Parents of picky eaters probably feel highly annoyed with their child at mealtime. I’m sure it isn’t easy having to come up with creative ways to feed the picky eater. I wouldn’t know because not only are my kids not picky eaters but I’m so extremely picky that I am flexible when it comes to food all the way to the other end of the spectrum of being flexible as in my kids probably couldn’t have gotten away with eating ice cream for breakfast if they had pushed the issue hard enough. Thank goodness they never did, they aren’t picky – like their mother.

When I was growing up my parents didn’t have a lot of money so sometimes the food we had wasn’t always name brand or top quality. Sometimes we didn’t get Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, instead we’d get Sunny Lakes Pasta in Cheese Sauce. We shopped at the Commissary on Base but we also shopped discount stores and dollar stores. My mother didn’t enjoy cooking, it was something she did because it was her responsibility. To her credit, she did try to put food on the table that we liked but it wasn’t much of a priority and so if I complained that I didn’t like the food, that was just too darned bad because that’s what we could afford and that’s what my mother slaved over so that’s what I was going to eat. End of discussion.

It was never the end of the discussion. I always wanted to discuss it. I wanted to know why the steak had veins in it, why the only chicken we ever had was dark meat and never white meat and what the hell was that gray clumpy stuff in my bowl. In my boggled brain I could never understand why my mother would purposely make food I didn’t like and why she couldn’t just let me make myself something quick and easy that I liked.

I very vividly remember a situation in which my mother was watching me feed my own kids and when my son didn’t like one of the vegetables I wanted to put on his plate she made it known that I should force him to eat at least one tablespoon. When I asked her why I would expend so much energy fighting with him over a stupid vegetable she informed me that it was important for me as the parent to win this battle of wills.

There have been many battle of wills I have endured as a parent and I can tell you none of them have been about food. Food should never be this stressful war zone that debilitates a person from enjoying the nutrition that comes from food. There is no good reason for parents to make meal time full of anxiety. It’s not worth fighting over. If your kid doesn’t want to eat your food, don’t be so rigid that you’d rather your child go hungry or be so stressed out that the food makes them sick to their stomach. Be sympathetic and understanding so long as they are willing to eat something. Trust me, they will eat. The less you pressure them the easier it will be and the better they will eat.

My son is now 23 years old and I can’t think of a time I ever forced him to eat anything. He’s a good sized guy and he eats like crap but he managed to grow up without being malnourished and he survived. Sure, I wish he’d eat better and I know that someday he will have to face what his eating habits do to his body but for a twenty something, he’s fine, he’s healthy and happy and he eats and that’s what’s important.

Don’t badger and berate your kids over food. Just don’t. There are so many, more important and bigger things to fight about. Let it be, let them eat and content in knowing they are healthy.

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