When I first became a mother, I knew that there would be many unknowns. I kind of prepared myself to figure it out along the way. Starting from day one, however, things didn’t happen like I thought they would. I ended up having an emergency c-section. After the difficult delivery, breastfeeding wasn’t as easy or natural as I thought it would be. When my son finally moved onto solid foods, he decided one day that he didn’t care much for food anymore.
Yes, I was dealing with a picky eater. My child went from being a good eater to a child that would refuse most foods. Sometimes he didn’t want to eat at all. That’s when anxiety and fear settled in me. I wasn’t prepared to deal with this extreme and stubborn picky eater.
Child appointments weren’t normal anymore, every time we had to go to his checkup I was anxious and scared of being judged. I say “judged” because some doctors told me that it probably was my fault my son wasn’t eating. One in particular criticized my background implying that because I come from a third world country I might not know what healthy foods are. The other one asked me if I was feeding my child at all. Seriously? I never felt so inadequate and unfit in all of my life. I was welcomed into motherhood by these so-called “experts” telling me I was hurting my child, when in reality I was doing everything in my power to get him to eat.
At home, it was a daily battle with my son, I stopped enjoying meals because it was a stressful time. I know my son sensed how anxious I was around him, and I was starting to make food a big issue.
So after changing doctors 3 times and refusing unnecessary tests on my child (his previous test had all come back normal and he was developing according to his age), I found the right doctor and she is wonderful. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I had to tell her the things that the other doctors had told me. She showed compassion and she was very sympathetic. Now I can say that I have stopped stressing about food. My son is still growing and he loves school. He acts like any 5-year-old. Yes, he is a little smaller than other kids are and he still doesn’t care much about food. However, now he decides what to try or not and he has added tons of new foods to his diet. I’m not concerned anymore. I know I’m not perfect and I make mistakes but I also know that I give it my best.
So here is what I have learned about surviving life with a picky eater:
- Don’t stress about it: I know it’s easy to say but if you are stressed, your child will be too.
- Find different opinions: Unless your child is losing weight and there are other problems, don’t just listen to what one doctor has to say. You probably haven’t found the right one for you both.
- Have support systems: I don’t know if I would be sane if I didn’t have my husband’s support and also my MIL’s support. They reassured me nothing was wrong with my son or myself.
- Don’t compare your child’s eating habits to other kids: I know it’s easy to do and sometimes you wish your child would eat as well as the other kid at the same table, but comparing will leave you feeling more down about the situation. Instead embrace your child’s uniqueness.
Now, my son has proclaimed himself a vegetarian because animals are his friends, I’m fine with it. (Actually, I wish I had the same will power but I love meat too much.)
Motherhood isn’t easy to begin with and you will encounter many unexpected situations along the way. So if your child is only eating mac&cheese or pb and jelly. Don’t stress, that will also pass.