The real Hunger Games- I’ve got a picky eater

417465_4305492958448_1552985843_nEach one of my kids is so different. This one right here…is a pistol. Jonah has a soft heart. He is a hard worker with a hard head. He is twice the size of the rest of the kids his age. He has he worst case of middle childitis I have ever seen. He is a lover, a seeker of attention, a giver, a sweet boy…and a picky eater!

Jo-Jo arrived in a blizzard a few days early, a few days before Christmas. He latched on right away! So easy to nurse him. He would eat, burp, poo, repeat! He went to the tickle up (tippy cup) really well. He never ate baby food…he would shudder and spit and lock his jaw. He wanted real people food. Mashed potato, carrots and cheese and fruit. I am not sure when it started…

At first I thought he was just going through a “beige” period. I played along. I knew what he liked. I like to cook and I cook 3 meals a day for 5 people–not 5 meals 3 times a day. I have tried to ignore, bribe, punish, encourage, camouflage. I started adding a bit of what he doesn’t like into what he does. He will find the 3 peas or 6 springs of parsley and dig them out. He licks the plate clean when he loves something and plays the worst kind of games when he doesn’t. It’s like going through the stages of grief each night at supper.


I feel like every night is a battle of will. Jonah’s list of acceptable food is short. Baked chicken legs, steak, shrimp. Noodles, boiled potatoes, corn, raw carrots, celery, cooked brocoli, asparagus. Period. No sauce, no mixing, no touching, no variation.  He cries when I make chicken and dumplings, begs for death if I put sauce and meatballs on his spaghetti and would rather die than eat pot roast or gravy. Boiled eggs for breakfast–only, ever boiled.

A few months ago he started with the stirring the food around to look like he is eating it. He is tearing it up into little pieces and dropping it on the floor. He runs to the bathroom to “pee” (spit it out). It is driving me crazy!

I don’t worry about his growth and development. His height and weight are off the charts and his vocabulary is staggering. I worry about what he is missing. The adventure of eating, the experience. I want his life to be free and full of flavor. I see his future and it has ramen, saltines and chicken nuggets written all over it. I hate that he fears dinnertime. I hate that he eats  his boogers and not my suppers!


I know I can’t give up. I also know that these little men have hard heads. Kids can’t control much–but they control what goes in and when it comes out…Failure is not an option…What battles have to be won?

My other two stooges are munching on pomegranate seeds, mussels, cauliflower, breakfast burritos, black walnuts, sharp cheddar cheese and olives.

I found a gray eyebrow this morning…it had Jonah written all over it!

These are my thoughts…what do you think?

Sincerely, Sara

8 thoughts on “The real Hunger Games- I’ve got a picky eater

  1. How does Jonah eat when he’s not with you? I have 2 fairly picky granddaughters…they are definitely more adventuresome when their parents aren’t there and it’s “just us”. I think you’re right…part of it is a control thing…for both of you…I think some of it might be a texture thing. Just keep serving regular food and have dinner table conversation, keep the focus off “food discussions”…hopefully he’ll grow out of it! I also k ow that’s a very hard thing to do! Good luck, Sara!

  2. My son grew up on mac and cheese, beenie weanies and grilled cheese sandwiches. He’s 33 now, and rarely does anything green touch his lips. Has it caused him problems? Maybe. But I did the best I could….

  3. It’s always funny when it’s not your own kid. Your story made me think he’s funny and smart. But when my three are doing that it’s not so funny. I make them eat it. I tell them they won’t get desert. And then they eat it. So I’m guessing that won’t work on your son…maybe mine aren’t as picky as your guy or maybe I’m scarier! 🙂 either way I’m sure he will realize his foolishness someday and eat all that yummy food you are always whipping up. Rock on Sara

  4. I feel your pain, Sara. I have a 14-year-old who was the same when he was younger. He ate like gangbusters when we first started solid food, but then a switch flipped when he was about 2. Nothing green, not much meat, unless it was a nugget or a fish stick. I should say no meat unless it was a nugget or a fish stick.

    If we even offered him new foods he would get sick. On the table. And it wasn’t a ploy to get out of eating. He truly couldn’t stomach even the idea of something he didn’t like. It was awful. He wouldn’t cry or throw a tantrum, he would just turn green and then the inevitable followed.

    I will tell you what worked for us. And bear in mind it might not work for you. We stopped fighting about it. No talk about finishing plates or even trying stuff he didn’t like. We made sure there was always one thing he liked at a meal and if he wanted to eat only that, fine. We talked about food and how much we enjoyed different things, and offered new foods over and over, but with no pressure. If he said no, we listened. My husband had been a picky eater as a kid and his parents made a big issue out of it. He was determined not to do the same to his own son.

    Lots of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. And lots of worrying about his nutrition. I did make him nuggets or fish sticks when we were having a meat-based meal. But he would eat the sides we ate, though usually not the veggies. If we had pasta, he ate his plain and was happy with it. He ate applesauce or apples at just about every meal. I know, I know, I was cooking extra stuff for him, but it worked for us.

    It took until he was probably 7 before he would eat a homemade, breaded, baked chicken strip.We considered the graduation to “real” chicken with whole wheat bread crumb breading to be a huge victory. That led to homemade, baked fish sticks. Both huge victories. And I could make the same thing for all of us.

    Finally, about two years ago he started trying new things like crazy. Meatloaf, hamburgers, roast chicken, fish (with no breading), scallops (!), shrimp, bacon, ham, turkey, green beans, lettuce, brussels sprouts, corn, broccoli. I could go on and on, but it has been a wonderful time, watching him discover he can try new things and like them.

    I’m not sure what clicked, but when it did, it did in a big way. He is more adventurous than my husband is, sometimes.

    I am so glad we took the fight out of meal times. And I am not sorry that we sometimes (often) made him something he would eat. I know many people won’t agree with our methods, thinking we “gave in” to our picky eater. But I think it wasn’t giving in, because he wasn’t refusing to eat out of spite or stubbornness. He truly couldn’t handle the texture or the taste of some foods. I think his taste buds had to grow up before he could enjoy foods like we do.

    Sorry for the long comment, but you asked for our thoughts. I seem to have a lot of them. 🙂 I hope some of this helps you. Hang in there!

      • So glad! Hopefully you will find a solution that will help.

        One more thing: be prepared for people outside your family to look at you like you are nuts if they hear your story or see you making something different for Jonah, or toting it along. We used to take a little something our son would eat to church dinners and kid parties, so he would always have something to eat, no matter what.

        People without picky kids don’t get it. Stand strong and change the subject. Some people will never understand. Keep us posted on any progress!

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