Let’s get your Butterfly to eat! Join me.

I drove Thing 2 to an all-day, picnic-style birthday party in a pavilion at our local city park. Perfect weather, crisp warm end-of-summer air, tall trees, and happy noises from other picnic table pavilions.  Bliss.

While a small cadre of tween girls ran through the playground from swing to swing to slide to climber to carousel

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Kids won’t eat any of this?  Tune in for help! Click HERE to register.

….one mom watched her lithe, sinewy butterfly of a girl and said wistfully: I hope she eats.

I wanted to curl my arm around her and bring her peace.

I’m inviting you.

Click to tweet:twitter-128 Bring me your sinewy butterflies, your picky little birds, your thoughtful dreamers with no interest in food… come, let’s build peace of mind.

This free talk is focused on you, mom.  And your picky eater.

I’m a cultural educator and a coach for moms — and I want you to know about my webinar on Parenting Picky Eaters. Sign up for my in-depth webinar  about picky eating here and learn the phrase that stops family dinner fights in their tracks.

If we think about families as microcultures, then we can see that we have some influence over this little culture’s language, entertainment, worship, and… food, on my talk, I’ll discuss incorporating food as part of your family culture, whatever your style.

And, on the  webinar you will learn the four words that are setting you up for failure.  Food struggle is awful.  Let’s find some comfortable ways to feed those pesky picky eaters.

I have very strong feelings about moms of picky eaters.  We live in a modern age where it’s actually a chore to shop for healthy foods if you happen to wander out of the produce department. And there’s momguilt.  There’s lots of momguilt, charging we need to take responsibility for diabetes, behaviors and socializing, and even health of the future.  It’s the perfect storm, babe. So join me Thursday or Sunday evening for some guilt-squashing.  Just sign up here.  It’s free!

 

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Picky Eating Has Returned: here’s what we are doing this time.

On vacation, salmon for dinner.  Dogs for the kids.  We’re surrounded by amazing garden produce — afternoon snack, I wasn’t there, and they say “I’m hungry.”  That phrase does drive me nuts.  I’ve explained to the Things that it’s just a declaration, and articulating your feelings is usually a good thing.  But behind it is the unspoken part — I’m making my hunger YOUR problem.

Regular readers know we have a family member who simply doesn’t believe in picky eating.  It shouldn’t exist or be tolerated.  Especially during happy hour, haha.  They found me, wisps of smoke coming out of their ears.

“I’ve offered him everything in the frigging house!”

I couldn’t ignore it any more.  Picky eating reared its ugly head. Again.FamilyDinner.jpg

At first it feels like a normal fluctuation, but it keeps moving, changing… then something forces you to see — a sea change is happening!  You think something has been handled once and for all, but it shifts and returns.  At 13, Thing 1 is changing, he’s taller than me suddenly, and I hear changes in his voice.  Middle school social life is raucous and sometimes cruel — he seems to have opted out of it, for better and worse.

Thing 1 and I do talk about picky eating: years ago he said he wouldn’t eat anything that looked  like vomit: stews, goulashes, lasagna, etc.  If you look for it, it’s everywhere!

Recently I learned that if we cook, say, button mushrooms (which he dislikes) with Portabella mushrooms (which he loved), it ruins his fondness for Portabellas.  Okay.  Also, his teeth and the roof of his mouth are sensitive, so he is wary of sharp tortilla chips and steaming hot pizza cheese (and his sister complains that he eats these noisily).

Click to tweet: I worked out a system with him: my Parenting Picky Eaters course.  It stopped working.  So we are doing it again!

And here’s the awesome part… it’s okay!  Once we got home — and I realized our previous agreements had an expiration date, it was all okay.  It now takes two of us to track what my elder eats, and it’s a real exercise in … intimacy to make space for him to be honest about school and snacks without punishment.  He’s 13.

But we have a process, he knows the process, and it’s clear that we are problem-solving together.  The outcome is already shaping up — a workable series of agreements and choices, and believe it or not, I welcome this project for us to do together at this time that he’s maturing away from his mama — funner or not.

If you have a picky eater, sign up for my free newsletter and look forward to problem-solving tips for picky eaters, new school or anxious kids, right HERE.

Burning up: shame about my picky eater.

Her turquoise eyes were snapping!

She looked me right in the eye, inches from my face.

“Well then, what WILL he eat?”

My face burned.

My beloved stepmom is a locally renown cook; she’d been feeding my two man-nephews for ten years while they tried to eat the entire town out of house and home.  It’s her joy, her gift, and her bragging right.  She is a great cook.

