The Dinner Blood Pressure Rise

Every night at dinner, I become unglued. UNGLUED! My children refuse to eat dinner. They will not touch it. Now, let’s get this out of the way now- I am a good cook. I like to cook, I can follow a recipe, I can cook. (sorry to burst the bubbles of any smartasses out there).

Tonight I thought I would do something fun. I made turkey burgers (with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese) and used cooked cutters to make them into hearts and stars and a butterfly, which really just ended up looking like a shoe. I also made “turkey eggs” and then some regular patties for myself. I made a big deal out of it to the kids. After I barbecued them (because it’s 80 degrees here and I can) they ended up with the grill marks, so I called them striped turkey eggs. They were super excited. I baked some criss cut fries and gave them a nice presentation with black olives, one heart and one striped turkey egg each, and fries, with ketchup and BBQ sauce as their choices of dipping sauce.

Eric would not touch it. He wouldn’t even try it. Ally ate most, she is easier than he is, but she is her own story.

These are our rules:
1. You have to try it, but you are allowed to not like it if you try it.
2. I will NOT make them anything else to eat. You don’t eat what I cook, you don’t eat.
3. We have even started taking their milks away since that will usually fill them up a little (we are trying to make them hungry and want to eat).
4. If you want dessert, you have to finish your dinner.
5. If you don’t try it, you have to go to your room. Toys are taken out of their rooms.

They would be very happy eating Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets every day, but I refuse to feed them that crap. Maybe once a week they get one, but I would rather they not have it at all. I even tried giving Eric organic Mac and cheese that looks the same as easy Mac and he won’t eat it. He is the biggest challenge. He will eat chicken sometimes, and will devour a certain kind that I make, but if it’s in a different form, he says he doesn’t like it. He will sometimes eat the side dishes but nothing else. He won’t even try the food. He will just say “I’m going to my room” and leave the table to his room.

Allison is a little easier. She will at least try something and she will eat much more than Eric, but she takes FOREVER to eat. It takes her 45 minutes to eat a really small meal. I have to hound her to eat, give her a time limit and then throw her food away if she hasn’t finished by bath time. Of course, she throws an EPIC shit fit. She will work for dessert though. If she really wants a cookie, she will wait til the last minute, but she will finish.

By the end of dinner, I am ready to give the both up for adoption and I get so angry that I blow. I guess I am lucky because they will eat fruit and vegetables and cheese. They also eat breakfast and lunch easily. It’s just dinner.

For lunch, they often don’t finish, but we make them finish it before they can have a snack, even if it’s hours later. We cut snacks by 3:30 and we usually eat around 5:30.

I NEED HELP! Even if you read and don’t normally comment, I beg of you…leave me some advice. I want to shove them in the oven every night and am tired of throwing food away. Should I make them eat their dinner for breakfast? I will listen to any and all reasonable advice.


12 Responses to “The Dinner Blood Pressure Rise”

  1. 1 Bridgesburning Chris King January 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Hmm I did leave a message but did not seem to go…shorter message. I did a post on your plea and asked any of my folk to pop in with suggestions.
    posted on
    Hope you find good suggestions!

  2. 2 Chatter Master January 29, 2012 at 6:22 am

    When my first husband was a toddler he would not eat anything but cheerios and milk. His mom was very upset/concerned/frustrated. She took him to the doc who told her…. let him eat his cheerios. He’ll get tired of them eventually and eat more. He gave her permission, so to speak, to not be so frustrated. So she fed him his bowl of cheerios until he got tired of them. And he did. When I worked at a corrections facility for juveniles we dealt with A LOT of kids who would NOT eat or try different foods. We were a corrections facility, not a restaurant. But we did come up with a satisfactory rule of thumb. The child had to try all foods (like yours!) and if they did not like it the ONLY other option was a peanut butter sandwich. Nothing fancy. But it got them the calories they needed. And if they got tired of peanut butter they started trying other foods. If they liked peanut butter they were happy. One man who had fifty plus years of working with children told us you will prevent most of your problems with children by keeping them fed well.

    I was lucky. Though my kids wouldn’t always try something new, I did try to make something I knew they would eat, when I did try to add something new. And we usually avoided major catastrophy that way. If I was making a vegetable for dinner I knew they did not like, I would also add a small bit of vegies I knew they would eat.

    Good luck!!!!

  3. 3 TheIdiotSpeaketh January 29, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Yikes, I wish I could help ya Jamie. Our kids were the total opposites and would eat their plates and silverware if we let them. I know it’s frustrating, but I think your current system sounds perfectly fine to me.

