When most people walk into a large grocery store, they are met with a seemingly limitless array of food choices as they shop for the family groceries.

But when I walk into my area grocery store, that view shrinks considerably when it comes to finding options that my son will eat.

You see, I am the mother of the pickiest eater in the world.

He’s not in the Book of World Records quite yet, but his eating habits are nearly unmatched by any other kid I’ve come across. (And I’m simply ignoring my friend whose kid prefers sushi to French fries. You know who you are!)

We’ve dealt with my son’s preference for peanut butter, waffles, buttered noodles, pepperoni pizza and bananas and distaste for most everything else for a number of years now. He’s a champ when it comes to dairy consumption, but simply can’t find a vegetable that is even somewhat palatable.

And, yes, I’ve been working closely with our family pediatrician and have talked to nutritionists about his very rigid menu options. Even though my athletic boy continues to thrive and grow, I want him to be able to add more nutritious options to his eating and to learn to enjoy food more easily and to lose the anxiety of eating away from home.

So we continue to require that he tries different foods, in addition to returning to other foods that he’s discounted in the past. He helps develop family menus and assist me with the grocery shopping. He’s also been active in the kitchen, preparing food. It’s amazing that he’ll enjoy the entire process of making something like homemade chicken nuggets and simply turn pale at the thought of consuming even one.
But I remain hopeful. Maybe the kid will find out that he adores kiwi or brussel sprouts. So I find myself trying new foods or things that I don’t like to eat. (Like baked beans and peas, two foods that I would pass by at the store, but my daughter eats like candy.)

Even though his choices are narrow, I need to have as many choices as possible available for us when we go to the supermarket. (For example, the kid would be fruitless if we didn’t have access to bananas, a crop that Iowa farmers aren’t known for cultivating.) Because my boy’s choices are so limited right now, I simply can’t afford to have them narrowed any farther.

I’m hoping someday that he’ll look at the chicken nuggets we made and say, “Hey, those look good today.” So I want to make sure that they’ll be there, along with bananas and bacon and eggs and more, in the future.

If you are even remotely in the same boat (and welcome aboard to you!), a great resource to learn more about food choice and where those choices come from is www.choose2choose.com.

And for some great tips to address the picky eater lifestyle, Mayo Clinic has some great ideas at www.mayoclinic.com/health/childrens-health/HQ01107.

I also came across the Word of Mouth Blog (www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jul/21/picky-fussy-eaters) from the United Kingdom that talked about childhood finicky food habits that may even stick around through adulthood. (That would be true about peas and baked beans for me.)
How about you? Parent of a picky eater? Proud picky-eater adult? If you can help me find a vegetable that my kiddo will eat, I may make you part of the family and you’ll be invited to dinner.

Written by Heather Lilienthal
Heather is an Ag Commodities Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.