I have a 5-year-old who just hates vegetables (unless, you count french fries and ketchup, that is). How worried should I be about this from a nutritional perspective? Is this going to affect her development? She’s pretty small for her age. Is there anything I can do (besides sneaking spinach into her smoothies)?
Raise your hand if your kiddo only eats six things! I raised my hand for a very long time. And I know I’m not alone. I frequently receive questions from parents about their children refusing to eat vegetables and only consuming a very basic diet of carb-heavy foods, leaving something to be desired in the way of appropriate amounts of daily fruits and vegetables. It’s the beige diet! Parents often express concern that their children may not be receiving the proper nutrients they need to grow and agonize over the potential negative impacts on their health caused by these eating habits.
I understand this concern on a very personal level, as I too, obsessed over my son, Luke, now a teenager, not receiving proper nutrition due his small size and refusal to eat. For years I could have spent hours discussing his daily caloric intake and making projections on how big he might turn out to be, to the point where I’m sure it was not only unhealthy for my own psyche, but also completely boring to those who had to listen to me! I’ve been kept awake at night worrying about whether or not his brain development was impacted by the fact that he will not eat a single vegetable. I used toys, TV and other bribes to get him to eat something…anything! I took him to feeding specialists and had several pediatrician visits where this subject was the primary topic of discussion. So, yes, I’ve been there!
The fact is Luke just happens to be a smaller than average kid…and that’s OK! He has never been a great eater, and I am sure that I have made it worse by giving the scenario way too much attention. In many cases, and for me personally, this situation became a control battle between child and parent. Eating and sleeping are two factors we truly cannot control, and I think everyone can agree they are battles we can all do without.