I Thought He'd Grow Out Of It, But My Teen Is Still A Picky Eater

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I know having a picky eater can be one of the most maddening things. Especially if you are a food lover like me. I can think of about five things I don’t like and everything else is fair game. I’ve always been this way. In fact, I ate liver and onions and deer heart with my dad when I was like six.

I realize that is extreme and not everyone has the same palette. I also realize having a picky eater is a huge struggle and you worry about them getting the nutrients they need. The old school way of “They’ll eat what they are served when they are hungry enough,” doesn’t cut it.

It’s like trying to get yourself to eat something that literally makes you sick. I don’t know anyone who wants to sign up for that.

Picky eaters aren’t trying to be difficult and no, they probably won’t like lima beans if you make them try them forty-five times.

The thing is, when I gave birth to a picky eater, I always thought he’d just grow out of it. I figured his diet of grilled cheese, cereal, or peanut butter and Nutella would blossom into trying new foods.

I thought one day he’d grow to like fruits, vegetables, and pasta dishes.

I fought the good fight and made him stay at the table until he finished his dinner, only to have him fall asleep in it.

I’ve pleaded with him before going to a friend’s or a family member’s house for dinner. I’ve gotten tense at every restaurant hoping they’d make him grilled cheese if it wasn’t on the menu, or given in and gone somewhere I knew he’d eat something. Believe me, picky eaters won’t just eat anything because they are hungry. It doesn’t work that way.

Here I am, over 14 years after discovering my son hardly likes anything food-wise, and my picky eater still only wants his grilled cheese or crunchy cereal.

He can’t even eat pizza if it has sauce on it because sauce isn’t his thing. Eating most meat (unless it’s bacon) is torture for him. He doesn’t care for deserts unless it’s a certain kind of ice cream or cookie. And I don’t think I will ever get him to like my prized chili, even though his siblings love it.

Don’t even get me started on how he deals with cooked veggies unless they are french fries.

I’ve decided to let this go. Some parents think I’m doing my teenager a disservice by letting him eat whatever he wants whenever he wants but I’m here to tell you it’s actually improved our relationship.

I feel like he is old enough to feed himself what he wants when he’s hungry. I’m not here to shove food down his throat or punish him for not eating certain foods. There is always a variety here for him and I will always offer to try different things like making baked sweet potato fries (which he ended up eating a few because I didn’t tell him he had to).

I’ve educated him on the benefits of eating a variety of foods and we continue to have dinner together.

However, he’s old enough to make his own food if I’m serving something he doesn’t like, and I’m fine with him doing that. And he’s more than fine with the arrangement as well.

The other morning he had a bowl of hot Cheetos and Drake’s apple pie for breakfast. Whatever. He is good, we are good, and while I wish it was a bowl of fruit instead, I know that he has to come to a more varied, balanced diet on his terms.

Maybe it will come when he’s older and starts to not feel very well. Or maybe he’ll always prefer to eat the way he does now.

I cannot force him to eat peas and grilled chicken — the child is over six feet tall and yes, his pediatrician has talked to him about his diet, and I feel like I’ve given it my all.

I don’t have an “I gave up on you, eat whatever the hell you want” attitude either. I keep suggesting things, make sure he takes his vitamin, and I keep a variety of foods in the house for him to choose from. I’m just not having a battle with my kid every damn day about the fact that he passes on the salad and grabs bread to make a grilled cheese instead.

And until I can find a better solution, this one works fine for us.

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