Friday, October 29, 2010

pediasure, picky eating, low weight and desperate parents

A reader called me out on some lazy writing (excerpted with permission from a private email) on the Pediasure post... This is long, but if you are struggling with feeding, picky eaters or low weight concerns, read on...

"Hi, I just recently started following your blog. It was miraculous to me. My daughter (5) is an extremely limited eater. The amount of stress and despair this was causing in our household cannot be underestimated. Feeding your child is primal, it is a fundamental responsibility of parents to provide food, and when your child won't eat, it is devastating.
The "division of responsibility" and taking the pressure off was a godsend to us. I borrowed Ellyn's book from the library, and we are working at removing the pressure, tweaking our mealtimes etc. and we are seeing progress. (Little bits, her commenting on food smelling good, her moving to eating grilled cheese sandwiches that have a little bit of mozzerella mixed with the other cheese etc.)
We take full responsibility for how our daughter ended up such a poor eater. She was a tiny baby (not premature, just small), she didn't breastfeed well, and didn't move to solid food well. She was and probably always will be skeptical of new food. So we made the classic mistakes, we were so concerned about the amount she was eating, that we "coned" down her food to only serve foods she ate a lot of, which, of course, are now the only foods she eats. We were so freaked out about variety that we tried again and again to get her to try foods, laying on the pressure, lots of fighting. Exhausting and stressful for everybody.
The information that I could find or that was available in magazines, and books that I read (unfortunately, I didn't stumble upon Ellyn's book) was completely unhelpful. Hide veggies in her meatballs (she won't eat meatballs, and it is hard to hide veggies in plain noodles with butter on them.) Just "make them eat" --- that one just gets me every time ...
Parents today are really pressured. 'Make sure your child is getting enough of all the nutrients.' (One book I read said that children (aged 4-8) should eat 8 to 10 servings of vegetables a day, a serving size being 1/2 cup - my child doesn't eat that much food in a day, let alone of vegetables!)
So today, when I read your post, I have to say that I was hurt. I was hurt that you described parents who use Pediasure as lazy, as wanting to take "the easy way". I don't use Pediasure, I've considered it but they only sell it in big expensive packs, and I wasn't sure she would like it. Plus, I wasn't sure that I wanted to have her drinking some sweet concoction, I want her to eat, and be healthy and enjoy food.
But those parents who do ... they aren't lazy, they are desperate and they are worried, and they love their children as much as you love yours. They want their child to be healthy, and they feel the weight of the pressure. *
(I totally agree)
I'm sure some of them are making feeding mistakes, but I'm sure that lots of them do meal plan and have regular meals and snacks, and have children that are "underweight" or "problem eaters" and they talked to a doctor or nutritionist or a grandmother or a neighbor who suggested they try Pediasure. So all these people, myself included, love their children and are trying to do what "experts" tell them is "best" and end up more screwed up.

Couldn't Pediasure (or like products) be used by parents to help them take the pressure off? If they were feeling more confident that nutritional needs were being met somewhat, would that help them take the pressure off at mealtimes? My daughter enjoys vegetable muffins (healthy, low-fat, high-fiber, muffins. I make them with pumpkin or carrot or zucchini, she enjoys them and takes them in her lunch to school.) This helps me, and my husband, not panic when at dinner she decides not to have a carrot stick or only nibbles the flowerets off one piece of broccoli, I know she is getting some vegetable nutrients in her day.
Anyway, I just wanted to say my piece. Thank you for your blog, it is really helping us. Progess is slow, and of course we messed her up so much that it is probably going to be a really slow go to getting her on track. But I used to look ahead and know, in my bones know, that she was going to be anorexic some day, that the amount of power struggles around food was going to be our doom, and not know what to do. And now, I am starting to feel hope, hope that someday she will eat normally, have some likes and dislikes, eat too much one day, and too little another, and most off all not stress about it.

