Encouragement for the parents of picky eaters.

As parents, our first instinct is to feed our children. The urge to nurture, nourish and protect is engrained in us the moment a baby is placed on our chest. But what happens when that baby grows up and doesn’t eat the food we think is best for them? When they are older and can make choices for themselves, only choosing foods that aren’t healthy or nourishing. It can feel like somehow, we’ve failed.

I know how it feels, I have a picky eater myself and I want to preface this by saying,

It’s not your fault.

My son had just turned two years old when his food aversions started happening. Foods that he once ate and loved turned into plates being thrown on the floor, stressful mealtimes, and on a really bad day, throwing up because the aversion was just that strong. For a long time, I took these reactions personally. I only ever wanted to feed my babies the healthiest options, but before I knew it our pantry was filling with convenience foods and our meals were coming from a drive thru.

Now standing from the angle I’m at now, I wish I would have made different choices for him from the very beginning. I actually look back and wish I would have made a lot of different choices when it came to food in the early years but what good does looking back do? We can dance the tango of “coulda, woulda, shoulda” until we’re blue in the face… I could have done things differently when my kids were babies. I would have made a different choice if I had known then what I know now. I should have done more research about what we were struggling with. But that dance can be dangerous if you choose to remain stuck in that space. We can acknowledge the choices we made as – “not the best”, but then we can move forward because we know better now.

Safe foods for my son are the same 4-5 things. Chips. Pizza. Cheeseburgers. Fries. It’s almost as if he’s lived his entire life at a backyard barbeque. He never, (and I mean this very literally) NEVER ventures from this list to try a new food option. I know that if we go somewhere and there is no pizza or cheeseburgers, he probably won’t be eating. But we’ve learned to navigate these things, so he doesn’t go hungry, or feel left out. We’re blessed that our friends and family also know what to except during gatherings so there is almost always a pizza option for him. And even though I get frustrated with the limitations of his diet, I am grateful for the progress we’ve made.

Food aversions are so much more complicated than people think.

There was a year when everyone around us (or at least it felt like everyone) was giving the same advice of – “just feed him whatever, he’ll eat it if he’s hungry” and while I understand this logic sometimes works and the child does end up eating a bite or two of something they otherwise wouldn’t have, had they not been starving – food aversions paired with sensory sensitivities is a whole new ball game. There is no “eating when he’s hungry”, there is only “starving because it’s not a safe food”.

“Safe foods” is not a dramatic term for “favorite foods”. Safe food is literally what it means – safe food. A food that won’t taste different than the other times you’ve eaten it. A food that won’t hurt your belly. A food that’s not too salty, or too sweet. A food that is exactly what you’re expecting it to be. A food that won’t surprise you.

Every night I’m making two different dinners, and dinner for me, my husband and our daughters, and a meal for our son. All while saying a soft prayer that one day, I’ll make one big meal that we can all enjoy. But until then, I’m not going to give up, and I want to encourage you to do the same. If you’re making multiple dinners, please know you’re not alone. Keep trying, keep cooking, and keep swapping those snacks for healthier options. It’s time to give ourselves grace for the decisions we made before we knew any better. I know the world of social media can be a potluck of dishes placed in beautiful pictures. Or the hardest for me are the accounts that picture the rainbow on a food wheel and how to serve your kids broccoli in a fun way, knowing that would be an incredible struggle in our house, with our boy.  It’s now easier than ever to compare our meal to a neighbor, but I just want you to know – I’ve posted plenty of dinner pictures that my kids never even ended up eating. Don’t get swept up in the comparison game, and trip up during the “should have known better” dance.

A healthy relationship with food is just as important as a healthy meal.

And if no one has told you lately, you’re doing a good job.

Steak, salad, sourdough bread, & deviled eggs

*No bake tarts with yogurt and fruit topping

Steak, salad, sourdough bread, & deviled eggs

Fresh BREAD Emails Coming Right Up

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  1. As a mother of a picky eater. This touched my heart soo much.. I have been working on healthier choices for his top choices.. this resounded to me soo much and was beyond encouraging.
    Thank you for sharing and showing me that I am not alone in this.. please continue to share more recipes.. my goal is to try all your recipes and praying 🙏🏻 that he likes at least one and not give up.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I have a picky 2 year old as well. Mac n cheese, cheese sandwiches and yogurt are her go to foods. It’s true, don’t give up! Keep cooking and giving them options to try new food. When they are ready they will try it. Even if it’s only a bite or two.