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Fighting the 'Big Kid' Food Wars

Fighting the ‘Big Kid’ Food Wars

By Amalah


You helped me gain perspective once before with my frustrations about daddy watching our baby during the day. I’m hoping to get a little more of that good advice. This time, though, I’m hoping for it for someone else. My sister-in-law has asked my advice about her son. I’ve got some background in childhood education, but really nothing that will give me too much insight in to what she’s asking. I have been researching a little on my own, but I know you are the absolute bees-knees at researching, so I’m hoping you can help.

My amazingly wonderful nephew is seven (almost eight!), and, well, a handful. He’s always been a bit of a wild child; from the time he was one he would slide chairs over to their high counter, climb up, and jump off. He can almost always be found racing from the kitchen into the living room in his underwear (did I mention the kid hates to wear his clothes if it can be helped? haha) just to jump on a huge pile of blankets he’s set up on the couch. He’s a huge ball of energy, and such a bright personality. That’s not to say he isn’t calm ever, he definitely can be. He is so sweet and loving and caring. He is always trying to take care of his mother or me when I’m there, grabbing us blankets and tucking us in. He absolutely loves my 11-month-old to death, and every few days when we go over their house he cuddles my baby boy and sings to him. Then when you turn around two seconds later and he’s beating up his sister (you know, because that’s what brothers do).

My sister-in-law has noticed lately how much sugar affects him. When he’s around other kids he gets so excited to see that he is often very hands-on, lots of hugs and wrestling. Combine that with a sugar intake and he can be a little overwhelming. She said to me that the other day she barely recognized him after he had some cake at a friend’s birthday party. She also said he seemed to get tunnel vision of sorts. He was repeating over and over that there were no chairs to sit in and when she would point one out to him he just kept saying there was nowhere to sit with his eyes almost glazed over.

OK … seems like an easy solution, just cut out the sugar. The thing is, he’s an incredibly picky eater. He’ll eat peanut butter sandwiches, but only on certain kinds of bread (she’s tried to switch it up without him seeing, he can taste the difference). He’ll eat ham, but only honey baked ham … pork chops are a go, and certain mashed potatoes. And of course all the junk-food type snacks (oreos, fruit by the foot, fruit snacks, etc). He used to eat Pizza, but only from one restaurant and he has stopped eating that as well. She tries to feed him better than this; she keeps all of the good foods in the house. He just won’t eat them. She does luck out with feeding him some fruits, and he will drink milk (but only with strawberry syrup added, and he could taste the difference when she bought a sugar free version). She’s even tried to take most of the sugary junk out of the house, but it hasn’t helped. He just stayed on his stubborn streak of only pork chops, or only peanut butter and bread.

Basically, we’re trying to figure out how to get nutrition in to this kid! It’s clearly affecting his behavior. She has mentioned his eating habits to the pediatrician, and he’s in the “as long as you’re getting food into him” camp. She’s tried the Pedialytes, to no avail as well. What can we (she) do? The kid needs to eat something other than sugary things. I know you’ve gone through the picky eater dilemma with Noah. Any advice/experience/”I feel ya” vibes would be amazing at this point.

Somebody get the kid a sandwich

Okay, so the first thing I want to mention is possibly a first, even for me: I’m going to assvice an advice-seeker. You asked for help in cutting out the sugar, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s not actually sugar that’s causing your nephew’s behavior disturbances, but rather artificial dyes and flavors. Because what you’re describing — tunnel vision, hyperactivity, breakdown in communication skills, eye contact and impulse control — is EXACTLY what happens to Noah when he has anything artificial. And since food dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue Lake, etc) and artificial flavors/preservatives are almost ALWAYS found in sugar-y treats and junk food (not to mention BIRTHDAY CAKE FROSTING), it can be easy to mistake for a reaction to sugar.

I mention this mostly because while it’s of course possible that sugar is the culprit, some of the foods your sister-in-law is trying as substitutes (sugar-free strawberry syrup, Pedialyte, etc.) still contain those pesky food dyes and a host of crappy artificial ingredients. So she might still not get at the root of the trigger. Even once we realized Noah simply could not handle food dyes, it still took us awhile to suss out all the different sources of his exposure — flavored liquid medicines, chewable vitamins, hand soaps, kids’ bubble baths, etc. All of that had to be replaced with dye-free alternatives.

