Why many American kids eat while Indian kids are picky eaters…

Let me warn you that its a very looong post …I have tried to make it exhaustive… from one mother to another πŸ™‚

My background :

I shifted to USA from India 2 years back… I have a son 5 years old who embodies the definition of PICKY EATER … He eats only white rice, white mac and cheese, white plain dosa, white noodles and white cheese pizza to the extent that he used to ask us to remove the red sauce from the pizza ! As an infant he did not eat any khichdi or dal rice if he saw a black thing whether its jeera or rai !
He proudly says I don’t like Indian food to my horrified face …. I know that I made him like that to some extent ….This is how…

  1. I used to trick him into eating…. distract with toys and books..sometimes tv… shove spoonfuls of dal rice in his mouth when he wasn’t looking
  2. When he said his stomach is full I pushed him to have one more morsel
  3. I used to hate his meal time because it was battle time … now I realise he hated it too…
  4. I played with him only during meal times so he wanted to extend the meal time…
  5. The responsibility of feeding him was always mine… I used whatever I could to put food in his stomach to the extent that I scared him with wolves and policemen to get him to eat !
  6. I had enough and more number of people in India telling me that I was not doing enough…. your son looks patla (thin) …. he looks dull…

Now, I have a daughter who is 10 months old and I decided to feed her the American way… You know whats the result ?… As of now.,..she eats every damn food…and I hope it continues… this is what I did

  1. Food is not a big issue any more… I have already seen the worst… So she eats at meal time which is generally a gap of 3 hours..basically when I know she is hungry or when I put her in her high chair and she doesn’t protest….
  2. I give her morsels from my plate in her high chair table which she eats on her own…she eats in the real Ayurvedic way (https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/how-i-feed-my-daughter-10-months-old-in-ayurvedic-style/) of exploring the texture, color, smell, taste and eating at peace without anyone staring down her shoulder…. When she stops eating and starts throwing, I stop giving her the bites…
  3. I let her mash the steamed vegetables in her hand ….she makes a huge mess but I know that this is a smaller problem than u know what…..πŸ™‚
  4. I try to give her more food from my plate rather than ready food so she doesn’t grow up thinking she is meant to have different food….
  5. The responsibility of feeding her is her’s…not mine… my responsibility is only giving her the food….
    I have not killed her curiosity about things …I have used it to get her to try new foods….no force feeding at all….

Changes I made with my son now…

  1. I made peace with the fact that he doesn’t like Indian food… He doesn’t even like its aroma… !
  2. If he eats plain rice so be it… so everyday his lunch is cucumber, plain rice with lots of ghee as he loves ghee and curd….
  3. If he is playing and I am eating , i ask him to join me… he is busy playing…so I say “do u want to play for 5 min and then join me ?”…he says “no ten min”… So I set the timer for ten minutes and go and start eating…When the timer rings he either joins me or continues playing…I don’t force him to join me.. I eat my food and start doing other work…He comes to me half an hour later as he is hungry… I tell him food is on the table but i am busy so he can help himself….He does that….. But i don’t get him to eat food he does’nt like by keeping him hungry …its always food that he likes…
  4. For dinner I am changing the dinner to American, Italian, Mexican for all of us…. I am discovering it is much easier…
  5. I started looking at food as protein, grain, dairy, fruits and veggies and not dal rice etc…. so i try to give him an egg a day for protein, rice for grain, one fruit (generally in a box when he is travelling for any activity) , cucumber in veggies and milk for dairy… this way he is happy and so am I…
  6. Meal time is relaxed and fun time…not a stress time for anyone…
  7. The responsibility of feeding him is HIS and not mine… I just give him food options which always include one thing that he likes….
  8. If he doesn’t want to eat dinner, there is always toast and crackers for him…
  9. I always try to be well rested because I find I lose my temper over food very easily when i am tired…

Believe me, looking at your child enjoying his food (whatever it is) and relishing it , is a supreme JOY !

Its better to have the wrong food with the right attitude rather than the right food with the wrong attitude..

