the neverending dinner battle

My daughter, the one who is now 10 years old, is a picky eater of epic proportions. Since birth (literally) she’s had digestive problems. I understand that part of her pickiness stems from her easily upset stomach. I don’t make her eat things that include tomatoes or strong spices. However, the rule in the house is that you eat what you are served.

If I’m making a dinner that you may not enjoy, I will only give you a small serving. After that serving you can choose to eat more or have a bowl of cereal if you are still hungry. This has proven to be successful through various picky phases with the other children. I make sure that their diet is somewhat well-rounded even when they go through heavy cereal periods.

But this kid? She is so stubborn that she would rather go to bed with no dinner than follow the house rule. At least five times a week she turns her nose up at my cooking without even trying one bite. Even when she helps me cook. Even when she studies the ingredient list and confirms that she likes the ingredients. Put it on a plate in front of her and she won’t eat. When she does eat, she nibbles and picks and pushes the food around. The only dinner she just eats without studying each and every bite is macaroni and cheese.

I can’t even narrow it down to a type of food. She likes meat – as long as it’s plain. She likes pasta – as long as there is no sauce (except a cheese sauce, that’s okay). She likes fruits – nearly all of them. She likes vegetables – preferably raw but if they are lightly steamed and tossed in a bit of butter she’ll eat them (except corn or asparagus). She likes salad – as long as there is no dressing in sight. She likes breakfast foods – as long as they are simple.

So most nights dinner includes things she likes or at least tolerates and yet… she doesn’t eat. Let’s look at this week for an example.

– Monday: hot dogs & chili pre-Halloween festivities. She eats… a hot dog and a corn muffin.
– Tuesday: stir fry with chicken, veggies & rice – sauce is based on chicken broth w/seasonings. I give her a portion with broth only – no seasonings. She picks out the chicken and carrots, pushes the rest around and refuses to eat.
– Wednesday: Simple Spaghetti Pasta. I give her a portion of noodles with no sausage or sauce. She adds Parmesan cheese and eats a bowl full but turns her nose up at the broccoli.
– Thursday: creamy chicken & rice soup. She confirmed that she likes all ingredients except the leeks. However, the soup is not acceptable after the tiniest nibble from the end of her spoon. She eats… nothing.

There is no bribe that can lure her into eating. No dessert offering that is strong enough. Not even the knowledge of how she will feel going to bed hungry. And sometimes she’ll wake up in the middle of the night because she’s so hungry she feels ill. NOTHING WORKS.

I’ve been fighting this battle with her for a decade. I don’t want to give up because I’m concerned that her entire diet will consist of cheese and pasta. However, I can’t send her to bed hungry all the time. Once in a while – I can suck it up. Five nights? It’s just not healthy.

I am at a loss. I am tired of my dinner table turning into a yelling/crying battleground. I am tired of her unhealthy habits. I am tired.

Last night I gave in a bit. I told her that I am not a short order cook but that if she truly can’t stomach my cooking she can make her own dinner. (Yes, that’s part of the irony here – the one kid that likes to cook is the one kid that won’t eat. Sometimes she won’t even eat what she helps cook.) She made grilled cheese and an apple. I suppose that is far better than going to bed hungry.

I feel mean and helpless all at the same time. This kid…

I love her, but sometimes she makes me want to tear my hair out.

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One thought on “the neverending dinner battle

  1. If she likes to cook let her make her own version of what you guys are eating. let her choose what ingrediants to use in her portion etc. Maybe just the acts of having to STOP what she is doing to MAKE her own dinner will make her embarassed at her own behavoir for turning up her nose at it. Other than that I envy her willpower to go to bed hungry;). Don’t be frustrated,don’t give her any power.At the table if she pitches a big fit just say “oh well, you are missing out!” and leave it at that.

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