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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Henry wants to do the right thing. | Main | Introducing… »

Please, oh please, no advice.

This week over at Momversation, Rebecca brought up the topic of picky eaters, and I laughed; oh, how I laughed. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you may remember my periodic rants about Henry's eccentric eating habits. I wish I could report that my son's diet has evolved even a little since that time, but alas, I cannot. We are dealing with it, in our usual clumsy manner, with the help of a nutritionist. It is not easy. Our son is more than a little strong-willed. It is a characteristic I'm sure I will someday come to admire.

As you may have noticed from the title, up there, I am not seeking advice, thank you anyway. But feel free to share your own picky-eater stories.

Reader Comments (127)

My son, so far, hasn't displayed any kind of pickiness. I'm not really sure when pickiness crops up in little ones though. But I like that you told everyone to keep their advice (politely). I usually want to say, "take that advice and shove it_____"
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
My daughter, at 9 months, won't eat anything that she can't feed herself. No more baby food, she hardly takes a bottle... and she would eat nothing but cheese if I let her.

Thank you thank you thank you for what you wrote some time ago about breastfeeding. I had to formula feed, and I hate when people jusge me without knowing why. You made me feel a lot better about myself and my decision.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAB
I was an extremely picky child. (I eat most things now but I do dislike cheese and oranges.) My mom and I like to joke about it now. She says I used to eat everything until I was 3, and my response is that's because until then I didn't know how to say NO!.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
My 4-year-old got picky the day we switched from baby food to solid real food. There were a lot of tears and frustrations in the beginning, but I had to get over it. Since then he has lived on pretty much milk, crackers (a few different kinds), and the occassional fruit. I am not exaggerating. He does not care for sweets. In fact, the only sweet he will eat is a donut. He throws away cookies, cake, ice cream. We give him Ovaltine in his milk and a daily multi-vitamin. At his last check-up the doctor inquired about his diet, and I was honest. She felt the need to tell us how to parent him and gave the old, "he will eat if/when he gets hungry." No, he won't. He would rather starve than eat something he doesn't like. We have tried that, and he lost weight. No thank you. He almost never gets sick, is thin, but is growing like a weed (he is even tall for his age).
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramandak
It doesn't get bad until you reach this stage: I once dated a guy who at 16 wouldn't eat anything other than pasta, bread, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and I think maybe cheese. Yeah, so he ate pasta and pizza, and nothing else.

June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Tutugirl
My daughter loves fruit of all kinds (except kiwi) but isn't big on things with lots of spice. My son, however, had/has reflux and eats very few things, but loves spice in his food. Sure, the kid who gets heartburn loves ribs, chili, and pickles? Wonder what Darwin would have to say about that?
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdee
"He didn't actually give us the finger after, but it was implied"

HAHAHA. This just goes right along with your video. Poor Henry, he doesn't know what he's missing.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
My youngest never ate. Well, yeah, but existed on hot dogs for a few years. Then it was grilled cheese or pizza. He's almost 25 now, impossible zero percent body fat, muscular, and tried pork chops and salad last year for the first time and LIKED it. No negative outcomes. Let 'em eat what they like growing up (oh, and when I was in 1st grade, school made you clean your plate...I remember being forced to consume chili...and promptly puking in the lunchroom...needless to say, I was never *forced* to eat what I didn't want after I'll eat anything)
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCher
I love that, "I am not seeking advice." Just let me say, that we are living parallel lives over here....
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me this story about her youngest brother (my youngest uncle), who is about seven years her junior. The story pretty much went like this:

Your uncle was such a picky eater! He wouldn't eat anything! My mother used to make him whatever he wanted for dinner. He'd get scrambled eggs when the rest of us had tuna casserole. That's never going to happen with you kids. You will eat what I put on the table and you will like it! I'll never make special meals for any one of you!

And she held to this until my brother was about eight and started refusing absolutely everything that wasn't pizza rolls, fish sticks, mac and cheese and, surprise surprise, scrambled eggs.

At that point, my mother's attitude changed, though only for my brother. She'd make something laden with onions (the one thing to this day that I absolutely will not even attempt to eat) and tell me to sit down and like it, but my brother would get microwave macaroni and cheese five nights a week. It was a miserable several years, but I'm reassured by the knowledge that my brother now lives on Hamburger Helper and me? I'm able to actually make real food.

He's twenty-one, by the way. Not to say, "You're screwed, he'll never grow out of it", but I think everyone has at least a couple foods they will absolutely not eat. He just has, oh, three dozen of them.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate
I was the pickiest eater that ever existed. I was literally the kid who would only eat steak with ketchup on it. Steak! I know! My mother never made us eat anything we didn't like because she went to Catholic School and had to eat all her nasty cafeteria vegetables or miss recess. I think she was traumatized. Although she did use those plates with the separate spaces, so we could never claim things touched and dinner was ruined. I grew out of it, and am actually a bit of a foodie nowadays. I sort of feel bad when I try new, weird fruits and such and don't like them. The pressure to be a good eater never goes away, it just changes as your world views does.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
My 4 year old kid is gigantic and strong and eats almost nothing so I try to trust that he is getting what he needs.