  4. 4 Elizabeth January 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    OMG, we are living parallel lives…to the tee with the dinnertime madness! We have the exact same rules and I also refuse to cater to their wishes for Mac and cheese (God forbid if I try to sneak whole wheat pasta in there!) and fruit and yogurt…that’s all they pretty much ever want. I just about lose my mind every night because I put alot of effort into meal planning. All I do is keep trying and not let go of any of the rules. There are glimmers of hope now and then, and anyone I’ve ever talked to about it (dr included) says to just keep trying, that a kid has to be offered certain types of food sometimes 20 times before they accept it. You’re doing all the right things, however I know how frustrating the whole thing is . Keep it up!

  5. 5 yellowcat January 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    They might not be hungry at dinner if they ate breakfast and lunch.

    My son was very picky and I made him what he liked and my daughter and I at what we liked. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. It also kept me from going insane.

  6. 6 Sparrow January 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Jamie, I hear you…I have two similar eaters in my home, though they started out opposite of how they ended up…and they are 16 and 18 now.

    You are doing everything right, and I think that it’s ok to cut yourself some slack and let this not be one of those things that make your blood pressure hit the roof – it just is what it is. As time goes on their tastes will change, and this won’t last forever. I promise!


  7. 7 Scarlett January 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    So, it’s reasonable advice you’re looking for. Noted. *wink*

    Our, my-lips-won’t-touch-that! kids are now 18, almost 15 and 13 years old. In hindsight, I would have waited longer to introduce them to fast food, white bread and soda. But, in the world their peers live in, that IS the norm.

    It seems some kids are born loving fruits and veggies… and most kids aren’t. Ours weren’t, but we did what we could. Coming from the generation were there were kids starving in China, one thing I promised myself early on was that I would Never Ever force my kids to clean a plate. I have no regrets in that department. Good for you!

    Ours have always been a healthy weight, had more than enough energy and did very well in school.

    There were three steadfast rules in our house:
    #1 Never Ever Skip Breakfast!
    #2 I Don’t Count Green Beans
    #3 I Don’t Make Second-Supper

    They haven’t keeled over in hunger pains (real ones, anyway) and they haven’t expired (yet)!

    We had the same rules in our house, when they were little, as you do. I was just as frustrated and disappointed (in ALL the glorious food and recipes they were missing out on). But now that they’re teenagers, they’re coming around. They try new things, occasionally. They don’t turn up their noses at EVERYTHING. My only real and reasonable advice is… don’t give up. It may take years, but as long as you continue offering up good, healthy foods, they will more than likely EVENTUALLY open up to trying them. Even if they’re married and it’s their wife (or husband) who makes them!

  8. 8 Sunny January 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I like your rules because they make sense. It’s seems little man has a very wide stubborn streak!

    I agree with Elizabeth and my Dr. said the same thing. He asked if I was still giving her vitamins and when I said yes, he said that she only needs a few bites to survive and she would eat when she’s hungry. And she did and still does eat almost everything I serve. I cook almost everything from fresh foods. I use very little canned or boxed food. It detroys their taste buds. She was two then, she’s fourteen now. Keep on keepin on, it WILL pay off. I promise.

    P.S. Limit the Mickey D’s to once a month. Sometimes she would forget all about her monthly Happy Meal. I would remind her though because I enjoyed the filet o fish. Hey, we can’t always eat right!

  9. 9 Sunny January 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Oh, I forgot what he also told me about trying something 20 times. I believe he said 15 but no matter, he said, “did you know if you try dog crap 15 times you will like it?” I said, “Uh, no I didn’t know that, and I wish I still didn’t”. ewwwwwww

    • 10 thelifeofjamie January 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      We had a successful dinner tonight. I think he was just really hungry. He cleaned his plate and I made sure for cookie rewards! Maybe hunger is the secret…starve him and he’ll eat!

      And Sunny- no worries…my kids have never had McDonald’s. And if I can help it, they never will. I’m pret anal about the foods they get and fast food definitely isn’t one of them. Although they love in n out French fries!

      Thanks for the advice everyone. It seems like the consensus is it will pass. Before it kills me though?

  10. 11 lexy3587 January 30, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Just to make you feel better, my aunt (a doctor) used to tell her patients to make their kids eat, even if they are fussy. Her son ate only (ONLY!) peanut butter sandwiches for nearly a year. would not eat anything else, not even cookies, not even pie, nothing. If she force-fed him somethign else, he’d store it in his mouth and then spit it out later. She doesnt’ tell patients to just make their kids eat anymore.

  11. 12 John Erickson January 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Sorry, not much I can offer but my sympathies. I’d offer to trade me for the kids, and let my wife handle them, but I’d hate to have TWO women in my life going away for murder. ;) :D

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