I recently posted what I intended to be a lighthearted, silly article on being unable to resist my kids’ leftover food items, but it turns out there are quite a few people utterly horrified by the idea of children eating things like macaroni and cheese or Goldfish crackers.

Perhaps my favorite comment from the lot was from the disapproving finger-wag who said “WAFFLES ARE NOT A SNACK,” which I find especially entertaining because O RLY?


The topic of food has surely become a charged topic in recent years, hasn’t it? My post was hyperbolic and not meant to be an actual detailed menu of what my children eat every day, but it seems clear there there are certain things you simply shouldn’t confess to unless you want to be accused of “contributing to the obesity epidemic.”

(Lord. I don’t even know where to get started with that, but perhaps we could begin with my boys’ protruding ribs and visible spinal columns?)

Both of my kids were relatively omnivorous eaters until they hit the toddler stage, and then . . . not so much. They currently live on fish sticks, chicken nuggets, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, waffles (!), cereal, cheese crackers, and noodles. Riley will eat fruit, Dylan won’t. I give them vitamins and hope for the best.

We used to actively fight against this picky behavior. We have had some epic, tear-soaked, absolutely horrible battles about food, and I won’t do it any more. I will not ruin everyone’s evening by getting into a pissing match with a stubborn kid over something he refuses to try, nor am I willing to forgo their meal altogether in the name of my own nutrition goals. I fix what I am pretty sure they’ll eat, I try to continually offer other stuff, and if someone eats two entire bites of dinner then announces that they’re done, I don’t feel bad about giving them a bowl of Cheerios later in the evening.

I sure wish they were more adventurous eaters but if this is the worst problem we’ve got to deal with, goddamn, I’ll take it. I have every faith they’ll eventually grow into ravenous teenagers who empty the fridge on a regular basis. In the meantime, I want to feed them. I want them to eat. I want them to grow and thrive and fill in their forever-baggy waistlines.

So, yeah, in our house waffles are a snack. I would feed them waffles all day long if that’s what it took to fill their bellies. Why would anyone assume this is because I’m lazy, or haven’t tried other things?

It reminds me of how secretly, crappily judge-y I was about kids sleeping through the night when Riley was a baby. Since he had no sleep problems, I thought it was actually because of something we did. Why, all these people bitching about their non-sleeping kids should just, like, stop doing it wrong. Then we had Dylan, and whoah, you know what makes a delicious, nutritious meal? HUMBLE PIE.


193 Responses to “Gastronomy”

  1. Lunar on March 10th, 2011 2:05 pm

    I am seriously going through this right now too, same thing. My boys ate very healthy when they were little, but now my youngest is very picky. Yogurt, pancakes, cereal, crackers, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, peanut butter and honey, only on one piece of bread. He is very particular.. and did I mention PICKY!! lol
    Today I tried getting him to drink a fruit smoothie with me. I used raspberries, mangos, peaches and fresh squeezed orange juice.. No way! Wouldn’t touch it! I don’t want to fight him over it cause I think it might cause more rebellion, and my husband says he ate way worse stuff than our boys eat so he isn’t worried. My other son, he only drinks water.. he can’t stand juice.. and only drinks milk if it’s chocolate. He is a good eater though, and he is also very thin. People tend to forget that children are people and they have likes and interests.. just as they have dislikes. As long as they are healthy, well then I’m not going to worry about it. I became vegetarian by choice and ate very healthy when I hit 13.. I chose to do it! I was a big junk food addict as a child.. soda, candy, ice cream, etc. It didn’t kill me and I was nowhere near obese, that’s for sure. My kids aren’t big on candy and sweets luckily.

