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Parenting Q&A: My Child Only Eats Carbs!

Parenting Q&A: My Child Only Eats Carbs!

Q. My child used to eat everything and now at four, she’s an extremely picky eater. How can I encourage her to eat foods other than pancakes, buttered pasta and peanut butter and jelly?

A. Aw, the Carbatarian who enjoys fat as a side dish — very common, but very upsetting to parents, especially moms. Our first way to nurture our babies is through food. Eating what we provide tells us they love and appreciate how much we do for them. Not to mention the pride we take in the child who gobbles tofu and grilled eggplant. In an age where a whole television network is devoted to food, who wants the kid who only eats boxed mac n’ cheese?

For the rest of Lonna's answer,


Let go. If she’s truly eating peanut butter and taking vitamins, as long as your pediatrician finds her to be in good health, let it go. The more attention you give it the more she will push away from trying other things. Taste buds change and as hers developed, she likely is more sensitive and truly finds things noxious. Think of it this way; have you ever gone to dinner with a thirty-year-old woman who ordered pancakes and peanut butter for dinner? Neither will your daughter. She will outgrow this. Certainly offer a variety of foods — make pasta and butter for dinner, but provide other things as well. There are good cookbooks; many people find success in engaging the picky eater in the cooking process. Do not stress her or yourself out. Food issues and girls are a bad combo.

— Lonna Corder

Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit

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Pinkrabbit Pinkrabbit 8 years
I am 24 and still am a picky eater. However I'm a nanny and don't stand for picky-ness. My mother only cooked things I liked, and her position was always "I cook it because I know you'll eat and I can't afford to throw food away." So how can I blame her? I don't know the best way to win. By saying "you don't see 30 year old's ordering Pancakes and peanut butter?" Yeah I do. Well not that because I try not to act like that in public but I get everything with no veggies. This doesn't solve anything... I'm just saying we're out there. Those grown up picky eaters.
graylen graylen 8 years
There's also many books about how to sneak in different nutrients for picky eaters...
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
we do a trade off thing at my house. they kids get to eat what they like (of what i serve for dinner), as much as they want; as long as they eat an equal amount of the other things. but they are older than your daughter. they all go through stages. you don't want meal time to end in tears, but you want them to be healthy. our doctor use to say (when our girls were your daughter's age) to try and get a balanced meal into them every day, rather than at every meal. also, see what the snacks are at her preschool too, see if other parents are sending donuts or carrot sticks. maybe the school could talk about being healthy through eating well with the kids and have a sample snack day that offered wholesome treats.
ladyr ladyr 8 years
I do NOT think that you should just let it go. When I was a kid, my parents fixed delicious well balanced meals and we ate them. If we didn't feel like eating what was fixed, too bad! We didn't have to eat things that we truly did not like, but we had to try everything. Even the things we consistently did not like, my mom would ask us to taste them from time to time because our tastes were always evolving and we eventually grew to like most foods. If your child says they don't like something and you never give it to them again, you are doing them a disservice in my opinion. Do NOT fix a separate meal for your child! Maybe make theirs less spicy, etc. if it is really strongly flavored. My brother and I liked some things more than others of course, so we would probably have eaten those things all the time if it was our choice, but it wasn't (and it shouldn't be!). Like pink said, we need to start parenting again. Give your child a reasonable serving of carbs AND put a protein and veggies/fruits, etc. on the plate as well. If they eat the carbs and say they are still hungry, encourage them to use the other foods to fill up their tummy. And season them so that they taste good, like lioness said. Also, mixing some other food groups into your child's favorite carb dishes may be a good strategy (although you shouldn't have to do this all the time). You can simply mix a meat and a veggie into pasta, or you can put fresh fruit in your child's cereal or oatmeal and see what happens. Don't give up! Best wishes!
PinkUnicorn PinkUnicorn 8 years
I never gave my parents any grief over food because they simply would not have accepted it. I ate what was put in front of me, and if I didn't then I guess I would be going to bed hungry! I think this is a much better approach than giving in and hoping it will pass. It doesn't always pass. I know several extremely picky adults who eat a very narrow diet and will never try new things. Why are they such picky adults? Because of their overly-indulgent parents who didn't want to do their jobs. Ugh. This topic always gets me riled up!
lioness3262 lioness3262 8 years
I can remember loving vegetables growing up because my mom always knew how to season food really well. So it was delicious!!! Now that I have a new baby, I plan to do the same. I think a good thing to remember, is to be innovative. Like, for instance mix green beans with rice or potatoes and/or don't be scared of a little butter. A little cheese can also help as well. These things can do wonders for a bland veggie even for a child. Have fun!!!
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 8 years
i think we as parents, need to start parenting again, there is no way in hell my children will only eat carbs, who is the parent?
atlasburped atlasburped 8 years
two important things my mom did to get me to eat veggies/healthier foods as a kid was prepare it for me after i got back from school and made sure it was the only thing in the house to eat...she would keep away all the junk food and made sure i wasn't buying any at school by threatening to take my lunch money or allowances away. but back to the first, since it was the only meal or snack prepared for me after i got back, i remember i hating it at first but would try to at least swallow two b/c there really was nothing else! and the next day a few more...and so on. eventually after a couple of weeks i gave in and started to like asparagus and green beans.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much or even whether they eat. A child will not starve to death, i guarantee you, but if you continue to short order cook for thier "picky" nature you are raising a child that doesnt know how to eat correctly I recommend CHILD OF MINE: EATING WITH LOVE AND GOOD SENSE by Ellyn Satter.
Spiderlove Spiderlove 8 years
My daughter went thru this... there was a point where she only ate white food. Pasta, white meat chicken, yogurt, milk, bread... She grew out of it. Lol.
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