And while cutting back on the sugar intake is also always a good idea (as is being aware that it can lurk in rather large amounts even in “healthy” foods like peanut butters, breads, yogurts, etc.), if the dyes are more to blame she’ll want to shift the focus of the elimination diet. So he could continue to eat his favorite bread, for example, since I know it can be challenging to find one without HFCS or sugar in the conventional grocery store aisles.

(We’re now the nutsos who make our own bread, sweetened with honey or maple syrup, since we were spending a fortune on specialty organic loaves all the time. Because we make a LOT of peanut-butter-and-jellies around here, oh my GOD. But seriously, it’s actually not hard. We use a no-knead recipe that basically requires you to throw a bunch of ingredients in a stand mixer for five minutes.)

ANYWAY. Sorry for getting sidetracked, but I’m That Person when it comes to kids and artificial colors. They are crap. CRAP! And while Noah is super-extra sensitive, even my typical guys have behavioral/hyperactive/general-oh-my-God-CHILL-OUT reactions when they eat anything with Red 40 in it. And once you start looking for Red 40, it can drive you up the wall and send you swearing off anything boxed or jarred. (Why does chocolate cake mix have Red 40 in it? Isn’t it supposed to be brown? And why are cereal bars colored to look more “strawberry-ish”?)

OH MY GOD I DID IT AGAIN. Okay, stepping off soapbox for real now, and getting back to your actual question. My advice for anyone dealing with a picky eater always begins (and should probably end) with the recommendation to read Ellyn Satter’s book How to Get Your Kid to Eat (But Not Too Much). It is the bible, the gospel of picky eating. And it basically boils down to: Stop. Just stop.

Stop freaking out. Stop offering food after food after food. Stop begging, bargaining and bribing. Stop making special meals and special substitutions. Cook what you would like for dinner. As long as your child has the teeth and the motor skills to eat it and isn’t allergic to it, that’s what you serve them. If they do not eat it, that is their choice, and that is not your job. Your job was to do the shopping, cooking and serving. Once it is on their plate, it is their job and your responsibility ends there.

“But he won’t eat dinner! He’ll just wait until breakfast when he knows he’ll get Cheerios/waffles/whatever.”

Yep. Probably. But he also won’t starve.

If your nephew can eat pork chops, that suggests to me that there’s no oral motor/sensory concessions that need to be made: A kid who can chew and swallow pork chops can also manage chicken or fish or beef. Serve one of those (perhaps alongside the “acceptable” form of mashed potatoes). Emphasize that while he can chose not to eat anything, he DOES have to stay at the table with the rest of the family and exercise good table manners — no whining, tantrums, playing with food — until the meal is over. Don’t use dessert as a bribe, don’t ask for X number of bites, etc.

Eventually — I swear to God — his habits will change. He will get hungry (particularly if your sister-in-law institutes the New Meal World Order at the same time as limiting his access to sugar-y, non-nutritive-but-satiating snacks), and he will eat. He might not particularly love the food he finally deigns to try, but that’s okay too. He will probably start drinking white milk if he knows that juice or strawberry syrup is not forthcoming. If he still refuses milk, water is the best alternative. (Your sister-in-law could also try blending milk up with yogurt and frozen strawberries to see if that tempts him. Noah still has texture issues with most fruits so we do make a concession to smoothies.)  It sounds like he prefers meats and vegetables that have been sweetened or glazed, so maybe start with recipes that include a little maple syrup or honey or agave…and then be careful not to repeat the exact same presentation too often so it doesn’t become the One Acceptable Way To Eat That Food.

My picky eater lived for a year — in our pre-Ellyn-Satter days — eating the same three or four carb-based foods. Just when I thought his diet couldn’t get any more limited, he’d do what your nephew is doing and suddenly reject a previously-acceptable food, like pizza or mac & cheese. It’s a control thing. A power struggle. And sadly, the more his parents freak out and cede mealtime control over to him, the worse it will get, because to him IT’S WORKING. (Picky eaters = drunk-with-power dictators.) Restrict the scope of his control to simply what he chooses to put in his mouth and chew. He doesn’t get to dictate what restaurant the family goes to or what they eat for dinner or what goes on his plate. No one can MAKE him eat. Likewise, he can’t MAKE his family eat pork chops five nights a week, or MAKE his mother prepare two dinners.

Get him a multivitamin, switch to a natural peanut butter and stay away from uber-processed, artificial stuff like “nutrition drinks.” Put real food — real fruits, real veggies, real meats — in front of him, even if you know he won’t eat it that time. Maybe next time. But hey, little dude, this is the kind of food that is good for you and will make your body feel good. It’ll be here when you’re ready; the food that is not good for you and makes your body lose control will not.

