agree with the phrase 'oh they won't eat anything else' my daughter is only 6months old, but being auntie to a 5yo and a 3yo if you are out and treating them to a pizza or some fried food but if you are taking the kids out to meet friends or family on a regular basis then I would say its important to make sure your kids are eating something healthy. If it were me I would buy some pasta and ensure I took some fruit with me or a yogurt. It's fine to treat your kids to some fast food but most certainly not on a regular basis. It's just bad parenting. Just because you are not at home doesn't mean it's ok to have your child eat whatever they want.

Sirzy Tue 09-Apr-13 21:56:58

I think its a mix of what they are being fed and the child. some children are fussy no matter what parents try.

At the moment DS (3) is a great eater and the only things he won't eat are nuggets/fish finger type foods. I am greatful for that though and hope he doesn't go through a fussy phase.

I would never look at one meal as an idea of anyones diet though, look over a week or so and then see if its balanced.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 09-Apr-13 22:15:44

My kids eat a really good range of food compared to some. But they r used to my home cooking, I cater for their and my tastes and attempt to produce food that will satisfy all of us so we can all eat the same. As with adults it can be hit and miss. But when we r out, depending on what kind of establishment we are in I may or may not choose to give them something simple I know will be devoured happily without the need for coaxing to try something new, such as fish fingers or spag Bol. They r also dairy free so again range is limited. They are like me, they don't like processed stuff or greasy crap and sometimes its best all round to go for something garunteed to be eaten. It's I've meal out. And believe me with young children who have had to wait for their food, last thing u want is some new taste for them to decide about. After all they can always try from your meal.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 09-Apr-13 22:16:48

It's one- damn auto correct

AnimatedDad Wed 10-Apr-13 07:53:29

My kids (3 and 5) will ask for mussels if I offer them a treat! It's about what they see you eat and what they learn.

It can be hard sometimes, but you have to keep at it

At restaurants I go for an adult starter rather than the kids menu. It makes them feel grown up and the Resturant tries harder. I just ask for it to all arrive at the same time.

Oh, and listen to this song every day:

exoticfruits Wed 10-Apr-13 08:15:26

It isn't hard - you serve up a balanced diet at home and all eat the same. I am not a restaurant- I buy it cook it and clear up. They choose to eat it or not eat it. However if there are no alternatives, and they know there are no alternatives, snacks etc, they choose to eat most of it. They most probably will be difficult about food once they get to about 2 yrs and try a power struggle- many parents give in, pathetically grateful they eat anything - but if you take the emotion out of it, serve up, remove without discussion if they don't eat it, don't give anything else they won't starve. Unfortunately it is difficult to do with your own DCs when you are worried about it.

exoticfruits Wed 10-Apr-13 08:19:19

Sorry a bit contradictory - saying it isn't hard and it is hard!
It isn't hard if you stick to your guns early on and don't give in. The 'sticking to your guns' is the hard bit.

MERLYPUSS Wed 10-Apr-13 08:22:36

We go to harvester type restaurants with the boys (but will cook 'proper' food at home). It has only been the last year that they have started to eat chips so practically anything on the kids menu was a waste of time. They wont eat pasta out as they say it's soggy. They will only eat thin base pizza from zizi or the like that has proper tomato sauce not gloop. As they eat so well I will let them have chips if they want (normally go for jacket though) on the rare occasion we do go out. Invariably they eat the veg/salad first, then the protien element and are full by the time it comes to the carbs.
We have also taken them to noodles and Indian restaurants and they are ok with that - sticking to tandoori chicken (good interacive pick up food), sate and rice. No chips issues. They only like the ice cream from macdonalds so if they need feeding when out and about we will have a m&s sandwich picnic which I know they will eat.

AnimatedDad Wed 10-Apr-13 09:24:16

... and it doesn't have to be expensive.

On monday, I took my two to the natural history museum. We had lunch at a japanese resturant in South Kensington (so not the cheapest part of the world). We had a salmon bento box and some sushi and all shared. Total cost £12.50

shrimponastick Wed 10-Apr-13 11:00:18

On the flip side, DS (15) has just returned from a school trip. He has complained no end about the food being rubbish. He says it was all pizzas, chips and pub food?

