Sins of the Father

When I first met my husband (in 1998), he was a total fitness and nutrition nut. The kind of person who evaluated every meal in terms of grams of protein. Food was fuel and taste was completely secondary. We ruined a lot of good recipes in those days.

Some time after we got married, things started to slide, we were cooking a lot, experimenting in the kitchen, and you know what? Fattening food tastes better! Two adults smiling at child

But about a year ago, Hubby got the itch again and hopped back on the fitness and nutrition bandwagon. It started innocently enough, but before I knew it, he’d shed forty-five pounds at we were at JC Penney buying all new clothes. I think we’re done now. Heck, we better be done, we can’t afford another new wardrobe. How’s mama supposed to go to blog conferences if Dad’s buying all these new clothes?

So a fit and healthy husband is a good thing, right? I should be over the moon or something.

There’s just one hitch:

Hubby has trouble turning off the nutrition thing and meals with Charlie can get a bit heated.

At almost three and a half, Charlie is starting to get pretty opinionated about his food. Many, many foods are deemed “unworthy.” Public enemy number one is chicken. He doesn’t want it; don’t give it to him; don’t even say the word, people.Β  He’s also developed a deep love for macaroni and cheese. Clearly he’s his mother’s child. His love for The Mac is so great that oftentimes, I cook up a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese and then just disguise bits of chicken and vegetables inside. He’d probably eat a sock if I topped it with a cheesy shell first.

This stuff is killing Hubby. In his opinion, protein=all that is good and right in the world and carbohydrates=evil. Cheese isn’t high on his list either, but I think it does contain a smidgen of protein so it’s not as bad as noodles.

I understand his concerns, but Charlie is three. lots of three-year-olds are picky and really, I don’t think he’s all that picky. He’ll take at least one bite of anything, but if he doesn’t feel like eating it, he’s done.Β  I just can’t see getting all worked up over a toddler’s diet. He’s growing, he’s gained almost a pound since starting school, he eats absolutely no sugar. This is a kid who used to eat through a tube! How sad can I get when he prefers cheesy carbs over lean protein?

So what do you guys think? Here’s a list of foods that Charlie pretty much eats every time:

mac ‘n’ cheese (cue a choir of angels)


peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (no sugar added)

poached eggs

beans and rice (Mexican or Cajun)

Shredded beef

Spaghetti and meatballs

Fettuccine Alfredo

Green beans

Here are some things he eats more than half the time:


Salad with dressing

hash browns



cucumbers in vinegar

Here’s what he won’t touch:


Corn chips


Clearly we need to work on fruits and vegetables, but are we in dire straights? I’m thinking no.

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  1. Not at all! Charlie eats more variety than the Little Man. I am oficially jealous. I think alot of 3 year olds prefer mac & cheese over anything else too. I might even be in their contract. And beans! Beans have protien, beans are good. BIG Congrats to your hubby for losing 45 lbs!

  2. I think it is all well and good to teach a child good eating habits… Eating the right things. Too many kids are obese. Eating every thing on the plate and not be wasteful.
    You’ve got room to grow here, tastebuds will change.

    • You are, of course, right. I didn’t eat any vegetables at his age and now I love them. Salad is one of my favorite foods. I think it’s good to teach good habits, but I think you need to be careful not to make meals stressful.

  3. Nora@Whitehotmagik says:

    Seems pretty normal to me. They say you have to introduce new foods a lot before the really like it. My experience st this age us they want they same thing all the time. But I kept fixing faces but added new things because I did not want them to be super picky. They both have things they dislike but mealtimes aren’t a battle. I think at this point the goal is good food with a large variety. Sounds like you are doing a good job.

    • He tries all kinds of things, so I’m happy with that. I’m pretty relaxed about food in general–as long as he’s eating enough and it’s not cola and candy, I’m not going to get too worked up over the details.

  4. I have to say….this entry makes me laugh a little. I’d hate to hear what your husband has to say about my diet!! :)

    • It’s funny because he doesn’t say ONE WORD about my diet–I guess because eat a variety although I definitely prefer cheesy carbs to lean protein.

