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All of a sudden — picky eater

Hastings's picture

SS10 has always been a good eater. Vegetables? Fruit? Fish (not fried)? Loved them all. The only "grown-up" food he didn't like was salad. We saved the few foods he didn't like for our kid-free weeks.

Now, in the last 2-3 months, he's suddenly gotten picky. He doesn't touch vegetables. No longer likes salmon or white fish. A month ago I made a chicken and rice casserole (he loves both main ingredients) and he didn't even take a bite. Yet he'll then fill up on ice cream or candy later.

BM doesn't cook. She mostly orders takeout or delivery or, when she's dieting, she has her pre-set meals. They get food "out" multiple meals a day. We don't do that since DH and I both love to cook and are good at it. We're also more cost- and health-conscious. DH asked SS and SS complained that we don't keep Pizza Rolls and chicken nuggets like his mom does. We also don't get fast food very often.

DH is big on healthy eating and he worries about SS's eating habits because it's obvious he's not picking up good habits the 50% he's with her. He's slim and healthy now, but...

It annoyed DH and at first, he had this whole plan. If SS didn't eat the prepared meal, he could make himself a sandwich but no dessert.

Yet now, DH is constantly super-anxious about meals. "Will SS like this?" "Maybe I should also heat up some frozen tacos to supplement."

I stay out of it and let DH do what he wants to do. I would never deliberately make something SS doesn't like. But I also refuse to cater to him and encourage the pickiness. Feels like DH is just reinforcing this new attitude and, despite all his lip-service about SS's eating habits, he's doing his part to fan the flames.

I thought boys became bottomless pits and the "only pizza and fried chicken" was typically a "little kid" thing. Or is this actually very normal for boys this age?

Harry's picture

chicken and rice casserole VS ice cream and candy.  If SS doesn't eat dinner then no ice cream no junk food  just PB&J only   His eating will change really fast.   It's a control issue.  He wants to control you . 

Hastings's picture

Oh, I agree. I think it's also an extension of the growing "Mom's house is better" attitude. He's loaded with gifts and allowed to pretty much do whatever he wants there. He physically lashes out when she actually tries to discipline.

Anyway, DH doesn't like it but also doesn't seem to get that he's playing into the game.

Whatever. I made it clear to DH I cook one meal per night. If he wants to fix SS something else, that's his choice. But I'm not a short-order cook and I'm not buying special stuff at the store. I refuse to play.

Gimlet's picture

YSS here is picky but I believe it's always been that way and he has some sensory issues with food.

BUT this is going to bite your H in the ass.

Yet now, DH is constantly super-anxious about meals. "Will SS like this?" "Maybe I should also heat up some frozen tacos to supplement."

I am not an "eat what is made or starve person"  but I think there should be limits within reason. 

Things like fast food are engineered to taste good and they are what I think of as "too much" of a good thing.  Humans like sweet and fatty things because they used to be important to survival, but they also used to be much more scarce and we had to work to get them.  So of course he's going to like it.  We are wired that way.

But allowing free access to those foods is a mistake.  What you and your H are doing by cooking is helping to build much healthier eating habits.

Anyway, if your H starts this now he's going to regret it.  His plan to make a healthy meal with consideration for SS and if he won't eat it, have an alternative he can make himself is a good one, but he needs to stick to it.  Good for you for not cooking or catering to this.  Even with YSS's eating issues, I didn't play this game.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Is it possible to make some healthy alternatives to the "new things" he likes? Mac and cheese with pureed vegetables in the sauce? Shake n Bake-style baked chicken tenders? Homemade calzones with extra veggies and leaner meat? Turkey burgers on wheat buns? 

I think a better approach than "eat this or make a sandwich" if you're trying to encourage healthy eating habits is to make things he likes but make them healthier. Also, get him to help cook.

I'm not saying you adapt *every* meal to this, but if you can incorporate what he likes into your food and lifestyle values, it's going to go over better than saying no to everything unhealthy.

