I have no idea how my 3 and a half year old survives. He has just a few main food groups: veggie dogs, plain noodles, cucumber sushi and cereal.

Every now and again he’ll grab a banana or slurp up some tomato soup or apple sauce, but basically his meals are pretty bland and of the same thing. everytime.

We just got back from an all inclusive in Mexico and tried to use the deep and varied buffet each night as a way to get him to spread his tastebuds wide and try different things.

No luck.

So for the past 2 weeks, we’ve drawn a solid line in the sand and are not budging until he tries something new each night. Sometimes its a slice of red pepper, or a chicken finger or a quesedilla (all foods he loved as a toddler). It’s been tough, but he’s been good at trying – until we put sauce on his noodles.

It’s sauce. On pasta. And it sent him over the edge.

We want our boys to have a wide, varied and courageous palate, but we definitely don’t want to go the “sneaky chef” route. All that does is get your kids a taste for chocolate cake (and it wont always have zucchini and beets in it).

New commercials for kids’ PediaSure gave us a pause to stop and consider it, (because it showed we weren’t alone in our struggles) but we quickly dismissed it as we do many prefab kid targeted foods. Our kids will eat the good stuff, made by us, grown by people.

Are your pre-schoolers good eaters? How do you convince them that sauce on pasta is a good thing?

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  1. Aisling February 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    When I was a kid, I had to try every type of food my parents put in front of me at least once. If I didn’t like it, fine…as long as I tried it. A few months later, my parents would put the disliked foods in front of me again and quite often I’d like it, or at least tolerate eating some of it. For our boys, we do the same. Don’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it. And if you don’t like it now, we’ll try again in a few weeks/months. Their menus have expanded greatly from age 3 to almost age 6.

    We also mash up stews, casseroles, etc. to make it more appealing for them to eat. If they see peppers, onions, celery, they say ‘I don’t want/like that’, but if it’s all mashed together, they don’t seem bothered it’s in there. And we don’t go sneaky chef on them. They know exactly what they’re eating all mashed up.

    Putting cheese or ketchup on certain foods helps too 🙂

  2. Amy February 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Well, I’m no expert and my daughter has not traditionally been a hugely picky eater; but all kids have their moments and mine is no different. They all go through different phases, so I think you’re smart ‘drawing a line’ in the sand and sticking to it. I’m pretty sure it was my insistence that got us over the ‘terrible twos’ without eating becoming a bigger problem. I made it clear that I expected her to eat some of everything on her plate and broke it down into measureable amounts. 3 bites or 5 bites; that seemed to help her understand that it would be done eventually. Plus, it turned into a negotiation, which made her feel like she had some choice and control in the matter, while still within boundaries set by me. My daughter doesn’t like ‘stuff’ in her pasta, which annoys me no end – so I relented and separate the stuff. I always figure they’re allowed to win one from time to time. Maybe try offering the sauce separate from the pasta and see if Z will eat it that way. Finally, while the experts caution against it, the reward of dessert has always been an effective incentive to eating just about anything she turns her nose up at. Hope these ideas help! Good luck.

  3. Meagan L February 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    We moved to having my 4 year old create his own plate meals…this meant that he got to serve himself anything off the dinner table to his plate. At first he thought it was so silly but he’s now eating every part of a meal on his own because we gave him the choice. If you don’t enforce the rule of having sauce on noodles- you might find he’ll grow into it after time!

    Its funny how kids have opinions- but remember, as a human, you don’t eat everything someone else does just because they do- embrace a sense of independence while offering alternatives to avoid pickiness

  4. April March 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Ahhhh, yes… welcome to my life! My son HATES food. Seriously, he would live on turkey dogs, dry bread, raw cucumber & carrots, chicken nuggets, and tortilla chips if it was up to him. We just keep offering it… he still hates sauce and condiments of any type, but in the last year has added brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal with rice dream and honey on it, hamburgers, and roasted chicken breast (all totally plain) to his diet. Part of the issue is food allergies (dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, bananas), and part of the issue is food aversions (texture, taste), and most of the issue is “this is normal”. People keep telling me it will get better. GAH! I sure hope so…

  5. Genevieve March 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    That IS Ronan! We give him plain noodles, ’cause he’d cry just like that if I put sauce on them. He WON’T eat lasagna unless there is excessive amounts of garlic bread in between choked back mouthfulls of the good stuff. I do believe it will get better…eventually 😉

  6. Pingback: Is It Good To Be A Sneaky Chef With Kids' Food? | DadCAMP

  7. Carolyn Egerszegi July 26, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Bwahahaha! This made me laugh out loud Buzz. I really admire your transparency, but I also feel your pain. Csilla is a very picker eater too. Plain noodles are the staple in our house. If I put sauce on it, I’d get the exact same freak-out reaction. Actually, now it’s worse. Instead of crying and screaming, Csilla will look at me like I’ve broken her heart or ruined her life. It’s much worse than the crying! When she was younger I was a sneaky chef and hid veggies in things (pureed cauliflower in the Annie’s noodles was a good one.) But she knows all my tricks now and won’t touch something that I’ve tried to sneak veggies into. I don’t have a problem with being a sneaky chef – from what I can tell it hasn’t reduced or heightened Csilla’s pickiness.

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