Do you have a picky eater in your life? I’m going to start this off by saying, I have no idea how you deal with a picky eater. I have been one my whole life.
In this post, I’ll share what I wish my parents had done for me when I was a child. But I’m only speaking from my personal experience. I’m not a doctor; I’m not an expert.
There are very few foods I’m willing to eat. My picky eating started when I was a toddler. As I aged, the list of foods I was willing to eat shrunk. At some point I refused to eat hamburgers, then hot dogs. I was never open to fish sticks; I couldn’t get past the smell.
When I inevitably have to tell people I don’t eat meat, they say “oh, you’re a vegetarian.” My twenty year old joke response is: “Actually, I don’t eat those either. I’m a junkitarian.”
I’ve always labeled myself as a picky eater; and I’ve always felt a great deal of shame in that.
There’s quite a bit of truth to that joke. I will eat vegetables and fruits, but my diet mostly consists of potatoes, chips, crackers, cheese, and pasta.
If I don’t like the way something smells, I won’t even try it. I can’t eat food that requires a lot of chewing; I start to gag and my throat will close up.
I’ve always labeled myself as a picky eater; and I’ve always felt a great deal of shame in that. It’s like I’m a child trapped in an adult body. I don’t eat like normal adults. It’s embarrassing and yet paralyzing to think of eating “like a grown up.”
My therapist has suggested that I may have a food aversion, which technically means an eating disorder. It’s hard for me to associate myself with that phrase, eating disorder. I’ve just always shamed myself about food: you’re such a weirdo, be normal.
The food aversion thing makes a lot of sense. Even if it’s not true, it’s a kinder way for me to deal with my food issues. To approach it from that stance is gentler than telling myself to just grow up already.
While I don’t have answers on how to deal with your picky eater, here are two things I wish my parents had done differently.
First, I wish they hadn’t given up on me. My mom got so frustrated she quit cooking for me. I totally understand how frustrating it had to be to deal with my food issues, but I really wish she would have sought guidance on how to prep foods so I’d eat it. Honestly, that help may not have existed 30 plus years ago. But it does today.
Secondly, I wish they had not shamed me about it. Again, I know it has to be so frustrating dealing with a picky eater. But I can assure you, shaming isn’t going to help the situation. It’s actually just gonna create a 40 year old shame filled adult with an eating disorder.
My food healing journey is just beginning.
Outside of those suggestions, I don’t have any answers. I’m just starting on this journey myself. So far all I have is a workbook that I’ve yet to start reading, a patient therapist, and a supportive partner. If you have a picky eater in your life, I encourage you to seek professionals for guidance. And in the meantime, remain patient and non-shaming and don’t give up on them. Best of luck!
~til next time,