The Non-Picky Eater

I know of two ways to raise one.

The first way is the way our #1 daughter did it. I thought her method was screwy and wrong and it irritated me on her behalf. Here’s what she did:

Her baby grew out of baby food and was ready to eat table food. She put him in his high chair with the chair’s tray in front of him. She cut up little pieces of all kinds of food and put them on the tray: cheese, raw broccoli, apple, pear, banana, little unsweetened cereals, bits of bread, bits of meat…. Every meal, at least half a dozen things. Every day, she chopped up all these bits of things and every meal, she chopped up more so they’d be fresh and every meal, he had this variety spread out for him. What he didn’t eat went into the compost bucket or to the dog. This continued until he was old enough to ASK to eat exactly what his parents were having.

He’s 10 now, and he’ll try anything and eat almost anything. When he was four, he’d go to a restaurant and order a salad. He comes to us after school on Wednesday, and a couple of weeks ago, I made quinoa with bell peppers and onions and he didn’t turn a hair; ate it and asked for more.

The other way is the way I was raised and the way my husband and I raised our kids. Here’s how that works:

Make balanced meals every night. Force your children to try everything and to eat whatever they serve themselves. Make them very picky, and make every meal a battle of wills. Make them glad when they eat without you, so they don’t have to eat what you tell them to. Hope for the best. MAYBE, when they get out on their own, the variety they faced when they were little will appeal to them, when it isn’t being forced on them.

Oh, here’s a third way, the way my husband was raised:

Be so poor, the kids eat whatever is put before them, and glad to have it.

All in all, I recommend method #1.

WRITING PROMPT: Write a character who is a very picky eater. Send him/her to a restaurant.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Non-Picky Eater

  1. Sharon Reece

    February 9, 2011 at 12:34pm

    I enjoyed this post since I have a 4 year old grandson who is about the pickiest eater I’ve ever seen. I was just giving thanks the other day that none of my children were picky eaters. I think that was due to your method #3. My middle son when he was about 2 or 3 years old would go out in my garden and pick the okra and eat it raw so I rarely was able to harvest enough to make a meal!

    Now each meal with our grandson is in your category #2. Wishing we had known or thought about method #1 when he was a baby. 🙁

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 9, 2011 at 3:09pm

      I know! I suffered through #2 and put our kids through #2. #1 only seems troublesome, but it’s much easier in the long run, especially emotionally. 🙂

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 10, 2011 at 7:51am

      Arlee, you’re so right on all counts. Making a sweet a reward just devalues other foods (or activities) and gives the sweet too much power.

      And grinding poverty, according to my husband, certainly had some drawbacks, but he, as a kid, didn’t know any different. And this was at the tail-end of the Great Depression, so he didn’t know many people who were much better off. Unlike a lot of people who grew up poor, he didn’t end up with an aversion to the food he ate then; his favorite meal is beans and cornbread and green onion tails.

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