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what do you do with picky kids?

Robyn Openshaw - Jun 18, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I was driving far away to a tennis match with my team, this week, and picky eaters was the topic of discussion.

If you think this blog entry is going to fix your picky kids, let me lower the bar right now. Your picky kids will still be picky when you finish reading this.


You can read my more complete (and hopefully much more helpful) thoughts on the topic in the 12 Steps to Whole Foods intro. But what I’m writing today is kinda just for laughs.

My kids have the delightful habit of giving me an uncensored stream-of-consciousness regarding what I make/serve. This is partly my fault because I was soliciting their feedback while developing recipes, for a couple of years.

Now what I want is for them to just shut up and eat it. But it’s too late: they think they are food critics.

My mother (AKA “MomPam”) didn’t indulge opinions on food. Didn’t much care what you thought. You could have ONE food you hated. (You still had to EAT it, but you were allowed to hate it. Mine was this store-bought spinach soufflé she liked. My choice came down to a tossup between that, creamed corn, and mushrooms. Like I said, you just got the ONE.)

(Later, when she quit buying the soufflés, I switched to creamed corn, which makes me convulse. If they served it in the Cannon Center when I was a freshman in the BYU dorms, I walked in the cafeteria, stopped dead in my tracks, and wheeled around and walked out. Skipped dinner. My roommates would look at each other, sniff the air, and say knowingly: “CREAMED CORN.”)

We weren’t allowed to say “hate” or “don’t like” (let alone “gross,” “nasty,” etc.). My mom once helpfully offered “I don’t care for that” as an acceptable dinner-table statement. The eight of us said that, in an exaggerated, proper British accent, well into adulthood.

My longtime friend and tennis partner Laura always has a way of making stressful or annoying parenting situations funny. For instance, we were discussing kids looking at porn on the home PC, and she said she told her 3 boys, “If you look at porn, I will see it in the Google history, and I will call you in and we will look at it TOGETHER.”

If Laura’s kids tattle on each other, they have to do it SINGING.

She said her kids are allowed to say anything at all about what is served, as long as it is followed by,

“And that’s just the way I like it!”

So, imagine this:

“Mom, this is a slimy, disgusting insult to the human palate and it makes my intestines revolt. And that’s just the way I like it!”

Your own tips for dealing with picky kids will be highly appreciated by GSG readers!

Posted in: Relationships, Whole Food

10 thoughts on “what do you do with picky kids?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would never force a child to eat anything. I think that is crossing their boundaries. They won’t let themselves starve, and if they see you eating well and being healthier for it, in time they’ll follow along. But if you force the issue, they expend lots of energy opposing you to show they can be independant.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have found that with three kids, I can’t please EVERYONE. The best I can do is find something that they’ll eat mostly without too much complaining.

    When I DO find something they mysteriously all like, I’ll make it too often, and they’ll get sick of it, and I’ll have to find something else.

    Mind you, for the most part I serve what I like and expect them to eat it (or at least make a reasonable attempt at it). Occasionally I’ll have a “free night” where they can choose their own food.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I have talked to a few people who have suggested that if you blend at a very high speed that you destroy the enzymes in the green smoothies. Also that if you leave the smoothis for any length of time either in or out of the fridge then it will oxidize and again this destroys the enzymes. Do you have any inofr mation or altenative knowledge about this please.



    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      MaryAnne, some oxidation but not too much, nutrition DOES deteriorate over time, read my book for much more about this. My main point is: it’s still better than anything else you’d be eating instead, when you drink a GS the next day.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Our boys are now young adults and with peer pressure they don’t always want to eat as healthy as my husband and I. To stop the complaining I always tell them they can eat any thing they want to as long as they buy it with there own money, which means going to the store to get it , cook it and also clean up the kitchen after they serve it to there friends. I buy only healthy foods and invite them and there friends to join us for meals or help them selves any time they are visiting. It works , a couple of times they all chipped in and ordered pizza but when they saw how much it cost they now meet at the house and make pizza with the veggies that are in the fridge. It’s really fun to see a bunch of 20 year old guys making creative healthy pizzas.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This discussion is great. I just had to read it because I have a couple of picky eaters and food critics. Also, I had a lot to learn about healthy eating. My husband and I come from different backgrounds. He was a Pastor’s kid who would try anything and loved to cook like his Mom. I was a spoiled and stubborn picky eater who became an athlete with an eating disorder. Pregnancy, nursing, children, and a dear friend woke me up to good nutrition. I had to eat better. For our family, smoothies and Robyn’s book have changed our eating habits for good. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My 2-year-old son eats anything raw, my 4-year-old daughter is another story. Her response to something she claims not to like is “this tastes like car exhaust!” After my son eats something real green (green smoothie or spirulina/chlorella crunchies) he’ll gets close to his sister and she tells him to move because he “smells like grass.” It’s been easier to get my son to eat great because that is all he’s know.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Linda, I loved your veggie pizza making story and how to get a group of 20 yr old guys to make a healthier choice on their own! I so respect and appreciate a mother’s wisdom that has older children. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  8. Love all of this. My parents used to tell my sister and me: “That’s the beauty of living in America. You are entitled to your opinion. Isn’t it great? You don’t have to like it. You just have to eat it!” And as mentioned above, when dinner concluded, the kitchen was closed. “See ya tomorrow!” Needless to say, we learned to like a lot of things we didn’t like–part of self-preservation.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Alice, I love your comment. Love love love.

      I love it so much I am going to re-post it soon, on the blog, with my detailed comments. Watch for that. And thanks.

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