P.S. I was a picky child (though really just a mostly normal child who liked a fair amount of things, as long as they were plain). My husband was an extremely picky child (only ate grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup for about 10 years). Now we both eat a huge variety of foods, lots of different vegetables, grains, fruits and meat. My husband's favourite food is sushi! I don't care for it though ... I don't like the taste of seaweed, and I still don't care for fish even after all these years."

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your thoughtful email.
I am so sorry that you felt hurt by my comment. I am sorry for all the worry you have gone through around feeding. I am sorry that the system failed you and did not provide help (and likely heightened your anxieties) all along the way– when your daughter was born small, had trouble with breast-feeding, trouble with solids etc. I see so many times when you could have been helped perhaps...

Back to my post. I write my posts quickly and not often with the most thorough thinking! I am angry and upset precisely because desperate parents are tossed a bottle of Pediasure, with no help, no direction on how to really address or solve the underlying problem. As my friend said, "We felt like we were circling a black hole. Things were getting so bad and we just needed someone to pull us out of it." We shouldn't just be throwing bottles of Pediasure down that hole!

Another reader illustrated my concerns:
"Pediasure was recommended to me from a physician when I tried to discuss my child's picky eating issues. We used it at meal times. It filled him up. He didn't want or need to eat any other foods at dinner. Almost two years later, I have banned it from my house and am now struggling with an even older and pickier eater thanks to that ill advice. Wish I had learned about D of R long ago. We're almost 3 months in to D of R and he's yet to try something new, but my 5 year old has and that gives me hope..."

This is precisely what I am upset about. The family goes in for help. The untrained expert "helps" the best she knows how and problems continue and worsen...

I do what I do because I know parents are desperate, are trying hard, are consumed with worry, are scared beyond belief. I did not mean to call parents lazy who use Pediasure.

Parents are desperate and will do what they can to help their children.
I do think that the medical professionals are ignorant and pressed for time in that they recommend Pediasure without a thorough understanding of the situation. They have no knowledge about how to even ask about the feeding atmosphere. It's simply not on their radar (I generalize based on my own experiences, experiences with teaching those in the profession and my client and reader experiences...)

These parents are not lazy at all. In fact they are consumed with worry and expend huge amounts of energy, often in a counterproductive way to help kids with eating. It doesn't have to be so hard!

My anger, disappointment and accusations are almost 100% directed at the health professionals and the advertisers for Pediasure.

I hope that clarifies things...

I do think there can be a role for Pediasure but with extreme caution. If children will drink it without pressure, if it helps parents relax and back off pressure, if there is a real concern about nutrients (you would be amazed how many really picky eaters are actually meeting nutritional requirements when there is a full 7 day intake analysis) and if it is given within a framework of addressing feeding in the best way possible, meaning sit-down snacks and meals and no grazing, DOR etc. It's simply not fair for desperate parents to be given half-measures that may actually make matters worse.

Please let me know if I didn't get to your concerns, and thank you for writing. I am so glad that you are seeing progress with your daughter. Your words help me keep doing what I do.

I hope my laziness with my blog today won't put you off from reading my blog!

Hang in there, and great news that you and your husband have expanded your tastes! Your daughter is lucky to have two such loving and considerate parents.


readers, what do you think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pediasure-the answer to all your feeding worries!

I'm a little more than dismayed at the ads recently for Pediasure. It plays on the worst fears of parents. "Be 110% sure!" (My goodness, Timmy didn't eat the food pyramid yesterday. That could effect his brain development! I need to do something! Or Becky is at the 3rd percentile, and the doctor is threatening me with a 'failure to thrive' diagnosis! Help!)

On TV, a pyramid of wholesome foods float in the air. Slowly, foods disappear from the pyramid as little Ashley refuses to eat more and more foods. Phew! Thank goodness there is Pediasure which magically floats in and fills the holes!

