Washington Post: Picky eaters might be damaged (My headline)
OK, so there are points made here that are serious and worth considering, like the apparent correlation with depression and anxiety.
But here’s the thing. I was a legendarily picky eater as a child and I still am. I also have a long memory, especially for feelings. So I feel like there’s an extra angle to this that is, at best, underrepresented here.
Children who are picky eaters can be a source of frustration for parents. I get that. I also understand the attitude behind not kowtowing to a kid’s every finicky dietary whim.
But wherever anxiety came in for me, it was when someone (parent, teacher, host, etc.) confronted me about not eating or undereating. Then as now, I rarely made a production of not eating. If I didn’t want something, I didn’t take it. If I’m in a situation where I don’t like anything that’s being served, I just don’t eat, and make up for it later. I rarely have a ravenous appetite and average two meals per day, so I can do this with no problem. I never hold it against anyone, because I know it’s my issue, not theirs. It’s only when people call me out on it that it gets awkward. I come from an extended family of restaurateurs and amateur chefs in Cajun Louisiana, so it’s been awkward a lot. It’s difficult to justify not partaking in some of the best food in the world. (“Uh … my tongue sucks?”)
The worst was when my parents, who generally accepted my quirks and tried their best to accommodate them, would lose their patience and lecture me on why I was going to die of malnutrition if I ate bologna instead of roast. As an adult with many friends who are parents, I now see it from their frustrated perspective. But as a kid, I was considering drafting a will, because I was not about to let the textures win.
However, at 12, I stumbled upon a major weapon that turned the tables.
Family Circle magazine.
My mom bought a lot of Family Circles and Redbooks back in the day, and I read all of them, because that’s what I do. So I learned a lot of parenting (and makeup) tips that I have never used. But one proved useful: don’t force your kids to clean their plates.
So the next time Mom exhorted, “Ian, clean your plate,” I replied:
“But MOMMMM … Nutritionists say that children naturally regulate themselves from day to day, and in fact forcing a child to clean their plate can lead to obesity.”
“Oh … really? Where did you read that?”
“Your issue of Family Circle.”
“Ah … didn’t know that!”
The increased deployment of barbecue and spaghetti further rendered most future battles moot.