If hungry enough, a child will eat! You have probably heard this from well meaning people giving you advice on getting your picky eater to join the family meal. Far easier said than done BUT, it really does work and for far more than supper.
People are often amazed when my baby naushes happily on avocado, mushrooms, meatloaf and Brussels sprouts. Not just the tiniest ankle bitter does this either. My children ASK for apples, bananas, more squash, salad or steak. Even WATER! OMG, what planet are they from??
Well, they are from this very planet earth (though sometimes I wonder the same thing). They are, also, HUNGRY and have no other options. Trust me, it isn't always easy. I didn't say that they never complain and we do have treats but they are just that. Treats! It's like Cookie Monster sang about... "cookies are a sometimes foooooood." I'm tellin' ya, if your child is hungry and is only willing to eat a cookie, he/she is NOT hungry. Thirsty, maybe; picky, probably; testing you, most assuredly; but not hungry.
Try it! Get rid of the junk, kid food. No, really, get rid of it! They can sniff it out like bloodhounds and if it is near, a child's will power can be a VERY powerful thing. Instead, replace it with tart apples, crunchy baby carrots, fresh cucumber, ripe bananas, frozen cherries (no sugar added of course), almond butter, full fat cheeses, nuts and raisins (just to name a few). When your little munchkin's tummy gets growly, offer up the good stuff along a glass of ice cold water and see what happens. It might take a few minutes, hours or even days but when they realize that these are the only snacks between the hungry tummy and supper time, I bet the kids give in! Then, one day it will happen to you, too. Your child will ask YOU for real food too!! Oh, what a PROUD mommy moment. Even better if it is IN FRONT OF SOMEONE ELSE! Score!!
There are a few things to remember though. A child's taste buds are far different from an adults. This means that they taste things more vividly than you do. Spice is spicier, salt is salter and bitter is bitter-er-er-er. This also means that bland is WAY more bland. If you aren't going to eat it, why would they?
Watch for cues. Is Jane asking for a snack because she is bored? Did Johnny have a drink lately? Did a commercial for McFoodstuff just come on the T.V. to trigger than begging?
Variety is the spice of life! I would get totally sick of only have an apple for a snack everyday too so mix it up.
Patience is virtue. There will be complaints, bargaining, arguing and temper tantrums (from both you and the kids).
Last but not least, your 6 year old is not, in fact, going to shrivel up into dust and blow away if you don't give in and make him a sandwich before bed because he choose not to eat supper. He will try to convenience you of such blasphemy but do not be weak for it has been foretold that he will eat tomorrow.
This being said, there are exceptions to every rule. There are children with true food aversions and/or allergies, immune disorders, childhood diseases and so forth that should NOT be subject to the if they are hungry enough scenario. Please, talk with your ped, naturopath, dietician or follow your mommy gut and ALWAYS do your research!