Do share this with people who can learn from my experience…

I will love to know your views too…

Till then Enjoy your child… πŸ™‚

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165 thoughts on “Why many American kids eat while Indian kids are picky eaters…

  1. Meha , Lovely post! I am SAHM and have heard it all ! from everyone i know. Old and young. I used to be hurt when they make statements which is my choice. Now i dont really care.
    As for food with kids. I have always cooked fresh meals at home for my kids and her friends . I have picky eaters who eat well at my place.
    I have read that starting early and giving as much exposure to all foods helps right from pregnancy is best. I had severe Nausea and i made every effort to eat every food i could so however i would puke but so be it. I did struggle but i realised that it helped my child in the process. She used to eat well and i never over fed her but gave her whatever she wanted and stop as soon as she turned her face. once she was 1.5 years always used to eat from my plate or her dads. we always fed her till she was 4 . Then she started eating by herself. she is now 8 , she still wants me to feed her when she is super hungry ,tired or just needs to be pampered.
    I do oblige but not always but it has showed me that it shows them that we care not plonk food and say eat .
    As every kid loves pizza, pasta and noodles. Indian is a boring food as itz cooked at home on regular basis.
    But i made a point to make lots of other dishes as well as indian dishes that now she really appreciates Indian food and sweets. She eats moderate heat and her palate has definetly improved and eats all vegetables i make . but confines to 1 subzi per day. cant have lots of varieties but eats well.

    So each child will improve as time goes !!! just be patient and let them try and it also depends on what parents eat. if they say parents not eating certain things kids wont try ever!!!

    Had fun reading your blogs!!kudos to you

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  2. I agree with most of these things here. I struggled a lot with my 3 yr old daughter when she was younger or when she is at home. If we send the same food to school/daycare, most of the boxes are half/full empty.
    I think kids don’t like rice much which is the major part of our everyday diet. My girl prefers roti over rice most of the days.

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  3. I am an American mother of two adult sons, and this made me laugh so much! Thanks for this post! And you are so right, children will have enough real struggles in life without food being one of them. As long as they get the protein and vitamins they need from the food, it’s all good. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and I did not like meat so I stopped eating it. That created a terrible family struggle that went on for years. I have not eaten any red meat, pork, bacon, etc. since I left home in 1973. I get plenty of protein elsewhere. But I will not forget the arguing that happened in my family during that time when I decided to be vegetarian. Those are the things children remember. Sharing food with family should be wonderful and joyous. So congratulations to you for seeing this so early in your young children’s lives!

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  4. Stumbled upon this post. Again. Surprised. First seen this, few months back and it rings true for me, and hence I had liked this post. I give my kids pretty much anything vegetarian they like, and like you had encouraged them to eat, by exploring their tastes. Great write up.

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  5. hi,read it and loved u for it..somewhere we mums know all this is wrong but need and external voice to prove it and u did that with me.:):) thank u!

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  6. We have a picky eater created by her mama! But the mama wouldn’t agree. Then her mama’s folks said her mama also was like that(sure her mama’s mama was a forceful feeder) and her mama’s aunt’s kid also was a picky eater – it is a family trait!

    Then I saw this Dog Whisperer video – the problem was the Dog needs specialized food to be cooked, it doesn’t eat Dog food or meat! And the guy was a plumpy one pampered to the core. So the treatment – make him do some work and make him hungry, Caesar Milan hangs a fresh piece of raw meat after the Dog is tired and he just jumps for it!

    Then I knew the problem we were having with our daughter – it was her mama and her grandma created the problem for her mama and her grandma’s sister created the problem for their child.

    But why are they not able to get it ? Even after the Docs telling them and presenting evidence about humans and kids ? Do you have any theory ?

    I feel so disappointed that our girl is so choosy and picky whereas I for one eats everything on the plate(except Dog meat and way too spicy food)! And we have created this problem!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. omg!! this is exactly what i wanted… thought of giving a try in this way to feed my 2 yrs old son (basically from India) but now decided to follow :). Thank you so much for this post.

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  8. I am glad I came across your post. For one, I don’t think I am the only one in the boat. I have a 3 yr old son. He started eating on his own at 8 months. Since then he’d never let me feed him. He is independent in almost all actions of life. So my struggle is not going after and feeding him, but he refuses almost everything that is “indian.” Let me clarify when I say Indian, that means our staple food dal, rice, roti. Although I cook variety of food, I feel he has become extremely picky after turning 2. For the most part, I admit I do not know much about child mindset when it comes to food, I am still collecting and reading on various aspect of food and children. As parents we want the best for our children, but most parents forget that children are independent personalities. They are individuals and not extension of their parents. Why do we feel pressured to hand feed our children when they are capable of eating on their own ? Why does it become a battle ? I agree with Priya, why are we comparing our children ?
    Children develop taste buds throughout their lives and they keep changing. I liked Broccoli when I turned 25, So I will not expect my kid to like it anytime before then. If he does, then I am all for it !! As long as they are eating nutritious meals, and not malnourished, do not worry. I have met obsessed parents who will not introduce anything “sweet” to their toddlers, yet they will sugar load themselves. We can argue, parenting style is a CHOICE, my house my rule is a CHOICE, but don’t you want your kids to develop persona and thought process ? Even as little as toddlers they are telling us something, something really important, all you have to do is just listen. I make a confession here that I used to bribe my kid, but everyday it become a bigger problem, and to the point that it wouldn’t work anymore. And then I realized that mealtime became the most feared occasion, and that is the day I decided I will not do this to my child ! My 3 yr old can tell you 45 US Capitals, but he does not want to eat dal, and rice. That is a fact I can live with. So all you parents out there, pick and choose your battles, but discover your child each and everyday. Count your blessings that at least god gives us our loaf of daily bread ! Amen

