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How Do You Deal With Fussy Eaters?

The issue becomes harder to deal with when children are teenagers.

I have a confession. I have a picky eater. Make that two. They are mostly picky about fruit. They detest fruit and gag when I strongly encourage (read: force) them to eat fruit. But here's the kicker—these children aren't toddlers. They are now 12 and 15, close to full-grown dudes.

The only fruit my 15-year-old will eat are frozen raspberries. And if the berries defrost for a milisecond too long, he makes a stink and pushes them away. The 12-year-old eats strawberries and Granny Smith green apples cut into thin slices but that's it.

From the get go, I have tried not to pander to this fussiness. I've also tested all the tips from parenting mags. Let them choose, take them shopping, get them involved squeezing fresh O.J., etc. I have offered everything from kiwi to grapes to watermelon to mango (and yes, in shake form.) I have asked my kids' friends to tell them how much they like fruit. I have told my boys that fruit is sour and delicious just like their favorite sour candy. Both my husband and I are health-conscious and eat tons of fruit. It's almost like my boys have a fruit aversion and it makes them physically ill. Seriously. Watching your kid choke down a piece of kiwi and barf up green goo is not pleasant. Nothing has worked. I'm at my wit's end.

So my question is … how do you deal with fussy eaters? How do I get my teenagers to enjoy fruit without fussing and gagging and tossing their kiwis?

Thanks to Maaliea Wilbur for sharing her very personal story last week and asking How Do You Find Special Moments to Share With Your Child?

Here's what our Moms Talk council members had to say:

My husband and I divide and conquer ... he takes one kid and I take the other for some one-on-one time. We don't do that often enough, but I do think it's important. This weekend I'm taking my older daughter on a mother-daughter weekend at Camp Campbell! This is the first time we've done this ... and I'm excited to try it. Sometimes the planned one-on-one time is hard--my daughter wants to bring a friend and then I feel hurt because it's encroaching on "our" time--but I'm going to keep on trying.

Let's see, I have teenagers so those moments are fewer and father between. Ummm my special moments usually involve food, cars and movies. Sometimes they will actually sit down with me and talk about what's going on at school in between large bites of their favorite food. Or sometimes I trap them in the car with me while I chauffeur them around to their various events and give them the third degree. Or I'll let them watch something that their not supposed to, keeping my finger on the remote, and we dish and laugh and if something bad happens i change the channel and we laugh some more. I'm actually lucky, they both still don't mind being seen in public with me.

Dyan Chan November 03, 2011 at 02:52 AM
I try to follow the parenting advice of: offer kids a selection of healthy and nutritious foods every day and don't worry too much about what they do/don't eat at any meal; usually it evens out over time. The advice also says not to use dessert as a bribe because that does not promote healthy attitudes toward food. We do okay on the first count and fail rather miserably on the second ...
Dyan Chan November 03, 2011 at 02:55 AM
P.S. I wouldn't stress out about your boys not eating fruit. I figure if my kids get protein and veggies, that's pretty good!
Maaliea Wilbur November 03, 2011 at 04:56 AM
I have run into the opposite issue as Kim. My 1 year old son just recently began gravitating more towards fruit than any other food! I am glad he likes fruit and all, however, too much fruit has led to some lovely diaper surprises! I have worked to introduce the less desired veggies and proteins first and then move on to offering a little something sweet :)
Kim Ratcliff November 03, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Too funny Maaliea…good ole diaper days I hardly remember ye! How our parenting dilemmas change with the times.
Chigiy Binell November 04, 2011 at 01:46 AM
O.K., I have a dessert answer, sorry. Luckily my kids love fruit. They also love fruit pies. I make my pies super healthy with very little sugar. I know Tanner has celiac so here is a gluten-free recipe: http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/dessertsandsweets/r/gftartdough.htm I hope this helps.
Amie Sue November 09, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I always thought that the unhealthy ingredient in pies (sweet or savory) was the amount of butter, lard, or shortening used to make the crust, and not the amount of sugar added? Gramma said so, but then she didn't use any sugar in her fruit pies, and they were always amazing and sweet.

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