    Don’t even make me go into my diet of donuts, cakes, cookies, fried foods, and Sobe.. I was lifting 130+ pounds above my head at the age of 17.. and I had that strength for many years til I got lazy and started doing less work. I wasn’t a body builder, I worked with BIG animals, building cages, cleaning cages, feeding animals, it was very hard work and required a lot of muscle and energy. I live a healthier lifestyle now and I’m not nearly as strong as I used to be, and I’m definitely not a size 2 anymore. My husband who will be 42 this June does hand stands, flips, can lift 240 pounds, he is tough and in great shape.. he lives on cheese, meat, and potatoes literally and has his whole life. Maybe it’s the scandinavian/scottish in him.. but he is proof you don’t have to have leafy greens and especially fruits in your diet to be in good shape!

  2. Annabelle on March 10th, 2011 2:12 pm

    Waffles are awesome. Sometimes we make wholegrain ones together, sometimes we eat the frozen ones. Sometimes we have Breakfast Sundaes for dinner and have waffles with peanut butter, jelly, bananas, syrup, yogurt, whatever… on top.

  3. Tina on March 10th, 2011 2:20 pm

    Oh I must chime in! I am a formerly picky eater and I so wish my parents had been like the majority of people who commented on here. I sat (and sat, and sat) at the dinner table on a regular basis, long after everyone else had left and the power struggle with food transformed itself in my teen years into a full on eating disorder. I am not assigning blame, but I do think if food weren’t about power in my home, my relationship with it now wouldn’t be quite so toxic at times. I recently had my first child (at the ripe old age of 39) and have been taking notes when you write about parenting – there is some good stuff on here. Thank you for being open and honest.

  4. Sandy Mama on March 10th, 2011 6:26 pm

    LOVE this! I especially love my preachy and VERY judgemental Dentist who looks at me like I feed my kids arsenic when I admit to GUMMY vitamins. “They are BAD for their teeth!” She frowns like I’m a murderer, hands on hips and all. “They are eating worse than that believe me!” I retort. “Hmmmpphh!” Gotta find a new dentist

  5. catherine on March 10th, 2011 9:04 pm

    my 22 year old baby boy…….was once a picky eater. He said to me this christmas break, on vacation, while we were out to eat, staring at a menu, “I wish I was still a picky eater, now I love everything and can never decide what to eat. I want it all.”

  6. Lesley on March 10th, 2011 11:50 pm

    Looks like the Parent Dish matriarchs have wandered onto The Stir. Run for your life.

    Jillian Michaels lists waffles on her Ripped in 30 plan. There’s nothing wrong with a couple of waffles once a day. Jesus.

    In calories, they amount to the same thing as a couple of slices of their wholier than thou grain bread, which truthfully isn’t any more nourishing.

  7. Nell on March 11th, 2011 7:12 am

    Crow-just so you know- is also NOT a snack!
    You are so funny! Just an awesome writer and it is amazing the jerks that pop out of the woodwork to criticize. I have a girl who has been picky but is finally starting (she will be 9 in a couple of months) to grow into something other than Mac and Cheese.
    You guys are doing a great job – ignore the idiots! In fact, pat yourself on the back! You just helped them vent a bit and maybe they will keep their judgments in the comments and not air them elsewhere! You are doing a public service!

  8. Karen on March 11th, 2011 7:14 am

    THANK YOU. I was blessed with two fairly good eaters (heck, my second gobbles down broccoli without a flicker of an eyelash, “because it’s green and I love green”).

    Then I had #3. We call him our carbivore. He will eat: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, chips, cereal, toast, grilled cheese, waffles, the occasional chicken nugget, a hot dog if the stars are in proper alignment. His favorite fruit? out of season blueberries. Yeah. Apples are slowly moving off the approved eating list. Like you, we feed him what he likes and give him multivitamins. If he wants a snack in the evenings after refusing dinner, he gets fruit.

    He’s currently in the 50th percentile for weight, 75th for height, and all the Healthy Eating Nazis can bite me.

