My 5 year old son has been a non eater his entire life. I can't tell you how many people have said to me, "oh i KNOOOOW, my daughter is a picky eater, too. she'll only eat chicken, and macaroni and cheese, and steak and potatoes, and sandwiches, AND BLAH BLAH BLAH, but i can't for the life of me get her to eat BROCCOLI!"
um. yeah. that is not what has been going on with Henry.
As an infant he was described as "content to starve". We were never very good at breast feeding, but he ate, and was the happiest little boy i'd ever seen. he cried now and then, but mostly he laughed and smiled and motored all over the place. When he was about three months old he did a very strange thing with one of his arms. he quit using it. he tucked it towards his body and sort of under him. this was, of course, after he had been sucking on his hands and scratching his face like a normal 3 month old. my husband who usually rolled his eyes at my fears said "call the doctor". we never did find out what was going on with his arm (actually came moments away from an MRI and full anesthesia when he just started using it again), but after being in the doc's office over and over, days in a row, we all realized he was losing weight. you know how everyone says "a baby WON'T starve!" and "if they are HUNGRY, they will CRY!" well that never happened. Henry would eat just enough to take the edge off, and be done.
he has stuck to this behavior his entire life.
i can tell you it has been an isolating experience. from being embarrassed to feed him with bottles (even though they were filled with expressed breast milk) - people in this town have a way of making mama's feel inadequate if they aren't breastfeeding, growing their own vegetables in their back yard, collecting rain water for washing dishes and riding their bikes 20 miles each way to attend the all enriching "book babies" at the library - to not being able to be away from home very long because of the necessity of pumping every few hours, to having to prepare the foods he WOULD eat and take them, on ice, every where we went. we ended up staying home a lot. My husband and i didn't eat in a restaurant with Henry more than a few times his first 4 years. there simply wasn't anything he would eat on the menu. we did pack up his foods in his mini cooler i took everywhere, beg him to eat them in the restaurant while he wanted to get down and play, and promptly leave when we'd had a few cold bites, too exhausted to try to beg or cajole for one more minute.
tell him to take it or leave it you say? That was exactly what his doctor's advice was. offer him whatever we were having for a meal, and if he didn't want any, just put it away. eventually he would get hungry enough to eat it. for God's sake, starving children in third world countries aren't "PICKY EATERS". no, children with Henry's issues in third world countries DIE. after 6 meals in a row of Henry not putting anything but water in his mouth, i couldn't take it anymore and gave him his foods. did he eat like a starving child? no. he ate what he wanted and went back to playing. food simply was not an issue for him.
I'm happy to tell you, though, there is HOPE. through years of trying everything i'd ever read, eating therapy, and buckets of tears, he is eating. and he is so proud of himself! i'll have to start at the beginning.....