May 18, 2022

go health

The stay-at-home dad: A diet of pretzels and burnt toast

My 4-year-old barely eats. He’s very particular, and I don’t understand his logic.

He’s always been a fussy eater, at least off-and-on. From the moment we introduced solid foods, he rejected most of them, choosing instead to fill up on breast milk. On his first birthday, he didn’t want to take a single bite of cake or even lick the frosting.

The fussiness has come and gone throughout his young life, so maybe I just need to be a little more patient during what has now become a prolonged stint.

It must be a common thing for families, because the food industry provides opportunities for inserting nutrients into picky diets. We use protein-and-vitamin-packed chocolate powder in milk, a minimally-flavored vegetable powder in some of his preferred foods, and we jam lots and lots of vegetables into smoothies (blueberries do an excellent job of masking flavors).

Still, the list of foods he currently eats is absurdly small. Currently on the menu:

• Chicken nuggets (dinosaur shape preferred).

• Pretzels. If you open a new bag, he’ll find a way to finish it before the end of the day. He’s not particularly sneaky about anything… except when it comes to securing more pretzels.

• Oatmeal…Apple cinnamon or maple flavored, but you have to add pumpkin spice (plus the vegetable powder), more cinnamon and a splash of vanilla-flavored almond milk. Otherwise, no deal.

• Burnt toast. Toaster level 8 or 9. Level 10 is “too burnt,” apparently. FYI, anything over level 6 is criminal.

• Tortilla chips and popcorn. Little dude likes salt.

• Apple slices or a whole apple, depending on his mood, but if you pick the wrong option that day he won’t eat it.

• Spaghetti with ground beef… oh, never mind. This used to be his favorite until one day he just decided “NOPE.” It’s the exact same spaghetti as before!

• Burgers…. Haha, just kidding. He eats a toasted bun. That’s level 7 toasted or nothing.

• Scrambled eggs… 25 percent of the time.

• Sausage links….50 percent of the time.

• Sausage patties… ZERO percent of the time.

• Bacon. After refusing it for four years, he just recently decided it’s delicious. Obviously, dummy.

• Bananas… For him, a banana reaches the correct level of ripeness for approximately four hours. Miss that window and it’s a trash banana.

• “Great Value” meatballs. Whatever mystery meat Walmart puts in their meatballs, my kid likes it… 50 percent of the time.

• Boxed macaroni and cheese. All kids like this, of course, which supports my theory that essentially all kids would eat fake cheese-covered cardboard if you presented it to them.

• Carrots. Yes! He likes a vegetable! Well… one single baby carrot at one meal per day. No exceptions.

• Candy — Oh, big surprise, Mr. Picky Boy likes almost ALL types of candy. Last Halloween, he even liked eating those disgusting Zombie Skittles that taste like vomit.

On the plus side, I think I can use his love for candy against him and give him more vitamins in pill form. Wait, that sounds like pretty irresponsible parenting now that I said it out loud.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 4-10. Three of the four are very good eaters. Email [email protected] to share your kids’ bizarre food preferences.