One final caveat, though, on that note: Don’t make sweet foods and dessert into a Huge Thing That He Can Never, Ever Have. Obviously my kids are kids and they love snacks and cookies and candy. We buy (or make) acceptable versions. Organic pop-tarts, natural chocolate chips in the granola bars, cookies and ice creams made without artificial colors or flavors. If it turns out your nephew is reacting to dyes, not sugar, it’s a good idea to still let him have some damn sugar. Go out for frozen yogurt or buy him a nice cookie at a coffee shop, just because. No big deal. No big forbidden substance. Noah’s allowed to have birthday cake or candy at parties — now that the dyes aren’t regularly coursing through his nervous system, I can deal with the occasional post-party fallout, and the spike/crater in his behavior doesn’t seem to be as dramatic.

If it’s NOT the dyes and is the sugar, try baking batches of cookies with stevia or whatever and have him help. (Rather than buying store-bought sugar-free versions that can have yucky artificial sweeteners. Blech. I can taste the difference too, and no healthy seven-year-old should be developing a taste for aspartame or sucralose.) Getting kids involved in the kitchen is another WONDERFUL tactic for conquering food issues. Once they’ve had a hand in making the food, even it’s just dumping a box of pasta into the water, can give them a sense of control and ownership of the meal and make them slightly less likely to reject the finished product outright. (“Pretend Soup” is a great kids’ cookbook that I’ve mentioned before.)

Good luck, and yes, I feel ya. It does get better and the pickiest of picky eaters WILL improve and NOT STARVE. You do absolutely need to be consistent, which I know is a phrase that makes you want to RIP YOUR HAIR OUT when you’re in the trenches of the food wars, but it’s true. Consistency for weeks and months and years, too: Not just “we’ll try this for a week and then get tired of it and go back to making him an individual pork chop every night.”

We definitely had some fits and starts and times we got a little lazy and Noah started to backtrack. I’d go and re-read a chapter or two of Satter like a pep talk and get back on the Division of Responsibility Wagon. Noah’s list of preferred/favorite foods is still pretty kid-typical (though nowhere NEAR as limited as it once was), but we know we can serve regular “real” meals to him and he will eat them. Not bad for a kid who once lived on Cheerio dust and oxygen for 12 solid months.

Photo source: iStockphoto/ Thinkstock

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • tango november whisky

    February 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I’m 32 weeks along and this is already one of my husband’s worst fears, mostly because I am such a picky eater myself. I refuse to eat seafood, certain vegetables, it goes on and on. Is there a way to get my kid to like these foods, even though I don’t eat them?

  • autoclave239

    February 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Amalah is spot on.  I have an 18 month old and we’ve been using Ellyn Satter’s book from before she could eat solids.  Now?  My kid will eat (or try) just about anything and she also WANTS to.  And I have ZERO stress about her eating habits, as she regularly begs for carrots, corn, apples, chicken, steak, rice, grapes, pasta, avocado…the list goes on.  It’s true, she’s probably not yet to the picky eater stage, but I feel like we have a good foundation for “Eat or Don’t” so hopefully that stage won’t last very long.   

  • Jessica V.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    @whisky…I’d say the best thing you can do is include all sorts of foods in your kid’s diet, and don’t let them see you gross out over the things you don’t like, at least during the formative food preference years. You can’t necessarily predict if your kid will be picky or not (I’ve got one who will eat anything, and one who lives on PB&J, chicken nuggets and Cheerios), but you can make sure they have access to all the good stuff. Also – kids go through phases with their food preferences, so Amy’s advice above is spot on. They get what they get, and don’t get upset! Good luck!

  • Bettina

    February 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    You’re THAT person when it comes to what you feed your children (and recommend to others), but you also wholeheartedly “recommend” Taco Bell Cantina Bowls to adults.

    Sorry, after that ridiculous sponsored post, I have a hard time swallowing your advice on diet.

    • Myriam

      February 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Chill out! A healthy diet is made of 80% good choices, a 20% not so good choices. Balance and moderation is key in everything! I went back to read Amalah’s sponsored post, and NEVER does she encourages you to eat Taco Bell all the time, as your sole nutrition source. Amy gives good advice, even if you don’t like Taco Bell!

      • S

        February 14, 2013 at 6:16 am

        If you don’t like Amy’s advice on diet or agree with her opinion, why read this? Sponsored or not, the Taco Bell post was her honest opinion – if she decides to have some junk food every now and then, how does that in any way cancel out being “that person” when it comes to her kids and what they eat? 

