When my son was 1, he ate like a champ. Whatever I put in front of him, without question, he devoured enthusiastically. Pesto and noodles with organic chicken and tomatoes. Roasted potatoes with onions and peppers. Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and spinach. I was so proud of him and, more importantly, so proud of myself. Then my son turned 2 and, all of a sudden, constantly claimed he was never hungry. Like, never. Ever. My picky eater always had an excuse for skipping a meal, usually dinner, and I learned very quickly that "I'm not hungry" can mean a wide variety of things.
I don't know what happens to our children, but sometime after their second birthday they start to develop, oh, I don't know, like preferences and stuff. Sadly, my son's preferences were extremely limited... and usually of the chocolate and/or ice cream variety. And since I have a complicated and at times toxic and unhealthy relationship with food, I've never wanted to sit my son down at the dinner table and force him to eat when he doesn't want to. So there were days, my friends, when I feared my son was literally starving.
Of course, he wasn't. When kids are hungry they will eat, and since adjusting to his very limited palate I have learned that providing him with one or two options, and that's it, limits the number of dinnertime battles I'm left fighting.
So if your kid is never "hungry," but somehow manages to find room for an after-dinner snack, know that you're not alone. Chances are, when your kid is claiming to house a full belly, they really mean the following:
"I Want Chocolate & Chocolate Only"
If your kid says they're not hungry, chances are they're going to be begging for something chocolate related in t-minus five minutes. It's a scientific fact. An absolute certainty.
My son never seems to have room for actual food, but is a bottomless pit when it comes to anything made of chocolate, covered in chocolate, or remotely chocolate adjacent.
"That Looks Gross"
Thanks, my dude.
My son isn't trying to be rude, of course. He just genuinely doesn't like the looks of whatever it is I have served him. And rather than, oh, I don't know, try something that doesn't look like orange macaroni and cheese, he's happy to insult my cooking skills by telling me the hour-long meal I have prepared looks like absolute garbage.
"My Stomach Is Filled With Snacks"
My toddler is always snacking on food, you guys. Always! He wants peanuts and pretzels and fruit snacks and yogurt and definitely some more peanuts and maybe some chips if we have some. He seems to have very little interest in the five basic food groups, but can go to town on anything served in a small bag.
"I'm Going To Demand Food 10 Minutes From Now"
Maybe they're not hungry now... but your kid is probably going to be hungry in about 10 minutes. They're definitely going to be hungry when it's time to go to bed, because how dare you demand they receive an adequate amount of sleep each evening.
"You Wasted All That Money On Organic, My Dude"
Why. Why do I even try, you guys?! I always have the best of intentions, so I create these elaborate, organic, expensive as hell meals with the finest ingredients sure to fill my son with all the nutrients his growing body needs... only to eat it myself while I stand over the sink and cry.
"If It's Not Frozen Or From A Box, I Don't Want It"
What is it with toddlers and their affinity for boxed macaronic and cheese and frozen chicken nuggets? They live for that sh*t, you guys! Why I even try to cook anything that doesn't come from the frozen food aisle is beyond me.
"My Other Parent Is A Better Cook"
Well, if dad can cook better than mom can then dad can be the on-call cook! I. Give. Up.
"I Just Want To Eat Off Your Plate"
The food on my son's plate never looks as delicious as the food on mine. Apparently. My son won't want to eat anything I serve him, but he will absolutely be interested in whatever is sitting on my plate in front of me. Even and especially if they're the exact same thing.