When she was little my child was a classic ‘picky eater.’
At around two and a half years old she suddenly started ‘going off’ food she’d previously eaten, so did her sister, and her little brother at the same age. All of a sudden the children who used to eat a huge variety of healthy foods suddenly turned their noses up at almost everything.
I knew it was pretty normal for that age, and I knew that usually, over time, most picky eaters will come around and go back to eating almost everything again. So I sat tight, tried to make sure food was not a battle, and I waited.
By age four my other kids had come full circle, and while they now had some strong personal food preferences, they were no longer what I would call ‘picky eaters’.
But it didn’t happen like that for one of my kids, she continued to be the definition of picky.
I tried to be zen about it. I knew making a big deal over it wouldn’t help, but there were times when I was so exhausted, so over it, and so worried, and times when I just wanted her to bloody well eat what everyone else was eating! There were times when zen went out the window and I totally lost it over her eating habits.
I never knew food could hold so much power, but my picky eater has caused me to stress out, flip out, and even curl up in a ball and cry at times. And I am pretty sure she has felt all those same emotions too.
For long, long time I assumed she was still ‘just a picky eater’. I still waited for her to ‘grow out of it’, but the older she got the more I realised that this is not a passing phase, she is not simply ‘growing out of it’.
When I started to look beyond the so called ‘picky-ness’ I saw other things, things that have probably always been there, and been a part of the food issues, but things I hadn’t noticed, and to be honest, it was almost a relief. It doesn’t make the day to day ‘what will we eat?’ issue any easier, but it does give us a direction, a place to look for strategies, and somehow it has taken the battle and the guilt out of it all. Now I feel like we are in this thing together, we are working together to make food work for all of us.
When a child doesn’t grow out of being a picky eater there is often something other than developing taste buds and toddler power struggles at play. Physical issues, sensory issues, or mental health issues may be behind a child’s continued or extreme picky eating, and it is worth seeking advice and support.
There is no magic trick to make our kids eat whatever we put in front of them, but there is light at the end of the picky eater tunnel, even if that tunnel has been a really long, dark place.
If your child hasn’t grown out of the usual ‘picky eating’ phase then reach out for some information and advice.
The following articles, and websites may help….
Your Kids Table
This blog has lots of good, down to earth, doable suggestions and advice for families.
The Stress of Having a Picky Eater: 3 Tips to Help Parents
A few tips for coping with eating challenges – via The Asha Leader Blog
How to Help a Selective Eater
This is written by a parent of an autistic child but there lots of ideas in it relevant to any parent of a child with food issues – via Smaggle Box
Is Picky Eating An Eating Disorder? Living With Selective Eating Disorder and No Vegetables
An adult talks about her selective eating – via Bustle.
Sensory Processing Explained | Oral Sensory System
This is a great explanation about oral sensory issues from Lemon Lime Adventures in case that is in play with your child’s eating challenges.
For the Love of Picky Eaters Pinterest Board
This is a great pinterest board, with lots of great articles, from The Abundant Mama’s Shawn Fink,
My thoughts on feeding my kids from way back in 2011, before I had any idea that this ‘picky eating’ thing was not just a ‘phase’, but when I decided to give up the guilt and arguments over food, which turned out to be one of the best things I could have done!
Do you have a ‘picky eater’ who has not simply ‘grown out’ of it?
How do you manage food day to day for your child with eating challenges?
How did you discover that this was more than just a ‘phase’?
Leave a comment below and share your story.