Did you watch the ad? Please do, then answer these questions:

How do you feel about your kids eating? Anxious? Worried?
Do you want to "feed your child's potential?"
What if your child IS missing some nutrient. It can't hurt can it?
What emotion are they attacking? Guilt? Are they reassuring or fear-mongering?
What if my child's development is being effected!

OK, and why is it that in all the ads (I watched them) the kids don't eat any real food, but all LOVE the taste of Pediasure...

How could you NOT "feed your kids potential."

The quick fix. The prescription (literally) for picky or small kids. Many physicians who don't have the time or training to address feeding problems, will recommend Pediasure. WIC (supplemental food assistance for women, infants, children) participants need a prescription.

At a recent WIC workshop, a nutritionist mentioned that there are "great recipes" using Pediasure. When asked if she had ever tried any, she said, 'no.' I wouldn't either. The dietitians bemoaned that fact that the docs all rush to Pediasure and don't address feeding at all.

Yummo! Cooking with Pediasure! (Sarcasm in case you missed it.)

Here is an example of a recipe...
Banana-Chip Muffins (not endorsed by FFD...)


1 14-oz package Pillsbury® Banana Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

1 8-fl-oz bottle Vanilla or Banana PediaSure
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Are the recipes balanced, or a way to sell more products owned by the umbrella company...

I don't deny that there are some children who really do need nutritional support or even exclusive or supplemental tube feeds (those with certain rare medical or physical conditions,) but that is not who Pediasure is marketing to. They are marketing to the average parent who worries about nutrition, who struggles with feeding and likely a picky child. I would also guess there is an army of attractive sales reps making the rounds with free lunches to pediatricians offices too...

My friend, who's child fell of the growth curve after a GI illness was instructed to offer food all day long with Pediasure being the central food. She literally chased her toddler around with a sippy-cup full of Pediasure for weeks. It didn't help and intake continued to suffer. A feeding clinic work-up later, and they were basically sent home with a list of recommendations from Ellyn Satter's work: structure, no grazing, sit-down meals and snacks, no pressure, Division of Responsibility...

Because in fact it is less work- for the physician and for the parent (less effective I might add) to reach for the quick fix, the "pill" in bottle form to fix the problem rather than to delve into feeding. Less work to have a sippy-cup of Pediasure than it is to shop for, plan and prepare 3 sit-down meals and 2-3 sit-down snacks. It is less work to hand the child a bottle than to sit with them and eat.

What could my friend have done (she didn't ask, so I didn't offer...) First, grazing, or drinking supplements all day in small quantities doesn't work. Kids don't develop a proper appetite and studies show that they will eat less well and grow less well.

(Note, this is general info, and is not intended to replace an evaluation or work-up. In other words I don't want to recommend stopping Pediasure in case you, gentle Reader have a child who really needs it.)

So, if you are using Pediasure, start by bringing it into sit-down meals and snacks every 2-3 hours for smaller children and every 3-4 for older. Offer balanced foods with those meals and snacks. Sit and eat with your child as much as possible. Don't let them graze in between. Allow them the opportunity to get hungry. Not too hungry, but come to the table with some hunger. Stop pressuring or bribing. In other words, follow the Division of Responsibility in feeding.

OK, that's it. My mini-rant on Pediasure, a whirlwind bit of advice.

Folks, what have your experiences been with Pediasure?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

some decent books at Target

After raling about a book I saw at Target, I wanted to give them props for these gems. At $1 each, they are lovely looking, printed in the USA and well-written. My 5 yo loves hearing the stories of Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Secret Garden etc. There are illustrations every other page or so which helps keep her interest as well since she tends to be a wanderer. I was a fidgety kid and I didn't get read to as much (it can be annoying to have a kid who is playing with the cat while you're reading, but she is taking it in...) Don't give up on reading to your kids, even if they are sitting there playing with Legos or the cat while you do it :)

I'm a little torn about recommending a Target product, with the controversy around the political stuff, but they're a home-town company that gives away 5% of its earnings to charity, sponsors tons of cultural stuff in the Twin Cities and is a big local employer. I can imagine there are lots of other companies doing as much or more egregious political donating so I'm going to stay out of it...

