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Author: RenaissanceWoman Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5647  
Subject: My son, the picky eater (long) Date: 10/12/2000 9:48 AM
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Hi all--a question for those of you who are veg*n with children:

Do your kids follow the same diet you do? How old were they when you converted to veg*nism? Any problems getting them to share your diet?

I am concerned about my son, age 10. He has been an extremely picky eater since ever he was a baby--weaning him from breast milk at age 1 was a horrible ordeal, because he did not seem like any solid foods. Getting him to try new things was always very difficult. Over the years I read several books on children with picky eating habits and learned that some kids are just that way; a combination of personality and physiology (overactive taste buds, highly developed "gag reflex," etc.)makes enjoying many foods difficult for them. I have a lot of sympathy for my son, since I was a picky eater myself as a child. Once, when I was in first grade, the school principle was patrolling the cafeteria and saw how little of my school lunch I had eaten; he made me take a bite of cole slaw, and I promptly threw up all over his shiny brown wing-tipped shoes.

Since we became(lacto-)vegetarian four years ago, the problem with my son has gotten worse. It seems that all the foods he likes are unhealthy convenience foods and/or meat dishes (hamburgers, chicken, steak--all of which he gets at friends' houses). He is a gentle and compassionate boy who is well aware of the conditions in slaughterhouses and believes that he should not eat animals, but the alternatives all taste "disgusting" to him. We've tried all the veggie substitutes for these familiar foods, and they usually send him running for the bathroom with a hand over his mouth. As for vegetables, the only ones he eats (and he doesn't really like them) are corn, peas, and sometimes broccoli, and salad made with just lettuce and carrots. His attitude is very apologetic; I think he is truly miserable about it. But at 10 years old, he lacks the willpower to conquer his sqeamishness--or more accurately revulsion--for the texture and taste of most of the food we eat. I end up cooking him some pathetic meal (I mean like a bowl of noodles or a microwave cheese pizza) while my husband and I are enjoying whatever sumptuous vegetarian dish I have prepared that day (and I do love to cook, and am good at it). It makes me feel like such a rotten mother, I can tell you. Thanksgiving is the absolute worst; since there's no turkey, the only things he'll eat are rolls and his stupid lettuce-and-carrot salad.

What to do? I won't force him to eat foods that repel him, although I do cajole, bribe, and threaten. I have thought about taking bribery to a new level by starting a "bank" and putting in a quarter every time he takes a bite of something new, but something about that feels wrong to me. Meanwhile, I try to think of healthy things to make based on his limited preferences. Things that have worked:

--smoothies made with yogurt, frozen fruit, "secret" bananas and "secret" tofu

--tacos made with Yves "just like ground" (he HATES beans, perhaps more than anything else except tofu)

--boca burgers (sometimes these taste okay to him, sometimes not)

--basic rice pilaf, if it doesn't have any "weird" stuff in it

--whole wheat bread, plain--no lentil spread or hummus

--cream of potato soup, pureed so no veggies are visible


Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I should handle this, while preserving the good relationship my son and I have? As I said before, I won't (and in fact can't) "make" him eat anything, and I hope not to set up a bitter struggle that will cause him to reject veg*nism (and his parents!) completely the second he turns 18. . . .


Thanks so much for listening,
RW

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