      • I kind of think it’s a girl-guy thing. Benjy is way more into protein than I am. On the other hand, he primarily likes to lift weights and I primarily like to run, so it suits our energy needs. But I think outside of that, I just like noodles more than he does and he likes meat more than I do and that a lot of guys I know are way more into protein than their girls are.

      • Pretty sure I prefer cheesy carbs to ANYTHING!

  5. For a kid that ate through a tube… He has a pretty great diet! Henry gets pedia-sure through a bottle, until his surgery… I would be over the moon if ate one thing on Charlie’s list!
    And just as a nutritional reality check… growing brains need quick enerygy (Carbs + noodles and bread and fruits and veggies) as well as the longer sustaining and muscle building protein (peanut butter and cheese are included!)

    Good luck! I know food issues are a heavy topic here. I hope you two can find a happy medium! <3

  6. Carrots? I’m impressed. I mentioned in my blog today how my kids won’t eat anything except peanut butter and jelly. I guess I left out chicken nuggets and noodles.
    Congratulations to your husband, though! I can’t afford for my husband to lose any weight. As a couple, we already look like Jack Sprat and his wife.

  7. Oh, I think he’s doing really well! My son will actually eat almost anything, except Pizza and burgers (weird, huh?). His favorite way to have meat is from the slow cooker. He’ll eat almost anything that comes out of the crock pot. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the fact that he smells it cooking all day?

    Good for your Husband for losing all that weight, but it’s also good to remember that little guys have different dietary needs.

    • I forgot pizza! Charlie loves pizza.

      I think I’m with your son–anything out of the crock pot is good by me too.

  8. Team Charlie! (He’s got a better diet than me)

  9. Elisabeth says, “eat a big bowl of Mac for me, okay Charlie?”

  10. I can totally relate to your hubby in terms of being *very* opinionated about nutrition (so please excuse the fact that this comment is going to turn into a book). My opinion regarding carbs differs from his a bit though. :) Personally, I think veggies are all that is good and right in the world, that lean protein, whole grains, fats from plants (olive oil, peanut butter, avocado) and fruits are right behind that, followed by fatty meat, refined carbs, animal fats, and homemade sweets which are delicious little nuggets of evil (Okay, not really evil- but delicious little nuggets I try to eat in limited quantities), followed by overly processed middle isle stuff which isn’t even delicious- just evil. :)
    I also feel Charlie’s pain b/c I kind of hate chicken. Well, I thought I did until I realized that I just hate boneless skinless chicken breasts (aka hockey pucks), but I’ve recently started cooking an entire chicken and just picking the meat off the bone and eating it all week and it is so much better!! (Also not that difficult- I keep meaning to write a post about how to do it.) I also realized that while 3 chicken breasts are like $7 now, a whole fryer chicken (which I bake b/c I’m rebellious like that) is only $5 and I can get more meat off of it! The key is that as long as you don’t eat the fat or the skin, chicken cooked skin on is calorie-wise the same as chicken cooked skin off- it just retains more moisture.

    I will say that if Charlie’s eating all white bread, white rice, and non-whole wheat pasta- making the switch to brown rice, and whole grain bread and pasta is an easy way to really up the nutrition content of his meals. He’ll probably taste a little difference at first, but especially with rice and pasta you can bury it in sauce and do half white and half brown and gradually up the proportion of whole to refined grains.
    You might think about this from an energy perspective. Refined grains are like sugar because they get digested really quickly and give you a spike in your energy levels followed by a crash- but whole grains are digested more slowly so you have a much more even profile in terms of how it fuels you. A lot of kids crash in the afternoon (I certainly did all through school) and have trouble behaving and focusing b/c they’ve burnt through their lunch.
    And it is way easier to get someone to switch as a child than an adult- for example my mom switched my family to skim milk from whole milk when I was a kid. We grumbled about it but now I only like skim milk, whereas my dad has gone back to drinking whole milk. Old dog, new tricks, yada yada…. :)