Warning, Oliver Twist, is NOT a kid's story... Murder, mayhem, multiple kidnappings, moms dying in childbirth...

Monday, October 25, 2010

new blog/website coming soon...

Hello all-
Sometime this week this blog site will disappear (I think!) I am consolidating to one site with website and blog all at one address,
I hope you are enjoying the blog and will follow to the new location. I'm not sure how your SRS readers etc will work. If you FAN Family Feeding Dynamics on Facebook, you will get updates automatically. Please let me know if you have any trouble, and I apologize for any inconvenience. The old content should be there though there may be some formatting issues, but the comments will be new and improved, and I hope will make things easier for readers and clients alike.
I am working with someone on this and we are on a deadline with the domain so it will be a little sloppy at first, but hey, I have to keep the family dinners going! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

physical activity for kids– but someone could get hurt!

Hi! I'm back. It feels good, but also lots to catch up on, and my email seems to be swallowing things, so if you're the mom from Colorado who emailed a while back, I think I have a contact for you :)

So, part of having a healthy relationship with our bodies is moving them. Kids often do this more spontaneously than adults. I marvel at the energy level, the sheer joy many children have as they run, or dance. Even my relatively sedentary child (compared to some of the little guys I know!) has such a clear joyful abandon when she's moving.

So, on a recent day off school, I took M and a friend to the Como zoo (a local zoo that is donation-entry) to burn off some steam. It was a beautiful fall day and the zoo was almost empty. I wanted to give them the opportunity to run and play. (Just as with food, there is a Division of Responsibility with activity. I provide the opportunity for M to move her body in joyous and unpressured ways and she takes it or leaves it...)

Anyway, so they are running from one thing to the next. As I said, there are very few people there. I asked them not to run if there were others around, but otherwise was thrilled that they were having fun and getting exercise.

Then an employee shouts at them to "walk! No running!" There was literally no one around. I said kindly, "May I ask what your concern is?" She looked at me like I was crazy. "Well, they can get hurt! We had a kid split his lip here before!"

Really!? I didn't quite know what to say. "OK, well thanks, yes, kids do get hurt I suppose!" I wandered off and let them run at will. A child can split a lip falling from a walk as well. It seemed odd. I could understand if they were running into people, or if it was crowded. I wanted to say, "I am willing to accept that risk," or, "Are you kidding me? Of course some kids will get hurt. That is unavoidable." (Will we soon be signing liability waivers at public places?)

What does this mean? Will we outlaw running, climbing etc because of liability concerns? Already, the playgrounds of our youth with merry-go-rounds are gone. The high-dive at the swim-club is long gone and climbing structures barely get off the ground. (In contrast, in France, where they have 10% of the lawyers we have here, the playgrounds I have seen look like something out of Fear Factor...)

I felt bad encouraging my child to ignore an adult authority figure- but come on.

What do you think? Do you think our caution, our fear of injury is making it harder for kids to find enjoyable ways to be active? Have you had similar experiences?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hummus, really!?

Note: I will be out of town from the 13th-23rd, so expect another posting towards the end of the month!

So, M has seen hummus with meals at least 100 times in the last 3 years. I love it (local Hollyland hummus is the bomb) and it is often there for lunch with other options. Out of the blue, she asked for hummus yesterday morning for breakfast. It was in the fridge right in front of her (I was making French toast from left-over bread.) I was curious so I said, "sure!" (Those of you paying close attention note that I was letting her do the job of deciding 'what' to eat, I hope you'll go with it for now....) :)

She pulled out the hummus, I peeled a carrot for her and she nibbled on that while we chatted and I tended to the French Toast.

"This is good hummus. It's just like Freddie's!"

Well, bowl me over and Thank You Freddie!