  9. MyFrogs on March 11th, 2011 9:37 am

    I have a rule with my kids, no veggies equals no dessert. If we eat McDonalds, there’s no dessert that night. If they choose to not eat veggies at dinner when they’re on the plate, no dessert that night. My kids will actually eat celery or some other veggie in the fridge in order to have chips or ice cream, etc. Works for me, it’s their choice, but I usually “win” ’cause they’ve at least had some veggies even if they throw some ice cream down after it.

  10. Tatiana on March 11th, 2011 11:07 am

    I’m reminded of what one of my women’s issue profs once said: that feminism will never get anywhere because women can’t stop being bitches to each other.
    For every woman that you piss off, I’m sure you help and equal number. End of the day? No harm done.
    Keep it up.

  11. Cindy on March 11th, 2011 12:31 pm

    What a perfect post. Submit this to Culinate or Atlantic Food if you’re so inclined. So timely and perfect. I’d love to see it become a larger discussion. Although, judging from all the comments you have here, it already is. Bravo!

  12. Trista on March 11th, 2011 1:17 pm

    Couldn’t agree with your common sense approach more. In my daughter’s 2.5 years she has flip-flopped from being a ravenous eater (on those days we call her “garbage can”) to eating alarmingly little, sometimes in the span of a few days. She’s been exposed to every healthy food I can think of, and I just don’t get worked up about it anymore. I put what I know she will (usually) eat in front of her, and sometimes add something else to see if I can tempt her, but if not, oh well. The best advice I got was from my doctor – if I think her basic nutritional needs are being met over the course of a week, then don’t worry about it.
    And can I just say that I rarely comment, but I read often, and really appreciate your posts about staying at home with your children – I’m on maternity leave for my 12-week old son and have my daughter home too, and we’ve recently made the decision that when mat leave is up I’m only going back to work 3 days a week. I love my job, but it’s what is best for our family and I’ve stopped trying to justify this decision to anyone else (thankfully I have a supportive employer and husband, but of course the money is an issue, as it would be for anyone). Priorities, right?

  13. Megan on March 11th, 2011 2:12 pm

    Shame on those parents who criticized how you feed your kids! I happen to have a kid who’s adventurous eater but it’s nothing I did right (or didn’t do wrong), it’s simply luck of the draw. You’re obviously a caring and dedicated parent, and honest with you blog too! Keep it up and ignore the judgmental fools.

  14. Rachel on March 11th, 2011 5:02 pm

    Angie, my comment was not meant to judge at all. I was proposing an experiment. It just occured to me after these couple of weeks of eating a sub-optimal diet (I think we can agree, eating two hot dogs for lunch every day is sub-optimal) that maybe the best way to know if your child’s diet is really good enough is to try it on yourself. Then you would have a much better idea if they are truly fine or if they just look fine.

    I was my cousin’s “mommy” from around his 1st birthday when his mom went off to be a drug addict. He did go through a period of picky eating, the rule with me was that he had to have three normal bites of each item on his plate, before leaving the table. If he refused, he got a time out for disobeying, then he got to come back to the table for another try. If he still refused he lost a privelege. When he did try everything, he got a star on his activity chart and when he got enough stars he got a special outing for a reward. Sometimes it was an EPIC battle, but we got through it.

    In his case, I think the pickyness was partially him trying to assert his individuality, part defiance stemming from abandonment issues and part fear of trying new things – it was very rarely a genuine dislike of a food item.

    Would the system that worked on him work on your kids, on other people’s kids? Not the tiniest freakin clue.

    I think we’re all trying to do our best and pick the battles that matter the most to us. I advocate for whatever works for your family and I advocate for being as informed as is reasonable.

    Have a great weekend.

