Nuggets of wisdom from a fussy eater

Posted on July 7, 2010


There’s a war underway in the Fibro. Not a big one. Not even a constant one. Battles only arise at 6pm every night. But, as wars tend to do, it’s wearing me down. Words like ‘futility’ come to mind a lot.

Mr3 is, for the most part, a sunshiney kind of guy. His favourite phrase at present is ‘of course’ – as in ‘of course I will’, ‘of course I do’, ‘of course you can’ – usually accompanied by a smile.

But put an evening meal in front of him and that all changes. He is not only the world’s slowest eater, but he is in line to be the world’s fussiest. He told me, quite happily, one day that he didn’t like anything I made him for dinner except nuggets and chips, and why did we only have them on Friday when we could be having them every night of the week. Why indeed.

I try, I really do. We eat a varied menu around here and when The Builder and I want to branch out into curries and chillies and all things hot (which we love and will not give up simply because there are underdeveloped palates in the house), I simply make two meals. Exotica for us, El Blando for the boys.

Despite my best efforts, however, the most-repeated phrase in the Fibro is ‘Mr3, eat your dinner’. ‘Eat your dinner.’ ‘Eat your dinner.’ ‘Eat your dinner.’ Over and over again. I hear it in my dreams.

I insist he tries everything (the whole time remembering every article I’ve ever read on how mums who insist their children clean their plates are part of the obesity problem). He sighs, and talks, and lolls about, and puts his finger up his nose, and generally faffs about like there’s no tomorrow.

It’s so incredibly frustrating. Particularly as Mr6 is one of those kids who eats pretty much everything, including olives, salami, and fish. But not pumpkin.

Mr3 and The Builder had a little talk last week. There was much discussion about how dinners make you big and strong, and good boys eat their dinner, and all of that. Then The Builder asked, ‘So are you going to eat your dinner tonight?’. Mr3 considered the question, pursed his lips, wrinkled his brow and said, ‘Depends what we’re having.’

I used to have a Weetbix rule. If you didn’t eat what was put in front of you at dinner time, you ate Weetbix or went hungry. This worked a treat on Mr6 who, like me, has an aversion to cereal at dinnertime. Not so with Mr3. It got to the point where he was asking for Weetbix. Talk about heartbreaking.


So the Weetbix is gone, but I persist. One day, I just know, he’s going to sit down and clear his plate.

If not, I won’t have to worry any more about my roast skills. He’ll be coming home at 21 just for Mum’s Chicken Nuggets.


  1. livinglifeasme

    Loved that post Al. It all works out, I can guarantee it. My youngest ate nuggets most nights of the week from 2-10. When the oldest was starting out on solids he would only eat fruit custard and heinz creamed tuna pasta – he now eats anything & everything. In fact they both do. If it is edible it gets eaten. Groceries cost us a fortune.

  2. reality raver

    My five year old is shocking and I have tried everything, most days I persevere, but this week I have given up a bit. I will get back onto it next week.

  3. So Now What?

    I especially love how they say “I’m not hungry” but the minute it’s all been cleared away, they are ferretting around in the cupboard. No way sunshine, no dinner, no afters.

    Although we’re in a bit of hard spot. We have one a little overweight, one underweight and one just right. They all eat the same, all are just as active as each other, so figure it’s just their make-up. Therefore the poor 10yo is denied food at times whilst we are encouraging the 8yo to eat more. All whilst trying not to make a big deal of it.

    From a girl who was served hot chips as my after tea most afternoons, I reckon it all works out in the end x

  4. brismod

    Well, I get the http://www.badmother.com.au award for meaness. There’s only one meal prepared at dinner time and if it’s not eaten, it’s not eaten. They can wait for brekky the next morning. My kids eat everything. They’ll whinge about it, but if they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. And now they love a curry. Keep strong, it’s just a phase.

  5. white cat vintage

    Oh my gosh am im hearing you, were you hiding in my kitchen last night.

  6. In Real Life

    Oh my goodness, we have the same problem! It seems that no matter what I try, they remain picky, but alas they come by it honestly, I prefer bland, plain foods myself. In an attempt to reduce the number of two meal nights, I instated a rule of: “This is what I made for supper and if you are choosing not to eat it, you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of cereal.”

  7. Jodie at Mummy Mayhem

    Oh my Lord…I’m confused. Is your 6yo and 3yo actually…my children? SAME!

    6yo can be a little fussy, but will try pretty much anything, and also likes salami and fish. The 3yo will NOT eat cut up fruit of vegies. Just won’t do it. Closest I’ve gotten is to get him to eat a little grated carrot with grated cheese. But now he’s over that already. He STILL eats jars of baby fruit. Started when he was a baby – fruit seemed to make him throw up, and I think he’s developed some kind of aversion to it!

