7 Year Old Won't Eat Healthy Food

I have a 7 year old son that will not eat any healthy food. He does not eat any kinds of meats or seafood, no veggies or fruits. The only thing he likes to eat is dry oatmeal, granola, and chips. He does not like mushy foods or any kind of condiments.

I just wanted to know if there is any kind of supplement that we could buy for him at the nutrition store? Thanks.

By Marilyn

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March 29, 20100 found this helpful

I don't mean to be rude, but you better get a handle on this situation fast or your son will be a real problem child when he grows bigger and stronger.

You will have to start setting standards of what foods he should eat for his health. Set the plate in front of him, and when he gets hungry he will eat. Don't give into his whims and give him what he likes.

My son tried pulling that crap when he was young. I set the food in front of him and said either you eat it or go to bed hungry.

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March 29, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with MCW. Having raised 4 boys I know it works.

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March 29, 20100 found this helpful

My daughter is the same age, and she tries this. She doesn't sound as bad as your son, but she tries.

I agree with the others. I don't care if she thinks I'm being mean. She eats this, or nothing. We had a State of the Union discussion over the weekend about eating more fruits and vegetables. It's going to be a struggle, but I can deal with it. Best of luck!

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March 29, 20100 found this helpful

Does he gag easily? Will he brush his teeth? Does he have difficulty tolerating dental exams? (Extreme difficulty, not the typical 7 year old fear.)

Did he have reflux as a baby, or did he have a medical condition that required a lot of procedures around his mouth? Are there other sensory situations in his life that cause difficulty? (Sound, visual, touch--such as refusing to wear certain kinds of clothes or refusing messy play, fear of new situations, trouble riding in cars or on swings, smells that bother him too much, etc)?

Most of the time, the eating stuff is just plain, old pickiness that requires discipline. Stand your ground.

BUT, there are some children who process sensory information differently and need to learn to tolerate new or different sensations. If you think this could be the case, talk to the guidance office at your son's school about getting an OT (Occupational therapy) sensory evaluation. Or, if you have good medical insurance, ask your doctor for a referral.

There are ways to increase your son's accepted foods.

It is a real disorder, and there is treatment. THere are books out there about it where you can find more information; or Google Sensory Processing Disorder.

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March 29, 20100 found this helpful

My son went through the same thing when he was 2. He would eat nothing but toast or dry Cheerios (bland foods). He had other health problems so I chose not to fight him & usually just gave in to his "buttered toast obsession" Of course I gave him a good multi-vitamin with minerals. My son was much younger than yours, so he eventually grew out of it & as he got older he slowly started trying more & more different foods (He is now 23 & will eat most anything).

But my 7 year old granddaughter has suddenly changed her eating habits. We know what the culprit is. Her mother had always fed her healthy, nutritious foods, but her mother just cannot find work, no matter how hard she tries, so they are low income & my granddaughter qualifies for the free breakfast & school lunch programs. These free meals have introduced her to junk foods like pancakes with syrup & sugary breakfast cereals like Fruit Loops. This school lunch & breakfast program has changed what she thinks tastes good, so now her mother is struggling to get her to eat any healthy foods. Before this (before starting 1st grade) she rarely got any sugar because it wasn't offered at home.

The only thing that has worked for her mother so far is to not let her play with her favorite toy after dinner or threatening to put her to bed early if she won't eat her meals. This will usually get her to finish her dinner. The only problem with this is that making a child finish all of what's on their plate can set up bad eating habits in the future because we should stop eating when we are full & according to experts, by forcing a child to finish his or her whole plate, this may cause them to have weight problems in the future. They say that it's best to just have a child take a bite or 2 from each different food so they can at least taste it.

The most important thing is that your child gets absolutely NO other foods or snacks after school besides his dinner. This way he won't be taking in additional junk-food calories. My daughter keeps little bags of baby-carrots in the fridge (clean & ready to eat) & when my granddaughter says she's hungry, she offers her a bag of the baby carrots & if she really is hungry, she will eat the carrots & besides that, it's her dinner or nothing!

On this, you will have to stand your ground! No treats, no desert! Nothing before or after dinner. Nothing BUT the good, healthy dinner & if he really is hungry, he can eat the baby carrots or sliced apples that are in the fridge. (or whatever healthy food you offer). & make sure he is not snacking on anything else before or after his meals. Don't even keep cookies, chips or other junk foods in the house! Also, make sure that you are the example, don't eat chips & other junk food in front of him. Junk foods should be a once-in-a-while treat, saved for only special occasions like birthday party's, holidays & family outings & until he changes his eating habits, try not to keep it in the house.

