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Picky Eating Seasons

by Marlena from Wisconsin


Recently, my oldest has started another season of picky eating.

It seems to ebb and flow; sometimes he eats great and other times he picks apart an entire meal to find the one mushroom he insisted was in his food (I swear, I thought I picked them all out). But we have found that it is just that: a season. I can put mushrooms in the spaghetti sauce and he will get upset, but if I make a burger, he wants me to put fried mushrooms on it. Toddlers, I tell you.

My youngest eats everything and anything and we have never had an issue with him eating, but there are days where he just isn't super hungry or not in a mood to eat what was made for a specific meal.

What's important to remember is that kids are people too. There are days where I don't want a big, heavy meal. Other days I want to gorge on ice cream. Moderation and balance is important and that is what we try to practice.

If I make a meal and my children don't want to eat what was prepared, they have an option to eat something else (usually cereal is what they ask for), or they just say that they aren't hungry. If they aren't hungry, that means they don't get to eat chips and candy either; not hungry means just that. 

The holidays are always a difficult time to focus on food; well, for the kids at least. My focus is all about what we are eating and when we are eating, but for my kids (ages 2 and 4) and many others, it's about toys, playing with family and friends, and experiencing all of the holiday magic. I like to offer meals in smaller quantities and at times that they are usually hungry. For example, if we are going to grandma's house for lunch at 2 pm but our lunch is usually at noon, I am going to feed the kids before we leave and avoid the angry hungry monsters they become if they miss a meal. And then at grandma's, they can eat or snack on other options.

At home, I find it's best to keep offering foods that they may find they "don't like" or offer them in different ways. Just like adults, some kids don't like specific textures of foods. While I could slather every meal in onions, no one else at the table seems to enjoy that. But I will run veggies through my food processor and add them to sauces and casseroles to provide the nutrition in a different way. My youngest does not care for orange slices if I peel the orange, but I found that if I cut it in slices, he likes to unfold them and eat them that way. During this time of year, I like to snack and graze. I will make different charcuterie options with meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and have them available for the kids to grab as well. It presents it in a less intimidating manner, since there isn't an expectation to eat if it's just placed out as opposed to a sit down meal.

Lately, my oldest has been pretty particular about what we have for dinner. After several nights of being told "I don't like that," I finally asked him what he would like. And boy did he tell me! So now I ask him regularly when I make my menu for the following week what he would like to eat. While he usually responds with the same "burgers, spaghetti, pizza," it gives me a base to start with. I can easily sneak spaghetti squash into the spaghetti noodles, mix different veggies into the pizza sauce, and offer different burger toppings. And even if he just eats a plain ol' burger, he's excited about it and he eats it eagerly instead of picking at it. 

It's important to know what works for you and your family when trying to navigate picky eating. Not everyone wants to make four separate meals every night, but if that's what it takes to get the kids to eat, it might be something to try just once. More often than not, my kids always want to try what's on my plate anyways. Except the mushrooms and onions.


This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Marlena.

About Marlena. . .

My name is Marlena and I am a mother of two boys, ages 2 and 4. Our house is a constant sea of monster trucks and construction toys, but I love watching the creativity that comes with them creating elaborate stories about their toys. My husband and I got married in January and bought our first house in February, so our summer was spent doing lots of landscaping and outdoor projects. Fall is my favorite time of year to get cozy with some game day food, doggie snuggles, and a good book.

Check out Marlena's other blog posts:


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1 Comment

Jaffar Khalid
Jaffar Khalid
Jul 11

Marlena, your insights into navigating picky eating with your boys are both relatable and refreshing. It's clear you've found a balance between offering variety and accommodating their preferences, all while ensuring they're nourished and happy. Your approach of incorporating familiar foods in different ways is genius—here's to finding joy in mealtime adventures with your creative little ones.

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