“Chicken nuggets.”

She did not blink. Flinch. Or show any emotion.

I felt ashamed.  The burning increased.

If you have a picky eater, a sensory kid, or a food-averse child, you know that burning feeling.  We’ve lived it more than once, and you have, too.

I felt accused and worried that someone might think less of my wee child.

Food in general left me feeling like a failed mom and  even more protective of my picky eater out in the world — even as I negotiated my own frustration about that pickiness.

I was an older mom.  The generation before me had their answers: wait them out, don’t give in.  The generation after me had their answers: let them graze, give them multiple clean choices.  Neither paradigm felt right for us.  My kid had been intubated at birth; my kid had a couple of diagnoses; my kid was an awesome miracle.  My kid was picky.  And still is. But we have a working system around it.

WillNotEatClickClick here for three quick video tips on picky kids — delivered to your inbox.

A recent article in the Boston Globe did a great job pondering if picky eaters are made or born.  Kids, with too much power, with new diagnoses, with more serotonin receptors in their guts than their brains.  Parents, not wanting or affording to waste food, not wanting to struggle in the little time available to families, told by pediatricians as long as the kid eats, it’s ok.

I believe picky eating is normal.  Extreme picky eating seems to be on its way to the new normal — for too many diverse reasons to simply choose one.  Having control over something in a quickly whirling world, so many delicious available choices, so many processed foods, so many sensory diagnoses, so many anxious parents, so much judgment.  There’s biology at play, as well as: family dynamics, working conditions, money, those serotonin receptors, time, wellness and its lack.  It is historically emerging.

I believe it doesn’t matter why.  Moms in the trenches need a plan and they need it now.  We can’t wait for researchers to figure out why picky eaters are on the rise.  I have a plan to share, and you can get a taste of it (ha!) by clicking the photo above for 3 free video tips of low-key ways to expose your kids to new foods.

My Parenting Picky Eaters program builds a family culture of curiosity around food.  It helps you track what your kid actually eats — it’s almost never as bad as it feels.  It’ll give you tricks for sneaking in the good food while you simultaneously expose your kids to new foods and ignite their curiosity about food. You’ll learn the four words that hijack dinner and add some new terms to the conversation.  Family traditions, teamwork, and a bonus book-and-movie list round things out.

As always, pop on over to Funnermother on Facebook to see what else we’re up to in the Fun house!

Sensitive, Picky Eaters? Listen in as I’m interviewed on this very topic!

Listen in tonight at 7 as I discuss with Donna Ashton my signature system for building food curiosity into your family culture.  Learn the four words that are derailing family dinners.

Donna is the founder of The Waldorf Connection, where parents can get support giving their children an education of art, music, and movement.  Donna is a champion of home-schooling ease and a mentor for family-first home-based businesses.
My talk is free, so just click here to jump on the call.

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To cheat or not to cheat… on your kids

Eat more veggies.

Click this image to purchase a copy from Blossoms and Billows.

Smiling veggies

Click this image to purchase it from Ninas Design Studio.

I haven’t been a fan of sneaking food into kids.  But.

New studies point more to clearly to the importance of healthfulness in kids’ early diets in predicting long-term health “What your child eats now will make an enormous difference to his adult health….Produce may ward off asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, metabolic syndrome, artery-clogging plaque” and more (Parents, June 2015, p. 66).

When my micropreemie was two and still underweight, my mom put a cotton ball on the ceiling fan and hit the switch.  Yes, one could see it as an early introduction to mindless eating, sneaking it in while he laughed hysterically.

vintage botanical print of spinach

Click this image to purchase it from Vintage Inclination.

When he was about 5, I bought a cookbook of recipes for foods that had healthy ingredients secreted inside them.  Unnoticeable.  Don’t ask, don’t tell — toddler style.

Does that strategy “teach” kids to like or tolerate, say spinach?  A nursing student mom I know says yes, some other moms say no.  I opted for a little sneaking in while I worked on educating their palates.

But what if — what if we re-thought brownies let’s say.  What if brownies could just BE a dessert that had a healthy dose of spinach?  What if “spinach” came to be associated with spinach pie, greek pizza, salad with bacon, AND chocolate spinach cake, aka brownies?

What if we eliminate the stigma on healthy foods?  What if we just stop sneaking, but don’t stop making those same recipes? This is my goal.

