Aaaargh! Fussy eaters and meal planning. Help needed!(5 Posts)
DS1, age 10, is overweight and over-eats. He loves carbs, and will eat bowlfuls of plain pasta or rice, but not so much sauce. He's not keen on meat.
DS2 won't eat any carbs apart from non-grainy bread. No pasta, rice, or grains at all. He is going off potatoes. He refuses eggs in any form. He picks up teeny tiny bits of food at a time, and takes for ever to finish a meal, often saying he's finished after pushing the food round his plate for half an hour. He will be hungry 10 minutes after a meal, and asking for apples (he would eat apples all day long if I let him).
DS3 refuses anything with any discernible tomato or onion in it. I have always cooked mainly onion-based meals, with lots of tomato based sauces.
I'm overweight and desperately need to lose weight. I would like to eat fresh, raw salads and lean meat and fish.
DH doesn't care what he eats, but makes poor nutritional choices for himself and the DSs if left to his own devises (Ginsters pasties for lunch, fried egg sandwiches (white sliced with tomato ketchup) for tea, that sort of thing). He can make a meal from scratch, but unless I remind him, will not get started until he and the boys are hungry, then ends up opening tins of beans/hot dog sausages or other rubbish (usually filched from the camping pantry box) and telling himself it's a one-off.
We have no money, and can't afford meat more than once or twice a week (and even then, it's chicken, sausages, bacon or mince ).
The irony is that I'm a very good cook. I make great family meals, and I enjoy doing it. I have a million recipes at my fingertips, but everything I look at will be rejected by someone! It's soul-destroying. By the way, I have never offered alternatives to the main meal, only ever said 'take it or leave it' at meal times, but still get regular tantrums over the food on the table.
I have got to the stage when meal-planning for the week's shop gives me palpitations. I can feel the stress building up inside me as soon as I start thinking about food. I no longer know what to do, since whatever I prepare, someone's not going to eat it.
The trouble is, I usually end up cooking to please the boys, but that's affecting my weight now to such an extent that I can't carry on eating that type of food. But I can't afford to buy only for me, and don't have the energy (physical or emotional!) to cook two meals a night.
Any wisdom will be gratefully received. I'm trying to plan my shopping for the week, which I should have done on Saturday but have put off and put off. I cannot think what to buy/make that we can all eat happily.
It sounds so very exhausting it's no wonder you are stressed. I think the first step if it were me, would be to sit everyone down to discuss it. Get them involved in the planning, and try to come to compromises between all of you- perhaps each pick a meal, and agree the remainders? Offer maybe fifteen meals that can be chosen and let them pick.
For the DC have you tried sticker charts? My youngest is fussy and this helps, but, tbh as long as she's tried what's offered I let her have fruit an hour or so later. Long enough after that dinner is forgotten and she doesn't see it as a reward for not eating, but something to ensure she's not starving.
In terms of what you can offer them, soup? Stews? meat and two veg?
I've tried sitting them all down, but TBH, they were a bit crap at it- all DS2 wants is fish and chips (chip-shop style, won't touch it if I lovingly prepare some fresh cod myself), and all DS1 wants is plain pasta. If I ask them for ideas, they just get upset when they don't get their wishes!
DS1 does enjoy cooking, and they do respond well if they've been involved in preparation, so that can be a way in.
Sticker charts are hit and miss. DS2 gets tearful if he doesn't get a sticker 'for trying', and I'm really soft on him. It seems a bit unfair when it's so easy for DS1 to eat it all, but seems so hard for DS2.
Stews and soups do tend to be best, and meat and two veg (when we can afford it!)-they enjoy roast ham with minted peas and potatoes, but I always feel this type of meal is too fattening for me.
We had chicken stew tonight- slow cooked chicken thighs with leeks (cut up really fine so as to be unidentifiable), in a lightly creamy sauce of butternut squash and sweet potato, served with steamed white cabbage.
DS1 ate it all, DS 2 picked and kept asking if he'd had enough (I made him eat all the chicken and a bit of the sweet potato and cabbage). DS3 wanted to know the provenance of every item on his plate, but eventually ate all but a couple of pieces of squash.
I suppose this could be seen as a success, but the constant questioning about every forkful and asking if they've had enough makes me want to slit my throat
None of this is helped by the fact that our extended family is being ripped apart by my niece's severe anorexia. She nearly died last summer, and is heading that way again at the moment. It's very distressing, and I just want my little boys to eat, and enjoy their food!
Could you batch cook a load of different meals so you can just heat up various options when they won't all eat the same thing?
Without the gravy, surely ham minted peas and new potatoes is healthy, low fat, low cal? Unless you're using butter on the potatoes/peas, or eating the fat on the ham? (even then the low carb camp would say just oust the potatoes and eat up)
Perhaps instead of asking them what they want (plain pasta just wouldn't be an option here-yuk!) Give them a list of their options and they can pick from them.
Last nights meal sounds great, though the constant whining would upset me too, perhaps that could be what you aim for- not that they eat more/less but that they eat uncomplaining, and after half an hour they can leave the table. IMO any level of anxiety about eating is a bad one, don't let them over eat, but if they leave something, well, they won't starve, as long as treats aren't given in lieu of meals that is. Perhaps taking a step back and caring less will help, it helped me with dd 2- sometimes she eats, sometimes she doesn't. I was making a battle of food ,cajoling to eat a bit more, etc. it's not good, it doesn't teach a healthy relationship with food. But it's incredibly difficult not to tie emotion up in it all, and tbh, sometimes I fail and catch myself telling her just to try the chicken, or getting upset because she's just had fruit for two days. Good luck
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