About the condiments like ketchup & mayonnaise. As children, my son & my sister never likes these either, but as they grew up, they developed a taste for some of these. But condiments are not important, just cut out all junk food & he will start eating the healthy foods again!

* Also, there will always be several foods that children would rather do anything than eat. With me this was fish (which I still hate with a passion!) & with my son it was tomatoes. Don't force your child to eat something he really, really hates, it's just not worth it! My son still reminds me of how he hated sitting at the table for hours because he wouldn't eat his tomatoes!

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the first three posts. Seven is too old to be this picky. If it's not being caused by a medical problem, get a rein on the situation while you can, pronto! I have three cousins now who, at ages 58, 60, 65, require that my aunt prepare four versions of the same meal, each catering to their likes/dislikes, as well as her own!

I was never fussy, but honestly never had a chance to refuse or request certain foods. My mother let us all know at early ages that if we did not want what she made, we could make something ourselves, or go without. As she said, 1) She was not a restaurant, and 2) she made what she could afford. A lot of that included fresh foods from our own gardens. I was the only child two years of age, even among my older cousins, that readily ate things like liver, onions, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, etc. without complaint. By the time I was starting school I loved them all.

A great side effect of this though was that I started cooking around the age of eight and am now a great cook! :D

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

There are cookbooks that show how to make food look more appealing to children and that are still appealing to other family members.

Do not make a meals for the rest of your family and one separate for your son. It reinforces that all he has to do is refuse to eat what you fix for the rest of your family. He will pick up on that and exploit you.

Children are not stupid and if he thinks that he can get you to make separate meals at his beck and call then he will likely do just that.

Speaking from experience, he will come around when he realizes that you will not cater to him. It is hard because as parents we want to please our children but, there is a line in which you have to draw as to what you will allow and not allow. He is going to expect you to do it unless you stand your ground. My daughter figured it out when I refused to make separate meals just for her.

As a child myself, my parents made me and my sisters take at least three regular bites of the things we did not like before we could leave the table. If it got cold then that was just too bad; we could not get up from the table until we took our three bites. We learned quickly that if we did it when the meal was still warm it was much easier going down.

He may think that he does not like it but by making him take the three bites he might discover that it is not so bad and will encourage him to try other foods. Some he will like and some he won't. It is imperative that if he does not clean his plate then that he will not get dessert and/or a snack later when he gets hungry. You need to inform him that he will get nothing but water until the next meal prepared when he tries to get you to give in. It is better for him to understand consequences now than later in life. You need to tell him, "if you don't eat the meals I prepared for the family then you will just have to go without until the next meal". Also reinforce that the only thing he will be allowed to drink is water; no soft drinks, Koolaid, milk or etc until next meal. Only water! A few days of this he will come around and eat the meals you make because he will be too hungry not to. It may sound cruel but look at it this way, schools do not cater to children so why should parents. He will continue to do this as long as you allow him to.

If nothing else it is worth a try.

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March 31, 20101 found this helpful

I firmly disagree with some of the statements posted here. My 13 year old grandson was a very picky eater up until about a year ago. Now his favorite food is garden salads and I don't think there is a vegetable he won't eat. We worried about his eating patterns and the fact and he wasn't eating enough. His 10 year old brother is now going through the same thing being picky at what he eats. As far as getting a handle on this, you can't control what does in his mouth and what goes out the other end! Doctor's advice not mine. You fight him on it and you'll have a bigger problem on your hands. Just introduce different foods; that's about all you can do and I firmly believe his taste buds will change has he gets older.

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

I agree that some kids have difficulty with swallowing and that it is not worth fighting over the foods. Make sure you don't have junk food in the house, give him a multivitamin and relax! I have a 21 year old son who had a lot of food issues. He only liked mushy foods like pasta with sauce and gagged on meat. I added baby food strained veggies and meat to the spaghetti sauce, and did not worry about his eating. He is now 6 feet 4 inches tall, and he now eats many more foods. He still does not eat steak or roast but eats chicken and ground meats and a relatively balanced diet.

Remember: your relationship with your son is much more important than winning a food struggle. It is not about power it is about what his needs are.

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

My son started pulling this stunt when he was about three. In his case, all he wanted to eat were turkey hot dogs with ketchup. (This was also a child who would try to hold his breath when told "no" and when sent to his room for a time out would pack a plastic bag and tell us he was going to leave home.) It went on about three days before we called the pediatrician ( again) exasperated.

The doctor laughed and told us, "Fine. Feed them to him--morning, noon and night. Get a multivitamin into him daily. Fluids will be water and milk. When he wants a cookie, give him that hot dog."

