Friday, June 6, 2014

Got a Picky Eater?

Got a Picky Eater?
Lisa Smartt (Guest blogger) @ Kids Matter
I can’t help you with algebra. I can’t analyze your 401K or explain why your geraniums mysteriously died last year. But if you have a baby or a toddler, I might be able to save you a lot of trouble in the future.

More and more American children won’t eat this or won’t eat that. We have a lot of company so, over the years, I’ve heard it all. “He only eats this kind of cheese.” “She won’t eat meat or bread or vegetables or fruit. She mostly eats cereal or peanut butter.” “Junior doesn’t eat cornbread. Do you have any Wonder bread?”

I love you enough to tell you what nobody else is willing to tell you, friend. Being a picky eater is, well, kind of rude and annoying. So, if you’re a new parent, you definitely want to avoid pickiness with your own children. I’m not saying the method I propose is fool-proof. But neither of our boys have ever been picky eaters. They eat a wide variety of all kinds of foods, including beans and cornbread, salads, quiche, and casseroles. If you invite them to your house for dinner, they will eat what you cook, unless you’re cooking road kill. On second thought, they’re teenagers and would probably eat road kill just so they could tell all their friends they did.

If you're looking for a solution to picky eating at your house, my first suggestion is for the adults. Commit to not complaining about food. Ever. Picky parents naturally raise picky kids. Don’t constantly discuss things you like or don’t like. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful you’re not going hungry. Pickiness displays a lack of gratitude…in both children and adults.

As soon as your child graduates from baby food, you can joyfully expect them to eat what you eat at mealtimes. I can’t emphasize this enough. Are you having beans and cornbread? So are they. Are you having ham and potato casserole and boiled carrots? So are they. You may need to dice the table food but you don’t need to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a toddler, hoping they might “learn” to eat real food later. No. This is the time to learn.

With that said, I would recommend you never make a child eat. Ever. Please don’t make food a “power issue” in your home. Food is an enjoyable way to sustain life. It’s not the opportunity for a power grab. Mealtimes should be as pleasant as possible. If a child isn’t hungry, that’s fine. Healthy children will not starve themselves. They will eat when they’re hungry. But every family member must sit at the table with the rest of us. And we’re not going to fix an alternate meal. Don’t let children snack several hours before supper and they tend to come to the table hungry and ready to eat what you have prepared.

I know that pickiness regarding food is not the biggest issue families face right now. I get that. But I do think it’s a sign that prosperity has gotten the best of us. We’re spoiled. We whine. But we can do better. We can learn to be thankful. And we can pass that thankfulness down to our children. It will be a gift to them and their future.

Lisa Smartt writes a weekly newspaper column from her home on the outskirts of Dresden, Tennessee.  She is the author of three funny fiction books in the Doug and Carlie series and "The Smartt View:  Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets."  She can be contacted through her website,


  1. I love this! I have an aunt and uncle that are close in age with me, and they have a 7 year old and a 5 year old and them are the pickiest kids on the planet! I have, many times talked my cousins into trying something that I like and their mom and dad goes behind me and say are you really going to eat that, etc. They are to the point they have to have a plate of food, they like, without one item touching the other! I am printing this off and taking it to them! Thanks for the blog!