And I love it that it annoys the living crap out of my WWII-era German step-mom that he basically lives off of nothing but granola bars and Go-gurt. He has eaten this way for the last 2 years and is very healthy but she still insists that we should buy some baby food jars of meat to feed him so he doesn't die of starvation.

Same lady who said breast milk is poison, and that I shouldn't take a nap with my new baby because he'll be breathing in my "dirty air." When I ask her where she gets these loony ideas, it's always the same answer: from A German Magazine.

So glad to hear that pickiness still runs rampant even amongst school-aged kids. Very reassuring to my 2-years-in-the-future self.

June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmme
New to motherhood. Have a six month old baby who eats well, I think. But now, I am afraid of the possibilities. I EAT EVERYTHING- everything that can be eaten. I am from another country and I've eaten brains, tongue, bone marrow, etc., etc. I really wish my baby turns out like this... and the surprises of motherhood continue....
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandra
I'm always sad when I think about the fact that I was an "eat everything" baby too -- apparently beets were my favorite food at one point. Then I went through several years of eating nothing but cereal, PB&Js and mac n' cheese (plus junk food snacks) starting around age six (surprise surprise, just when my parents got divorced), and over twenty years later I still don't really like fruit or most vegetables, though I've worked on it. My husband was even pickier than me when we met in college, though, and now he eats stuff even I won't eat, so there's hope for adult picky eaters who dedicate themselves to learning to like stuff. I just worry all the time about what to do when I have kids, since I wish someone in my family liked salad (both husband and I would rather puke than eat it).
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaren
we used to let our son eat his peas one by one with his fingers just to get him to eat something besides toast and cheese.

oh, did I mention each pea had to be dipped in enough mustard to completely cover the pea?
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLee-Ann
*I* was a picky eater in my day, and while I'm a lot better now, I'm still very sensitive to certain tastes and textures, even smells. I wasn't picky just for the hell of it, I genuinely didn't like some foods and my parents never understood that. After years of battles they gave up and I would get a pbj or whatever until I was old enough to fix food for myself. And in my own time, I tried new foods and even liked them!

Dana scares the hell out of me.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercee
My brother used to gag when other family members ate any kind of fruit in the same room he was in. He told us it was disgusting and went to his room. He is now 33, vegetarian (still hates all fruit) and engaged to a vegetarian woman who hates fruit even more than he does. I guess it takes all kinds!
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate
My son ate a wide variety of foods until about age 3 when he narrowed to a very small list that would vary from year to year. For a while he would eat chicken nuggets, then fish sticks, then hamburgers and then taco meat. Although there was pressure from grandmothers to make him eat what was "good for him" and especially what everyone else was eating, I chose to go with what he was willing to eat. I made two separate meals for years. At age 18 he went away to college, and his willingness to eat a wide variety of foods blossomed. He's now more adventurous in the culinary sphere than I am.It's very hard not to worry about whether this limited nutrition is affecting your child's mental and physical growth.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermildred
No advice here. Wouldn't dare. Just a random passer-by dropping in to leave good thoughts with you.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecca
OK, this is totally not advice. I'm just putting this out there because I found it really fascinating about the way our brains develop. I read a research study not to long ago that determined that a kid had to be exposed at least five times to a particular food before they could even decide if they liked it. FIVE TIMES. That's crazy! I mean as adults, we know right when it hits the tongue.

My nephew has the same eating issue. Started around the same time. He's now 13 and still has to be forced to eat food other then McDonald's, cheese, or spaghetti with red sauce no meat. Sorry...wish I could have said he grew out of it and maybe he will...someday.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindy
Charlotte lives on wind pudding and fried ice. Actually that is a lie because she won't drink water, only juice (watered down) and milk. She eats about 5 foods like a lot of the kids talked about here.

Last week;HER: mommy, we are growing lovely, red, juicy, yummy, tomatoes in the garden?ME: Yes, would you like one?HER: NO!

I didn't give her the finger. To her face.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
I think it is great you are working with a nutritionist. Sigh, thinking something I should have tried, oh, some 14 years ago with my now 16 year old son.

Seriously, dangerously picky :(
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
OH Alice. How I feel your pain. Nothing works. My daughter is now 7 1/2 and eats WAY more than she did even at 6 - but still nothing with sauce. Believe it or not this eliminates a LOT of restaurant choices here in Okinawa, Japan. BUT - I was worse. Literally I ate pasta, cheese pizza or fried chicken until I was in 2nd grade. (about 8 years old) Now I'll eat anything but mayonnaise and pickled ginger. And I LOVE to cook. I'm just holding faith that like with me, the light bulb WILL turn on one day and she'll just try it and give it a real try. Not take a microscopic bite and say she doesn't like it when I know she didn't really give it a try. SIGH.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraviva
If it makes you feel any better, I was a picky eater. We ate buttered noodles (penne, spaghetti, egg...) with every meal, because my mother refused to serve me something special. I grew out of it...though I still do enjoy buttered noodles on occasion!

Have you tried widening his variety of beige, bland foods? Not giving him them, just exposing...mashed potatoes, fried tofu, sushi rice, cream of wheat...they won't improve the nutrition, but maybe he'll get over fear of new foods.

Or not.
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoelle sorry! Forgot about the no advice rule...or rather, didn't recognize my advice as such. Just ignore it. Now I feel all icky for breaking the rules...
June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoelle

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