The Mysterious Lunchtime Struggle

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lunchtime struggleIt started many years ago . . .

My firstborn was never a picky eater. His favorite food as a baby was an avocado, and he is still known to gobble down a piece of lettuce like it’s a chocolate bar. He’s easy. He’s adventurous. Never once have I worried about his eating habit.

Then there’s Colin — my sweet, sweet boy who struggles to eat.

But let me stop here and inform you about his struggles, as they wax and wane. He eats a hearty and healthy breakfast every morning, and devours some dinner of noodles and broccoli. He’s even keen on carrots, frozen fruit, and yogurt. He’s not “picky” in the sense that he only eats carbs; he does have a wide variety of foods that he loves. However, the most difficult struggle around food that we are facing right now is lunch at school.

Colin has always had this lunchtime struggle at school, even starting in preschool. We would talk about what he wanted to eat, and it would always arise that he wanted the same thing every lunch: a peanut butter sandwich and strawberries in preschool; pretzels and chocolate hummus in 4k; and a protein smoothie with pretzels now.

He would come home with a bite of his sandwich gone and the strawberries mushy from being tossed around in his lunch box all day. And most recently, he comes home with a cup full of smoothie, promising that he took “a couple of sips.”

In comes the mom guilt.

My son went all day without eating, sans snacks (which I had no idea if he ate those either since the school provided them).

And this is how lunch has gone for us since the beginning: we go to the store to pick out some yummy (and healthy) food for him to take, and he never eats it. Maybe he gets distracted, maybe he isn’t hungry, or maybe he is being picky. I’m not sure.

His genius 4k teacher did teach him the wise words, “Chew, don’t chat.” We remind him that lunchtime is for eating, just in case it is a struggle with distraction. I mean, they eat lunch at 10:00 a.m. and only get a short amount of time to eat — all while being in a big, loud lunch room with over 50 other kids who are also distracted. I can only imagine the pure chaos.

But either way, I struggle knowing that he isn’t getting the nourishment he needs during a long day of school. He comes home starving, ready to eat dinner at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Something’s gotta give. But I am stuck. I’m exhausted from the battle, I’m frustrated from the wasted food, and I’m ready for him to eat.

I don’t have any fast fixes for picky eaters. I don’t have any advice for mamas out there who are struggling to get their kiddos to eat more, eat healthily, and try new foods. And I’m hoping this might be something he grows out of, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m open to any and all suggestions. I’ve even asked his sweet teacher about it — she had some helpful tips but also informed me that she’s 22 and still eats a PB & J every day for lunch. And look, she’s doing just fine.

And maybe that’s just it . . . Maybe we all have to take our picky eaters with a grain of salt (which is one seasoning that Colin LOVES). Maybe we have to pick our battles, know that our kids are happy, and simply be here to encourage new foods and exploration around mealtime.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here pinning recipes for picky eaters and browsing the store aisle for ideas that might spark his interest. Wish me luck!

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