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What to Do If Your Kid Is a Picky Eater

Mom Confession: My Kid Only Eats Encased Meats and Carbs

I never expected to have a picky eater. My oldest child has always been an adventurous diner, counting apples, shrimp, and olives as some of her favorite foods before her third birthday. She'll down a bowl of tomato soup, slam a side of peas, and consume any kind of fruit you put in front of her at an alarmingly rapid clip. She likes steak and chicken and fish, she begs for red pepper strips as a snack . . . I mean, she's been known to eat bowls of steamed broccoli plain.

She's not perfect, of course, being equally devoted to Pringles, candy in all forms, and ice cream by the pint, but I have never once worried about the variety of her diet. And then I had my son, and I realized that not all children are created gastronomically equally. This kid? All he wants to eat is encased meats (chicken sausage for breakfast, hot dogs and corn dogs for lunch and dinner), chicken nuggets, and carbs, with chips, frozen waffles, and cookies leading the charge.

Was it something I did? It's hard to tell. During my daughter's pregnancy, I craved burgers and milkshakes and survived primarily on both. Salads made me want to throw up, so my vegetable intake was paltry. After gaining 45 pounds with that pregnancy, I decided I'd eat healthier with my next one. Luckily, green juice was (weirdly) my biggest craving, and I also wanted salads, lean protein, and far fewer milkshakes.

Yet my first baby came out begging for broccoli while my second recently told me that just looking at berries makes him want to puke. Berries. (By the way, I also gained 45 pounds with my second pregnancy. So much for healthy eating.)

Of course, I've tried to introduce foods to him in all the ways parents are told to in order to raise healthy little eaters. I've sneakily put fruits and veggies in smoothies, which he'll often concede to trying as long as they're not green. I've presented him with whole wheat noodles, avocados, carrots, and any other gateway healthy food I can think of time and time again. But he's smart and opinionated and fully committed to his meat and carb (with a side of cheese) diet.

Try carrots with a dipping sauce like ranch or hummus or a leaner meat with ketchup, other moms have suggested. I tell them that I have the only child on the planet who hates ketchup and all other dipping sauces, minus a light spread of tomato sauce on his pizza, topped with sausage, of course.

I've tried shaming him, but frankly, the kid doesn't give a sh*t.
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I've tried shaming him, comparing his limited diet to his sister's more varied one, but frankly, the kid doesn't give a sh*t. If his sister wants to stuff herself with dreaded green vegetables, so be it. He's sticking to his favorite Trader Joe's turkey corn dogs.

I'll admit, I haven't yet tried to make his food more "fun" by cutting an Ezekiel bread and organic turkey sandwich into the shape of a shooting star or artfully arranging various veggies into a beautiful field of flowers, because one, I don't have time, two, I'm lazy, and three, I don't think it would really help.

For now, I'm just buying chicken sausage in bulk and hoping that the organic chicken nuggets I just fed him are slightly better than the McDonald's version that he obviously prefers. And maybe someday I'll get him to try one of those gag-inducing strawberries in something other than a milkshake.

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