Our chocolate chip cookies have mashed beans in them, and Thing 2 just doesn’t care any more.  “They taste good, that’s all I need” he says.  A few of my best dessert recipes are available on my Free Resources page… then head on over to Facebook and tell me how they turned out for you!

Use edible flowers to entice picky eaters

salad seeds

Click this link to purchase these edible organic flower salad seeds from The Garden Studio.

purple chive flowers

Click this image to purchase organic chive seeds from Cubits.

Gardening with kids introduces them to the freshest of foods.

A family garden teaches them growth cycles, harvest techniques, and teamwork.

Plants are the only living things that make their own food.

Once the novelty of the garden wears off, reintroduce it with edible flowers.

Eat them right out of your window boxes!

The smallest gardeners will need guidance, of course, as to which flowers are edible.

Play scientist!

 

edible flowers clip art

Click this image to purchase edible flowers clip art from Corner Croft.

 

What colors are in the flower?

Smell and feel the flowers, crush them in your hands and smell them again.

Ask if they are sweet, peppery, minty.  Crunchy?  Chewy?

Play researcher!

 

lavender

Click this image to purchase lavender seeds from All About Seeds.

Search out if you can cook the flowers, and how.

I have a New England friend who swears that fried dandelion flowers taste like fried mushrooms.

This summer we are trying that!

A coworker used to bring in lavender pizelles (this crispy italian cookies).

hand drawn card

Click this image to purchase this card from Lucy Auge.

Salads with nasturtiums, fried zucchini blossoms, daylilies, echinachea tea…

Have a garden playdate and try them all (clear it with the moms first, just in case of allergies).

Brew sun tea outside, make a salad right from the garden and eat it there, too.

Pretend you are dinosaurs, you’re on Master Chef Junior, you are on a journey to search for the magical golden flower that will make you able to fly…

just ask the kids, they’ll take you on the wildest adventures ever.

yellow marigolds

Click this image to purchase seeds for these marigolds from Kenyon Organics.

If you’d like more ideas for making mealtime with your picky eater fun, sign up for my list of Tools for Finicky Eaters (hint: they’re edible!) here.

And if you want to work one-on-one, we can give your family mealtimes a total makeover.  Just look over here.

Get your kids into the garden now!

green garden sign

Click this image to purchase this amazing hand painted sign from JM Ellis Designs.

At this time of year, the cold, ice, snow and grey skies are punctuated with tiny hopeful patches of color.
Red, orange, yellow, and lots of greens.
Maybe you are getting these winter-breakers at your house.
They save thousands from seasonal depression, coming on the heels of the winter holidays.

vintage seed packets

Click this image to purchase this digital download from Luna Girl.

Yep it’s time for seed catalogues!

My kids like to garden.
With a landscaper dad, they practically grew up in the independent garden center where he worked.
This year I’m trying an experiment.
I’m giving the kids the garden catalogues.
At nearly 12, Thing 1 is not going to play with gorgeous spring vegetable toys.  Sadly.

knit vegetables

Click this image to purchase these fine knit toys from Maple Apple.

My cake-eater brags about eating raw cabbage right out of his garden in the summer.
In winter, he tries to steer clear of the veggies.  So I hope asking him to circle the items he wants to plant in the garden will get his mind on his greens.
sliced tomato

Click this image to purchase these natural hearts from brandMOJO images.

Going through the catalogues

together, we might remember a fruit or vegetable that we haven’t had for a while.

We might agree to try the new funky cauliflower or kalettes.

They don’t need to know I have ulterior motives as we cuddle up under Gram’s afghan and plan for spring!

Tell me what you’re planning for YOUR garden over on Facebook.  And if you’d like to work with me on your finicky eaters, drop me a line at Funnermother[at]gmail[cot]com

Tools of the trade: eating in style

hand painted cutlery

Click this image to purchase these colorful wooden forks.

Kids love having and making choices.

They always want to have choices and to feel empowered.  Who doesn’t?

Sometimes, though, they don’t have choices about what they eat… like when they don’t want to eat the healthy meal you’ve made.

peas in the pod

Click this image to purchase these from Smileware — or check out her other cool cutlery.

It happens.

And when it does, offer your kids some fun alternative eating utensils.

I’ve shared some recipes that sneak in healthy food, and I’ve written about some grocery store games to engage your kids in the family’s food choices.  Add imaginative cutlery to your bag of tricks.

alternative cutlery

From left: yogurt foil lids are meant to be used as spoons; K’nex, popsicle sticks, pickle fork, decorative butter knives, a Nuk tool for our sensory defensive eater (our seeker also loves it, even without dipping it in food!), cob knobs, dixie cups, colorful cutlery, measuring spoon, toothbrush, chopsticks, and a medicine measuring device from the pharmacy. See what YOU have on hand.

