One of our boys is a picky eater. Not to any extremes, such as rejecting all fruits/vegetables or another food group, or being really demanding about having his whims catered to. This child will just simply say he is not hungry when something he doesn't like is served. Other times, when he likes what we are having (say, hot dogs), he will eat like he has been on some sort of extended fast. He likes at least one meal I make every day, so it's not like he isn't getting enough food.
Still, being a picky eater is one of my pet peeves. For one, it shows a lack of gratitude, both for what God has provided for us to eat, and for what Mom spent a lot of time and effort cooking from scratch with wholesome, organic ingredients that few others enjoy. Secondly, I find picky eating habits in adults very immature and annoying, particularly in men. Being a picky eater as a man strikes me as somehow effeminate. It just seems girly to worry that much about how a certain food tastes. I therefore see it as my personal responsibility not to raise any picky eaters.
I am not saying that my goal is that all our kids like all foods. Obviously, we all have preferences, and some things will never be appealing to us. But I do think that by and large, we should be able and willing to eat a large variety of food cheerfully and with a thankful attitude. As children, I expect them to thank God and us for the meal, and eat it without complaining or picking through it for an hour. They don't have to love it, they just have to eat a small portion of it without complaining. It's not like I am serving Broccoli Rabe or stir-fried tofu - we eat pretty standard fare.
Today's lunch, for example, was roast chicken with mashed potatoes, stuffing, pan gravy, steamed vegetables, and a mixed salad. Certain of our kids don't like gravy, another doesn't particularly care for salad, but they all ate their plates nicely without raising any objections (I give them very conservative portions, so that they usually have to go back for seconds. I neither like to throw food away, nor do I want to encourage overeating for the sake of clearing one's plate).
All, except for said picky boy, who kept picking over his stuffing and chicken again and again without taking a single bite. He never likes stuffing, and he did not like the fact that he had some dark meat chicken on his plate rather than just all white meat. We're talking less than 2 tablespoons of stuffing here.
After he finally finished, I thought of a creative way of how to make him realize that stuffing is a much better food than many people the world over enjoyed today. I handed him a sheet of notebook paper and a pencil and told him to fill a page on why having stuffing to eat wasn't so bad after all. I gave him the option of either coming up with a story, or just list reasons as to why stuffing was not the worst thing that could ever happen to him.
The reason I chose this "assignment" is because this particular child does NOT like to sit and try to think of anything creative to write. I used a similar strategy on him after he developed a habit of picking on a certain younger sibling repeatedly, and I made him write out 10 things that were great about that particular sibling. It solved the problem instantly, plus it made the offended sibling feel happy and appreciated. It also gave me a very funny and cute memento to hang onto and pull out to embarrass the kids with in years to come.
Then I left to run errands (my husband was at home doing office work). When I got home, I found the following list, which I thought was too funny.
"I'd rather eat stuffing than eat some soap.
I'd rather eat stuffing than eat slop.
I'd rather eat stuffing than a dog.
I'd rather eat stuffing than eat wood.
I'd rather eat stuffing than mud.
I'd rather eat stuffing than leater." (meaning leather - he had read that poor knights in the middle ages sometimes had to resort to that)
Just for the record, neither he or any of our kids have ever eaten any of the above items! It's not like he was drawing any comparisons based on real-life experiences.
I like this idea. I think it might finally be the breakthrough to his picky eating habits.