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Food struggles with a 5 yr old

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  • Food struggles with a 5 yr old

    Well similar to Dr. Bork Bork's discussion, my kid is always hungry too, but NEVER for protein. It is literally a struggle for me to get him to eat it. Meals are a struggle. He wants to graze all day on fruits, veggies, yoghurt, and carbs, but never meat. I force him to eat meat at this stage, which I don't think is setting him up for a healthy relationship with food.

    We have some other problems with eating too. He literally wears me down about food. I can't get him to stay at the table & focus on his food. He watches for me to be distracted then plays instead of eating, fidgets, gets up if I go into the kitchen, etc. etc. I eventually leave him alone at the table until he finishes his meat, which I make him eat all of (small portion, much less than he should be eating). A little while later he then complains he is still hungry and asks for treats, but ultimately gets an apple instead (usually). This always happens at night. He wants a second dinner after the first dinner struggles. I am not sure if it is just a ploy to stall bedtime or actual hunger. Although he does wholf down an apple, carrots, etc. Why can't he just sit and eat at dinner?

    Food stuggles are so much stress at home. He wants a treat, I say finish your dinner first, he sits around and picks at it, then says he is full, I say no treat, he cries, he comes back and wants an apple, yoghurt or fruit, then wants his treat. AHHHHH. It sucks.

    I want him to have a good relationship with food and we are on the wrong track here. He cannot be primal because I don't want to force him down that path, but he eats smaller amounts of grains than many other kids. I guess the most disturbing part is that he sits and eats without playing at school and doesn't have battles there. I literally cook the same food and he refuses to eat mine, yet she cooks eggs & ham and he eats it up. Why is this such a struggle? This is a total stressor in my life!

  • #2
    I have NO advise but wanted to let you know that you are not alone! I'm facing the same struggles with my 5 yr old boy. Hopefully, it's a phase!!
    Thread-killer extraordinaire
    My journal
    Primal since 3/10/12 - removed lap band 5/11/12
    207/186/160

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    • #3
      I have the exact same problem with my 7 year old. If you find an answer, please share!

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      • #4
        Mealtime. 30 minutes. If he doesn't eat, he's done. If he whines and complains, he's done. Take away the food and wait at least an hour, preferably two. He honestly won't starve and hunger is a good thing since then he'll eat. Serve the least favorite thing first along with a very small portion of something else. If he doesn't eat it all, tell him you can't waste more food since he wasn't hungry enough to eat the first food.

        In two hours, if he's hungry, offer him his dinner again. No other choices...no apples, yogurt, treat food. just what he would have gotten. Start on a friday night of a long weekend.

        It is a struggle because it pushes your buttons, he knows it and it is a power play. If he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat. He'll be hungry eventually.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by fuzzylogic View Post
          Mealtime. 30 minutes. If he doesn't eat, he's done. If he whines and complains, he's done. Take away the food and wait at least an hour, preferably two. He honestly won't starve and hunger is a good thing since then he'll eat. Serve the least favorite thing first along with a very small portion of something else. If he doesn't eat it all, tell him you can't waste more food since he wasn't hungry enough to eat the first food.

          In two hours, if he's hungry, offer him his dinner again. No other choices...no apples, yogurt, treat food. just what he would have gotten. Start on a friday night of a long weekend.

          It is a struggle because it pushes your buttons, he knows it and it is a power play. If he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat. He'll be hungry eventually.


          Yes to what is mentioned above. I have 3 kids, 6 yrs and under and we started doing this a year ago and it ha made all the difference.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fuzzylogic View Post
            It is a struggle because it pushes your buttons, he knows it and it is a power play. If he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat. He'll be hungry eventually.
            Yes it is. And it is miserable when we are strict, because he will take it to a whole nother level of misbehaving. For WEEKS literally.

            I am fairly concerned that I am setting him up for an unhealthy attitude towards food by forcing the meat issue...not sure what to do about that.

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            • #7
              I'm not a parent, but maybe you could try making him some whole food vegetarian/vegan meals? Try something based around potatoes or sweet potatoes with fruit and coconut milk for dessert. If you give him grains, nuts, or seeds, try to make sure they're sprouted (or soaked overnight, at the very least).

              As far as the food he eats at school, there could be any number of addictive flavor additives used in their food. As sad as it is, that could very well be why he enjoys their food but not yours.

