Motherhood

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Raising a Picky Eater

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Raising a picky eater toddler who is struggling to gain weight and has been diagnosed with “failure to thrive” is emotionally draining. Here are some of the emotions I go through almost daily.

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You’d think that by the time I was in my mid-30s I would learn not to let my happiness depend on other people, right? (Side note: mid 30’s?? How and when did that happen?? Geez.)

But just over a year and a half ago I met a boy named Elliot who I am obsessed with. I think about him when I am falling asleep. He’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up every morning (although that’s probably because he is the one who wakes me up every morning). And every little thing he does has a direct effect on my happiness.

So when Elliot is struggling to gain weight, I feel so much pressure to make sure he eats well daily. And with that comes a wide variety of emotions:

  • The frustration I feel when he refuses every food I’ve prepared for him that day.
  • The excitement I feel when he has a good eating day.
  • The heartbreak I experience when his daycare teacher says he didn’t eat any of his lunch.
  • The proud mama feeling when he is brave enough to try a new food.
  • The disappointment I feel when he hasn’t had a bite of real food all day.
  • The joy I feel when I see him have a good time while eating in his high chair.
  • The crushing sadness I feel when when he throws up everything he ate for dinner after he spent an hour eating.
  • The delight I feel when he is being silly and playful on the high chair.
  • The irritation I feel when he insists on watching Elmo while eating. Why can’t he just sit and eat without distractions??
  • The hope I feel when he has a new ‘preferred food’ – I get ahead of myself and start imagining all the different ways I can change up that food and finally get him to eat a wider variety. This usually leads to disappointment.
  • The confusion I feel when he loved a new food but then refuses to eat it ever again.
  • The happiness I feel when he insists on using a fork to feed himself on his own.
  • The frustration I feel when dinner ends up on the floor. Again.
  • The feeling of triumph when he finishes a whole meal.
  • The sadness I feel when I see he hasn’t gained weight in months.
  • The helplessness I feel when I know we can’t get any professional help while living on this island.
  • The amusement I feel when he eats his food in a silly way, such as turning his head on the side for every bite.
  • The loneliness I feel when I don’t know of any other parents going through this.
  • The pressure I feel to try to get Elliot to have a good eating day, to get him to gain another half a pound.
  • The tiredness I feel when I think about preparing separate meals and high-calorie baby food for him for many more years ahead.
  • The hope that one day he will overcome this.

Anyone else out there experience these feelings on a daily basis?? As much as I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else, it would be good to know that I’m not alone in this. I created a facebook group for parents of picky eaters in the hopes of having a safe supportive space to discuss raising a picky eater and to help each other out. If you’re interested, please join the group and follow my facebook page.

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