Food Wars

its-a-battleIt’s no question that raising kids is hard work. With my oldest being five, I’ve endured the pains of sleepless nights, potty training, tantrums, and the pacifier battle However, none of those come close to what has been the hardest thing about parenthood thus far, getting my kid to EAT!!

I’m not talking about getting him to eat fruits or veggies, I’m talking about plain ‘ole eating.  He had his staples of chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, macaroni, and milk…at least that’s what it felt like. Dinnertime became quite the scene. He refused to try anything new, ever – even foods that most kids would eat, he refused. It quickly became the most frustrating thing for my husband and me! We were at a loss and didn’t know how to get this kid to eat. At well checks our doctor would comment on how small Lane was and  how “we” needed to get him to eat more. All her suggestions we’d tried, everything from bribery to a good ‘ole fashion standoff. And I bet you can guess who’d win those?

After lot’s of dinner table battles and lot’s of wasted meals (and money), I have learned some simple truths when it comes to my son and eating….

1. If they don’t eat, they will be fine. There have been numerous meals that my son has simply skipped. Not because I didn’t offer, but because he refused to eat! This was a hard one for me to come to terms with because of, you know it, mommy guilt. I would end up feeling awful because he didn’t eat dinner and I thought he’d starve to death, even though my doctor assured me that he wouldn’t!

2 They will eat when they want. Eventually your kid will be hungry and will need to eat something! Simply a fact.

3. As hard as it may be, don’t give in. Again, very hard for me early on. I’ve been known to give him a “snack” instead of a meal just so he’d have something in his stomach. Over time though, pure frustration sets in, and now I’m pretty good with not offering any snacks or making something else for him.

4. As they grow, they will start eating more. Just recently has my son started to eat a little more – hooray!  Not sure if it’s just getting older or what, but dinner time is not quite as bad. Every once in a while he will just randomly want to try something and it’s like a light has turned on. I can rest a little easier knowing that hopefully with age he will learn to branch out and try new things.

Bottom line is that if there is anything that I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t force him to eat. I can offer food all day long, but it’s up to him to eat!

What tips or tricks do you have to get your kids to eat?


  1. Great tips Tara. This is a constant struggle for us too…we have ignored, done punishment, everything. We eventually figured out a few things :

    1. give him VERY little his plate (2 green beans don’t make him flip out – 5 did).
    2. make sure there is something (healthy) on his plate that he likes (we would add a slice of cheese or a couple of apple slices to his dinner plate so he would always see something familiar).
    3. limit snacks (this includes juice and milk because he would fill up on this – I dont starve them but am aware about meal times and sometimes i have to break down and feed them dinner at 5pm before the hubby gets home, but they eat and it is better than a snack adn then them not eating dinner).
    4. like you said – relax and they will eventually eat. wyatt is a much better eater now. it is a phase.

  2. So encouraging. My #1 won’t eat anything. Lunch and dinner are almost always frustrating. It’s nice to know others are in the same boat. You can’t force a kid to eat or be healthy. We’re in the waiting stage and when she tries something new and eats it we do a lot of praise.

  3. I have to also add, I read an article about this same topic once where the author said “My children are one gummy vitamin away from getting scurvy!” Makes me laugh every time I think of it.

  4. I’m a pretty big stickler for eating well. If both parents are on the same page, that helps us. If all they have is beans, brown rice and avo, guess what, they eat it. If someone else is eating something more processed/sweetened, they’ll throw a fit.

    I don’t force them to finish their meal, but they must have about 3 bites of everything.

    I don’t make them anything else. Occasionally, if my 6yo daughter wants to make herself something else, and it’s healthy, I’ll let her. But she cleans it all up and clears the table as well.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here