I’ve never been exactly food adventurous myself. I consider my eating habits to be “simple,” I order my burgers plain, prefer cheese pizza, and the more ingredients in a dish, the more chances there’s something in there I don’t eat.
I married a man who prefers plain pizza and burgers and that’s fine by me. He eats because he has to, not because he loves to, which contradicts with my food loving self. There’s always been a lot of pressure on him to eat better and more well-rounded, and I decided years ago I’d take a different approach if we ever had kids.
At first, it worked. I pureed all of our son’s foods and he ate a wide variety. The minute we switched to table foods, including introducing breads, my kid’s eating habit went downhill.
Now, I heard a lot about picky eaters, and that a lot of kids go through phrases. We continued to take a soft approach with food, but eventually realized we had another element going: our kid is stubborn.
Had he inherited his father’s eating habits? Or was he playing a control game over food?
Early signs pointed to, yes, he did inherit my husband’s picky eating. And later signs indicated that he inherited some of mine, as well. Add in a weak jaw as a toddler and it all made sense.
But the battle continued, and by the age of six, we didn’t know where the line was regarding food. Was it who he was, or control? We forced new foods, which turned into hours at the table with tears. We also fought to eat our own food aside son’s separate dinner, when he would take one look at our plates and balk. I hear mothers complain about being a short order cook, but it’s never been that simple for my kid.
Here’s the entire list of what my son will eat: muffins (chocolate chip, corn, or coffee cake), pancakes (plain or chocolate chip), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (successfully introduced sunflower seed butter when a classmate had a nut allergy), apples, chocolate yogurt, dino nuggets (McDonald’s chicken nuggets work, most others do not), and French fries.
He’s got a sweet tooth, so many desserts and snacks like chips work. But for food-food, that’s it. If we eat out, my kid eats French fries, maybe an apple, and he really doesn’t care for food.
A few months back, my husband was doing research, and stumbled upon a picky eater support group. Here he found many other adults who eat about the same as he, and our son, does. Some who eat less, some who eat more, all who have legitimate food related issues.
This is a real thing. It’s a disorder. And shortly after we made this discovery I watched my son’s eyes fill with horror as I offered him a new food. He backed away from me. He was not playing. And all I did was hold out a small piece of something in my hand.
Since then, we’ve relaxed about food. We know what our son will eat and we make sure he gets nutrition. We pay attention to what he doesn’t like: smells, textures, appearances, to try and figure out what new foods he might like. When he started skipping lunch at school, we knew there was a bigger issue than hunger going on, and were able to bring this to his teachers’ attention.
It’s also allowed my husband to relax on himself. He’s eating a bit less variety, and I’m going a little crazy needing more, but we understand where he’s coming from. We’ve talked with our son about it, let him know that he’s okay the way he is and that we want him to be open to trying to new things. That’s all, try.
I’m sure others will judge me for how we handle the food issue. Judge away. We are very quick to judge in today’s day and age. But I will say this: my child is happy. He’s healthy. We make sure to have him eat protein and he understands this. And until you try and force feed someone who literally has a food phobia, don’t judge. Food should never involve tears. And it won’t anymore in my home.