        IMO the Taco Bell post should not have shown up in this column. Still well written and true to form Amy, but not the type of thing I come here for. Hopefully the tags are fixed so that this column stays as great as it is. As long as it does, I will gladly read sponsored post she has written elsewhere on the site, knowing that they keep the good bits available. 

  • MR

    February 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    If you are open to trying alternative treatment methods, you might consider looking into NAET. NAET does “allergy” treatments through acupressure (a light tapping down your back). It doesn’t hurt and can easily treat for reactions like you are describing to either sugar or food dyes. It is the same concept as acupuncture – that all “allergic” or otherwise abnormal responses are a result of energy blockage. Clear the blockage and you get rid of the issue. I was highly skeptical of it, coming from a very medical family, and I still don’t understand it really, but I do know it works. My husband says it is all in my head, but I was pretty quick to say “I don’t CARE if it is all in my head. My symptoms went away and if that is just mental, I am ok with that.”
    But, I know it isn’t just mental, because I had both my daughters treated as babies for foods that caused them horrible diaper rash, and they both got better and never had the issue again, and it certainly wasn’t mental for them. I had hyperemsis gravidum while pregnant with my first, and a treatment for progesterone let me have a much easier pregnancy the second time around. Each item usually only requires a single treatment. So, if you wanted to be treated for sugars and for food coloring, that’s two treatments and you never have to go back if you don’t want to. The treatments aren’t all that spendy either. I certainly spent much more money on allergy medications to treat the symptoms. Anyway, it isn’t for everyone – I know it is hard to get past the weirdness of the concept. I only did because I was truly desperate from horrible allergies and my dr and I had gone through all the prescription and OTC medicines available. She had referred me to get allergy shots again, but the earliest appointment was a few months out and I was miserable. A coworker suggested it, and after a day, I figured it was worth a shot. It really worked! I haven’t had that issue in years and have had no need for medicine for it since. I’ve had a few problems that have several layers to fix, but most issues are one and done.

  • Liz

    February 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    YES. My kid is the same way, and through process of elimination it is DEFINITELY food coloring, not natural sugars. We first noticed the connection at 3 months (!) when she was only breast fed and I drank a green Shamrock Shake. An hour later, my infant was a wolverine. It’s very obvious now, and we can always tell when a family member sneaks her anything with red dye! With some effort, you can replace most foods with natural coloring alternatives. I get some stuff at Whole Foods, but I also found a lot at Aldi, since so much of their food is imported from countries where food coloring is banned. Good luck!

  • Kelli Oliver George

    February 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    My 7yo can have a bowl of vanilla ice cream and then go to bed.  Add a bit of artificial food coloring to the mix? And it is mayhem.  Absolute lack of impulse control, bouncing off the walls, negative attitude, the works.  So….  I second what Amy said about the colors vs. plain sugar.

  • Kim

    February 11, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I’m going to jump in with more assvice here, because the whole picture of what you’re describing sounds like a sensory-seeking kid to me. My friend and co-op member has a boy like this, and she described the exact same things –  getting wild, jumping off things, not wanting to wear clothes, getting physically close to classmates,  basically seeking more and more sensory input.  He has had occupational therapy and other tools, but his mom also watches his diet pretty carefully as well.
    So it might be worth looking into that, too. Or not. Stranger assvice.
    I can second the recommendation for Satter, though, wholeheartedly.

    • Kate

      March 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

      As the mom of a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder I couldn’t agree more. He definitely sounds like a sensory kiddo for exactly the reasons you pointed out. Going gluten free and casein (dairy) free in addition to dye free made a huge difference in my son’s behavior and ability to focus (and boy can you tell when there’s a slip!). 

  • Claire

    February 12, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I go with Satter too – I read it on the recommendation of here and it really helps when I’m getting stressed with the why isn’t he eating!
    Also, possibly not relevant as my son is only a toddler, but it took me a while to cotton on to this. Ifr he has no way of interacting with the food then he simply will not eat. All I have to do is give him an extra spoon and he’s happy. Now, I know that isn’t incredibly useful for a seven year old, cause hey, a fork, but, if you can get him involved in the prep maybe he’ll be more inclined to eat it.