  15. babelbabe on March 11th, 2011 5:04 pm

    MyFrogs is onto something. My kids only get *treats* (fruit snacks, candy – empty calories) if they eat something reasonable for dinner. also, I feel ya – my kids never stop moving. they are skin and bones. One of them eats like a longshoreman, one of them eats meat and fruit, and the baby eats NOTHING, I feel like. They are all healthy and all skinnyskinnyskinnny. What can you do? Nothing bu8t what you are doing -t he best you can. Also, i commented on your other post but a handful of almonds is not a fucking snack. I run five miles, i want an apple with pb or a waffle with pb when I get home, not a dozen almonds. Sheesh.

  16. HereWeGoAJen on March 11th, 2011 5:37 pm

    Um, I actually consider waffles with peanut butter to be quite healthy and nutritious. Way better than cookies which I swear I sometimes give to my two year old just so she’ll eat SOMETHING and stop being so darn cranky because she’s starving.

  17. HereWeGoAJen on March 11th, 2011 5:43 pm

    Oh, and you can sneak a tiny bite of something that my daughter refuses, like broccoli, into a spoonful of something she likes, like noodles. And she will bite down on the bite, find the minuscule piece of broccoli, gag, and spit it out. If this were a battle of wills, she likely wouldn’t notice the broccoli. But when she spits out something that she didn’t know was there- she really doesn’t like it.

  18. Holly on March 11th, 2011 8:58 pm

    It might be easier not to fight, but parents who have kids with issues like glueten allergies, nut allergies and lactose allergies have no choice but to fight. I fought my stepson when I met him and we battled for about 6 months one eating veggies. It is now a non-issue because he knows he won’t win. I don’t care if they hit the floor, he will eat them or nothing else.

    I’m not tryin’ to be judgy – but why do you think so many women struggle with food at adults? We were never taught proper nutrition and just learned to go with what was easy instead of healthy. If you don’t make healty “normal” at a young age, when does it become “normal” and how do they learn healthy?

    I’m no food nazi by any means – but I do push him when I know I can. We had pizza and soda tonight – our usual friday night fare – but all other evenings there is vegetable consumption. Period. Balance is my target and if I get it 5 nights out of 7, I’m pretty happy.

  19. Erin on March 11th, 2011 11:10 pm

    I have a 2 yr old and I tend to operate on the Malcolm X principle of eating–by whatever means necessary. He’s got days where he’ll inhale anything near him and other days that he exists on 2 goldfish, some juice, and air. I’m not worried about it. He’ll eat if he’s hungry and in that case, he’ll eat whatever is in front of him. We’ve got too much on our plates without judging each other, right?

  20. Elle on March 11th, 2011 11:15 pm

    My cousin would not eat anything as a toddler and my aunt literally cried every time meal time came around. It would take an hour just to feed him half a hot dog because he only liked that or yogurt. He is 18 now, healthy and can and does eat everything and anything. He is normal weight, maybe on the skinner side but he eats a lot just doesn’t gain weight.
    Waffles are a snack so let them enjoy it. In due time when they get older their taste buds will hang too and they will explore wih food..

  21. AnotherErin on March 12th, 2011 9:10 am

    It merits pointing out the many studies that have been done that show that toddlers have some million more taste buds than adults do. It’s like how kids can hear frequencies that adults can’t, no matter how good their hearing. Many toddlers like bland food; for them the flavors of things can be overwhelming. My parents used to make me sit & sit over veggies. they did not believe me that the flavors & textures often made me gag. As we grow, the intensity lessens & we usually start liking a lot more things. So freaking out about what a toddler or young kid will or will not eat is a waste of time & energy (unless pf course there’s a real health issue, like diabetes or allergies). Kids learn about nutrition & body image/love from modeling, not from being force fed broccoli.

  22. Francesca on March 12th, 2011 9:31 am

    I think it’s absolutely shameful how judgmental some mothers are toward other mothers. Women should help each other out, not cut each other down. Anyone with functioning eyeballs can see that these two kids are well-loved and happy. Why are people so insecure about their lives and their choices that they feel so threatened when someone makes a different choice?

  23. Josefina on March 12th, 2011 11:37 am

    Yes! YES! Parenting helps us to embrace humility, if we are brave enough to do it. I think this is a great thing.

