How can I get my grandson to expand his culinary interests?
I have a 5 year old grandson who will eat only 5 or six things: among them chicken nuggets, french fries, poptarts, chips, hot dogs and sausage. He eats NO fruits or vegetables but will drink milk and fruit juice. Recently, I started a conversation with his parents (my son and daughter in law) about my concerns that he is not getting the variety of food he needs. They say they have talked to the Dr. and she says "What are you going to do? You can't force him". They say he is healthy but he looks lethargic to me. He was 5 in May and does not ride a tryke yet. He will sit on it if he is pushed but will not peddle. They think it is cruel to not offer him one of the things they know he likes. He then eats only that item and refuses to eat anything else. They think I should have the above items available for him when they come to dinner. I have other grandchildren and their parents give them a little of whatever I serve. I am careful not to serve anything spicy or too far out. I'd like to know if other people have this problem and if they think like my son and daughter in law. Is it cruel if I don't have his preferred foods available everytime he comes to dinner? My son said it was like how I treat my daughter who is a vegetarian. I don't think it is the same at all. I wonder if this is worth asserting myself for as it has become a bit of an arguement. Normally, I stay out of my kids parenting business but am truely concerned about my grandson. On the other hand, he will be going to kindergarten in the fall. On the other hand, they said they would pack his lunch for him (chicken nugets and fries everyday. Help!
I understand the uncertainty that you have in voicing concerns about your grandson's diet. I also can see why you would not want to cater to his diet by providing those foods for him yourself. It would seem that if his parents are that concerned that he won't eat the food that you prepare for family meals, they can bring along food for him to eat. You could keep one of the items on hand (like hot dogs) in order keep the peace without totally giving in!
If he is starting school soon, the eating habits may change on their own due to packing that kind of food for lunch, comments from his peers, teacher observations, etc. Typically there will be some curriculum on eating balanced meals and the right foods as well.
It's tough when you care about your grandson's health, but don't want to create any problems or step on toes! Hopefully, he will grow out of this soon.
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A picky eater is nothing new: most of us either were one or know one. It seems like you would be interested in helping him expand his menu selection. Have you tried cooking with him? Children tend to try foods they prepare especially if they get a say in what is being made. Maybe try planning a meal with him, take him to the store for the ingredients, and put him "in charge" of making the meal by being his "helper". There are many good websites, and even children's cookbooks, that contain recipes that are easier for children to make but expose them to new foods. One of my favorite books is Picture Me Cooking: it talks about making a shopping list, and explains how a "Cooking Buddy" works with the child. They also have a website (below) with updated recipes weekly and Jr Chef cooking contests for them and their creations! Maybe getting him involved in the making of the meal will get him more interested in trying new foods. The most important thing is that he eat and stay healthy.