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My step kids won't eat anything!

qcplauren's picture

Sorry for the complaining, I know I'm posting a lot of issues!
I know kids will be picky to a certain age but my step kids take it to a new level. Meal times have become nightmarish and my husband and I can't come to an agreement on how to handle it. The only thing they want to eat is sweet and salty processed junk food. My husband and I rarely eat processed or fast food and if I put anything cooked from scratch on their plate they never hide their disgust. We've tried giving them a time limit, that doesn't work, I've tried cooking with them, that doesn't work. I have even bought them food they have at home, they eat two bites and then stare at it for two hours. It even happens when people take them out for food, which is particularly insulting because I consider that a gift to them. I don't understand why they do this, it's not like I'm making strange foods. I make chicken breasts, spaghetti, soup and vegetables when they are down. Can anyone tell me how we should deal with this? We are moving in with vegetarians at the end of the month and plan on eating more vegetables. I can't imagine the situation getting any better.

Willow2010's picture

I will never understand the “food fights” and why a lot of SM’s have such issues with how someone else’s kids eats or does not eat.

Fix what you want to eat (and it can still be kid friendly sometimes) and then give them a time limit to be at the table. After 30 minutes let them go do what they want to do. Save the plate of food for now. If they get hungry again in a little while, give them back that plate of food.

If they are truly hungry,…they will eat.

Edit to add...that should say, give them a time limit to eat at the table.

Willow2010's picture

I read your other blog and I see that you seem like a control freak. Not being mean, because I am the biggest control freak ever. Welcome to the club! Lol

I threw all of that out of the window after I met DH. I figure that it is his kid so he can raise him how he wants. (unless it is a safety issue of a house issue.)

Dis engage ASAP. You will save yourself your sanity and your marriage. Good luck, it is easier said than done. But once you do it, you will be free.

stepmomsoon's picture

I just heard this story on the radio and wanted to share - it's about kids not eating what we serve them or being too picky.. I love what this mom did..

Every meal was a battle, so the mom asked "what would you eat if I served it to you?"

Kids replied "hot dogs and green beans"..

So, day number one - hot dogs and green beans.. kids were happy

The next night kids went to their dads house after school (parents are obviously divorced) and when they got back to moms she asked them about their time at dads house.. They said it was GREAT.. they had "hot dogs and green beans for dinner there too."..

Day 3 - hot dogs and green beans for dinner again.. kids were like "huh" but didn't really complain

Day 4 - hot dogs and green beans again.. mom picked up taco bell for herself and ate it at the table with the kids.. kids were like "what? whay do you get taco bell and we get THIS." Mom replies "Because that is what you told me you would eat."

Day 5 - hot dogs and green beans again.. mom picks up pizza for herself and eats it at the table again.. kids are not happy.. lol same discussion ensues.. mom does not budge (gotta love her)

Day 6 & 7 - hot dogs and green beans again.

After a week of hot dogs and green beans they got the message. It's been 3 months since this little lesson was taught to these kiddos and so far - no complaints about what has been served for dinner.


stepmomsoon's picture

lol.. I know, right? Hot Dogs and Green Beans.. I say it every time one of my skids bitch about anything.. well, actually I mumble it under my breath.. lol

GhostWhoCooksDinner's picture

Genius!!! Smile

kathc's picture

Kids will eat when they get hungry. If they won't eat it, then they aren't that hungry. Put the food in front of them, wrap it with plastic and put it in the fridge after dinner. If they say they're hungry later, heat it up for them.

dragonfly5's picture

I can tell you what has worked for me. When I met FDH and the skids almost 4 yrs ago,
they truly were the pickiest eaters I had ever seen. My daughter and god kids ate what I cooked and loved it.

Here is the interesting part.

Crazo their mother does not cook. When I say does not cook I mean, not one meal is made at her home. She even orders the pre cooked Thanksgiving meals from the local grocery store. The local waffle house holds a booth for them every morning. So their idea of food was .....nuggets, burgers, etc mostly fast food.

