Help! I’m going Bangladesh on my kids.

Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2008


At Whiz’s six year well visit I finally got brave enough to tell my pediatrician the truth.  I’ve ruined my two precious children.

Are they bright, well-mannered, happy, healthy and sparkly kids?  Well, yes.

But they’re also the two pickiest eaters on the planet.  And it’s starting to drive me insane – and to embarrass me.  When we go to friends’ houses for meals I have to explain that my kids won’t be partaking in the lovely meal they’ve prepared because they eat no meat, only raw fruits and vegetables, and single ingredient main course selections like pasta or cheese.  The good news is that the things they will eat are pretty good for them and net out to a relatively healthy diet.  The problem is that if something looks or smells the tiniest bit different than the items on their short list of approved foods, they both summarily turn up their noses, declare it ‘yucky’, and refuse to eat it (or anything that’s touched it of course).  And I have enabled their insanity by serving as a short-order-chef.  Not only do I almost always make two dinners (one for grown-ups and one for kids), but I also frequently make three dinners (one for grown-ups, one for Speed, one for Whiz).  RIDICULOUS right?!?!My pediatrician agreed and declared that it’s time to start playing hard ball with my little darlings.  He said “When they were younger, it was your job to do whatever it took to get good food in them.  But not anymore.  Now it’s your job to present them with a healthy meal and it’s their job to eat it.  No options.  No alternatives.  It’s ‘eat what our family is having for dinner or go to bed hungry’ time.  Kids in Bangladesh will eat whatever you put in front of them.  You know why?  They’re hungry.  It’s time to ‘go Bangladesh’ on Speed and Whiz.”

Gulp.  Speed, Whiz and I sat wide eyed and silent for a few moments.

“Really?  I said, “So, no toast if they don’t like what we’re having?”

“Nope” he said relentlessly.

“No yogurt?” I asked hopefully, “even if they get it themselves and I don’t have to do a thing?”

“Nope” he said.  I was starting to regret ever bringing the subject up to him.  Like most moms I guess, I’m allergic to the idea of putting my kids to bed hungry.  They’re already the skinniest kids on the block…how do I go to sleep at night knowing they’re getting skinnier because of my policy?!?

But, I’m going to give it a try.  And I’d love your help!  I know most of you come to to find advice, not to give it but….Please leave comments with your ideas for how to mend a couple of picky eaters.  Have you “gone Bangladesh” on your kids?  Did you have a softer, but as effective, way of getting your kids to eat new foods?  Put all your ideas in a comment.   I have a really cool game / plate set called “Play with your Food” that I’ll send to one commenter (chosen at random).  Make sure you include your email address on the comment form so I can contact you for shipping info if you win.

4 Responses to “Help! I’m going Bangladesh on my kids.”

  1. Dr. Laura Says:

    I have to agree with your pediatrician, Kat. My prediction is that things will actually get harder before they get easier with this new plan. Why? Because (excuse my digression into learning theory for a moment), your children have come to expect that their picky behavior will be positively reinforced with yummy alternatives that are more appealing to their discriminating palates. Their little bodies and brains will have a hard time believing that the status of their world has changed (they won’t want to believe it), so they will probably pour on the [with the whiniest voice EVER] “Aw, mom…I’m huuuuuuungry!” “Why can’t I have toast…cheese…yoghurt?!” Thus, they’ll try harder than ever to sway your commitment. But, you must stand strong during this time. This is the moment of truth, and you must not flinch or blink (think of this as a stand-off – you on one end of the dusty road of some obscure Western town – Speed and Whiz on the other). But, once they see that you are really “serious”, they will be forced to *gasp* try spaghetti, turkey meatloaf, or…maybe….someday…Tandoori chicken. The sky is the limit!

  2. Total Transformation Program Review Says:

    I’ve always told my children that they didn’t live in a restaurant and I was not their short order cook. They had to eat what everyone else ate. Having said that, I also have to say I do present a couple of choices when it comes to vegetables as not everyone in my family like the same ones. This way my daughter and I can have something like broccoli, while my son, oldest daughter and husband have something like peas or beans. But I don’t cook a whole separate entree. If I did, I’m never get out of the kitchen!

  3. karen katz Says:

    Honestly, I am lucky if I get a well balanced dinner meal on the table once a month. I am guilty and quite proud of the fact that since I began working full time, as long as the food groups are represented in one meal of the day, I’m psyched. And I don’t give a damn if they eat baby carrots and cucumbers every day if thats what counts as veggies this week. I’m just as happy serving breakfast for dinner 3 nights a week as opposed to fast food. Although I might not get great meals together, I am a stickler for the No Fast Food Rule (except when Grandma and Grandpa decide to visit). Pizza from the Westboro House of Pizza or Ziti’s does not count as fast food fyi.

    My other rule is that we all sit down to eat. If someone doesn’t care for what’s on the table I am of the midset of too bad. But like Ms. Kat, I do prepare different meals for the two youngest children and then another one for my husband, myself and our 10 year old. He’s much for adventurous..And it doesn’t bother me one bit b/c at least I know they’ve eaten something. I don’t have time to try and figure out which meals we’ll all enjoy and with a child with a severe peanut allergy, that doesn’t always leave us many choices.

    I also enjoy one perk when my husband is out of town – NO COOKING real meals! My kids and I can eat a sandwich or frozen pizza or that tried and true bowl of cereal and be quite thrilled with it. I think our quest for being perfect parents we put so much emphasis on doing thing right 100% of the time. Think of the 80/20 rule – 80 % of the time you follow the “great parent/role model/wife/mother/employee/employer/friend” and the other 20% you chuck it in the wind. Are your kids loved? Do they have clothes, food and a roof over there heads? Are they happy? Have you provided a healthy environment for them? Then the rest should fall into place…sometime..And when that time is — let me know!

    And I’m sure it doesn’t even hurt to go to bed hungry or have ice cream sundaes for dinner once in a while!

  4. Kat Says:

    Thanks for the insight Karen…I like your style!

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