Food Wars: My Picky Eater


OK, Henry, it’s just you and me and that plate of chicken.

Are you going to come quietly and eat at least two bites of it? Or do I have to pry open your mouth and shove it in?

The latter seems like such a great idea, but I know that parents every where would be giving me the stink eye. My two year old son and I are in the middle of a power struggle. He’s winning.

I remember a time when dinner was a time of reflection and laughter over the days events. Now, it’s turned into a game of what will he eat or won’t he eat or, my personal favorite, will he eat at all? The winner is usually Henry and we get the booby prize of worrying if he’s going to waste away to nothing. Trust me, I’d rather take a jar of Turtle Wax.

Not that long ago, I’d be in the kitchen fixing dinner and I’d feel it, the anxiety that we were actually going to sit down and eat dinner. I love eating! Some days it’s the one thing I look forward to. But now my foodie side has taken a backseat to my worrying mother side, a transition that I’m not all that happy with.

Henry used to have a core menu. He had some great things that he liked eating that were actually healthy and easy to fix. Then one day, it was all out the window. He turned up everything I put in front of him. There were moments when I found myself saying,

“I slaved in the kitchen over this meal and he hates it!”

To which my husband Andy replied.

“He’s two.”

My son is a picky eaterSo I reverted to “kid favorites“. I got Annie’s Mac and Cheese, fish sticks, chicken nuggets and no, no, no. Nothing. The only thing he’d eat was whole wheat penne pasta with tuna fish on it and pancakes.

I’m lucky though, he does LOVE green beans and broccoli. He also really likes bananas, apples and peaches. So the food pyramid isn’t quite ready to topple over just yet.

But those are things that I have to remind myself of everyday.

You see, I’ve finally come to grips with it. What used to fill me with anxiety and high blood pressure, now fills me with… “meh”.

As I said before, it’s a power struggle and one that none of us are really going to win. It used to make me feel like a bad mother when he wouldn’t eat, as if there was something I wasn’t doing right that was causing it. Now I know, the bad mother would be the one not even putting food in front of him to begin with.

I came to terms with the concept of “he’ll eat when he’s hungry.” Even though it’s still something I’m working on. It really helps to keep that in mind and the constant anxiety that went along with dinner? Henry was picking up on it and that family dinner that I had dreamed of was suffering for it.

My son is a picky eater. He might not be the pickiest, but he’s on the spectrum. The only thing I can do is offer and be excited beyond measure when he accepts. Isn’t that the way with so many of the phases our children go through.


  1. I don’t know you , but you’re doing a great job, Momma! The fact that you care is enough to prove you are a great Momma. I always try to remember to offer my kids great selections of healthy food to eat and then depend on them to do the eating when they are hungry. It doesn’t always happen when we think it is best for then, though. That is so frustrating to me. Sometimes my kid’s plate will sit on the table or the frig for a number of hours before they decide to eat. Also, what are the chances that you and your kids want the same thing to eat every night right? Sometime you want chicken and that same night maybe they are craving fish or beef or something else, right? Are you going to make 3 different meals? I don’t! The tough part is that it is nearly impossible to keep everybody happy. My theory is to offer the best healthy choices at every meal and then know that their little bodies will not let them starve. It’s definitely frustrating when you want a whine free meal that everyone enjoys. Hang in there and pick your battles, cause not everyone is worth fighting.


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