Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Our oldest daughter Autumn is a picky eater. Up until 4 days ago it has been next to impossible to get her to willingly try a new fruit or vegetable. My husband and I thought we had tried everything. We've bribed, cajoled, threatened, withheld, rewarded, punished, disguised, battled, cried, worried, waited, backed off and leaned in. Plenty of friends and strangers have given us advice on ways we might encourage Autumn to try eating veggies and fruits. "Blend it up and mix it with other foods so she can't tell she is eating it." "Just don't offer anything else....she'll eventually get hungry." "Make the food into fun shapes." "Just wait and don't worry, she'll eventually grow out of it."

Well, nothing has worked, and so the other night I had a new idea. It is called "No one in the family gets their main course of the meal until they have eaten their serving of vegetables." As supper approached I reminded myself that I would not back down. I would remain strong and firm and I would apply the rule to all of us. When my husband Steve arrived home from work I quickly filled him in on the battle plan. He hopped on board, and we approached the battle field together as a team. The weapons (4 broccoli heads and 5 carrot sticks) were dispersed amongst each of our plates. And the battle ensued. But, to our HUGE surprise and great delight the enemies quickly surrendered.

Now let me tell you that Autumn has NEVER eaten an entire raw carrot stick before...she just would gag and cry and say she couldn't. Broccoli never went much better. But, on this night, with the realization that she would not get anything until her veggies were eaten, and with the fact that we were all inflicting the same challenge upon ourselves something CLICKED! It still took her longer to eat the items, but SHE DID IT!

The next day at lunch I presented the girls with a bowl full of cooked mixed veggies. I made two peanut butter sandwiches and placed them on plates within their view but out of their reach. My directions: "You can have your peanut butter sandwich after you have finished your vegetables." Unbelievably they both scarfed down their bowls....and more surprising, Autumn said "that wasn't bad!" Wow! I was speechless!

We have been using this method for four days now on everyone in the family and we are all noticing that we eat much less of the main course than we normally would, that veggies and fruit are starting to taste better (I almost feel like I'm craving them more) and that there have been no battles about food. If you don't want to eat your small portion of veggies before your meal than you just don't get your meal. The girls are learning that the decision is pretty easy. Best of all, I don't feel at all guilty about implementing this new habit. If we ever eat too many veggies before our meal and are too full to finish all of the main course I will be delighted! I figure we can't go wrong with veggies!

What a wonderful blessing this new method has brought to our family dining experience. Try it out if you have a picky eater and it just might work for you too! Just remember, don't back down. Serve ONLY the vegetables first, but allow everyone to see the main course so that they know it actually exists :)  If they won't eat their veggies first then don't give them the main course (or anything else)....after sitting at the table and watching everyone else receive their meal I think they will quickly learn to choose the veggies and maybe even begin to like them! (And we are praying someday Autumn might even use the word below)

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