Picky is as Picky does.

My mom recently gave me a book called French Kids Eat Everything (affiliate link). I started reading it rather apprehensively, because I just can’t take one more smug parenting book about how I am doing it wrong.

It is not one of those books.

Basically, it’s a memoir of a North American family who move from Vancouver to the author’s husband’s home country of France, where the author is expected to feed her children the way the French feed theirs, which is…very very very differently than she is used to. And, well, it works. Her children develop better eating habits and more diverse palettes. In the book she lays out ten rules that she followed to achieve her goals, and gives tips and recipes to help others follow them.

What the fuck. I am pretty desperate.


Today I informed the children that they will no longer be allowed to snack whenever they want to. One of the key principals in the book is that grazing on snacks all day leads to kids who aren’t hungry for meals. Seems legit.

I fed them (and myself) a good breakfast around 8-8:30. Baguette with butter (no butter for Sam–I will work on that aversion slowly), bacon for them, eggs scrambled with goat cheese for me, and a square of dark chocolate each. Coffee for me.

We went to the playground and then speech therapy. On the way to Pasadena, Grace started crying because she wanted one more turn on the swings. She demanded a food treat to make her feel better, and I informed her that we would no longer be using food to make ourselves feel better. I offered to read her books instead.

We came home and I made lunch: pasta and sausage, both favorites, but this time I mixed them together. It was on the table at about 1:00. Sam spent twenty minutes saying he just wasn’t sure he could eat them together. I ended up feeding him about half, then he had a bit more on his own. I let them be done when they felt full. I did not let them move onto the next course until they were both finished with the current one. After pasta (I had parmigiana on mine, which Sam shockingly tasted), I had a carrot salad. I insisted they each try one bite. Grace was the harder sell this time. Then we had a fruit course (apple and banana, Grace is not required to eat the banana because she is very averse to the texture), and then–and only then–they were allowed a popsicle.

It took an hour and a half and there were many tears.

Sam gets a video game on speech days. He ended up with only about 40 minutes because lunch took so long and I wanted the TV off for an hour before snack time. At 4:00 I gave them peanut butter pretzels and frozen strawberries (which they have never agreed to eat before, and which disappeared into Sam in five seconds flat).

I’ve insisted that they eat at the table, such as it is. (We are overhauling the apartment again, and our table is currently under a tarp on the porch. They ate at the coffee table.)

I’ve corrected their language about food fairly constantly. “No, thank you” is the only negative talk I will accept.

This is exhausting, and we still haven’t gotten to dinner.

8 thoughts on “Picky is as Picky does.

  1. Amy

    May 29, 2014 at 5:09pm

    Sam, butter is probably one of the best things the world has to offer.

  2. Jillian

    May 29, 2014 at 5:27pm

    I read that book and it worked! Ben used to pick at dinner because he knew he would get a snack later before bed. Now, the only option after dinner is “leftover dinner”, and then the kitchen closes. He also has to try one bite if everything, which he usually does without too much fuss. It’s exhausting for the first few weeks with ONE kid, and I can’t imagine it with two, but that methodology worked great for my son. Others mileage may vary.

    I send you much mental strength and energy to see it through, regardless of whether it works in the long run for your kids in particular or not…I think it’s worth trying and applaud you for taking on the challenge.
    Jillian´s last post ..i survived survival school

  3. Beth

    May 29, 2014 at 6:55pm

    It *is* exhausting. Good luck!

  4. Amanda

    May 30, 2014 at 5:24am

    Changing expectations is exhausting, but it sounds like one of those things they will thank you for in the long run.

  5. Arlette

    May 30, 2014 at 11:57am

    Ha! Turns out my Swiss mom raised me and my sister with these rules; I’d never realized how unusual it is stateside. It must’ve worked, because I was the only little kid I knew who always liked seafood, liverwurst, mushrooms and a zillion other things other kids freaked out about. Even my much pickier sister still minded her manners about food at the dinner table.

    You’re doing good work: as fun as it was getting to see my boyfriend, a childhood picky eater, try mussels for the first time at 32, it’s hard not to think of all those years picky eaters miss of seeing food as a joy and occasional adventure to be shared.

  6. Elise

    May 30, 2014 at 12:39pm

    I’ve got that book on my Kindle, and have started it but not gotten far enough in to take any action. I liked what I read, though, and my kids could definitely use some energy in food diversification!! Good energy to you. I’ll follow in your footsteps on it one of these months…

  7. Georgia

    June 13, 2014 at 8:29pm

    I am going to check that book out. Henry is so picky and has so many food aversions. Agatha has a pretty good appetite and will usually try a little of everything I make. They don’t snack much but H is usually starving around 4pm and I’ve taken to just giving him a sandwich since I know he won’t eat his dinner anyway.

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