The Picky Eaters Club- my kid is definitely a part of it. My husband can be a picky eater, I can be a picky eater, but my daughter takes it to a level I never thought possible. Honestly, I have been ready to rip my hair out recently with the lack of foods she will eat. What kid eats quinoa, but not hot dogs? Seriously?! I was thinking about changing my plan of attack. I was ready to put my hair up, don my 1950's attire, and put my foot down. No longer was I going to go out of my way to make sure there was something I knew she would eat on the table. No more hair nets and short-order cooks in this house. (No, I have never really worn a hair net in my house) My new mantra was going to be "if she is hungry, she will eat it!"
Take that, little 6 year old! (Who's stubbornness and hardheadedness is clearly karma knocking on my front door.) That mantra is clearly what I heard growing up. I even remember a night when my mom kept loading on more re-fried beans because I was not eating them. (Note to other parents: the threat of having to eat more of a food you detest, does not in fact make you eat it faster.) When you think about it, it is the advice we all get, don't we? It is what we grew up hearing, so we use it. They eat what we serve, or nothing at all!
Well, I'll be honest, I suck at this tactic. I have never been good at it. While I will not make something completely different from what my husband and I are having (let's be honest, it is because I don't want a lot more dirty dishes), I will make sure that some part of our dinner is edible for our daughter. I have beaten myself up for this and I am definitely guilty of the mindset of doing everything I can so that my son does not end up like this (he will definitely be getting crab as a finger food). But what if there is more to picky eating then I (we) thought?
Ben was streaming NPR on his phone this morning, and a report came on about picky eating habits. It discussed a study that shows picky eaters have increased risks for symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD and the like. It went on to talk about that a sensitivity to one's surroundings, experiences, etc, would explain why some children are moderately and severely picky when it comes to foods (tastes, smells, and textures). So I ask, what if unnecessary pressure on a picky eater causes these symptoms?
While I know some people will think it is a bunch of bologna (another food I am not fond of), I definitely see a correlation. Addie is a picky eater, moderately picky, not severely, but picky nonetheless. She is also a very sensitive girl; she vomits when you force her to eat something she is determined not to eat (no joke, even foods she normally loves), she cries when frustrated, sad, happy, and scared (you're welcome for mommy's genes), and she seems to empathize better than most adults I know. Things seem to affect her quickly, whether it be situations, sounds, sights, or tastes. In general, she feels strongly and quickly. So why have I ever entertained the idea of putting her in a situation for her to starve herself? Because she would and she would masterfully be making Ben and I feel guilty as we heard her sobs and explanations of why she should be eating Nutella/cheese/bread/chicken nuggets instead of fish/rice/veggies/pretty much anything.
So I looked at the bigger picture. I want a happy, healthy kid, and that is it (and one that doesn't try to negotiate bedtime every night). I don't care if people think I am too easy on her. She'll try new things in her own time. Right now she is picky, incredibly picky, but she is happy, healthy, and thriving in all that she does. I can't guilt myself over her pickiness and I can't beat myself up for somebody not agreeing with my decisions. At the end of the day, she is my kid and I get to choose. So for now, we are part of the Picky Eaters Club. I hope that she will outgrow it and I will continue to provide opportunities for her to try new things. Until then, Picky Eaters Unite!