selective eating and my 7-yr-old

11 Jun


My 7-yr-old is on the beige food diet.

I’ve tried to explain many times why it’s important to eat brightly coloured foods but we just spend hours arguing the toss over yellow.  Apparently cheese is bright yellow and therefore counts.  So now we talk about green and red foods.  He definitely doesn’t eat any of those, preferring the general brownness of the sausage, the bread and the potato.

He went through the typical fussy stage at 2 alongside all of his other preschoolers.  Us mums used to giggle around the lunch table as our little ones screamed and squawked and refused to eat, happy in solidarity. But then all his friends got through that stage and started to accept a small amount of broccoli on the side of their plate. Or worst case on a separate plate. But Big Milk wouldn’t so much as hear speak of broccoli.

We decided pretty early doors that we weren’t going to fight him over it. He clearly wasn’t budging and would rather forgo pudding of any kind than eat even a tiny mouthful of something he didn’t like. So I started hiding the vegetables anywhere I could find to put them. Whizzed up in tomato sauce which he’d eat in copious amounts with pasta. Then I’d use the leftovers on pizza bases; nutrition masquerading as fast food. Carrots were grated into bolognaise and peeled courgettes went undercover in homemade fish goujons.  He was none the wiser and in quiet triumph we rocked family meal times relatively stress-free.

But recently he’s declared war on all those foods he used to tolerate, favouring a much more militant beige-food-loving approach.  Out with the pasta sauce and the casseroles and the homemade fish pie. Down with potatoes if they dare to advance with their dirty bothersome jackets on. For the past few days at school he’s eaten bread and potatoes for lunch. So much for “Fresh fruit and salad offered daily”. Clearly he responds no better to their authority than he does to mine.

But worse than the worry and the frustration and the guilt you can’t help but feel as a parent, are those mums that stick their noses in the air and with a whiff declare “My kids wouldn’t get away with that. They’ll eat what they’re given!”. Mentally at this point I’m smashing their heads into the glass panel on my front door as I bare my teeth in a snarl loosely disguised as a smile.

You see, I don’t cram my child full of sweets and biscuits all day long and wonder why they won’t eat their dinner. I do not give in at the first whiff of an uprising by declaring “Oh Archie, just eat whatever you want and we’ll move straight onto pudding.” (Clearly my child’s not called Archie, but you get my meaning).  I am not a push-over-marshmallow-mum.  My child’s food issues go far beyond mere fusspotting; they are borderline phobic.

He doesn’t respond to an iron fist, shameful bribery or promises of a million pounds.  He doesn’t wave the white flag, exhausted after a 4 hour pea-stand-off.  His only response is retching and choking and sicking up into his own mouth.  In fact my child would be a pretty awesome hunger-strike activist if they’d allow such a thing.

The truth is,  if your children do what you say it’s not because you’re some kind of super youobeymeordie mum, it’s because your kids just aren’t that testing. You are blessed with the holy grail of childkind – compliant children – and sadly those are given out only randomly when the sperm greets the egg.

So for now I’ll re-establish my motherly zen and claw back perspective by evoking the wise words of my dear friend Steph  “Send A donation to Oxfam, for they have real feeding problems there.”


18 Responses to “selective eating and my 7-yr-old”

  1. Sandrine Berges June 11, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    It can be a real pain in the long term though: my son is still not eating vegetables, and he’s turning 11. He’s beginning to have a weight problem, and I have no idea how we’re going to address it. Fair enough, he’s autistic, so his eating problems are magnified, and your son will almost certainly get over it. But one way I can always get fresh green stuff into my son, is with cucumbers. We have small ones in Turkey, and he eats them as snacks, along with small tomatoes. Surely that’s good enough, isn’t it?

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      that’s green and red right there!
      we do the best we can, and they all turn out just fine in the end. Mostly.


  2. liveotherwise June 11, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Solidarity. I’ve been there. Ten year old is just beginning to be adventurous now, and by adventurous I mean I can get away with slightly different cheese on our weekly (must be on Thursday) pizza.

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      oh mine will eat a moz/cheddar mix on pizza – one up on you gal! ha!

  3. Kirsten June 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    You may not be a ‘push-over-marshmallow-mum’… but I think you’re a pretty-goddam-awesome-mum…. regardless of what those beautiful boys eat.

  4. amberlife June 11, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    You’ve heard about my son on Twitter. My daughter went for a whole holiday in Greece without eating anything but chips. I agree with your friend Steph – she sounds very sensible!! Keep your chin up and if it all gets too much put your feet up and have a glass of wine – the universal curer of all ills!

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      wine for him or me? maybe if i add some wine he’ll eat everything in the house, I usually do, ha!

  5. Looking for blue sky June 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Worrying is probably the worst thing you can do as he’ll probably pick up on it. My son at 12 is still in the fussy stage. I just give him Vivioptal. He’s a bit overweight from lack of exercise, but apart from that, he’s fine. My eldest was hugely fussy as a child, now she is 20, fabulously fit and is the healthiest eater I know – cooking with ingredients I’d never heard of before like coconut oil. And at her age I was mainly eating Irish stew from a tin!

    I’d say that if you just offer him new foods occasionally and keep talking about healthy stuff in a way that he will understand – if you eat this it will help you to run faster 🙂 – he’ll come around eventually x

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      I like your attitude. I’m walking with you on this one.

  6. Let's CUT the Crap! June 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    I cannot imagine trying to feed a child vegetables on the sly just to get them into their little bodies. Sounds energy-sapping. Beige food is a lot harder to beef up. More power to you, mom.

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      Yep exhausting is a good word to describe it, but i guess that’s kids for you.

  7. Lucid Gypsy June 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I was blessed with relatively easy children (which I didn’t deserve because I am the fussiest eater on the planet) but my granddaughter – well at five she is rivaling me!

    • marketingtomilk June 12, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      Ahh easy children, if I’d been blessed with those I might even believe that there was a god doing the blessing.

  8. taracain9 June 19, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Urgh, I cannot even imagine. It must be so draining and it changes dinner times to that fun thing we do together to something to dread.
    I have no answers only that time usually heals all things.

    I did a ‘taste test’ with my kids a while back because I didn’t like that they stuck to 2 types of fruit and that’s it.
    So I cut up everything from raspberries and kiwi, to mango, lychees and passionfruit.
    they then had to be blindfolded and try each one, giving them an honest score out of 10
    IF they did this they got a treat (a giant bag of Minstrels was their choice). But I just wanted them to try things and discover for themselves stuff tastes nice!

    • marketingtomilk June 19, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      and what the result – do tell! My taste test would end up with vomit on the walls. x

  9. (Mostly) Yummy Mummy June 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I hear you!! Three of mine eat anything and everything and always have but my youngest is fussier than a fussy thing. I really do think that children are either good eaters or not, just the same as good sleepers or not. I refuse to make a big deal of it though like you. I put the tiniest of portions of things on her plate that I know she won’t touch and ask her to just try but she rarely does. I just keep on plodding on and I think that’s all any of us can do!


  1. Beige Food | Julia's Place - June 11, 2013

    […] I come from the generation where you ate what you were given and thinking about it, my son went through the same sort of approach. So, I am interested in how things became different. Do share your thoughts below after reading ‘ Selective eating and my 7 year old’ […]

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