I get a lot of people asking me about tips on dealing with picky eaters. I am by no means an expert but my edge on this topic is not merely based on my experience dealing with Ryan but I'm actually speaking from my personal experience as a recovering picky eater.
Ryan was a good eater until he turned one. Things changed drastically after he was hospitalized for the second time. Going for physio to drain out the phlegm and mucus at one year old, has a bigger impact on him as compared to the first treatment when he was 7 months old. I guess he can remember clearly the traumatic experience of tubes being shoved down his throat since he's older.
After that I detect a change in his feeding pattern. He's more choosy and refuses to eat vegetables and meat (he'll only eat eggs, carrots and potatoes) and will only eat plain or fried rice and some pasta. Since he have dinner at my parents who enabled him, and I did not really interfere at that time because I was busy with my night classes and the arrival of his twin sisters, he continued with this feeding pattern until he's about 3 years old.
Once we've gotten pass the hecticness with the twins being older, I've managed to really sit down and analyze the issue with Ryan. In terms of preference my boy actually prefers stronger tasting food (e.g. durian, tomyam, oranges etc) so all the bland food that we were previously feeding him, does nothing to increase his appetite. The second mistake was actually listening to him when he says that he do not like a food without even trying it. Thirdly was making a huge production during mealtimes forcing him to eat (this is more my mum than me)
Ok parents drill this into your head...
(1) NAGGING KILLS APPETITE
(2) The child will eat when the child is hungry
Again let me stress this out. I am speaking based on my own personal experience. When I was 5-12 my basic food everyday is my arwah Wan Nasi Goreng for breakfast, rice,kicap and fried fish (only ikan selar kuning ok) for lunch and 1-2 slices of bread for dinner. I was a freaking skinny kid (albeit a very healthy and active one) I introduced a bit of variety into my meals when I was in High School but was still extremely selective and only grew out of the food bubble when I stepped into Uni. You want to know what made me changed?
It is because I DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. There is no Mummy or Wan to cook food the way I like it. So either I starve or live on a diet of instant noodle everyday, I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone. Most of my friends are quite adventurous foodies (or at least normal by my standard), so it made me more open to trying out small quantities of food of their plate (less scary option than ordering an entire plate of "alien" food), this in turn expanded my choices and allowed me to make a more informed decision between food I actually like/hate/initially thought i hate but end of liking (like ikan keli for instance)
So keeping all this in mind, I introduced new dishes to Ryan in a more subtle manner. Sometimes I will cooked a particular dish for myself and invite him to try a bite and assure him that he's allowed to (politely) spit it out if he don't like the taste. Even though he may not try or like it at first, I will continuously offer the same food/fruits/vege to him. If he still resist the taste after 5-6 tries I will just move on and offer something else because I take it that he is naturally not attracted to the taste (I'm positively allergic to the taste of bean sprouts, cucumber and honey dew - will literally will gag it out and I'm 31 haha ). But NEVER underestimate the wonders of persistence because I've managed to get Ryan to eat roast beef (which he won't even touch before) and spinach after a few tries.
Another thing is DO NOT provide options all the time. Example cooking two types of fried rice (1) normal with all the works (2) kosong with just kicap for the picky kid. The signal you're sending is "I do not need to try new food because mummy will always provide me with the dish that I WANT". Persuade your child to try the food and allow him to weed out unwanted meat/veges from the dish. What do you got to lose? He'll try it and not like it (so it will be status quo) OR he'll try it and decide "hey this is not bad at all".
Don't be a hypocrite. If you yourself do not eat vegetable and fruits, don't membebel and paksa your kid to eat it. Lead by example. In my house, I only buy vegetable/fruits that I know I will eat, screw variety, if you only like mangoes, carrots and broccoli than by all means buy and eat it everyday if you want . Don't feel the need to compel the household to 3 types of exotic vegetables that you personally don't like but FORCED it upon your kid.
If your kids is forever "kenyang" try minimizing snacks or don't allow snack so close to mealtimes. We had this problem earlier this year when my mum complained that Ryan and the twins refused dinner. The root of the problem is my parents will feed them "roti cream" at around 4.30 when they come back from school. I advised my parents to stop buying the bread (and to ignore their crying) and alhamdullilah they're asking for second (even thirds) serving of food during dinner now.
Finally, be patient and relaxed, mummy!! Like I mentioned earlier the child will eat when the child is hungry. Don't worry so much about variety, just ensure that they get benefit from all the food groups. If it is any consolation I survived on kicap, fried fish/chicken, carrots and junk food all through my early adulthood (the health consciousness and awareness is recently acquired) and I turned out ok :p Alhamdullilah I'm healthy, active and quite smart (despite the lack of greens) hahahah
Do make food fun and attractive :) Anyway see the green dip in the middle? That is basil, spinach, sour cream and a squirt of mayo. No vege taste but with all the goodness and nutrients...
Yes the noodle is green because it is "spinach noodle". You can find it in most health store and it taste good. The menu above consist of me tossing the noodle into a bit of garlic, spring onions,olive oil and grilled salmon. Walla a quick, healthy and yummy dish (Iman ate this without blinking)
Another awesome way to incorporate veges into food is by infusing meat in vegetable stocks. Not only would your dish taste better, you would also benefit from the nutrients from the vegetables.
Hope this helps... in the meantime.. chill yo!!!