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A friend of mine went through the exact same problem with her daughter. Would only eat 'white carbs' She realised that she whilst she thought she was encouraging her dauighter to eat more vegetables and wholegrains what she was really doing was stressing her out. So a basic cognitive-behaviourist plan was set in motion. The little girl was rewarded when ever she ate even the slightest amount of 'healthy food' and also saw others rewarded when they ate the same food,
For myself - I have a nephew who is a great eater but only with me. With his mum he eats McDonalds, chips and other fast food items (the healthiest thing my sister makes is a stir fry drowned in a preprepared sauce laddened with sugar) but I make lentils, beans, brown rice. steamed vegies etc etc. I tried to work out why my nephew eats so much better with me - and I've come to the conclusion that I absolutely will not allow him to eat fast food. So when I baby sit him - no going to the fish and chip shop and when I take him out - we don't go to McDonalds - now he will actually ask to go to a vegetarian restaurant!! Lastly when introducing new foods to him - I get all excited - "oh my god these are so good. You will love them - Guaranteed" when he puts the food in his mouth, no matter what the expression on his face I will say something like 'told you it was good - so good'. had a few occasions where food that he hated on the first occasion has become his favourite.
Now its not perfect because he eats way to much McDonalds (he's long and lanky so apparently needs 'filled up") but I'm happy that he will happily eat vegan sushi, homemade vegetarian nachos and borlotti bean enchiladas to name a few!!
I can't offer an immediate fix-although I am a teacher and love the reward system idea. I teach children with autism and when they eat limited foods we start by having them "give the food a kiss" or just touching it if it is a texture thing. I wanted to comment on this topic though, because growing up my mom used to cry because I wouldn't eat veggies at all and was very picky about other foods. I guess what worked for me was being exposed to the foods I did not like. Even just smelling yummy dishes being made started to spark an interest and slowly I started trying things. My mom can not believe that I am now vegan. Not to discourage--but it did take me a long time to come around and I really didn't start eating any veggies until high school, maybe even early college. I know it has to be so frustrating--hang in there, and I say be sneaky. Just that slight flavor may begin to open her palate to the real deal. Good luck!
Thanks so much everyone, I am definately going to try some of the methods you mentioned. I am even going to keep encouraging her to cook and maybe it will perk her curiosity to try stuff since it smells so good! Thanks again!
wow. this is a tough one.
first the fact that she loves to eat rice, couscous, quinoa and pasta(whole grain kind?) is a great thing!!!! those foods are sooo good for her. so she is way ahead of the rest of the kids by eating those foods.
can you not give her the other stuff? the milk ,pop, cheese and stuff like that?
can you make her amys mac and cheese? and dont tell her? can you make her amys pizza and not tell her?
maybe try not to have any stress around the issue....it sounds like there is something else going on either with you and your husband or something she is affected by....there is an amazing woman i would call named ida her # is 818 274 1193. i think she will be very helpful. in finding the best way to deal with this. im so sorry this is happening with you. and i agree that food should not be made into a huge issue with her. food wise id say only provide her with yummie healthy things....and dont have the other bad stuff available for her at all. if she likes pop then she will like other sugary things...i think she is just acting out about something else...or trying to get something out of the two of you. not sure what of course...but i would be very clear in the kitchen with delicious only healthy things....without any stress around it. its just what you have available...she wont starve herself to death i promise you. and in the mean time call ida for support in getting to the root of what is going on here.
good luck and keep us posted
This is a great thread and the issue of my life. I have four children and have agonized over their nutrition since before they were born and I was nagging my wife about what she was eating. Our culture is replete with extremely yummy tastes. Children are very visual as well and often closely inspect food for any coloration or other imperfections that they find objectionable. This is some of the reason why they focus on only wanting white food.
Two of my children are Asian and since there were very young could not tolerate dairy very well, so we eliminated that. My two year old is allergic to soy and so now we are even more restricted.
I have taken my children shopping with me. Especially the farmers market was effective in connecting them with the process of selecting the foods. This process is further enhanced when the children are involved with preparing the food, cooking it, placing it on the dish and carrying the dish to the table.
All of my children are quite thin, as am I. Is difficult for us to find properly fitting clothes. At times I am struck by the stark difference between my family and many of my friends and colleagues'.