    But I think you’re doing a lot of things really right- beans and rice are pretty much the best thing you can eat (they make a complete protein and have plenty of fiber too!), peanut butter (especially if you get the hippy dippy no sugar added stuff) is great for you and full of protein (you can also see if Charlie would eat Almond butter- that stuff is addictive!), Veggie-Mac n’ Cheese is seriously one of my favorite healthy comfort foods (I like the Hodgeson’s Mills boxed stuff b/c it’s all who wheat noodles- I use half the noodles and all the cheese mix and use veggies to make up the rest), eggs are amazing for you (poached eggs are my go-to protein when I am cooking for myself- I often put one on top of my veggie-mac), green beans and carrots are great veggies….And salad? That’s amazing that he eats salad! I’m nearly 30 and sometimes I’m still iffy about salad. :) (I generally like warm food.)

    It sounds like Charlie is eating a pretty varied diet for a kid his age and as long as your Dr. doesn’t have concerns about his weight, I wouldn’t worry so much about his protein to carb ratio. Yeah, he could eat more fruits and veggies, but so could everyone else. I think just introducing things and seeing if he can eat more veggies is probably better for him than trying to make him eat more meat right now.

    But obviously, that’s just my two cents. :)

    • I like the idea of moving over to whole wheat pasta and rice. He eats whole wheat bread with no issues and I agree that he probably wouldn’t even notice a gradual change.

      He won’t eat anything sugary, so it is a nice, hippy-dippy peanut butter. I think it’s gross.

      I also think you’re right that we should TRY more vegetables. We eat a lot of cucumber and tomato salad because it’s easy and maybe he’d respond better to some other choices.

      I much prefer chicken off the bone myself Although I cook pieces or buy rotisserie. Haven’t braved the world of whole-chicken cooking yet.

  11. Looks a lot like my kiddo’s diet, except he doesn’t eat beef unless it is ground beef. πŸ˜›

    Since he keeps falling off his percentiles weight-wise, getting anything into him is better than being militant about what goes in. He doesn’t like it, the mouth won’t open and the meal is over – end of story. For months he wouldn’t eat because of reflux and milk allergy restricted anything fun, so now I’m just happy he’s hungry and eating! (applause!)

    Plus, another thing to consider with special needs kids is the whole consistency issue – different textures can turn them off very quickly. Looks like Charlie prefers soft non-fibrous foods. My kid likes things he can negotiate easily with his developping chewing skills – this is where the mac and cheese comes in.

    When I’m done teaching him how to sit by himself, talk, walk, bathe, communicate, etc etc etc, then I’ll consider teaching him nutrition skills. πŸ˜‰


    • Mel, you and I are SO on the same page–we’ve got enough to worry about! I do think he prefers soft food–he can eat more of them without getting tired. I figure with all the calories he apparently needs (I think it’s a billion a day or something), I’m not going to worry too much since it’s all getting burned up anyway.

      • I forgot to mention that any meal around here takes over an hour to feed Mr. Man safely and at his pace ( ie OT sanctionned speed -sigh). I work full time and I have 2 hours in the evening to feed, bathe, story, bottle and cuddles. I’ve learned to pick my battles and cuddling is more important than white vs whole wheat.

        You’ll love this one: my dad is a doctor, and he fed us four kids mac and cheese and chocolate milk BOTH Saturday and Sunday morning for BREAkFAST until we were teenagers! We somehow managed to survive. πŸ˜‰


  12. He’s doing fine!!

    And Macaroni and Cheese is its own food group. A necessary part of any normal happy person’s diet.

  13. Your hubby sounds like my hubby. Those early years consisted of a lot of brown rice and steamed veggies (he was vegetarian back then).

