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As parents, we have an inherent need to make sure our kids eats enough, but when your child turns into a picky eater it can be extremely frustrating. If your child won’t eat the food you’ve served to the rest of the family it becomes very tempting to make them something you know they will eat. This, is when the “short order cook” parent is born.

If you’ve just served the rest of your family a hot, balanced meal, but find yourself in the kitchen 2 minutes later making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you are a short order cook. 

What’s the problem with this?


The upside of being a short order cook (S.O.C.) is that your child eats and you feel better knowing they will not starve. However, the downsides to being a S.O.C. heavily outweigh the good. The most obvious downside is that once you start to be a S.O.C., it’s a tough cycle to break. You don’t want to be making separate meals until your kids go to college. Another downside is that children won’t learn to try new foods and, over the long term, they may not be getting a wide enough variety of nutrients. Although the intention is good, being a S.O.C. often does more harm than good.

The upside of being a short order cook (S.O.C.) is that your child eats and you feel better knowing they will not starve. However, the downsides to being a S.O.C. heavily outweigh the good. The most obvious downside is that once you start to be a S.O.C., it’s a tough cycle to break. You don’t want to be making separate meals until your kids go to college. Another downside is that children won’t learn to try new foods and, over the long term, they may not be getting a wide enough variety of nutrients. Although the intention is good, being a S.O.C. often does more harm than good. 

What to do about it?


STOP! The first step is to stop making different meals for different people in your family. Kids need to learn to eat with the rest of the family, and that includes the types of foods. The second step is to try to incorporate at least one food that your child likes into most meals you preparing, and respect them if there is a food they genuinely dislike. Remember, it’s your job to decide what, where and when to serve food, and the child’s job to decide if they eat and how much. Finally, be patient! It can can 15-20 exposures to a new food before a child will try it. 

If you’ve been a S.O.C. for a while, your children may put up a fuss and refuse to eat at first. As long as your child is growing well, don’t worry about it. Make it clear to them that this is what you have prepared to eat and there will be no more food until the next meal or snack time. Your child will eat when they’re hungry enough. Offer them snacks and meals at regular intervals and they will soon try the foods you offer.



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