 

 

Here are some items we’ve used over the years to coax and play with our defensive kid and satisfy a desire for input for our seeker kid!  🙂

Even at 7 & 11, if I just set down a plate of pineapple or cheese cubes with a toothpick in each one, they are far more likely to eat.

I’d love to hear about any crazy tools you come up with… please share them in the comments below, or join in over on Facebook!

Dinnertime: A Seating Plan and Surveillance

rustic farm table

Click this beautiful image to purchase it from Keith Dotson.

Lilith's drawing

Thing 2 made a seating chart with plates and silverware drawn in.

We talked about making a family resolution a month ago…I suggested we start eating at the dining room table.

We usually eat in the living room, but now we have a tween in the house, he’s been squirreling away alone.  I didn’t like it, but it seemed like a harmless way to let him have some independence.

So I broached the idea tentatively.

And they surprised me.

I came home in the dark after working one Sunday at the swish boutique that carries my crocheted items.  Thing 2, age 7, was scurrying around in an apron setting the (newly cleaned off) dining room table.

She had drawn a seating plan, and had taped to the table pieces of scrap paper with our names written on them.

It wasn’t January yet!

We’ve eaten at the table every night but two, and we all seem to enjoy it.  My more traditional neighbor always sang the family meal’s praises.  She did it her kids’ entire lives, and still hosts the whole family plus a son-in-law every Sunday.  I continue to be surprised at the immediate change it made for us.  Everyone comes to the table, we talk, tell about our day, laugh, get antsy, do dishes together, and more.  And the “more” is this — I think my cake-eater eats more of his healthy dinner this way!  It could be because Mother Is Watching, or it could be that it has turned dinner into a more social affair.  I’m pleasantly surprised, and most of all because they actually did it without me!  Try it at your house and let me know how it goes.  Or tell me how to mix it up after the novelty has worn off.  And if you want the lo-down on inspired ways to feed those finicky kids, get my free 20-minute talk HERE.

 

Grocery store games: Feeding the Finicky

shopping cart

Click this image to purchase these blank grocery lists from ClaireChadwickPaper/

A great way to get kids invested in food — and have a wider palate — is to take them to the grocery store.  Young kids love to learn their colors, feel the produce, smell things, and talk with mom.

Even my sensory defensive kid, overwhelmed by the lights and noises of our cavernous store, would go, wearing a hood or baseball cap — and if he could get in those enclosed grocery carts that look like cars (right) and “drive” around, he was in heaven. Some sensory kids like  ‘heavy work’ like carrying potatoes or a bag of flour.

produce market card

Click this image to purchase this postcard from Amy Lindroos.

My dear friend ran her family produce market, and I can’t recommend a small family place strongly enough!  Often she would have cut a melon or ambrosia apple or blood orange, and would give a little slice to the kids.  I credit her with a lot of our family’s health and regularity!  It was a great experience of community while it lasted.

Around kindergarten, we let the kids pick out our vegetable for dinner, or asked them to pick something new to try.  The grocery store is also a wonderful place to learn early math and learn to read!

Washington Apple

Click this image to purchase this vintage die cut from Retro Pickins.

Mine are past this age, and my 11-year-old son has started to protest that he can stay home.  And we have let him.

But we went to the store as a family recently, and I learned a LOT!

Thing 1 was a micropreemie, intubated, and sensory defensive.  He gags on gravy and yogurt textures.

So I have always served his food plain, and reserved the savory, tangy, and spicy sauces for us parents.  We went through the frozen food aisle and he pointed to the pictures of foods he thought he would eat.  They had sauces!

vintage look grocery sign

Click to purchase this double-sided sign from Plaid Ant.

I had him pick out a vegetable, and for a change, we did get a frozen dinner (chicken pasta ranch something or other).  I feel your frustration with your picky eaters, believe me I do!  But I’ve learned that it is an ongoing relationship with food that we are cultivating;  kids’ tastes change frequently and without notice, and given the opportunity, they usually want to eat something delicious and just need a little guidance.

I have a lot more to say about picky eaters!  I’m giving a free call Monday, November 10, at 12 noon.  Sign up here to join me, and if you can’t make the live call, you can listen to the recording.