    My kids would happily have scrambled eggs every night. I struggle finding food that combines taste and nutrition. Strange as it sounds, my kids love smoked salmon (make it into pasta and cheese) and avocado (mix it with tomato, lime juice, red onion and coriander to serve with corn chips). So all up, I have three meals that I can feed them :-)

  14. I am an SLP-but not a feeding expert (I don’t work with feeding at all)
    ..however, looking at the list-it seems like the foods he avoids are difficult to chew with chewy and crunchy textures. Do you work with an SLP or OT who deals with feeding? If you do, perhaps they would have input-if not-consider a feeding evaluation and possibly therapy (I know-another therapy)…but I am guessing by your son’s disorder that tongue movement and strength is limited-and he may be avoiding those foods because:
    1) Senssory (textures) and /or
    2) no success with them (since they are difficult for him to eat)

    Just my 2 cents…

    and yes, kids are picky at this age-do you supplement with vitamins of some sort? If so, he is good (but check on the reasons for not eating–it may not be 100% b/c he is picky-or the pickyness evolved out of other difficulties)

    • Lisa: We’ve been evaluated out the wazoo for feeding issues. Giving up the tube is no easy task–there are many hoops to be jumped through. He’s got good tongue movement, strong chew, etc. He is lacking some coordination–hence, the garbled speech and I do think that he prefers softer foods and I absolutely think that it’s because their easier. I’m sure the exact point where preference turns into disability. He will eat some tougher things–crackers and shrimp come to mind–but there are fewer “tough” foods that he likes. Truthfully, I’m not sure, but I’m not concerned enough at this time to pursue it further.

  15. Charlie is doing wonderful, and there isn’t a single solitary thing wrong with mac and cheese! Dad, relax your standards just a little! What’s good for you, isn’t necessarily right for offense intended!

  16. men! All my husband has to do is say he wants to lose weight and he immediately drops five pounds. Disgusting.
    Charlie had an amazing appetite for really good food. You should be jumping for joy! Good job, Mama.

  17. I think he actually eats better than my typical three year old. And my other three year old doesn’t eat by mouth, so I’d pretty much be over the moon with ANYTHING. And my four year old? Pretty much the same as the typical three year old. Pretty much it’s mac and cheese and spaghetti noodles around here. I throw in fruits and veggies and sometimes they are eaten, sometimes not. I keep offering them though!

  18. Katy,

    This made me laugh because my husband is 36 and will not eat chicken. He gags. Maybe he just doesn’t like chicken.

    I can’t stand bananas and I know that they are good for me but I am not going to force myself to eat a banana because I need the potassium.

    Keep trying to introduce things, and he if he won’t eat them, move on to something else.

    • He used to eat chicken, but they serve it at school a lot and I think he’s just sick of it!

      I told my husband, “I’ve never heard of someone learning to love something by being forced to eat it.” He did agree with me on that one: )

  19. Great post Katy…and pretty near and dear to my heart. I have some very strong feelings that mealtimes should not be stressful…AT ALL! I was made to eat stuff I didn’t like and made to clean my plate and feel that it is part of the reason that I continue to struggle with weight and food.

    My thoughts on food for 3-year-olds is this:

    1. Offer lots of healthy and nutritious foods. We do this, but they also get alot of fatty, processed foods too – basically because this is what they like and they’re pretty picky. I do find that just by offering healthy options, they are becoming less picky and will even eat a few veggies a few times a week now.
    2. All breads / pastas are whole wheat. It’s been like this since they started eating real food and they don’t know any different.
    3. Dont’ force them to eat if they’re not hungry. If they get hungry later, offer only healthy, nutritious snacks like fruit / peanut butter sandwich, etc.
    4. Don’t associate desert with clearing your plate. This just encourages overeating.

    I think that’s about it. My boys are pretty picky (especially) Ben, but when compared to other picky kids they’re not bad. I’d say they’re on the same level as Charlie. THey like meat, dairy, bread, almost all fruit and some veggies…so we’re not doing too bad.

    • We couldn’t force eating if wanted too! He’s so stubborn.

      I had a friend that told me all about the “clean your plate” thing and so we’ve never wanted to do that. Charlie has no concept of dessert–he doesn’t like sweets, so there is no dessert! My husband and I rarely eat dessert ourselves, so it doesn’t really come up.

      I do need to remember to offer more–I think I assume he won’t eat something and then I don’t offer–and kid’s taste buds change so quickly!