    • JenVegas

      February 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Claire, you say you have a toddler. I am wondering how effective this is with a kid that young. I have a toddler…he’s just over 2 so he’s 26 months old? I feel like he’s too young for me to be all “sorry this is what their is to eat, suck it up.” But he seriously will not eat anything but peanut butter sandwiches and cantaloupe and it’s making me…highly irritated that he wont even eat things like PIZZA or mac n’ cheese anymore. When he was 18 months he ate everything that was on my plate. Now he acts like I’m trying to poison him when I make him a grilled cheese sandwich and tater tots for lunch. 

      • Jimmy

        February 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        I liked the point Amalah made about the pickiness being a “control” thing, thus why kids start refusing foods that you know they normally love.  

        My toddler will take control in any situation where there is an opening.  Sometimes this is great (getting ready for bath time, etc), sometimes this is terrible.  But we have these battles over almost everything from time to time.  That is what toddlers do.  

        I would suggest that the “this is what we have to eat it” approach to meals is ideally situated to toddlers for that reason: you’re going to be battling over this sort of thing anyhow.  Might as well establish some good eating habits while you’re at it.  

      • Olivia

        February 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm

        I agree with Jimmy. When my daughter started rejecting foods at around 2 yrs, I also thought it was too early for her to understand “this is what we are eating, period” and I hated the thought of letting her be hungry. I think that was a mistake. For a year and half I watched as she rejected more and more foods until she was down to crackers and jelly (no peanut butter) on bread. So now she’s almost 4 and just getting her to taste dinner is almost impossible. I will not be making any special meals for my second child at all, ever.

      • Claire

        February 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        I say toddler, he’s nearly 14 months, so only just. But I still stick with if he’s refusing to eat something then we leave it. His meals usually consist of two or three things and he knows this. He doesn’t always eat in order – he loves fruit and if he gets his hands on it he’ll eat that first. When he’s being especially fussy I try and make sure he has one thing a day he’ll eat. He also has lots of milk so he doesn’t starve.

        Honestly, get your hands on the book if you can. It explains it much better. It’s not worth getting into a power struggle.

  • Jillian

    February 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I agree with what Amalah says 100%. I’ve actually read that book myself from a pervious recommendation she did of it. A bit of forewarning though: ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE ONCE THIS IS STARTED!
    My then 2 year old threw half hour fits for a week every night at dinner time. He refused to eat. He wouldn’t even sit at the table. We just let him be throwing his fit while we ate. Eventually he saw he wasn’t getting any attention and sat at the table. It was still another week before he ate anything. But after those initial two weeks, everything’s good. He doesn’t even ask for some of the junk anymore. He still has picky tendencies but a diverse acceptance of food at the same time.

    I also wanted to agree with Kim. This behavior sounds like my son who has issues with proprioception (sense of self in space). I second her advice to rule out any sensory disorders. Since we also digestive issues that were found in the sensory diagnosis process, we have had much success on the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). We don’t implicitly follow it, but have been successful at following it probably 90% of the time. For my sanity since both of us parents work so time is limited some nights, I do build in two cheat meals a week for either lunch or dinner. He seems to tolerate those okay with only minimal bad effects.

    I would also recommend Springboard multivitamins. They are by far the most recommended of the professionals I’ve asked.

  • Olivia

    February 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    We are going on about 2 months of everybody sitting at the table and eating one thing, no separate meals, in my house. My almost 4 yr old still isn’t eating much, but has tried new foods a handful of times. I hate that she still won’t eat, but I find dinner times much less stressful now. I cooked the meal (or husband did), served it and provided the opportunity to eat. If she goes to bed hungry that is her choice. I’ve started doing the same thing with all our meal times and snacks. No more grazing throughout the day. 

  • neo

    February 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Wow, I have never heard this about artificial dyes before. This is news to me! I am so glad to hear and now what to watch out for. Here, all I thought I needed to worry about was HFCS and sugar. Thank you for the new knowledge!

  • Kayvee

    February 13, 2013 at 1:46 am

    I second the idea of this sounding like an artificial color/flavor thing. My son (now 28 years old) has Aspergers and ADHD and he was not able to tolerate the artifical colors and flavors when he was younger.

    I agree that it is a good idea to try eliminating them and see what happens. I suggest becoming obsessive about reading labels and watch out for things that just say “flavoring” or for “caramel coloring.” Those are almost always artificial. Also “vanillin” is artificial vanilla. It takes some work, but once you learn what is okay and what is not, it is pretty easy. Oh, back in the day all Pepperage Farm stuff was all natural. I don’t think that is still the case, but I think they are still better than most. Good luck!