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  9. I Completely appreciate your transition. However I don’t think it’s with Indian/American style. It’s not the fact of sitting on high chair or anywhere else. I guess the problem is with our generation too, I am mom of 2 year face similar situation. If you look back, our parents or the older generation never had this issue at all, that’s what my mo says. It’s because we care too much and provide too many varieties. Above all we are stressed to feed them:)

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  10. Looking at posts I feel many have problem with India food. Rather I feel we have more varieties in India to taste:) Now East and west want to follow India and we Indians leave our good and follow them? Which one is the improvised version here?

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  11. Forget i dian food or western..i really wana give u a big bear hug for putting up thos simplest idea into words. Kids grow to explore and find new things and learn from them on their own..so why would it be different for food..i realise how correct my husband is when he says ‘ our daughter will eat when she is hungry..u dont have to fuss or worry over it’ πŸ™‚ now coming from an experienced mum like u dese words have a greater emphasis to me πŸ˜›
    Thnk u soo mch…

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  12. Hi Meha n all moms who’ve posted. Loved the post really. If anyone cam help me please. I m losing my head! !
    Cringe!!!
    My baby all of 17 months old suddenly starts to go on healthy food strike. All junk goes down his tummy. I have to feed him while hes interested in tv/nursery rhymes etc…
    Or he just wnt eat! His activity level has decreased too. M soo worried! ! Plz help..

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  13. That’s not a long post. Very informative and to the point. I followed the same and touch wood she eats fine. There were times when I was stressed as people have varied opinion to give you. However, things are fine now. Great post.

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  14. I would like to know why all the moms are obsessed with feeding.
    I am 21 and still everyday my mum is shouting after me to eat. She starts telling me to eat as soon as she sees me Awake and then keeps this up till I finally agree to eat roti. Like seriously! I will eat when I am hungry ( I do say this to her every day). But her reply, no wait comment in return is that I am never hungry, and this is sometimes posed as a question.
    And if you wanna know then , I wake up at around noon (since I study at night) ,but get out of bed at aroun 2 or 3 ( I like to read in bed before sleeping and when I wake up) ; so I have my breakfast at around 4 or 5 . Before that I do eat some cookies or fruits . But still as soon as she finds out I am awake, first thing she says is ” roti kha lai”
    I could understand her antics, when I was in school. But now I am an adult, I know when I am hungry and will eat accordingly . But it seems my mum does not understand that.

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  15. This describes my nanny babe and her mom and grandma to a T!!! I came across this while searching “kids not eating” and when I saw Indian I thought to myself, maybe she’s not alone! I wouldn’t perhaps blame it on the culture, but the ways yes. I have worked as a nanny for two Indian families and all three children have been extremely picky eaters. After seeing the moms and grandmas forcing the same meal three times a day down their throats, I knew right away what the problem was. Of course these kids don’t want to eat the same rice dish every single day! They want variety just like you said. And don’t get me wrong, I love Indian food and even the daal they serve their kids. But if you don’t let them explore food, texture, color from the beginning of course they’ll be picky. I recently started experimenting and giving my current nanny babe some of my breakfast and lunch. Low and behold she now loves oatmeal, yogurt, pasta, chicken, eggs, pizza, and sometimes the occasional salad! She’s only 1.5 but I see a bright future of no more picky eating and no more force feeding!

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  16. Loved reading this article. You are absolutely right, Indian parents, often err on the side of over caution. One of the ways I discovered with my elder kid now 4.5 yrs old is by telling him stories, I can convince him better. This lead me to creating a series of such stories for kids: http://bit.ly/2hUii35

    Would love you hear your thoughts and may be recon for other stories.

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  17. Hi Anumeha,

    Very well said and thank you for sharing your experience with us. I have a son, 3 years old and he embodies the definition of a picky eater too, although he is getting better. I loved your article writing. Please keep them coming.

    Gayathri

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      1. Hi Sumit , this is what I did with my daughter . She ate from my plate whatever I ate . If I make sometime special for her she comes to believe that that’s normal . Mom dad eat different food than me . I used to do that with my son. But with my daughter she always ate whatever I ate . I anyway eat non spicy food so it was easy …

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