    The 8yo will eat ok, but not great. He’s fussy too.

    Rest assured that one day, you won’t be able to cook ENOUGH food for them, and they’ll eat you out of house and home. Even the 3yo. Guaranteed.

  8. Maxabella

    I feel your pain. Whatever Maxi-Taxi likes, Cappers doesn’t like. Whatever Cappers likes Maxi-Taxi doesn’t like. The Badoo likes nothing. Anything green is universally loathed.

    PS – My check-word to type in is “preakys”. I think that’s a good word. The habits of these poor eaters is preaky annoying.

  9. sharpestpencil

    My Little Pencil is 9. I can count the number of times he has finished his dinner on two hands.

    We have tried everything – play therapy, dieticians, appetite stimulants – the works! I have given up and decided to focus on the fact that we are lucky enough to have food to offer him.

    But my word it is hard. Sufficeth it to say plain pasta is on our dinner menu about 6 nights a week. At least I get to see him eat SOMETHING.

    I understand your pain. xxxx

    Great post

  10. In My House

    I hear you. My just-turned-seven princess is exactly the same. Dinner time becomes a performance, battle of wills, an out-smarting test of who can trick who into eating/not eating something. We went through a “i’ll only eat pasta” phase and she got badly constipated. She’ll love tuna bake for 3 months and then will suddenly hate it, without warning.
    She will go to bed without dinner as punishment then wake up hungry at 1am. We’ve tried rewards, stars, naughty mat, threats and praise. We’ve also tried the “whatever” attitude and found the best thing is to just keep putting stuff in front of her and being VERY positive when she eats the corn or the broccoli… only to find the broccoli swishing around in her mouth half an hour later!

  11. Lucy

    Alison, I could’ve written this myself, all I would do is swap the genders of the kids.

    Lexie (Miss 3) is the same.

    I gave up. Yesterday, whilst we all ate schnitzel and salad (hardly “out there”) she fart-arsed around, so gave it to the dog. She ended up eating an entire pineapple instead.

    All I can do is shrug it off and wait. And the dog gets fat.

  12. Deer Baby

    Oh Mr3 – you are spoiling us. Or not. Maybe he’s the man from Del Monte – he say ‘No’ (these British advert slogans may make no sense to you – I should stop). Mine would adore Weetbix for breakfast, lunch and tea so I couldn’t threaten that. I remember getting served up liver and onions twice running. Cruel.

    Mine aren’t too bad at present…but there’s certainly time. The 10 year old objects to onions and can spot one at twenty paces. Like you, I refuse to cook two separate dishes – one with onions and one without so he picks it out like sieving for gold. The youngest has picked up on this – tonight in fact (pasta with leeks, pancetta and mushrooms) she managed to eat it and then produce the leek out again on the tip of her tongue which reminded me of Sherilyn Fenn tying knots in cherry stalks in Twin Peaks.

    But if I came for dinner at your house, I’d have to go El Blando. Some like it hot but I’m not one of them. I always go for the korma in the curry house and they always try and get me to go hotter. But I’m not budging. I’m like Mr3 in that respect. Good luck with it all!

  13. Tricia Rose

    My darling daughter went through a phase of wanting only fried bread (how’s THAT for nutrition!). I indulged her on the martial arts theory and she ate nothing else for weeks – I swear she began to look a little translucent and greasy herself!

    It passed.

  14. Susan @ Reading Upside Down

    My 6yo son isn’t so much fussy as quirky in his food preferences. I have struggled to get him to eat meat, only to have him declare on the eve of his 6th birthday (a few months ago) “Tomorrow, when I am six, I think I will eat meat”. He then asked me early the following day “so, what meat are we having for dinner tonight”.

    Not sure why he had fixed 6 in his mind as the age you start eating meat, but after 6 years of frustration, who am I to argue?

    He has two ongoing major food quirks – he won’t eat anything with a sauce/gravy/dressing as part of eat (meaning no soups, casseroles, bolognaise, etc) and doesn’t like a combination of textures in a single mouthful. I have a chocolate apple cake that I now make with applesauce instead of apple pieces. He loves the cake now that it is all one texture, but wouldn’t eat it before. He also won’t eat choc chip biscuits for the same reason.

    My kids must try a small bite of anything on their plate, but I don’t force them to eat anything. If they dont’ finish their dinner, there is nothing else until breakfast and definitely no snacks the following day. An elderly aunt used to save uneaten portions of dinner and serve them cold for breakfast the following morning. Yuck.

    Keep heart and stay strong. This too shall pass and when he is 15 and he never stops eating you will be longing for these days when he was satisfied with a small bowl of Weet-bix. 🙂

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