  • Kim

    February 13, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Double commenting- I do follow Satter, but I’m not hard core.  My kids get one serving of whatever they like – then they do need to finish their vegetables before getting more.  Also, if they try the main meal and really don’t like it, they are free to get a cheesestick or a bowl of Cheerios (regular old no sugar cheerios, which my pickypicky eats dry.) Fruits and veg are ok, too.  It’s a middle ground that works for us.

    • Heather

      February 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      We pretty much do the same thing in our house. We’ve found it works well for us, especially with a 3 year old who loves that power struggle. And we usually have homemade baked goods at home, so he always wants one (kid-sized, mind you!) after dinner. We have the rule that he has to “eat two bites and try-it” before cookies after dinner.Then we usually get two more bites out of him before it’s all said and done. Though this is after reading some Satter and also growing up in a you-eat-what-i-cook home. And some epic tantrums. It does come; it just takes time. We have a fallback food, though, for when he truly doens’t like the food. PB&J – natural and no sugar added fruit perserves.

  • LBH

    February 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I have a sensory-seeking almost 4 year old who is currently in OT He has the same things several of you described–the hatred of clothes, not EVER being able to sit for circle time/crafts, invading personal space of classmates, repetitious talking, etc). He literally eats almost nothing these days but chicken nuggets and soy sauce (his dad even feeds him this for breakfast because he gave up after Cheerios went on the “that’s yucky” list). His teacher begged us not to feed him sugar-so we really don’t-we never were a big sugar eating family to begin with, but she thought it would somehow help with his behavior.. Cutting back on sugar–it hasn’t made a lick of difference, to be honest.  The picky eating though–oy: So, SO annoying. I am  buying that book today.  

    • Kate

      March 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      It’s a good book but if your son’s food issues are sensory related (as my son’s are) it probably won’t work. My son’s diet is limited but not nearly as limited as what you’re talking about and we’re seriously considering feeding therapy. 

  • Sanders

    February 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    The Satter technique works fine for a toddler/preschooler. We do this with our child and she is not necessarily picky, but it took approximately a dozen times of having red pepper strips on her plate before she tried them at all, for example. She’s never gone hungry, even though there have been nights where I think all she ate was a baby carrot. There are nights WE have to eat HER favorite foods and night SHE has to eat OURS. Just keep presenting food that is appropriate (so if your toddler doesn’t have teeth yet, she doesn’t need a steak on her plate, right?) She’s on track on her growth charts. Read the actual book and commit to trying it. I really believe it is the best philosophy out there.

  • BMom

    February 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    We’ve also done the “this is what’s for dinner” thing in our house since my daughter was about… 20 months? Or so? Anyway, she was a great eater as a toddler, and now at almost-4 she is fully into her picky eating stage. But since the dinner rule has always been in place, we don’t have a lot of fights about it. She does cry sometimes (“I NEVER SAID I LIKED BROCCOLI!!!” – okay, kiddo, you actually said that about an hour ago, but whatever) but she doesn’t starve and stills like some interesting things like olives and pesto.

  • Autumn

    February 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I agree with someone above, this kid sure comes across as a sensory seeker.  Basically the opposite of Noah, they don’t know where the end  of his/her body is and are looking for input to help “define” where they are in space.  OT can do a world of good for these kids too.  A weighted blanket can help give some sensory input to help slow them down (good for reading before bed)   I worked with a couple of kids (used to be a pediatric PT) who used weighted vests in class.  Made a world of difference in their concentration.  

    As far as food, I’m trying to be more Satter following.  We just got back from vacation and keeping allergy friendly meant lots of fish/chicken fingers and pizza, so those won’t be appearing around here anytime soon.  I try to make sure one part of the meal is a favored food (she loves blueberries and kiwi so that helps) so I know she’ll eat something.  We always keep a small bowl of cereal on the table she can have after she at least fingers everything else.  She’s 18 months, so some of it is just her being a toddler.  

  • Bear

    February 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I am so grateful that I happened to have read Satter’s book before we had a child because I was studying child development. We just always gave him what we had, never made a big deal. Including cutting things up to basically atom-sized pieces instead of making mush, letting him see that we all had the same foods. He’s a good eater and we never have any static about it.

    His grandparents offer him another food (or nine other foods) if he waits too long between bites. And my bro and SIL are often the same, so sometimes when we eat with them our kid will request the yogurt (now on the table) that his cousins have. Okay, that’s legit. But generally this is just seriously a huge thumbs-up for Satter and her methods, which can be applied right from the beginning. Little Mister Will-To-Power would have had us hopping without it, I feel sure.