I think that following a whole foods, plant-based diet allows for a certain amount of leeway. Since the vast majority of the health problems associated with the American diet result from dietary excess, we needn't worry so much that our children will become deficient from some essential nutrient and ill as a result.
the human nervous system is based on balance. Our sensations are regulated by the chemical stimulation provided by previous sensation. In other words, eating extremely yummy food, makes less palatable food taste disgusting. This might be more true with children because their overall experience is limited by the fact that they have not been alive for a very long time.
Our tastes are designed to seek out foods that are higher in calories. The taste of sweet, fat and protein trump the taste of fiber.
For adults, if we eat a doughnut first thing in the morning, it makes it much more difficult for us to choose healthy foods for the rest of the day. The taste of intense sweet and fat first thing in the morning makes all other normal foods less palatable. The body will tend to want to escalate the process, looking for even more yummy tastes to stimulate the brain towards the happy response we crave.
For our ancestors eating very coarse, plant foods, the drive to select those with higher amounts of calories in the form of carbohydrate, fat and protein, might have made a difference between survival and starvation. For us in the modern world with all of the processed foods available, that drive has been at the root of our modern health epidemics.
in short, eating less is almost always better than eating more. Having only healthy choices available takes away the crying and begging and tendency to want to trade off " eat this now and I'll give you that later", which never works.
I am in no way claiming that I have figured this out, so please don't get that impression. I merely wish to suggest that it is possible our society has created this situation but that we are up to the challenge.
I feel as though the food my children eat may be the single most important factor under my control that will affect their well-being. Since I am not really in control of what they eat, my stress is high.
I have been fortunate to have a young son who will try anything at least once. Maybe you have tried some (or all!) of these things, but I take him shopping with me and let him pick a few things in the produce section that he wants. He seems more eager to eat the ones he "bought". When we sit down to dinner, I always put at least a little of everything we are having on his plate. there is no pressure to eat it, but it is there for him to decide. I noticed that if I don't insist he eat the foods, he will usually at least try them on his own. Also, he sees me eating the same foods I am trying to feed him. In the summer, he has his own section of our garden and he loves to eat the foods he grew. Some people are just sensitive to textures and colors of food, so maybe she would eat steamed cauliflower, since she seems to like "white" foods? Just some suggestions.
I agree with a few of the ideas posted.
1) take her to a farmer's market and have a casual conversation about how beautiful and cool and interesting the foods are. don't talk about eating them, talk about smelling and feeling them. the sense of taste will follow naturally on its own. listen to what she thinks about them and try not to react (i know this is hard, our 11 yr old daughter drives me wild sometimes with the same obsession/cravings)
2) you will have to form new habits in your daily conversations. don't react to anything with shock, tweens thrive on shock and are always trying to gain the upper hand and control the situation. you may be in for constant PMS until she finally hits puberty (remember what being 11 was like- ugh)
3) you say she is picky about vitamins too. maybe just let her have the ones that look and taste like gummy bears.a little compromise can go a long way.
our kids really resisted at first to changing over to whole grain foods. and given a choice they will still go for white. but they have adjusted for the most part. some of this will have to be a give and take for a while as you gradually phase out the nasties.
just keep gently involving her in the purchase and prep of good foods and maybe take her to talk to a nutritionist so she can learn what she is doing to her body from a third party. our daughter won't listen to anything i say these days! it may be an uphill climb, but you will both make it intact!
Don't let her steal your peace and joy, find ways to share it with her instead.
I too have a pick eater at home. He eats stuff like Kraft Mac& Cheese, but when I tries the Amy's or Trader Joes he could tell the difference and wouldn't eat it. I feel that at least I'm setting a good example. It all sinks in and eventually they come around. I stopped worrying about his diet a while back because he's healthy! When he's adult he will see the light of a nutrutious varied diet.
Thanks everyone so much for the responses, hopefully this will also help my husband lighten up as well! I am happy to report that she did try one new thing, it did have cheese in it but hey I will take what I can get! She has never really liked meat thank goodness but used to LOVE hotdogs and bologna YUCK! I have never really bought that kind of stuff even when we were eating meat. My friend informed me that she made hotdogs yesterday for their dinner when she went ot sleep over and my friend is aware that she used to love hotdogs and thought she still did. My daughter politely said no thankyou and informed her that she is vegetarian! I was so proud!!!