You know the line about kids needing to "try" foods 10 times before they decide they like it? Well, they may need dozens and dozens, and sometimes 100 exposures before they decided to even try it! I think they had hummus for snack at school, and Freddie occasionally had it at lunch time.

So, don't despair, don't pressure. I know how tempting it is to ask kids to try it, or to eat something they are reluctant to eat. I firmly believe that almost all kids, when exposed over time to a food in a neutral and pleasant setting will learn to like it.

Like my client who called after six months saying her son tried cauliflower and sushi all in one week, or the child who declared he might try a chicken nugget next time... It takes time, lots of it for some kids. Having a positive attitude about eating and food is critical.

Your 5 year old doesn't have to eat or love everything (nor does your two or eleven year old.) I wasn't even exposed to most 'exotic' cuisine until college and beyond. Trust that if you love eating a variety of foods and you provide your children with that opportunity, with time, they will learn to like those foods.

What if I had MADE her try it, or pressured her? Might she have taken a few bites to please me? Might she have refused and had the 45 minute stand-off? Would she have been as positive about it so soon?

What was it like to be pressured to try new foods for you as a kid... I know I didn't even TRY my mom's red cabbage until I was in my mid-twenties. They always wanted me to try it, but it was my line in the sand....

Are there foods you were encouraged or forced to eat that took you a long time to be open to? ( I still haven't even tried my dad's home-made green tomato chutney...)

Oh, and this was the 3rd time we had French Toast, and M at 2 smallish slices, while she only nibbled the first few times...

Monday, October 11, 2010

crying over rice, and the tools to deal with the meal-time meltdowns

M loves rice, white rice mind you. (I know, it's a current favorite punching bag nutritionally-speaking.) I like both white and brown, prefer white with stir-fry and brown with a bolder, more tomato or squash-based meal.

Anyway, I forgot to push 'start' on the rice-cooker the other night and 15 minute count-down to dinner was on, with no rice. I got some hot, salted water to boil to serve pasta with the dish I threw together (left-over roasted chicken with the drippings, a can of diced tomatoes, sauteed leek, oldish peppers from the fridge, the last, tiny zucchini from the garden, Italian herbs...)

M lost it. She cried and whined that we were having noodles when she thought we were having rice. (She was TIRED after a long day at school/daycare and then swimming lessons...)
I took a big swig of my red-wine, and tried hard to stay neutral. (I was thinking, "darn-it," OK, I was thinking, "Damnit, I just cut up and cooked all this food, we had rice last night, you like pasta, stop whining and eat it!"

Instead, I put on my best Mommy-smile and said, "M, I know you're dissapointed. I am too. I wish I hadn't forgotten to push the start button, but I'm making pasta. It's not OK to whine or cry over what's for dinner. I know you will find something you can eat. Dinner will be a little later, would you like some cherry-tomatoes or carrots for an appetizer? Would you like some dip with it?"

She settled for some cherry tomatoes and our current favorite Netflix show Shaun the Sheep (from the Wallace and Gromit folks.) Within a few minutes it seemed all was forgotten.
D came home, we had dinner about ten minutes later than usual and we all enjoyed the pasta and stew.

The point? Kids are still kids. They whine, they throw fits, but you still get to decide what's for dinner and you still get to ask that they behave as is age appropriate. Don't cave in to whining, or crying that they don't like something. They will survive, even if they don't eat what you make for that meal and even the next. The point is also that even being really vigilant about following the Division of responsibility as we have done, doesn't mean we don't have the whining and fits, it just means we have the tools to deal with it with confidence, if not infinite patience...

Have you seen the division of responsibility help you manage meal-time melt-downs?

Friday, October 8, 2010

words from a mom, and FFD client

Thanks for sharing! I'm in awe of this family. Three kids under three and they have found a way to make it work. I am thrilled to see that, as was my experience, watching their children learn to eat is helping the adults too! T. , you are an inspiration!