FDH cooked some but like most single dads took them out too. They ate NO and I do mean NO fruits or vegetables. The first time I made lasagna, fsd then9 said I hate this. I about had a stroke. FDH corrected her so all she at was garlic bread. fss then12 doesn't really eat much bread so he didn't eat anything.
FDH took them thru the drive thru on the way back to his house.

We has a little discussion about it needless to say. I told FDH that his children had horrible manners and were rude. They are picky eaters because of the life style he and the ex had exposed them too. That they needed to put their napkins in their laps and chew with their mouth closed, and since they were his kids the correction would be better coming from him, but it needed to start imediately. I have several business funtions with my work and there was absolutely no way I would take them with me anywhere.

So dragonfly's rules came into effect.

I never made my bio daughter eat something she did not like, she could have a pb&j and a piece for fruit, when she was older she could make a grilled cheese and a piece of fruit. No exceptions and no snacks before bed if you did not eat what I had cooked. So we told the skids the new rule. They were not happy but understood there was a new sheriff in town. FDH layed it out for them.

I also told them when the go to someone's home and they do not like what is served to take a little put is on their plate and move it around. Eat bread or nothing. That if they are asked if you like "it", you say "it is not my favorite". This is now the joke of our house.

If I cook something new, I ask them do you like it? And I have always told them you do not have to like it, just to be honest when I ask. They say to me "it is not my favorite", and make a pbj or grilled cheese.

Because I did not make them eat what they didn't THINK they liked they now eat a few veggies, some salad, and most pasta dishes, and they will eat apples and oranges. They now try a spoon full of something on their own. Sometimes they like it sometimes they don't. I tell them that your taste changes. I hated broccoli until I was 25, now I love it.

Do you like to eat what you don't like? I don't. I also remembered what we grew up with is normal to us. That is what is suppose to taste like, look like etc.

I found out things they do like and added them to my rotation. My FDH grills a lot and they love chicken so we have added many chicken dishes to our list. I also let them help in the kitchen. Fss15 loves to make taco's now. And fsd12 helps with everything. FDH has even taught them how to set a table properly.

I have been know to throw a French fry across the table and hit fss15 with it. The first time it happened he didn't know what to do. Now he throws back....he is now comfortable. It is a growing experience for all of us.

Honestly I try not to take what I cannot change immediately seriously. That does not mean I don't start with baby step to resolve and issue, but I am not bull in a china shop. Sometimes we need to crawl before we can run.

It still isn't easy, but my bio daughter grew up with my cooking, it is normal and good to her. They like more and more what I cook. By the time they go to college they will love my cooking Smile

Orange County Ca's picture

These are weekend kids right? Stop making food that they'll eat. In fact stop making food for them. Let Daddy handle this - you fix food for yourself and the Daddy is on his own. Tell him your plan so he knows what's going on.

If you insist on cooking then make foods that will save easily and the two of you can eat as leftovers later. Go through the motions if you must by putting a dab on a place and when they refuse tell them they're free to leave the table.

But I encourage you to just not cook or even ship for them.

Check this out I think it will make life a lot easier. Click here:

christinen's picture

My SD (now 5) was the same way when we all moved in together (she was 2 at the time). The only thing she ever ate before I came around was chicken nuggets so looking back, I can see why dinnertime was an issue when she was all of a sudden expected to eat a variety of different foods cooked by a woman she didn't know very well. That being said, it is not your job to make sure skids eat well, healthy, or eat at all. My SD does eat a lot more than she used to, but she still won't eat everything, and that is fine. I don't plan my meals around her. I cook what I want to cook for DH and I and if she wants to eat, she can. If not, I could care less. Makes life much easier!

