The Big DumpTruck

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Hope for Parents of a Fussy Eater

Hi, my name is Jody and I am the parent of a recovering fussy eater.

For years, my son would only eat one or two foods. Those foods would change over the years: where once he would only eat chicken fingers, he switched over to pasta with red sauce and never wanted chicken fingers ever again. He basically loved beige foods: chicken nuggets/fingers, french fries, dinner rolls, apple sauce, bananas, green grapes, dry Cheerios, toaster waffles, pancakes. All beige/yellow. All carbs (excepts, I guess, for the chicken, but really, processed chicken is probably more a carb than a protein.)

The boy was breast-fed (for 11 months), made the transition to solid foods at the normal time. He’d eat anything. Green goo, orange goo…it was all good. He loved his rice cereal mixed with apple sauce. To the point where he had it for breakfast every day for about 4-5 years, until he made the switch to toaster waffles, where he stayed until they discontinued his favorite brand a few years ago.

When he was being fussy, we worried and took him to the doctor. He was off the charts for height and weight (but in proportion) for his age, ate a ton of fruit, and only had red sauce (tomatoes) on his pasta, so the doctor declared he was actually a pretty healthy eater, all things considered. So he told us not to stress about it, because making food a source of stress is never a healthy thing to do. So we didn’t.

My son didn’t like hamburgers or meatballs until he was about 10. Then he loved them. He suddenly started loving salad with Italian dressing. No creamy dressings. Nothing creamy. In general, he rejected all dairy as something he didn’t like. We later learned he’s lactose intolerant, but seriously, when we went out for ice cream he would pick sorbet because that’s what he wanted.

I remember going to Disney with him when he was four, and planning every meal around whether or not the restaurant could serve pasta marinara. Any restaurant that has ANY kind of pasta dish can usually pull it off. Disney is the greatest place to take people with food allergies, etc., because they go so far above and beyond to make sure there’s something for you to eat. I will ALWAYS remember we went to the buffet at Crystal Palace and they only had mac and cheese on the buffet. Our server went down Main Street to Tony’s Town Hall restaurant to fetch my son a plate of pasta with sauce. (My friends, THIS is why Disney rocks my world.)

We had heard people say their kids outgrew being fussy eaters, but when you live with one for 10+ years, you start to think maybe they just meants small changes; and quite frankly, those were welcome. He added steak to his list of okay foods, which opened up a LOT of restaurants. Hell, even adding burgers did that.

But then something happened last spring. He was 12, and we were again at Disney, traveling with my sister’s family. My sister’s kids were always bottomless pits for trying new things. My BIL had a hard time understanding why we couldn’t just force my son to eat new things. He never lived with a fussy child so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected him to understand.  Prior to the trip my son and I talked about the restaurants we’d be visiting, and my son declared he’d use this trip to “try new things”. I thought that was a great idea.

What happened during that trip was that I had to start a log of all the new foods he’d tried, because nobody could believe it. Sushi (he loved), scallops (he loved), bison (he loved), etc. etc.  There was NOTHING he wouldn’t try. We were all floored. And then it continued. He went on a trip with his father and tried pot roast and lamp chops – loved both. He continued the trend by ordering things even I thought he wouldn’t like. Trout at Longhorn Steakhouse. On another trip this past January, he ended up trying 4 different kinds of new fish (flounder, mahi-mahi, smoked salmon). He’s since ordered mahi-mahi at the local Mexican place. He orders these dishes and cleans his plate. Last Saturday we went to a Tapas place in Waltham and he tried everything – including a cold crab and mango salad, a shrimp and lobster ravioli, ceviche, duck, an onion and potato omelette and goat cheese. He loved almost everything he tried. He’s starting to freak me out! He orders his burgers (previously plain only, not even ketchup on them) with onions, pickles and mustard! He’s also become quite the expensive date compared to the days of chicken fingers and ziti with marinara sauce. But my God, the options for restaurants!

I’m not saying this will happen to every fussy eater; my son may have be a statistical aberration. But his father is now officially fussier than he is, and food is no longer the biggest issue in our house. It’s really a different world now.

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  1. I, too, have a Recovering Fussy Eater. (I say “recoverING” because he still will not touch any sort of vegetables ever don’t even ask are you kidding gross.) He’s 17 now.

    He sounds a lot like your son. Only brown and/or yellow food, with the exception of pizza (BUT CHEESE ONLY). No hamburgers, no peanut butter, no fruit. Then about age 10, like your son, all of a sudden burgers were okay. With ketchup. Then as he grew and started spending more time with other people at THEIR houses, his natural shyness kept him from asking for special meals, so his palate was forcibly widened. Sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches! Baked fish! MUFFINS WITH BLUEBERRIES OMG!

    He’s gotten a lot better, but is still on this side of picky. Like I said, he still won’t eat vegetables, but he DID try some salad the other day and didn’t die, so there’s hope.

  2. Jody

     /  June 21, 2011

    That’s great! My doctor always said, if he’s getting a multivitamin and some form of calcium, he’d be fine. He’s 13, 5’9 and weighs 142. He played Little League baseball for 6 years and is in a gifted program at school. I’m not going to fret about broccoli.