I know a lot of parents are rolling their eyes about the new Duke University study that links severe picky eating to psychiatric issues like anxiety and depression. They’re thinking that this is just another inconsequential thing for helicopter parents to fear and fret about when their kids won’t eat broccoli. That’s okay. For most parents, it is insignificant, but for me, witnessing this study presented as a lead news story on the morning shows and repeated throughout the day on cable news networks, online parenting sites, and social media was profound.
I am the parent of a severe picky eater.
I am the parent of a child who eats separate meals and has a hard time eating in the school cafeteria, at birthday parties and friend’s houses, and in restaurants.
I am the parent who has been told for years, “He’ll grow out of it” and “You’ll laugh about this someday.”
I am the parent who has been judged over and over again for allowing and enabling my child’s picky eating habits.
I am the parent who has tried everything.
I am the parent of a child who has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.
I am the parent who is glad it finally has a name.
I am heartbroken every day watching my child’s limited diet limit him, but I’m hopeful that this new research will validate our struggle and help us access the best care possible. I’m optimistic that greater awareness will encourage the medical community and insurance industry to get on board with informed support and financial coverage, and above all, I’m hopeful that this study will foster acceptance from parents, friends, family members, educators, pediatricians, coaches, and anyone else who has a severe picky eater in their life.