Finding Peace with Picky Eaters

By Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN

Navigating my son Hunter’s picky eating journey hasn't been a smooth road. It began with a labyrinth of medical complexities, sensory sensitivities, and developmental delays. For the first several years of his life, I was on a relentless quest for answers, battling through what felt like an impossible maze of challenges. Tremendous frustration and self-doubt was smothering. I carried the weight of trying to be both a supermom and a nutrition expert.

But it wasn't until I chucked my rulebook out the window and tuned in to the power of listening that there was finally a glimmer of hope—gradually, things started to shift. Then, like a beacon of wisdom, a mentor shared with me Kahlil Gibran's profound words from "On Children":

And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

As parents, we're not just guides but also students of our children's journey.

I'm not inclined towards organized religion, but I hold deep spiritual beliefs. The concept that children may choose their parents resonates strongly with me. It suggests that as parents, we're not just guides but also students of our children's journey. Through this lens, we gain profound insights into both ourselves and our children, fostering a mutual path of growth and understanding.

Dr. Stephen Cowan, a developmental pediatrician whom I deeply admire and consider one of my most cherished mentors, guided me through my experience with Hunter with this invaluable advice: "Your role is to offer your child a diverse range of nutritious foods. However, the ultimate decision of what to eat rests with him." His wisdom also reminded me that each decision I was making, although I felt otherwise,  was contributing to my child's overall well-being.

With acceptance, I've found a profound sense of peace.

Hunter has been my greatest teacher, showing me the importance of letting go and acknowledging that his path is uniquely his own. While I can offer guidance and support, I cannot dictate his choices. My role is to impart what wisdom I have, provide nourishing options, and trust in his ability to make decisions that serve his well-being. Now a teenager, I've witnessed his palate expand, though he still gravitates towards simplicity and sweetness. Despite his preferences, I refrain from judgment, choosing instead to approach his journey with compassion and understanding, mindful of the challenges he has faced (and continues to face).

The lessons I've learned along the way have led me to embrace Hunter’s journey as our “normal.” With that acceptance, I've found a profound sense of peace.

Explore More

Discover All