Lastly, your DH should talk to SS about this. "Hey, we don't keep pizza rolls in the house because I don't think they're good for growing bodies. But, I want you to enjoy the food you eat here, so let's make some homemade pizza rolls that are healthier for all of us."

Lays out the problem, offers a solution, and gives SS agency in that solution. 

Hastings's picture

Those are good suggestions and we can try some. I will say, though, that we've done some of that. SS's complaint is then that it's not the kind he likes. Even if we decide to get burgers, he'll complain that it's not his preferred place. So, I really think it's less about the healthy foods and more about control and expressing his "this house isn't as good as Mom's" attitude.

Gimlet's picture

Those are good ideas.  My DD's dad used to feed her a lot of packaged food, so we talked about what was good "growing food" and focused on those foods.  I didn't want to make the good/bad distinction for food because everyone needs some cake sometimes, but it was more of an 80/20 split.

Granted, she was my kid so it was miles easier.  But I can also relate to how exhausting this can be as a step because I went through it with YSS.  DH used to look at me and ask "What's YSS going to eat?" and it drove me mad.  Like, I don't know dude, you figure it out.  So he did.

Maybe if your DH is willing to cook with SS or batch make some of the healthier options, that could help.  

tog redux's picture

So, I get your desire to eat healthy and have SS learn good eating habits- but it sounds like SS's 2 homes are the opposite ends of the spectrum.  BM gets take-out 3 times a day, and you guys don't get it EVER.  It really is okay if SS occasionally is allowed to eat pizza rolls or get take-out food, and it might give BM less "Dad is controlling about food" material to work with.  It's not realistic to expect a 10-year-old to be happy about "healthy eating" all the time - balance it with reasonable portions of stuff he likes.

Hastings's picture

Oh, no. It's not that we never do it. We do have some pizza rolls in the freezer but DH doesn't let him have them every day. And when he's here, we get takeout at least once (more likely twice). Always have. We like that food too. The problem seems to be that, suddenly, food he's always loved, he won't touch. Until a couple of months ago, he would get super-excited about a salmon dish I make. Now, he refuses to eat it, so we've moved it to kid-free weeks.

Cover1W's picture

This happened with YSD too - she was an excellent eater after a rough few years after DH and I got together. I chronicled this in my blogs.

She's now eating about half of the food items she used to and picks everything apart. She is super critical of food and as a result when she's here DH freaks out. "We have to make sure YSD15 eats, she needs to eat." So he buys all this food especially for her on the weeks she's here.  Fine, but then he forgets about us. I get very very sick of rice for days in a row and limited protein choices ( a LOT of chicken). I gave up on cooking when she is here so part of this is my choice, but I couldn't handle his kowtowing to her any longer - or his making MORE stuff for her as I was cooking.

She refuses to tell us what she wants from the store (we have an ongoing list on the fridge), won't go to the store with DH (and he won't make her), and she's not required to make her own food if she doesn't like what we are having (rare becaue DH caters). Both of us will not take her to a restaurant because that's just a painful experience. Occasionally, a couple times a month DH will even get tired of it and get take out only for he and I, or cook something for only he & I, and he gives her lots of warning so she knows she's cooking for hersef.  So she can do it.

I would be sure that your DH sticks to the mantra of if he doesn't like it he can fix something for himself. Especially if it's something he's decided he doesn't eat any longer. And announces it at the table - which has happened to us too.  Ok, then, there's the kitchen with food in it, go to it. And I'd recommend DH does NOT help him. If the kid is that picky the kid needs to learn to figure out his food and not substitute junk food (don't buy it, period, when he's there).  Your house is different than BMs; every home has different ways of functioning and food is one of them.

Rags's picture

For damned sure there is no icecream, etc..... if they play the picky eater card.

IMHO of course.


Your DH is the problem in all of this.  

This is purely a Skid manipulation attempt and by tolerating your DH is facilitating it.