Apr 07 2011
When my middle child was a baby he ate anything I put in front of him. Fish, ground beef, vegetables – he was every mother’s dream. And then one day in his third year he woke up picky. I have no way to explain it. He just stopped eating healthy food.
His meals soon became mac and cheese, Kix and bread. No meat whatsoever, no vegetables, no milk, no orange juice, no fruit. Nothing. Later in his life he jokingly called himself a “wheatatarian.”
Michael was a chunky little baby. But by four years old he was thin enough to show ribs. It was a constant struggle. “Michael, just TRYYYY IT.” But Michael would rather go hungry than put anything in his mouth he didn’t like. My son was one of those kids who would starve himself rather than have a piece of meat pass his lips.
A well seasoned pediatrician finally gave me some sound advice. “He isn’t starving. He isn’t losing weight. He remains thin at an even pace. Stop stressing. Stop making dinner miserable. Just let him eat what he will eat and ignore it. Throw in some vitamins and he will be fine. He won’t be like this forever.”
Eleven years later, my boy is now 15 and a freshman in high school. He didn’t have his first bite of chicken until he was in sixth grade – and THAT was a chicken nugget. My brother gave him a dollar to eat it. It took him being away for a week at scout camp to eat a piece of bacon. The scout leader actually took a picture of it to prove that it happened.
Baby steps. That is what his life has been when it comes to food. What does he eat now? Michael will do anything for a Burger King triple stack, plain (no vegetables, you have GOT to be kidding, right?) and heavy on the cheese. Also on the menu? Chicken wings, pizza, mashed potatoes and rice. The most surprising? A Subway ham, cheese and bacon sub with shredded lettuce. The most bizarre? My picky child will go to a seafood buffet and devour crab legs, steamed clams and crawfish! Yet a piece of regular chicken, an apple, a piece of broccoli or a home cooked hamburger will not pass his lips. Period.
For the last few years, despite his picky eating, Michael has been a true athlete. He has won medals on the track team, he has wrestled, plays basketball and is currently on the high school lacrosse team. Our pediatrician was right. He didn’t starve himself. He didn’t waste away to nothing. He just ate what he wanted to eat and we moved on with our lives. Every year there is a new and surprising thing added to his mealtime repertoire. And I’m sure once he is in college, that craving for protein will broaden his horizons even more.
All of you moms out there who have picky eaters, fear not. I have been through it all and have made it through alive. As has my son. If your little one refuses that bite of carrot, turns a nose up at beef or refuses a bite of fish, IT WILL BE OK. Go to your pediatrician, talk it out and then take a deep breath and relax. I did, and twelve years later we are just fine.Tags: no meat, no vegetables, picky child, picky eater, won't eat meat