Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meal pairings: how I deal with a picky eater

This weekend we went camping with my sister and her family. We wanted to stick with simple meals that are served cold or cooked over the fire. I suggested yogurt for breakfast because that's what Christopher eats for breakfast usually. She suggested turkey/ham sandwiches for lunch. At this I had to suggest she also bring peanut butter and jelly for Christopher because he doesn't always eat turkey roll ups when I serve them to him. For dinners we decided on pudgy pie pizzas and hot dogs. I thought I might be able to get Christopher to have a hot dog, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't eat the pizza. He goes through stages of liking or disliking pizza, and they are on the outs right now.

He lived on peanut butter and jelly, cereal bars, and cheese sticks for the weekend.

I get it. I really do. I have been a picky eater my whole life. I try to be accommodating to Christopher because I was so much worse as a child. And I know that no amount of yelling or forcing him to sit at the table staring at "disgusting" food is going to make him eat something he doesn't like.

Right now the only meal that we'll all eat for dinner is tacos. 

I tried a weekly food calendar for a while. I had magnetic images of all the foods he liked (chicken nuggets, fish sticks, tacos, peanut butter and jelly, etc.), and he had to choose a different food each night of the week. We didn't really keep up with it. Sometimes we were out of a food he wanted, i.e. tacos. It just didn't really work.

My latest attempt is meal pairings. I try to cook him something that matches what Jim and I are having for dinner, so he's getting some variety. I admit I don't always keep up with it - especially as this month has gotten busy because of baseball two nights a week. But I try. It's a strategy I still believe in.

Here's how it works. If I am cooking salmon for Jim and me, then I make fish sticks for Christopher. If I cook Thai Peanut Stir Fry, then Christopher gets peanut butter and jelly. If I make chili, then I cook some of the ground beef as taco meat for Christopher. Anything chicken or pork is usually paired with chicken nuggets. It's not an exact science, and I'd like to get him to branch out a bit more - at least to eating plain cooked chicken vs. nuggets. But for now, it's working well enough.

What strategies do you have for handling a picky eater?

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