My son is 8 years old and weighs 41 pounds and has been a very fussy eater since he was a baby. He’s a happy boy, smart, active and well tempered. He eats very little in quantity and has no desire to eat. Mind you he loves treats and junk food and for those items he has a bottomless pit. But for REAL food, it is like pulling teeth to get him to eat a suitable quantity. He gets upset and teary at mealtimes when there are some foods that he does not wish to eat. I am trying to force him to eat but I feel bad that eating is such a negative experience for him. He often skips his lunch in school and I am so stressed out he goes the whole day eating very little. After reading this article, I am going to be even more practice in sneaking in extra calories wherever I can, I kind of already do that but will be more consistent with it, but any further advice would be so appreciated.
Thanks so much!
See if you can come up with creative ways to incorporate the junk foods he likes. For example, one of my clients loves crushing up pretzels and using it as a topping for her mac and cheese (which you can sneak in some pureed butternut squash to increase the nutritional content!) Or another idea, make your own trail mix at home using honey-roasted nuts and seeds, toasted oats, maybe some coconut shavings, and some M&Ms. Try making frozen banana pops that you put on a popsicle stick and dip into chocolate and freeze. If he loves salty, crunchy potato chips, make popcorn and spritz lightly with water then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Try making a shake with ice cream, peanut butter and banana—get creative! But I think trying to adopt the “both/and” approach works well here…instead of “don’t eat the junk food/instead, eat something healthier,” try using the “if you’re going to eat the junk food, also eat some fruit,” for example. This means eating BOTH the junk food AND the healthier food, but not criminalizing the junk food that may make it all the more desirable (and the healthier food even less desirable).
Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD