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How can I get a nine year old to eat healthier food?

My fiance's daughter is almost 10 and she eats like a 2 year old. I'm so worried about her; she is very underweight, and so skinny that her head looks out of proportion to her body. It's almost like she's anorexic and I'm so worried. Her father isn't concerned at all and caters to her pickiness. Not only is she picky, but she's rude. If I make something she doesn't like (everything) she says "ew." I've never met a kid that age with such terrible diet and table manners. Every article I read suggests hiding vegetables in sauces, but she doesn't eat anything with sauce. She only eats plain pasta, plain rice, white bread, chicken with no seasoning, mashed potatoes, ice cream, and cereal. I'm not kidding. She won't eat ANY fruits, berries, or vegetables, not even pureed. She won't eat beef, pork, or turkey, just chicken. She also won't eat soy products like tofu. She refuses to TRY anything, and I'm scared she's starving and malnourishing her body with her foolishness. Most of all I'm concerned that her father shows no concern. He doesn't eat vegetables or fruit either, so he's a very poor role model. I make sure that I chow down on my salads and broccoli in front of her, talking about how much I enjoy it and how tasty it is, and she always says rude things like, "ew gross." She's sick all the time, and I have a feeling her immune system is shot because she gets no nutrition from the food she eats. I'm at my wits end. How can I sneak some fruits and veggies into this kid? I'm so sick of the tantrums and foolishness. I just want her to be healthy! It's not like I want the kid to eat lima beans and brussel sprouts, but apple dippers would be nice! Even berries in pancakes or yogurt. :( I don't think that's asking too much. How can I sneak fruits and vegetables into her bland, meager diet?

Just to clarify, she lives with us all the time. BM has pretty much NOTHING to do with her. SD will not drink 'smoothies' and her father won't even put vegetables on her plate because he wants to avoid the tantrums that ensues. If she is asked to try something she literally cries like we punched her in the face. She whines and snivels and throws her body to the floor like a two year old tantruming. It's absolutely disgusting. I'm not allowed to give ultimatums like "finish your dinner or no snacks" because he believes that letting kids go hungry is child abuse and he doesn't want DCF involved. In the past, when he tried to discipline her to eat her dinner, she would starve herself then go tell the neighbors that her father didn't give her any supper and they called DCF. He said that he has this problem because when he was with BM he worked 12-14 hour shifts to support them because she was a SAHM. When he wasn't working he was sleeping, so BM took care of the kid. Apparently all BM eats herself is Little Debbie cakes, ramen, Chef Boyardee, and boxed Mac and Cheese. Manners and discipline were never enforced, and the kid never even ate at a table until he got custody and she moved in with him. She's like a ferral child. She sniffles and wipes her nose with her hand at the table, burps, farts, doesn't say please or thank you, tries to put her fork in the butter plate, and sits there with her knees up. When I ask her to 'get a kleenex and stop sniffling at the table' he says I'm "riding her ass" when I ask her to try something I'm "being mean." He makes excuses for her and doesn't set any kinds of reasonable expectations. Basically I need help slipping vegetables into the foods she will eat. It's hard to hide vegetables in plain white rice, plain pasta, plain white bread, and plain chicken. This is ALL she will eat. Asking this kid to eat a raw vegetable is out of the question.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 1:38 AM on Dec. 7, 2010 in Tweens (9-12)

Answers (11)
  • Smoothies?

    all recipes has a blueberry smoothie that I (and my 7yo enjoys) It's sweet and has a bunch of healthy stuff in it.

    They also have that V8 juice that has vegetable juice in it but tastes like fruit juice.

    Do you guys have her full time? Just make sure you have veggies at lunch and dinner and fruits at breakfast and make sure she eats a few bites of it, whether she wants to or not.

    Try getting her to eat raw veggies with dips, cooked veggies with cheese, or with sauces of some kind.....mixed in with other stuff.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:24 AM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • I would force hubby to be on board and serve dinner and let her go hungry if she doesnt eat it. Have hubby tell her their will be changes, she will eat what is served. Wrap up her plate when she doesnt eat it and put it in the fridge. She can reheat it between meals if she choses or she can wait and see what is served at the next meal. No snacks, no treats if her meal wasnt eaten. I wouldnt make her clean her plate, but you aren't a short order cook and she needs fruits and veggies to be healthy.

    Answer by ria7 at 10:24 AM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • 1 minute she is YOUR 9 year old the next she is your 10 year old STEP child? Me thinks TROLL

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:16 PM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • Anon: The OP wrote... My fiance's daughter is almost 10 . The last time I checked ALMOST 10 is still 9. And she wrote Just to clarify, she lives with us all the time. BM has pretty much NOTHING to do with her. This means that while she is her fiance's daughter she is unofficially her step-daughter and because she lives with them, she mostly considers her as her daughter since she does all the things with her any mother would do with their child. READ WHAT IS WRITTEN.


    Answer by Anonymous at 5:25 PM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • first you need to get on the same page as her dad. He needs to see how undiscplined she is. Your last paragraph shows how she needs to learn manners. I think once you get the displine under cotrol then you can work on the eating issue. And this sounds crazy but let dcf get involved they wont take your child but they can work with you. DCF tries to keep families together. I know ppl stress about them taking their kids. I can tell you when I started college Nikkis father and I used to fight all the time because he was used to me being home taking care of everything and when I was in college I didn't have time to do everything on my own. Well one night we got into an argument and he pushed me down on the couch so i pushed him and some how the cops came.Well we both got arrested and the next day CPS(which is what we call DCF) came and they started working with us. A lot of things have changed.

    Answer by preciouschild at 6:54 PM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • Patience, kindness and understanding is going to be the key. She's spent almost 10 years being allowed to do as she wants, she's spent almost 10 years getting her own way and she's spent almost 10 years not eating right. So now she needs you to be patient and understanding that nothing will change over night. Try setting up a reward chart...if she eats 1 serving (which is 1/3 of a cup, 1/2 a's not THAT much) of whatever you are asking her to eat then she gets a specific reward. Maybe x amount of stars ='s a matinee movie, a new book, a toy worth $5, lunch out, etc.. Each meal should have 1 new "goal" for her to achieve and she should have 1-2 healthy snacks a day and each of those things equals a reward. She needs an incentive to eat these things and she will eventually come to like them. Children dislike things they aren't familiar with....get her familiar with them in a friendly and kind way. Good luck!

    Answer by tracylynnr67 at 8:26 PM on Dec. 7, 2010

  • I read this question yesterday and I contacted a friend of mine who is a children's nutritionist for help in answering your question.

    Her suggestions included educating your step-daughter about food and what it does for the body and an incentive system to encourage her.
    Sit down with your step-daughter and explain, in simple terms and in a fun way, what proteins, carbohydrates and fats are and what function they serve in the body. Explain how foods work together, what vitamins and minerals are and in which foods key vitamins and minerals are. Also, explain about fiber and water and their importance to a healthy body. Equating food with the energy it gives the body may help as well. Involve her in cooking and choosing foods, BUT, give her lists of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits to choose from. When she eats all of her meal, put a star on an achievement chart for the meal. cont....

    Answer by Fistandantalus at 2:26 PM on Dec. 8, 2010

  • ...When she completes a week of healthy meals, allow her to choose an activity to celebrate her accomplishment. Be prepared for some resistance and meltdowns at first, just stay calm and continue to explain the purpose and importance of healthy eating and remind her of the incentive. If you stay calm and stick to your guns, eventually she will realize that her antics aren't getting her anywhere.
    Involving her in the food preparation will give her a sense of pride and accomplishment and be sure to praise her for the delicious meals she helped make, that will help keep her supported emotionally and o track.
    Good luck!

    Answer by Fistandantalus at 2:30 PM on Dec. 8, 2010

  • You need to have a talk with your fiance and make sure he is on board with you. This problem will definitley cause problems in your marriage. I speak from experience. GL

    Answer by Averylee85 at 2:39 PM on Dec. 8, 2010

  • plain white rice, plain pasta, plain white bread, and plain chicken

    Everything she eats is white and flavorless. Does she have some kind of issure with the color of food or her taste buds? Has she been to see a doctor recently? My great aunt used to refuse to eat anything white. She was just really wierd though.

    Her father has got to get a grip on what's going on. In my opinion the why he isn't bothering to get her to eat and is avoiding conflict with her is abuse.

    Maybe since she only eats white food you could start with mashed potatoes and slowly move up to yellow foods, etc.

    Answer by FroggyFeet at 9:38 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

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