I need to send out a hug. A giant, heartfelt, bear hug to all of you parents that have ever dealt with a toddler that’s a picky eater. Why? Because OH MY GOD.
Dealing with a picky eater wasn’t even in my peripheral vision. Not even on my radar. I guess that was one potential challenge of parenthood I overlooked. Maybe I just assumed because I’m such a good eater that my kids would be too. After all, I read that moms who eat a variety of foods while pregnant pass those flavors to their baby, therefore creating a pleasant, adventurous eater. So that must be true, right? Gahhh.
I even remember before I had kids and would see other parents of picky eaters. The naive, young, head in her butt Erica would tell herself, “Come on! Its not that hard! Its either what you make or they don’t eat! Simple. Problem solved”. I love giving that Erica the, “Haha, ok, because you know it all” eye roll.
This one isn’t about advice, or a “what works well for us”. It’s simply a hug. Because dealing with a picky eater can be so overwhelmingly frustrating and trying. Even knowing that its a phase, and knowing I’ve never seen an adult only eat turkey dogs and cheese… when all you want is to be able to nourish your child with plenty of vitamins and wholesome goodness for the energy and growth they so deserve… its all too easy to feel defeated.
This one’s for you.
This is for the parents who have brought out the Brezza or food processor time after time after time, determined to make your own baby food, only to have a messy kitchen and a stocked freezer that will never get touched to show for it.
This is for the parents who have tried steaming, broiling, baking, boiling, and grilling. There’s bound to be a preparation method they’ll like, right?
This one is for the parents who have gone out of their way to eat good foods with enthusiasm and passion in front of your children repeatedly to show that if they would just try it ONE MORE TIME, they’ll like it! We promise!
This one is for the parents who after a long day, consciously prepare dinner with a lean protein, vegetable, and whole grain that you know are sure hits with your tot. You just can’t deal with defeat. Not today. Until you sit down to eat, and this fab trio you prepared is met with an adamant, “NO! NO! NO!”.
This one is for the parents who purposely take their kids to Sam’s Club for free samples. So they can try new foods without you having to buy or make them. They love and eat up the cherries for the first time, so you happily buy a carton. You get home feeling victorious, clean and cut some up, and then she acts like you’re trying to feed her feces.
This one is for the parents who have resorted to acting like flipping magicians in the kitchen, hiding and covering up veggies in ways no child can detect. Until they do, and that whole portion of their meal is now deemed inedible.
This one is for the parents who have tried to wait it out. Leaving little ones in their booster or high chair for awhile. Surely, she’ll cave. She HAS to be hungry. I WILL win this one. Until you don’t.
This one is for the parents who have made so many smoothies they should moonlight at their local Jamba Juice. If they aren’t going to eat their fruits and veggies, you’ll be damned if they don’t drink them.
This one is for the parents who know the anxiety that comes from knowing they only have one shot at introducing a new food at meal time. And the WHEN during meal time is critical. Too early – the entire meal could be shot. Too late – the entire meal could be shot. It’s an art form, people.
This one is for the parents who have felt the repeated devastation of wasting food. Oh, the wasting of food. You consider eating it yourself, until you realize its not healthy for your mental well-being or waistline. Breaks my heart one tiny piece at a time.
This one is for the parents who have sat there at night, rocking their little one to sleep, replaying the day through their head and cataloging every thing their child ate. Most days, it never feels like enough.
This one is for the parents who rarely get to eat warm food. You want to share meals together, and you want to set an example every day of what eating well looks like, but when you’re up and down repeatedly – the chicken is never warm by the time you get back to it.
You know how important nourishment is for healthy minds and healthy bodies. Your child deserves the best, and you so want to be able to give it to them if they just let you. You envision the day when a family meal time will go smoothly, without disappointment, interruption, or requiring a short order cook. You’ve read the books and articles. You get the unsolicited advice. And you know, like all phases, this too shall pass. But in the moment, when you’ve pulled out all the stops, sometimes throwing up the white flag feels like your only course of action.
Some of my wonderful dietitian moms have recommended this Ellyn Satter site as a guide for setting healthy eating boundaries and sharing the responsibility of eating well between you and your children. Hopefully some of you find it beneficial – I know I have. A lot of great resources.
Until then, I feel for you. We’ll get through this, one GD chicken nugget at a time.