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How poor does a child's diet have to be beore it beocme a problem?

(42 Posts)
SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 12:26:34

DS2 has always been a picky eater. I've tried not to pander and not to cook him special meals etc and work on the if he's hungry, he'll eat it principle but the thing is (a good thing!) in our modern affluent world, he's never properly hungry. Thankfully few of our children know what real hunger is.

So for example today. He had cornflakes for breakfast because I won't buy the sugary cereals he'd prefer. DS1 has porridge or eggs, but Ds2 won't touch them, so he has his cornflakes, pours himself a tiny bowl and eats half of it.

He'll get lunch in the school canteen, where there are loads of good meals on offer. DS1 will have chilli, rice and veg or roast dinner etc, but DS2 will have a hot dog or something that sounds vile called a potato dog.

Then I give them a good dinner. Last night I did a lamb dish with couscous, DS2 ate the cous cous. If I do a roast, DS2 will have a go at the meat, provided it doesn't take much chewing and eat the carrots, but not touch the potatoes or other veg. Tonight I'm doing bolognaise and he'll eat as much pasta as he can, provided the sauce hasn't touched it.

So, he eats enough not to be starving, but it really can't be said he's well nourished. What does anyone else do and when does it become a real problem?

He's 12 yo BTW.

BlueBananas Wed 10-Jun-15 12:31:09

Oh God I thought you were going to say he was about 4 or 5!
At 12 he's just being ridiculous, tell him to eat his food or he'll lose tv/xbox/football practice whatever

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 12:34:13

Why BlueBanana's? He's telling me he's had enough - I thought we were past clear you plate or else.

BlueBananas Wed 10-Jun-15 12:37:13

I'm not saying clear his plate, but only eating the pasta that hadn't been touched by the bolognese?? That's fussy 3 year old behaviour!
Mine are 4 & 5 and while I don't make them clear their plates they have to eat some of everything off it and not complain
I absolutely wouldn't tolerate this from a 12 year old, sorry

Jackie0 Wed 10-Jun-15 12:37:35

I would just carry on doing exactly what you're doing.
He won't come to any had .

Jackie0 Wed 10-Jun-15 12:38:01

Any harm

redcaryellowcar Wed 10-Jun-15 12:39:18

I really don't know the answer but is it worth asking your gp, maybe for a referral to a dietician, at that age maybe someone professional taking it seriously and explaining why it's important to eat a balanced diet might have an impact? Or perhaps (if he's into sport) looking at what athletes/ football/ rugby players eat might help?

HumphreyCobbler Wed 10-Jun-15 12:39:52

You have not got a twelve year old yet BlueBananas, I would be careful about what you say grin

I think you are doing the right things actually, I wouldn't change it. It is your job to put food on the table, HIS job to eat it!

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 12:43:53

Ah that explains it BlueBananas. Oh well you'll learn. IM E , it's far far easier to get a 4/5 yo to do as you say/want than it is 12yo. And much easier not to tolerate things.

BlueBananas Wed 10-Jun-15 12:48:17

If you pander to his fussiness it will continue - this is true of any age
This softly softly approach will make him think he's being completely reasonable, which he is not
He's actually being very rude letting you throw away perfectly good food that you've prepared
But that's fine, that's how you want it to be clearly so good luck grin

moogalicious Wed 10-Jun-15 12:49:17

Arf at bluebananas grin

My 12yo is a very fussy eater - no fruit or veg apart from raw carrots and her diet seems to get more limited as she gets old. I guess it's because it's harder to bribe them at that age.

I would just carry on with what you're doing. What about a multi vitamin if you're worried?

moogalicious Wed 10-Jun-15 12:50:49

Bluebananas do you want to have a go at making my 12yo stay at the table and eat her greens?

I just give her a smaller portion of what we're having. The rest goes to the dog. So no waste.

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 12:51:55

Good grief, I'd have thought MN, even if not RL experience, would have taught you better then to know exactly how it should be done for circumstances you've never encountered.

He's had 12 years of no-one pandering to him and I've managed to raise a 14you who will eat anything and everything put in front of him.

Scootergrrrl Wed 10-Jun-15 12:52:15

Does he genuinely not like the food you give him, or is it fussiness/distrust/a control thing? That will affect how you deal with it, I suppose.