              Good luck!
              Last edited by tarek; 05-02-2012, 11:52 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by EvansMom View Post
                Yes it is. And it is miserable when we are strict, because he will take it to a whole nother level of misbehaving. For WEEKS literally.

                I am fairly concerned that I am setting him up for an unhealthy attitude towards food by forcing the meat issue...not sure what to do about that.
                Idk, I think it's better he learn to eat good food than think he can get away with just eating sugary treats for his whole life because that's what he wants to do...and less sugar could possibly even balance out some of his misbehaving. I don't have kids, this is just my 2 cents.
                "The mountains are calling and I must go."
                --John Muir


                "I don't know what's wrong with me, but I love this shit."
                --Tommy Caldwell


                ‎"Think like a geek. Eat like a hunter. Train like a fighter. Look like a model. Live beyond."
                --Hyperlithic

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                • #9
                  Don't "force" it. Simply limit his other options so that when he's hungry, meat is what's for dinner....Look at nomnompaleo's sliders, meatballs, and other more kid-friendly food, but serve it to everyone. Sometimes kids find meat stringy and need to get reaccustomed to the taste without the texture issue.

                  Fruit, yogurt, and the like are treats. They aren't an option until you eat regular food, but my answer to the kids was always that if they weren't hungry enough to eat what they were given, I wasn't going to waste fancy food by giving it to them. Non emotional, non-negotiable. Remember, it is you who decides because you are the parent. Kids really don't want to be in charge.

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                  • #10
                    My 5.5 carb fiend is a hit and miss. I try to cook in such a way that it is not offensive to her, and not making a big deal if she doesn't eat. The most important rule is that until meat was not at least tried, no sweet choices (fruit or treat) are allowed. We only have plain yogurt at home, she eats it pretty good with berries, no sugar. I also only buy rice crispies as her cereal.

                    I also offer her choices, but no more than 2 choices. If she doesn't like either, she walks away and if she is hungry later, she eats. Or doesn't eat. I also pack all of her food, and forbid dayhome to feed her anything. At first she would bring things home, no the containers all empty and I know that even if she only ate fruit.

                    One Primal thing she goes for like a hurricane is Meatzza, she thinks it is the coolest food ever.
                    My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
                    When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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                    • #11
                      We are struggling right now with our 9 year old. He's the only one who's really being resistant with ditching the processed stuff and fast food. Our younger two (1.5 and 3.5) are true little carnivores, and out-eat our oldest like crazy.

                      Our oldest has fairly severe ADHD, another + in regards to our getting him to go primal. I've tried explaining to him the benefits it will have for his mind, but my timing has been off for his med cycle, and he hasn't been able to follow me. I'll keep trying. When we can get him to eat meat, he does great and will wolf down tons! It's just a matter of finding the right kinds. Beef seems to be his favorite, chicken and fish less so.

                      He is also very keen on the whole "I'm full now" but starving at bedtime thing. Which my lovely husband continues to fall for. I am much less interesed in hearing him whine when it's time for him (and me) to go to bed.

                      I've been trying to have him sit with me and pick out recipies from the cookbook that he wants us to try. Currently we only have the under 30 minute one. I may need to look into more kid friendly primal cookbooks...

                      Good luck to all of us with these tough kids!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EvansMom View Post
                        We have some other problems with eating too. He literally wears me down about food.

                        Food stuggles are so much stress at home. He wants a treat, I say finish your dinner first, he sits around and picks at it, then says he is full, I say no treat, he cries, he comes back and wants an apple, yoghurt or fruit, then wants his treat. AHHHHH. It sucks.
                        This isn't about food, its a power struggle. He's only winning because he's more stubborn than you. 5 year olds have nothing better to do than test boundaries all day long. You're the parent. "Because I said so" is a perfectly acceptable response to a child who is too young to reason with. You've done your research, you know more about nutrition than him, you DO know best. Don't let him guilt and bully you. He can't win if you don't play the game.

                        YOU decide what and when, HE decides IF and how much.

                        If he says he's hungry, offer him 2 choices that are acceptable to you, no substitutions, no bribes, no rewards. If he's not hungry for dinner when you serve it, he can eat it before bed if he changes his mind, no substitutions, no bribes, no rewards. A child who skips dinner will be good and hungry at breakfast. A kid that can play out in the yard for hours can go through the night without eating. They won't starve!