He has been spoilt <stealth boast>

I guess at least he has learnt what is good food.wink

BadRoly Wed 10-Apr-13 11:05:11

At home I battle over the children eating a balanced diet. And over table manners.

When I'm out, especially with my friends rather than friends of dc, I want a relaxed happy meal. If that means a bowl of chips/pizza/ fish fingers then so be it.

vez123 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:19:30

I think you are overthinking this. DS (nearly 3) eats a balanced diet at home and at the childminder's. But on the odd occasion that we are eating out we often order him chips and sausages as we know he eats it and it will keep him occupied whilst we are enjoying a meal out. See the toddlers in restaurants thread and you will understand.
I remember always getting chips or pizza on meals out with my parents and I am pretty health conscious now with food. It's all about the balance!

Startail Wed 10-Apr-13 11:22:26

Oh I do love how food threads bring out the juggiest and snuggest of MNers.

I'd love to lend you all DD2 for a week!

The truth OP is simple, well brought up many DCs will eat a reasonable selection of food at home, DD1 will! However, some DCs are total control freaks. Sadly if you get one of these who isn't interested in food your stuffed. DD2 would close on survive on fresh air than eat something she didn't want to. I think we'd have had SS at our door for starving her before she'd have eatten things she doesn't like/want to try.

Resturants are a secondary matter. As others have said they should be about having a nice time. You do not have a nice time if DCs are hungry and bored because they hate the sauce, gravy whatever that the adult food is smothered in or the restaurant burns steak if asked to serve it not dripping blood.

Eating out, even adventurous DCs tend to play safe until they are 10-11.

As for my lovely, stubborn DD2 a good time to her is a really good Margaritte pizza or some medium Nado's chiken and is that such a crime, given she will happily stuff apples, grapes, sweet corn, carrots and other non junk at home.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 10-Apr-13 11:31:29

It is totally normal for children to have a very fussy stage as toddlers, of course you will persist with as normal meals as possible at home, but when you are out and want to get on with chatting with friends, who cares if they pick a sage option of nuggets?

I warn you now that having such strict ideas on what others parents are doing 'wrong' will normally lead to you being bitten on the bum with a child who does not react the way they think you should!

overmydeadbody Wed 10-Apr-13 11:50:19

It's all about balance.

It doesn't have to be hard, feed your kids good varied balanced meals, and who cares if they occasionally have chips in a cafe for lunch.

My DS is 10 now and eats whatever is put in front of him, in fact he inhales food, I never ordered from kids menus for him but when we are out he is quite partial to pub burgers or pizza, they are his favourite food.

He eats more than 5 portions of fruit and veg a day so the occasional pizza or burger won't do him any harm.

AMumInScotland Wed 10-Apr-13 12:02:13

In most cases the line "she wont eat anything else" actually means, "she wont eat anything else from the list of available things on this menu, most of which are not done quite the way I would do them at home" It doesn't mean she only ever eats chips.

Most children go through phases of being very specific about what they do and don't like to eat. If you work at it, you can have a 3 year old who only eats salmon steaks, olives, brown bread, etc rather than one who only eats chicken nuggets and spaghetti hoops.

But when faced with a restaurant menu, you are likely to face plenty of occasions when what is on offer is not going to be something they like.

If you're lucky you'll have one of the kind that will try new things happily, and probably be no trouble. The rest of us have to gently encourage our children (in that age range) to try things they don't already know they will like. And, rather than spend half the mealtime doing that, it can be a lot easier (both on us and everyone else around the table) to allow them to have the obvious things on the list, like chips and crisps, which are least likely to be "weird" comapred with what they get at home.

Startail Thu 11-Apr-13 00:30:38

Amuminscotland sums it up perfectly. My horrendously difficult to feed in public, DD2 eats reasonably healthily at home. The problem is she doesn't do sauce or a wide range of veg. At home I hide courgette and fry mushrooms and peppers separately.

If restaurants served meat and two veg, or simple shepherd's pie etc. she'd be fine, but now days all, but the most basic town pubs jazz things up.

We moan about DCs being fussy, but thinking back when I was a child spag bol was exotic and plenty of kids wouldn't eat pizza because it had tomato on it.

DD2 is no worse than my DSIS was at her age, but the world has changed.

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