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My older son was a champion eater when he was a baby and even a toddler. We used to laugh about how much food he could pack away! About the time he turned 4 that all changed. Suddenly he would only eat hot dogs, pickles, salty snacks, candy and juice. He literally would go without eating rather than eat some breaded chicken, vegetables or anything healthy. I was literally at my wit’s end so of course I gave in. My son lived on a diet of 5 foods and I was freaking out.
How I Made Sure My Son Got His Nutrients
When my son was about 5 my husband and I were growing quite concerned. Was he getting the nutrition he needed? We are excellent, healthy eaters and my younger son will eat just about anything, but this kid was eating a very limited diet! So when I took my older son to his annual yearly check-up I broke down to the doctor because I could not get my son to eat. She assured me he was slightly underweight but otherwise healthy. She told me to figure out what textures and flavors my son preferred and work from there. She also suggested we give him Pediasure until he outgrew this phase (thank goodness she assured me this was only a phase). Knowing my son loves chocolate milk I made sure to get him the chocolate Pediasure and luckily he looked forward to it every morning. Phew. At least I knew he was getting some nutrition.
What My Boy Loves
I concluded my son loves crunchy and somewhat sour or very sweet foods. Therefore it occurred to me he likes his food to pack a punch when it comes to flavor. So I experimented and gave him berries (good for fiber) with lemon juice squeezed on them. It worked! He now eats berries like a champ. He also loves Granny Smith apples because they are tart. Next I told him turkey bologna was basically hot dog meat. So now he eats organic turkey bologna on honey wheat bread (no crusts please) with spicy brown mayo. If I serve his sandwich with Pirate’s Booty or goldfish he is even happier and it gives him the crunch he likes. He also likes a little bit of spice so I add a little mild hot sauce in the organic chicken burgers I now make. He wants those for dinner almost every night and has no idea I have snuck some shredded carrots in them.
I also found if I basically serve every savory meal with spicy brown mustard I can get him to eat just about everything. He still refuses to try a lot of foods, but now I know his decision is usually based on texture so I do not offer him anything mushy like oatmeal or scrambled eggs. He has gotten so much better in fact, that we have recently stopped giving him Pediaure and he now takes a multi vitamin he actually likes (no gummies because they are bad for children’s teeth) instead. I also give him all the chocolate milk (made with organic chocolate syrup and whole milk) he wants and he can have a heaping bowl of chocolate ice cream after dinner.
Growing And Thriving
Today my son is almost 8 and in the right weight range. While I still can’t get him to eat vegetables I no longer stress about his nutrition. As long as we can consistently add a few crispy, flavorful foods to his diet every month, I’m happy. The more you stress about your child’s diet the more they will bury their feet in the sand and then it’s just a battle of wills and a fight you will lose. Learn to work within their seemingly ridiculous demands and you will find life runs a lot smoother. Yes, I feel like a short order cook sometimes, but it’s worth it to see my son grow and thrive and for me to be a lot less stressed.
For more information on children's growth and nutrition, visit PediaSure.com.
Lauren Dimet Waters