Ursas Minor's picture

I'm considered a pretty good cook. From what I've heard, BM is not a good cook. So, I was looking forward to making all sorts of wonderful dishes for my skids on their weekends with us. The second time I cooked for them, they made a such a fuss about bones (chicken wings)... One girl was especially unpleasant about it, her dad told her she was allowed to leave the table if she was through eating. Well, that was the last time I cooked for them. I told DH that, from then on, he would be responsible for cooking their meals when they are with us... And that's how it has been. I did not make a fuss and I don't know if they have given any thought to why their dad cooks now and I don't anymore. I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, problem solved.

dacejk60's picture

My two BK's will eat most anything (ages 13 & 19). Each has maybe one or two foods they'd rather not eat. I can say that neither seemed particularly picky growing up and any early picking was frowned upon and dealt with. My SD is 14 and won't eat but about 3 or 4 different types of things (aside from the usual crap, cookies, chips etc...). At first, I would make ours then make a little something else for her. The hell with that. What I make she has the choice of eating or not. Otherwise either DB can deal with the monster he and BM coddled or she is on her own. It's all silly too. For instance, she'll eat taco's (no lettuce or tom just beef and cheese but...) eat the taco's but not hamburgers or any other kind of beef (unless it's in a fried dumpling from the mall). She'll eat Mcdees Mcnuggets but no home made chicken no matter how you slice it. I just clarified with her the other night that I was not purposely ignoring her during meal prep but that really, I just didn't make anything she'd eat. I told her anytime I cook something I know you'll like, I cook more for you. Otherwise, you are gonna have to fend for yourself on the off days. She has a relative with a bonified eating issue (a bizarre one involving textures and.. oh whatever) but for some reason, she thinks that's cool. Allergies and what not are cool..OMG ST*U.. She is a very lazy cook however so I'm thinking she's gonna start trying a lil sumpin sumpin soon,,, OI VEY STOP THE CODDLING,,,OMG

blending2012's picture

I have a question for all those posters who blithely recommend not allowing them snacks if they don't eat. How do you enforce this?? Because my oldest SD just sneaks into the pantry, steals the snacks and brings them into her room to eat. She is soooo sneaky (and we are so busy with the other 4 kids) that I don't usually catch her - only see the wrappers that she hides in her drawers the next day.

When you live with a complete liar, how do you enforce the no-snack rule?

MdMom's picture

Put a door knob that locks on the pantry door and put the Key up high enough so SD can't reach it (if she clubs on a chair to get it, you'll be able to hear her moving the chair.) Or hide the key in a drawer, or on top of the fridge. Simple fix. Can't open a locked door with out a key. = )

That's what I'd do anyways. My SD is still too young to be that sneaky, but its what my parents did when they had foster kids as I was growing up. Worked like a charm for them.

dacejk60's picture

You know KitttKatt, my SD does that a little. Like not bold face lying but denies she eats more than just a couple of the snacky foods. She eats plenty of them. Since I only have the two at home and know what my BS tends to eat, I have her figured out. What does she say when you find the wrappers and call her out on them? You might end up having to treat the snacks like booze and either make them hard to get to or really limit what goes in the cabinets (not fair to the others though huh?).. If it were me,,, hmm, I'd probably really limit what was in the cabinets, and call her out on the wrappers every time I saw them.. It has been easier for me since I decided to just cook what I cook. If SD eats, she eats, otherwise there is a variety of things available that she can make for herself. Even when I do cook what she "likes", she still takes a decent sized portion and then throws two thirds of it away... Hmm, let me know what you come up with if anything,,, might try it myself.. Smile

talia11's picture

Easy fix - don't cook for them. I stopped cooking for SS15 after he complained about what I cooked, or refused to eat it, or simply was an asshole to me. I buy a variety of easy prepare food and he or DH makes it. I have no concern about whether he eats or not, it is not my problem and now one less thing vfor me to stress about. as for the junk, don't buy it!! They can't eat what isn't there.