    The comments on that post were so unfortunate. I checked it out when you tweeted about it, and really, I just had no words. If it helps, there was similar ridiculousness in response to a joke post on how to spend less time on housework (in order to have more time to knit). This was on a fiber arts forum I frequent.

    Anyway, two more things. One: My older son loves living food, but my younger son refused all fruits & veg for years, though he’s gradually come to accept certain things. Picky eating doesn’t necessarily last forever. He has consistently been required to eat what fruits or veg we put on his plate in order to get dessert. Often he wants his treat enough to eat the three green beans or whatever we gave him. Also, we tried various formats for the food: dried, freeze-dried, frozen, etc. Sometimes that has made a difference. Weirdly, he’ll eat veg soup now (totally unexpected), esp. if he helped make it. These developments have taken years. For some kids, it’s a process and no one is right to judge anyone else for where they are in it. Two: I know a guy who would only eat food that was white. Like, even when he was way too old for that mentality. It was such a worry to everyone around him. He left home, got a job at a really nice restaurant and now he’s a really adventurous eater. So yeah, it took him until he was in his twenties, but it happened.

  24. Jamie on March 12th, 2011 12:13 pm

    This was a highly enlightening read (including all the other comments as well). I didn’t know the topic of food could unleash so many different feelings…especially for someone elses child?

    Psst. Waffles are a snack in my book too ;)

  25. Fee on March 12th, 2011 3:50 pm

    Waffles are TOO a snack–preferably smeared with peanut butter and some good jam. What makes kids fat is parents who don’t make them play outside (yes, child abuse–go play in the back yard!!!).

  26. just a faithful lurker on March 13th, 2011 12:52 pm

    It’s always easiest to be backseat driver — and what works for one person isn’t always going to work for other people.

    Food is an emotionally charged topic for sure.

    And since when are other parents allowed to tell us how to raise our own children?

    If you want to feed your kid tofu 24/7 and he or she will choke it down then by all means do it.

    We do what we can.

  27. .303 Bookworm on March 13th, 2011 5:49 pm

    Go Mama! you’re offering them other options but not forcing anything, sooner or later they’ll branch out and as long as they’re healthy then NO problem. Makeing a battle just makes it hard for everyone and tends to set bad habits/attitudes. Besides, I remember reading that it takes 20 tries to like a new taste – I used that method to get used to eating olives before travelling through Italy. That first half dozen though – icky salty ugh!

  28. Kristen Duke Photography on March 13th, 2011 8:03 pm

    got a good laugh! some people are crazy!!! agreed, happy with anything my daughter wants to eat these days. they do grow out of it. my 10 year old now eats everything…with seconds! I’ve had 4 kids and seen the pattern well enough. Just found your blog!

  29. Aviva (omyc.wordpress.com) on March 14th, 2011 7:20 am

    I first clicked on your link, read your very funny post, read the first page of comments… .and my jaw dropped when I saw the accusation that you were contributing to the obesity epidemic. Then I laughed out loud. I’m not surprised that that’s the comment that riled you most.

    I’m with you. When my son first started eating solid foods, he ate just about everything. My husband and I congratulated ourselves: We figured everyone else was doing a lousy job introducing a variety of foods to their children. We were the greatest parents ever. Our child was a precocious eating genius.

    Then everything changed. And it continues to change. The child who loved broccoli is now sick of broccoli. He ate sliced turkey and now won’t. He loved PB&J, got sick of it, and now likes it again. Etc., etc.

    I, too, don’t want to get into battles at the dinner table. I try wheedling and bargaining and if it doesn’t work, I give up. Because battling over food is only going to backfire on you. All we can do (I believe) is keep introducing healthy foods to them, keep telling them how vegetables make you big and strong like Spiderman, and hope for the best.

    Hang in there. And keep laughing!

