I was pretty skeptical when I read it. Putting food in front of a kid, and telling them they don't have to eat it sounds crazy. But the struggling over getting the boys to eat was just getting to be too much to handle for both Brian and I. Especially Sean.....the kid that would only eat chicken nuggets and pasta. (NO SAUCE Mom, only butter and cheese.) We were game to try. So one Wednesday night while I was out, Brian sat them down at dinner and told them that we had new rules: We would put food on the plate, whatever we were having for the night. And they didn't have to eat it. Sean literally went up to Brian and hugged him and said "thanks, Dad." Just like that--taking the pressure off already made a difference.
We still write a menu every week. We pair new things with familiar things, like a casserole with a side of fruit, or a slice of bread and butter with meat that they're unfamilar with. At first they didn't eat much, but they're starting to try the new-ish foods. Will's discovered that he actually likes buttered corn, and Sean has found cheese that he will eat besides American cheese. Both kids eat roast chicken instead of dino nuggets. One of Sean's new favorite things to say is "I tried it and I didn't like it, but it wasn't bad." One night Will was playing with some makeshift chopsticks and actually tried a sweet potato fry. Neither kid asks every night what's for dinner as soon as I pick them up and then cries over the menu. Plus we let them help decide what's on the menu one night a week.
The biggest hurdle was to step back and just let things BE. For Brian and I to make our plates, sit back and say "You don't have to eat it" and remember that they won't starve. Once we got there, it got a lot less stressful than constantly saying "You have to try it." or "You like steak/rice/insert your own choice here, now eat it!"
I don't know if it's a permanent solution, but dinnertime is a lot happier in our house!