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How can I deal with selective eating?

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Julie Loe

Question:

I have a wonderful 6 year old who is very much a "spirited child" as described in the book 'Your spirited child' (I believe that's the title. I'm on a quick free minute here.) My son is wonderful 99% of the time but has to be the award winner for selective eating. I have read many parenting books, with my favorites being those by Faber and Maszlish and Barbara Coloroso. For close to 5 years I have tried all the strategies mentioned in regards to eating. I have tried to put very little attention to his selectiveness but to be honest 5 years of this is hard to take. He is so determined to not try something new or old for that matter that he'd rather not eat. Coloroso claims that a kids won't starve himself by missing a meal (which was my strategy) but believe me I think he'd starve before trying something new.

I have since December just decided that now, at 6, if he doesn't like the meal on the table that he can make something nutritious on his own. That worked, in that he at least started to eat when he was hungry but he even has a hard time deciding what to feed himself. "I don't know what to make!"

I have had him seen by a child psychiatrist as my physician thought that his eating habits were close to obsessive/compulsive. That was ruled out. I'm just looking for strategies to encourage his eating habits. He is aware of nutrition, enjoys cooking with me and is not affected by his peers, teachers, parents, grandparents etc. eating in front of him. ie. He won't eat a pizza/hot dog etc. - anything at a birthday party.

Answer:

I think you have got the answer already. I would have sent you to a nutritionist. I have lists of foods that provide the most nutrition, but you sound like you already know that. But, I would be happy to send you mine, if you send me your address.

Also, One thing I learned by our nutritionist, is to not look at each meal alone. Look at the whole week for it's nutritional content. This takes some of the meal to meal pressure to get it all in each time. She also recommends exactly what you are doing, if the child does not like what is served they can fix some thing nutritious for themselves, otherwise, wait till the next meal.

Also , you need to become very educated on the proper serving sizes for children. We as a society, eat too much, and think our kids need to do this also.

Personally, with my very difficult child, I gave her a drawer in the kitchen that was hers. It was stocked with items she could eat at anytime, Like popcorn, apples, fruit leathers and granola bars, pastry bars (all from the health food store). Also we kept smoothies made up in the refrigerator that had protein powder, vit C, yogurt and flax seed in them. Then I quit trying to get her to eat. She consumed enough calories, of the type I chose, and gradually she would try a food here and there, and she learned to only eat when she was hungry because it was always available, and also to join us at meal times because she wanted to be with us.

Hope some of this helps.

Best wishes,
Julie Loe

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Last modified: January 26, 2013