  30. Christina77 on March 16th, 2011 8:19 pm

    You’re so awesome! What’s wrong with people anymore? Shit…you can have the best intentions, but kids are people, with their own minds and free will. No matter how hard you try to get them to eat the “good stuff”, sometimes you’ll settle for them to just EAT. SOMETHING. DAMMIT.

  31. Cait on March 17th, 2011 12:40 pm

    I don’t have any kids, but I was the worst kind of terror: never slept through the night, picky eater, stubborn as all get out. I got teddy grahams and apple juice (from *GASP* concentrate), waffles, and the occasional bag of Cheetos, and I am of normal weight and good spirits as an adult.


  32. Anais on March 17th, 2011 2:11 pm

    I found this and had to post it here for everyone who says waffles are not snacks:


  33. cara on March 18th, 2011 8:34 am

    “wholier than thou grain bread”

  34. Scott on March 18th, 2011 3:07 pm

    We just used to tell our kids that vegetables were for adults only. Needless to say, today they love broccoli.

  35. Nila on March 21st, 2011 1:54 am

    Sometimes when the two year old is about to lose his shit because he’s hungry because he’s rejected everything you’ve offered, you just gotta feed him whatever you can. Waffles for dinner? Fine by me. I’ll suffer the judgement if it means that my 2 year old doesn’t lose his shit.

  36. Cassie on March 21st, 2011 7:16 am

    To whoever recommended the chocolate green superfood from amazing grass,
    I think it’s awesome that your kid like, totally loves this stuff and sucks it down like the sugary yumminess that is real chocolate milk. I thought, what an amazing idea – vegetables disguised as chocolate milk. Let me run out and spend $25 for a pint sized jar of this amazing stuff and trick my three-year old in to scarfing it down with delight. But oh, not so fast, super mom. Can I just say that this green sludge made my daughter only scream and cry in disgust but only after a minute and a half of gagging, tongue scraping and spitting. So, if, like me, other readers are thinking about trying this neat trick on their children, you may want to think twice before spending the money cause now I have 29 servings of this shit sitting in my fridge and after my daughter’s reaction, I wouldn’t even think about eating it myself!

  37. Weekly Meal Plan: Tuesday March 22nd on March 22nd, 2011 6:47 am

    […]  I posted about a blog I came across (thanks to someone linking to my picky-eating series) about a mom admitting she feeds her kids “kid food” because that is all they will eat — waffles, mac and cheese, noodles etc. […]

  38. Lizzi on April 6th, 2011 12:31 pm

    You GO girl!! I did the same thing with 2 kids. One liked carbs, one liked veggies. I gave them what they wanted. Also they were both in sports so we ate ALOT of Taco Bell. My daughters first real recogonition of something was the Taco Bell logo. F all those people who want us to fight the small battles. I was saving steam for the big one. LOL

  39. Web morsels | Fix Me A Snack on April 22nd, 2011 7:23 pm

    […] Gastronomy from All & Sundry via Raise Healthy Eaters. […]

  40. Becca on April 26th, 2011 8:14 pm

    I don’t really have a comment, just a couple of questions…
    1. Was there such a thing as a picky eater in early American history (in the average household, not the Rockefellers)?
    2. Are there picky eaters in impoverished nations?
    3. Are we discouraging, instead of encouraging, an attitude of thankfulness in our children (i.e. thankful to have good food to eat) if we “allow” (I use that term loosely) them to be picky?
    I don’t have issues with picky eaters – all 3 of my kids will eat nearly anything they are given, but we have Other Issues to deal with, so I am really not trying to be Judgy McJudgerson. Just thought I’d throw a different perspective out here. (I only read about halfway down the comments, so I don’t know if my questions have been addressed elsewhere.)

  41. Becca on April 26th, 2011 8:17 pm

    BTW: IMHO waffles with peanut butter qualify as their own food group, and are therefore nutritionally necessary:-)

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