After three days, our son had hot dogs oozing from his ears, and gladly ate anything else we put in front of him.

In the end, our doc explained--it was about control, not nutrition.

He is an adult now with a little girl about the age he was when he drove us mad with this, and another one on the way. Our granddaughter has similar personality characteristics and our son has now had to deal with control issues--these parent/child conflicts often begin with food and will spill over into other areas if not addressed ASAP--as some other posters have mentioned.

Can't think of the author, but there's a book out there with "Raising A Strong-Willed Child" or something very close in the title; Google that. We had a copy that we turned to many times, as well as to our pediatrician when those little power struggles came up.

Sometimes it may well be an aversion or an allergy that causes food arguments, but often it isn't. Some kids grow out of the pickiness, but if the child has behaviors that are bossy or argumentative in non-food areas--it doesn't always just go away on its own.

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

Bravo, PupperMom! Couldn't have said it better myself!

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the others this is a control issue. By you worrying he is controlling you. Does this food issue spill over to school lunch? I would check with his teacher-he might be eating there and only doing this at home. How in the world did he discover that he liked dry oatmeal. That said, oatmeal is very healthy as granola can be with a little planning ahead.

I would make the granola home made and sneak in a lot of goodies that would have fruit and protein that would amp up the vitamins & protein -flax is wonderful to add in. I would go to a good health food store and purchase healthy chips made from vegetables or get him to help you make chips home made and let him see that they start out as potatoes. Then explore with other vegetable and make them into chips. After this I would not purchase any more chips-we would make them home made or have none at all. .

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Anonymous Flag
March 31, 20100 found this helpful

My question is, is this a health issue or control issue? Even if it's not a health issue now it's quickly going to become one even if you do give him vitamins! These food items are just not enough nourishment and especially for a growing child!

Personally, I agree with the others that this is a control issue. If he's healthy then give away all of the oatmeal, all of the granola and all of the chips and don't bring 'any' of them back in to the house until you're completely satisfied he's become a normal eater!

He'll get hungry sooner or later and give up 'the game'!

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March 31, 20100 found this helpful

I have a friend who suffers from a severe eating disorder. Brought on partially by parents who got in a power struggle with her as a child over what she should and shouldn't eat. I say don't make this a huge issue!! Ignore it for the most part, supplement with a vitamin, and invite the child to help you cook.

Knowing that they helped prepare the meal or food item makes them want to eat it. Start with cookies or something the child will eat and move on to fruit with dip etc etc. Pick your battles wisely and remember you are raising and adult and what you do now determines adulthood.

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Anonymous Flag
March 31, 20100 found this helpful

In general, I agree with most of your posts, however there are always exceptions. My son developed a true eating disorder at 9 months old! We tried all of the above ideas, consulted specialists, therapists, etc. He was way off the growth charts on the low end. Because of different medical ideas at the time, we tried many methods to get him to eat or at least try a variety of foods. This led to the issue of him throwing up when trying to eat anything besides his "safe" foods - mostly dairy items, peanut butter and crackers.

One life saver for us was using a product called "Carnation Instant Breakfast" or the store brand is OK too. It comes in many flavors, is a complete meal with vitamins and minerals, and is highly palatable without the "chemical" smell and taste of most medical supplements which we also tried. He needed extra calories so we also added dry instant milk to the mix. Three servings of this a day made about 1100 calories, enough for him to survive without tube feedings.

This went on for several years before we discovered that his stomach did not empty normally which made him always feel full - too full to eat - thus the eating issues and a medication helped with that issue. However by this time, there were very few "safe" foods because he threw up every time. It was always an issue whenever we ate out and he would rarely stay with friends, sleep overs, etc. The fast food restaurant even learned to make a cheese burger without the burger (cheese sandwich!)

One therapist made the most sense for our family - so what if that is the only thing he eats - at least he is alive and healthy! Don't make it an issue! Long story short, he is now 18. He still has some eating issues, but is healthy (small but healthy) and a state champion wrestler! Meat and vegetable items are still issues but getting better - slowly! It is amazing how you can hide healthy food in other items once you have run them through the blender! Take heart - this too shall pass. Love him and don't make an issue of it. Make sure any food he has access to is healthy, if limited in variety, and take the vitamins. Children in third world countries survive on far less!

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful

You might want to try PediaSure if he'll drink it. It contains complete nutrition. I give one to my son every day to give him the nutrition he needs plus the extra calories. I buy the Wal-Mart version called Parent's Choice which is cheaper. By the way, he hasn't missed a day of school all year!

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