"My husband and I have an obsession with food and restrict “forbidden” foods (were both raised to clean our plates, so we over-eat), and we want to give our girls the gift of moderation and calmness with food and prevent an eating disorder, and this feeding model supports that goal. With a little bit of preparation, we can serve a meal for us and our three toddlers (one one-year-old and two two-year-olds) in about 20 minutes and all sit down at the table and enjoy breakfast and dinner together. We serve a well-rounded meal that usually includes a dessert (cookie, fruit, yogurt, ice cream, chocolate chips…) and sit together and talk about anything other than what anyone is eating. We might talk about the specific foods and what they are called and what color they are briefly, but mostly talk about the day and what we’re all enjoying at that moment. There are no comments about being a “good eater”, “please try this”, “you have to eat your veggie before you can have dessert”, etc. If someone doesn’t want to eat more than a couple of bites, that is just fine. We’ll eat again shortly as we do three meals and two snacks in a twelve-hour period. The girls are in regular chairs pulled up to the table in boosters, eating right off the table, with the twins using plates. They might sit for 5-10 minutes and that is just fine. Some days they eat “well”, and some days they don’t. Some meals they eat dessert first, sometimes they don’t touch it. They are learning to stop eating when they’re full and to be adventurous in trying new foods. My husband and I are learning moderation from them in the process, which is wonderful. This method does require me to plan meals and snacks and have structure with timing and being at the table, but we also eat out and have snacks outside our home once or twice a week, but know we’ll be right back in our eating routine so we don’t stress about it, so those occasions end up being even more enjoyable."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

OK, marketing geniuses out there, help me get the word out...

I always struggle to come up with the wording for workshops, particularly for parents.

Case in point, I met with some great parents and ECFE folks in Grand Marais. Some of the feedback I heard was how parents were happily surprised that I wasn't just another "food nazi" who would make them feel bad about not having everything organic, and not getting enough fruits and veggies into kids...

Don't get me wrong, I don't give up on, or poo-poo nutrition, but most parents know pretty well what they "should" be feeding their kids, and they are trying really hard, but things are getting worse.

All the pressure to do it "right" to get enough protein, the worries about nutrition and size make the jobs of feeding harder, not easier.

I think my message, and that of Feeding Dynamics is so different from the standard "childhood nutrition talk" that many parents don't know what to expect, and are put off in advance, anticipating more rules, more guilt and nothing useful.

So, I ask those of you who have seen me talk, or who know Satter's materials, or who follow this blog, or who feed with the Division of Responsibility in your own homes...

1) how would you explain to someone (as succinctly as possible) what feeding this way means...
2) how would you write a one paragraph note to tell other parents how this will be different from what you have heard before
3) how would you tell other parents that this looks like, feels like and works in your own home...
4) what title for an evening talk would grab you to give up a night at home to see what this is all about?

Because, I want to get the word out, I want parents to know it doesn't have to be so hard, I want parents to let go of the guilt and start where they are, I want parents to actually enjoy meals with their kids...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

extremes in food choices

Well, I'm up in gorgeous Grand Marais doing 3 workshops over two days. A lovely drive with the fall colors, waterfalls...

I'm enjoying a quick breakfast, and the cereal choices are fruit loops or All-Bran... Couldn't there be something in between? Seemed kind of emblematic of our food atmosphere, one of extremes. One where most folks don't cook, but Iron Chef gets hundreds of thousands (millions?) of viewers, one where nutrition classes pit KFC against Quinoa...

Monday, October 4, 2010

foods I craved as a kid that taste gross to me now...

On a recent car trip, I was hankering for a snack, and found these. The cheddar club sandwich cracker. Now, it wasn't the crackers with the little bucket of cheese with the plastic red stick, but it was close.

There are a few foods that stick out in my memory as extra-special, that I really craved, mostly because I couldn't have it. Foods I loved, ate as much as I could when I got the chance (begging the little red stick off a friend at school, or from the neighbor down the street.)