Jane1225's picture

Have you tried to include them in the cooking process? Perhaps eating meals they've worked on will hold more appeal to them. If you find time to cook and unless they refuse to help you in the kitchen, I don't see why this wouldn't work.

alex.s's picture

It's scary to think that there are children out there growing up without eating cooked food, what kind of mother do they have? She should think more about their health and less about herself. Even though it's difficult to please all of my children, I always try my best to cook for them, I even got all kind of Nisbets USA equipment to ease my work in the kitchen, but I've never considered giving up cooking and feeding my kids junk food!

jojo68's picture

OMG...I used to let this bother me and worry me to I don't give a F***. If SD13 eats when there is food on the table...fine...if she doesn't which is 99% of the time then that is her and her dad's problem. I know that I am doing all I can do..I put tasty food that everyone else likes on the table. That is all you can do. There is an old saying that surely has held true for me when it comes to everything related to my relationship with SD13. "You can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink" can't make them like you, eat your food or accept your love unless they want to.

sam44's picture

With 5 kids at the table we can't and won't deal with a long list of "I don't eats". Every kid can veto ONE food. Just one. They choose carefully. They have to eat everything else. When they decide they don't like something new, we simply ask if they'd like to make it their new veto food. They rarely do. This way, we know the difference between "I really don't like" and "I'd rather not have that today". And they can't pick "salad"...too inclusive, they can pick one thing from the salad, the rest is to be eaten.

candice85's picture

I wish my SS was picky everytime he is over he eats us out of house and home.

alaskanmom's picture

I have 2 step kids ages 15 and 11. When I married their dad 3 years ago, I desperately wanted to make them happy. I asked them what their favorite foods were, what they wouldn’t eat, and did my very best to make every meal something they would enjoy. Despite my best efforts, they complained and would just pick at their meals. Even if I made the exact same thing their dad or Grandma would make-somehow it was different and therefore bad. I think the worst part was having to endure the dirty looks they’d give me and the faces they’d make to each other. As if to say, “This is disgusting and I can’t believe you expect me to eat this.” For the record, I have restaurant experience and a reputation as a very good cook. Anyhow, my husband and I used to fight all the time about how rude and ungrateful they were. I was raised that if you didn’t eat what was on the table, you didn’t eat. I suggested that to my husband, and he said that he couldn’t send his kids to bed hungry. He feared that the children would complain to their mother (who is a vindictive opportunist) that we weren’t feeding them and she’d call Child Protective Services on us. I thought about it, and he was right. When you are sharing children between homes, things become more complicated. I decided to continue offering foods that I thought they would eat and then told them that they could fix themselves a pbj, can of soup or cereal if they didn’t like it. I also had my husband cook meals more frequently. They are both extremely picky eaters and are used to their dad’s cooking. My husband had several talks with the kids about their table manners (or lack thereof). It’s taken several years for me to build up a collection of meals that they actually enjoy. I try not to take it so personal these days. I realize now that I took their rejection of my cooking as a rejection of me-and it very well could have been. Perhaps that was the way they chose to let me know that I wasn’t their mom. Ultimately, I had to disengage a bit-for my own sanity! Hang in there!

MoominMama's picture

I have said to SS18  'dont make faces (gurning) at the food. If you dont want the food then leave the table, there will be nothing else'. Except i didnt say it so politely. SS can be funny over certain things and textures which is related to being High func AS. 

Personally, i think that food, being a fundamental thing these kids are psychologically rejecting nourishment prepared by someone who is not the parent. Not the mother. Its a way to show solidarity with her. Its just as much a rejection of you as it is the food. JMO. 

lorlors's picture

I bet there is something to that! I’ve often thought the skids feel like it is a betrayal of BM in some way if they like what I cook too much.

georgina29's picture

My skids won't eat anything besides pasta, bread, pizza, and tacos. They love junk and sweets and always get ice cream, cookies, brownies, etc. after dinner(even if they havent eaten their veggies or finished their dinner). I blame their parents for this equally. They are always giving into their every request (more like demand most of the time). They are extremely picky eaters when it comes to any meal but will eat junk and carbs endlessly and alway eat multiple snacks throughout the day that aren't the healthiest (crackers, cookies, sugary fruit snacks).