Mom of two
I have two picky eaters. One of my children has a gtube and the other has many feeding issues. I use to live with a feeling of being a bad parent because I fed my children foods that were not what I always thought of as ideal. Pizzas, fast food, ice cream etc. I always thought I would have my children on all homemade organic foods, and that fast foods and desserts would be less regular. I also expected to have normal dinners where we all sit at the table and enjoy our meals. That is hardly the case.
It is my feeling that I have to make each experience my children have with food to be positive in nature. I never force or pressure my children to eat because for me, it creates a power struggle and negative associations with food. My children also have severe reflux so forcing is never an option, as they know their own bodies. I have learned to accept that food is food. Although I would absolutely love nothing more than to feed my children all organic home grown food, that simply is unrealistic right now. I always offer two choices, which are a preferred food and always have a fruit or vegetable on their plate which sometimes is eaten and sometimes not. But for my family, it is my children wanting to eat that matters most, having each meal positive
I have also learned to use the tools that work. My children like to be distracted because eating is difficult for them. They love to watch tv while they eat. Although this is absolutely what I did not ever want, it works. I sit with them at a table and we eat while they watch cartoons and we laugh about the show and talk in constant conversation to keep them " distracted". I let them watch tv for breakfast and lunch and for dinner we sit at the table together with no tv on. It is my goal to introduce a healthier more nutritious diet with variety, and I do so every day. For my kids, it starts with feeling safe and comfortable with food so they play with any new food prior to being expected to eat it, it is a long process but it is working....slowly.
Lastly, I realized the reason my children like fast food meat and not home cooked meat is because it is easier to chew and swallow and has less texture to it. After purchasing a pressure cooker, my daughter who has never eaten real meat, loves chicken! The pressure cooker softens the food and makes it more like a stewed chicken. It is easy to chew and there is always broth to pour on top of the meat. She has since, eaten chicken every time I cooked it this way.