It was gross. I opened it up, took two bites and left the rest. M tried it and agreed it was gross. (I didn't use the word "gross" but said it wasn't my favorite and asked if she wanted to try it. She did, and was similarly unimpressed.) I was disappointed. This has happened more often than not over the past year or so. Eating some former "forbidden" food, and realizing- it wasn't "all that."

Keebler cracker sandwich, Twinkies, microwave popcorn, microwave bean burrito, chocolate pudding from a plastic cup... (Note, we did not have a microwave until the 21st century...)

Are there former faves or forbidden foods you realize now are not so yummy?
The best flavor-enhancer is a little bit of "I shouldn't," a dash of "this is so bad," or a pinch of "whoa..."

Friday, October 1, 2010

small kids don't know what they want to eat until it's in their mouth

This is a scenario I see or hear about over and over. A mom standing in the kitchen with a 1-2 year old child asking over an over, "What do you want for breakfast?" (or lunch, or snack...)

"Do you want noodles?" pause....
"Do you want eggs?" pause....
"Do you want a cereal bar?" pause...
"How about a Go-gurt?" pause...
And it goes on until there is a positive, or at least not a negative response.

So, let's say Susie asks for noodles with butter. Mom makes it. Susie looks at it and says "Yuck." (Maybe she's been munching on crackers while she's waiting for the noodles because she's crying that she can't wait, and she's so cute and she's small and hungry!)

So, she has rejected what she 'ordered.'
Do you get mad? Try to reason? "Well, this is what you asked for! You liked it the other day, don't be so picky..."

Susie throws it on the floor and asks for a granola bar. Now you're late for music class, you grab a juice box and a granola bar that she nibbles on in the car, and she whines off and on for all of music class that she's "HUNGRY!" and she nibbles on some more granola bar and maybe some raisins on the way home, and then it's almost dinner time.

"What do you want for dinner?"...

Small children shouldn't meal plan. They can't. Heck, I can't some days! Remember, as the parent of the young child- and I include young school-aged kids in this group- it is YOUR job to meal-plan. It is your job to think of balanced options that you can offer, and your job to enforce the structure that will help her learn to like new foods and tune-in and eat the right amounts.

So, how does this feel...
"Jimmy, it's time for breakfast in five minutes, please get ready to put your blocks away."

Meanwhile you think about what you like to eat, what might have some fat, protein and carbohydrate.

"Jimmy, come to the table now please. You see we have toast and you can choose butter, jam or peanut butter. I also made a plate of scrambled eggs and there's some melon. Would you like milk or water? Oh, you chose toast and jam. Can I help you spread it? Here is a spreader so you can try..."

Meanwhile if you can, sit down yourself and enjoy some eggs or toast with your tea or coffee.

Jimmy doesn't have to worry or chose. It's not his job. He just gets to show up and eat from what you made. He gets to tune-in and eat until he is full (which might be two bites, or a cup of melon and two pieces of toast.) Then he gets to wait 2-3 hours until snack time.

My table? I enjoy eggs and think they're a great and easy food to balance nutrition and give kids energy, but M isn't a fan. If I ask if she wants an egg, she says, "no." But, if I cook an extra (medium-boiled and she doesn't eat the yolk mind you) she always asks for it when it hits the table and usually asks for another, but I don't boil 2 extra because it's just too wasteful and I don't want to eat 3 eggs! I also often make a scrambled egg and put it in the middle of the table so I can eat some, and she occasionally helps herself to some with little or no yolk. A pan-scrambled egg takes less time than microwaved oatmeal...

Kids often ask for foods and then don't want them, or say they don't want or like something, and eat it a few minutes later (if we can keep out of the fight!) M did this all the time too. "I don't like steak!"
Me: "OK, you don't have to eat it, there are other choices."
Most often the food she was just complaining about was then eaten happily without comment a few moments later.

Does this sound like meal-time at your house? Do your kiddos ask for and reject foods, or eat what they say they don't want?