A Meaty Present.

The holidays are over, and the big controversy in my house is that I didn’t get any Hanukkah presents this year. At least, not yet. My husband did get me a present, it just isn’t ready. And my son did make me something at school, but he left it in his cubby. And my daughter made me something, too, but somehow, it fell out of her backpack and was never seen again. I really don’t care – I’m not telling you this to gain sympathy, or pity, or to complain, or even to make you feel grateful for any gifts that you may have received from your family – I swear. I’m simply telling you this for back story purposes; to set the stage for what happened last night, when I unintentionally received what is, by far, the best, most amazing, most anticipated, most patiently-waited-for present of my life. Drumroll please. Badadadadadada: my daughter took a bite of steak.


In case you’re wondering why I would rather have this, than say, diamonds, or a new handbag, I’ll point you back to a post I wrote almost a year ago, entitled Food Fight. It was about the fact that I’d had it up to here with my daughter and her dislike for anything with any flavor, taste, or nutritional quality, and so I bought some books in the hopes of finding some professional guidance for getting her eat like a normal human being. But rather than finding magical solutions, I was instead instructed to indulge her food follies. At dinner, I was to serve at least one thing I knew she liked, and I was to let her eat that, and only that, until she was full. So, for example, if I was serving lasagna, I would also serve bread and fruit, and if she didn’t want the lasagna, then her dinner would be bread and fruit. Period. The theory was that she would eventually become so tired of bread and fruit for dinner, that she’d decide, on her own, to try the lasagna.


Now, for eleven months, I have stuck with this strategy. If I serve stir fry chicken and vegetables with rice, she eats rice. If I serve spaghetti and meatballs, she eats plain spaghetti. If it’s turkey tacos, she eats just the taco shell. I no longer scream and yell about how she’s not getting any protein, or about how she never eats vegetables. I don’t force her to take three bites of chicken and then watch her gag and retch as she swallows it. I don’t make her her own separate dinner every night. And I don’t withhold dessert. Instead, I put several foods on the table, and she decides which, and how much, of those foods she wants to eat. And let me tell you, I’ve been doing this for eleven months, and she has never, not once, asked to try the lasagna. Or anything else, for that matter.


Last night, as usual, I threw some steaks on the indoor grill and served them with corn on the cobb, some sautéed snow peas, and breadsticks from a box. As usual, my daughter took a piece of corn and about ten breadsticks, and put them on her plate. As usual, we talked. But then, about halfway through the meal, Harper looked at me and said, I think I’ll try a piece of steak. Just like that. I think I’ll try a piece of steak. Like it was no big deal. Like it was something she said every day. Like she didn’t at all expect me to fall off of my chair and faint dead away. Or get up and start dancing a jig.


Thanks so much for sharing this. I've been gnashing my teeth for months over the recent spate of articles in the New York Times about parents who's kids will eat ANYTHING and how WONDERFUL it is.

Watching your kid try to gag down some chicken isn't fun for anybody involved.

And I get so frustrated with people who think you can starve your kids until they eat the foods you want to serve.

Thanks for the article. A chewed up piece of steak would have the same effect on me as well.


Just fell out of my chair laughing so hard.... Thanks for the laughs, I'm right there with the butter and noodles kid.


Ohmigosh - I think we share a daughter. My picky little eater doesn't eat much other than chicken and carrots - she is eleven. And, I just love it when my son comes into the kitchen to ask what the terrible smell is - my reply? It's your dinner!!

Love your article!


Hilarious! I remember that article last year. I need to send this link to MY mother, who is appalled that my kids don't eat Pork tenerloin and Asparagus wrapped in Bacon.


Oh, my gosh. GREAT story.

Up With Moms


My kid dines almost exclusively on white rice every meal (though she does like seaweed sprinkled on top which I figure is something). Thank you for this!!! I totally relate to the ecstasy of seeing your kid take the tiniest bite or lick of something new, even when the response is YUCK!


So, there is hope... I just have to hold out long enough. My daughter has eaten more plain pasta, white rice, and "naked chicken" than I care to recall... but one day, maybe she will eat a meal like the rest of us...


My wish for you this New Year: that you get at least one belated Hanukkah present that doesn't involve a dead animal!