Runawayandjointhecircus Wed 10-Jun-15 12:56:03

I have not got a 12 year old either but I remember being one and I'm 100% sure my mum could make me do stuff a lot more easily when I was 5. By the age of 12 I was stubborn as it is possible to be! I'm dreading my 3 being that age! Sounds like you are doing the right thing op - you can take a horse to water...

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 12:58:01

I think he's just no that bothered about food. DS1 and I really enjoy our food, DS2 and DH see it as something that has to be done, but don't get any real enjoyment from it.

Whereas, I have foods I like more than others, but can eat pretty much anything, DS2 has a very short list of foods he loves and is only really prepared to eat those.

PeaceOfWildThings Wed 10-Jun-15 13:00:11

It's not you, it's him.
Give gime sugar to put on his cereal, he needs the calories. Give him a good slab of chocolate flapjack for a morning snack and get him to eat some toast when he gets in from school. Do it for him if he dithers. Also fruit juices are a great way to feel him up. Don't talk about it. Don't try to encourage him to eat. Just 'here's your snack' etc.

If that doesn't work, take him to the GP.

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 13:02:58

I do sometimes do that Peace, on the basis that some food is better than no food, but if he snacks he really won't eat the "real" food in his meals.

He's not underweight, but he does seem to suffer from tiredness more than a child should. Not in the mornings before school, which would be highly suspect, but sometimes he says he's too tired to do fun things, despite a pretty early regular bedtime.

PeaceOfWildThings Wed 10-Jun-15 13:10:18

Might be worth seeing a gp and dietician anyway then. Blood tests (by GP) should rule out the obvious, like low iron/B12 but a dietician can have a better look at things.

ragged Wed 10-Jun-15 13:12:51

I'm in the 'Carry on as you are' camp. I have 3 who eat well & youngest is a right pain. I celebrated when he tried Wotsits.

fourchetteoff Wed 10-Jun-15 13:19:44

Hi Bluebox - my DB was EXACTLY like this.

He used to drive us loopy by picking bits of onion out of his food (tiny minced up pieces). He would have eaten cereal, turkey burgers and potato waffles every day if he could have. So, so very fussy.

My DS is the same. Not the extreme your son is, but he literally gags when he eats fruit, despite trying many, many times to give him just a little piece to try. Apparently, after 20 times you are supposed to get rid of the fear of foods. Whoever found out that result hasn't met my son!

In the end, my DBs fussiness ended at uni, when suddenly he discovered beer and peer pressure. He eats everything now, except mushrooms.

Still, I would advise taking your DS to a dietician, to see if there is any way of supplementing his diet or working out a food plan.

BTW - any one who says 'just make them eat it, I wouldn't' stand for having such a fussy child' BTW, has never encountered having their own fussy child. To my shame, I think I was a little bit like that after my DD was born (ate everything) but my DS made me realise it wasn't my perfect parenting that made her a good eater, she was just not fundamentally picky like my DS.

Scootergrrrl Wed 10-Jun-15 13:22:18

Fourchette might have something with the peer pressure - by 12, u imagine there's very little you as parents can do to influence what they eat. Is he better when he's with his friends if you ever see them eating together?

fourchetteoff Wed 10-Jun-15 13:25:47

Scooter - my DB tells me that after you've had a few pints at uni, if someone pretty offers you food, you eat it! That's when he discovered that food wasn't so horrific as he had thought. My mum just about passed out when he came home at Xmas and suddenly ate chill!

Perhaps there is something in the 'beer and student desperation' diet you could try Sewingbox? grin

SewingBox Wed 10-Jun-15 13:27:33

Ah now he did try some of DH's beer at the weekend......he didn't like it grin

MsGee Wed 10-Jun-15 13:27:42

My DD is a fussy eater. No fruit or veg really so I focus on getting her to eat what she does and have the healthiest possible versions of that.

She basically likes carbs and meat / fish. So the healthy version is wholemeal rice and mackerel or salmon, but sometimes dry pasta and chicken etc. She eats some dried fruit and has recently starting eating veg soup and omelet.

I don't push things, I encourage her to test new things without pressure and try to have a wide variety of food at home that she can see me eating.

Her teacher recently told me that my daughter's diet was very unhealthy - based on the lack of fruit and veg. However, when DD was in hospital last year the doctors told me her good progress was probably down to a good diet. The looked a bit shocked when I laughed.

So - don't worry (although see a GP if you are...) - try to get as much of what he does eat in him initially, then the healthiest possible versions of what he eats and remove the pressure from you all. I refuse to make food a battle ground.

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