As a dietitian, parent and mother, I have met and worked with many individuals who lack variety in their diets. In fact, I have witnessed a lot of shame around this topic. A parent feels like they have failed the universal parenting skill of feeding their child a variety of foods. Adults only wishing they were anything but selective, imagine the status if they were vegetarian, paleo or perhaps even gluten free. From a child’s perspective, the experience of whispering comments to friends and family and the ‘table ground’ battles, leaves one feeling less than whole.
Rather than being naughty or nice, I prefer to view children and adults with a limited repertoire of foods eaten as being selective eaters.
Why do I use the term selective eater? A shift happens when a child or an adult is recognized as being selective with their eating. This respectful term helps our interaction and gives hope for new beginnings as we move forward. The surprise and relief in parents when the talk starts to bring about positive change is something that I have experienced first hand.
Selective eaters exist for numerous reasons. Yes, they may be sensitive, anxious, cautious, afraid, or hold medical reasons. Regardless of the reason, a selective eater needs a little more time and a shift in our interaction to help him/her explore and accept a variety of flavours and textures.
In future blogs I will lay out how we move forward. For today, if you or someone you care for is a selective eater, start by using respectful and helpful language. Semantics are important. Picky eaters do not exist, selective eaters do.