The struggle to manage picky eaters

The trick is to incorporate nutritious ingredients into something they will eat

In Summary

• My kid's appetite swings like a pendulum when he is in Kenya versus while abroad

A child eats a packed meal
A child eats a packed meal

My son has been somewhat of a picky eater since he was born. He exclusively breastfed for months and refused the bottle from the start. He even rejected formula and I had to improvise by adding formula to Cerelac and porridge when he started on cereal. As fate would have it, I am still improvising two years later.

I honestly do not understand my child’s eating habits. He would have days where he would devour certain foods and then spend months off it. For instance, my son, much like his father, loves bread. He enjoys a nice pan-seared piece of toast, but once he stops eating it, he will stay off bread for a couple of months before going back to eating at least two slices.

I even bought several of those fancy sandwich cutters to cut the bread into shapes he loves, but that trick only lasted me a hot minute. Yet this same kid would visit my sister’s house and join his older cousins for breakfast by having a minimum of two pieces of toast! He will eat everything they eat and enjoy it, too.

Whenever we are in Kenya, my child drinks my father’s black tea. He eats sima, sukuma wiki and omena like the born Kenyan he is. He devours mahamri and chapati like a typical Coasterian. I mean, he eats everything under the sun with little to no encouragement.

However, as soon as we leave Kenyan airspace, he turns into the nugget-loving, chapati-ignoring globe-trotter. Believe me when I say I cook everything and try to feed him the same things he eats in Kenya only for him to shun them and eat finger foods. But it's not only the Kenyan foods he ignores when we are home, it's anything that is nutritious or filling.

It’s a task to get him to eat rice, vegetables are spat out and fruits are only useful as illustrations for naming them. Anything that isn't meat, fish or chicken will be ignored on the plate, no matter how long you leave it in front of him. Snacks and biscuits are devoured by the serving.

As a result, I find myself becoming somewhat of a master chef as I constantly try to come up with deceptive recipes to make him eat healthy foods. Every week, I have to concoct some kind of food item that looks like what he will eat, yet it is loaded with nutritious ingredients that are cleverly disguised.

It is exhausting. Sometimes, I would pat myself on the back for making such a cleverly disguised nutritious meal, only for him to have one bite. I find myself longing for the teenage years, where growing teenage boys eat everything under the sun. Until then, I have to keep fencing with the picky stage just to see my child eat.

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