  20. Hey! Looking at what he eats, I think you are doing pretty well! Way to go momma! Now that my 14 month olds are pretty much eating big people foods I am trying to feed them nutritious foods, but I also want them to enjoy it. I have found that Kraft makes a mac n cheese that is made with 50% whole wheat pasta…tried it on my hubby and he couldn’t taste the difference (I also add tuna into the mac n cheese for some added protein). Also there are some pretty good pastas out there now that are enriched with DHA/omega 3 and are multi grain that look like regular noodles not dark brown like whole wheat pastas!

    Mine are all of the sudden protesting veggies…maybe I’ll smother them with cheese!! Other things that I can mix into things is avacado and it doesn’t change the taste too much! Does he like sweet potatoes? Good luck!!!

    • I need to try Tuna with him–I loved Tuna as a kid. I’ll definitely look into those pastas–he’s really not that picky once you put cheese on it: )

      I need to try sweet potatoes again. Apparently he scarfed them down at school the other day, but I don’t think we’ve offered them to him at home. We’re kind of in a veggie rut.

      • maryelena says:

        Have you tried baked sweet potatoes — for a long time my son would prefer them. Also, once he does like the sweet potatoes again roasted with butternut squash, they look similar when roasted together with some other root veggies and a bit of orange juice and olive oil, so my kids eat both and never realize they are eating the squash they claim to hate so much.

  21. I am thinking you are doing a fine job in the food department. If he won’t eat chicken tough patooties. At least he eats a variety. Good job Katy :)

  22. My developmentally typical kids were fairly picky eaters. Piero does not like any kind of raw vegetables and eats very few cooked vegetables. It would drive me nuts sometimes. I would say that your toddler is typical and to celebrate it. In fact, celebrate that he actually eats quite a wide variety of foods!

  23. I’m torn. While I agree we all eat a bunch of crap and it contributes greatly to the downfall of our species on the other hand our kids have also gotta eat. And if they refuse to eat this then they gotta eat that. FOR NOW. But…I also think that sneaking in the good stuff is a good strategy.

    But hell…even GETTING good stuff is tricky. What is labeled good is hard to trust. Especially now.

  24. Don’t have time to read all the comments just now – did anyone mention vitamin supplements? Where is your hubby on those?

    I noticed your hubby’s weight loss and almost commented on it once.

    Dang it all. Despite my efforts to scale-down the market for make-up, you sure look pretty with lipstick and mascara!

  25. It sounds to me like Charlie’s right on track, especially for his age! My daughter Abby will be 5 next week and TO THIS DAY, the only veggie she will eat is corn. She loves sweets (like her mommy) and will throw a hissy fit when I serve things she doesn’t like.

    I think he’s pretty similar to other kids in his age range and you shouldn’t worry. Your husband, on the other hand, needs a reality check. Kids will be kids. ANd you’re right—the fact that he’s actually eating instead of using a feeding tube? SPECTACULAR!

  26. W-e-l-l if you were to speak to the people I speak to chicken is the scourge of the earth and should not be eaten. Vegetarian is it! LOL (I don’t listen to them much because my son loves chicken. Being on a GFCF diet means I have to be so strict with other things so I ignore them about chicken and bananas LOL)

    He is doing great… he eats string beans that is awesome and beans with rice fabulous.

    My daughter would only eat rice up until recently. White rice no gravy, no meat, NO VEGETABLES nothing touching and she is my neurotypical child!. She is now 7 and only now she would add some chicken to the white rice. She like Charlie will do a dance for Mac and cheese though… but that came later.

    You are doing great.
    I battle with the hubbie as well when it comes to the children’s diet as well. I guess we all have strong opinions about FOOD.

  27. By the way loving the family pic and your highlighted curls NICE!!
    Woohoo to the hubbie and his weight loss good for him!

  28. Kristin says:

    Your little guy is doing great especially for a three year old (a difficult age according to the Gesell Institute for Human Development). Have you heard of The Sneaky Chef cookbook by Missy Chase Lapine? She has great ideas for sneaking fruits & veg into meals. For example, she has two ways to boost Mac & cheese…if it’s the orange cheddar version- add pureed carrot & sweet potato to it; if it’s a white cheese version- add a white bean puree to it. My girls are 3 1/2 & 2 now & actually prefer their Mac the Sneaky Chef way over any other. Good luck!