                        Remove 'treats' from the menu. Period. If you're going to allow him to have less than optimal food (aka-treats) then do it on your terms..."you can have apple slices or 2 cookies, take your pick". He can only have junk if YOU suggest it, no substitutions, no bribes, no rewards.

                        You can even experiment with when and how often he gets to eat. Just because he demands a certain food NOW, doesnt mean you have to let him have it that instant. You can say something like "sure, can you come back in 10 minutes?" I'm not a fan of grazing for kids or adults. How do you know true hunger if you never stop eating long enough to experience it? Kids (and grownups) eat for all kinds of reasons besides hunger....boredom, impulse, social, TV ads, testing boundaries...

                        Oh yeah, and never let them see you sweat.

                        We used to joke that our little guy only ate dinner every 2nd night. We figured out that food that was too hard to pick up with a fork (peas) or took too many chews (meat) was too much effort LOL. Unless hes super hungry, he's usually the last one to finish. Even now at almost 9yo, he gets tired of eating meat that requires too much cutting and chewing. Not because he doesn't like it, but because its more complicated. Chicken and ground beef are his faves.

                        Both my kids know they are welcome to help themselves to all the fruit and veg they want without asking. If they tell me they're hungry or ask for food, I know its because the want junk or treats.
                        Sandra
                        *My obligatory intro

                        There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo

                        DAINTY CAN KISS MY PRIMAL BACKSIDE. ~~ Crabcakes

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                        • #13
                          My son is just as bad as yours. It's a terrible struggle daily to get him to eat dinner. He is constantly hungry as well.

                          I try to have burgers grilled up and in the freezer ready for them in case they refuse dinner. At least then he's still eating a primal thing. He prefers ground meats than "whole" meats.

                          My daughter is still ok with "whole" meats (age 2) and I'm hoping she continues with that route. She's a meat eater and usually shuns pasta and bread over meat. She's my carnivore for sure. DS is a super picky eater and it's frustrating.

                          I love the ideas provided but I am not very tough when my kid starts crying and saying he's hungry. How do I know if he's really hungry or not.
                          Primal since March 5, 2012
                          SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



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                          • #14
                            My youngest was very like that at the same age, and we had two options for meals - take it, or leave it. If she didn't eat what was put in front of her, then complained she was hungry, the plate was put back in front of her. If she was genuinely hungry, she would eat it, if not, then she could leave it but there was no other choice available. It took about a year for her to work out that we really meant it! And we also had the rule that unless she ate her meal there were no snacks at all. It was very tough for us all, but now she really does understand that if she's hungry then she should really eat the food put in front of her. I do go out of my way to make sure that it's something she likes and that it is nicely presented, so excuses are minimised (even at 12, she'll still try to give me the runaround on food if she's given half a chance - so she simply isn't given it)! Funnily, my two eldest were and are great about eating what's put in front of them without any problems - it's only ever been the youngest - but I guess that maybe her undiagnosed gluten-intolerance before she was 5 might have had something to do with it ...

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                            • #15
                              Nigel Latta is an awesome child psychologist in our country, and he had this little snippet (stolen from another website)
                              Eating: Nigel makes a seriously good point as he tells the story about the airplane that crashed and the survivors ate the other passengers.

                              •Once a child gets hungry enough they will eat.
                              •Remove the junk food and only serve healthy before long the kids will eat it.
                              •It can take up to 20 exposures to a food before a child will try it.
                              •Don't disguise food (he had a very funny image of fruit or veggies wearing glasses there)
                              If your boy still has enough energy to play then I think you don't need to be worried about him eating enough.

                              A little while later he then complains he is still hungry and asks for treats, but ultimately gets an apple instead (usually).
                              Hehe. In our house, the apple IS the treat.

                              This always happens at night. He wants a second dinner after the first dinner struggles.
                              We have a saying in our house. 'If you are not hungry for firsts, you aren't hungry for seconds' (pudding). I would offer him his leftovers, or a glass of water. Hunger truly is the best sauce for food sometimes.

                              Perhaps it's the kind of meat that's on offer? Our kids go mad for fish fingers and sausages. And they love sausage casserole and roast chicken. And mince with tomato sauce. And Beef Jerky (grr). They are much less enthused with snitzel, steak, bacon, fish etc. Tastes change. Keep offering them a tiny amount of the different things they don't like and let them come around to it (or not) in their own pace. Maybe mix up the variety more too?
                              Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

                              Griff's cholesterol primer
                              5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
                              Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
                              TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
                              bloodorchid is always right

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