Hi, my name is Shannon and I wrote a book about my son's extremely fussy eating. I wrote it because I couldn't find a book that adequately captured the abject terror (my son's) or humiliation (mine) that we experienced when we tried to move my son from mostly liquid food to mostly solid food.
I wrote it because I don't want other parents and carers to feel as lost and alone as I felt. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I don't pretend to have the ability to fix your child's fussy eating but I do share our experience as openly and honestly as I can. Hopefully it will comfort you to know that you are not alone. Hopefully it might give you some clues as to why your child is so extremely fussy with food, where you can find answers and who can help you (possibly, maybe).
I guess I also wrote it because hiding behind a book was an easier form of advocacy than building a public profile. I had thought (incorrectly, it turns out) that I was going to be able to just put all those words together, call it a book and then send it out into the big, bad world all by it's itty bitty lonesome. Meanwhile, I could stay at home in my jean shorts and t-shirt. Drinking coffee and avoiding human contact. But sadly no, it seems that books are just as needy and demanding as other forms of life, ugh!
Before I had kids I knew exactly what I was going to feed my potential children. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies, lean meat, whole grains and appropriate amounts of dairy and healthy fats. Cakes and biscuits would be limited and party food like chips and lollies would be for special occasions only. I assumed that all I would have to do is be prepared to create delicious meals and nutritious food and my perfectly obedient children would just... eat.
That's not what happened. I upheld my end of this fantasy. I had a kid and then I prepared delicious and nutritious food and for a while my kid participated in the fantasy and ate my carefully prepared food. Then one day he didn't. It crept up on us without our really knowing what was happening but somewhere along the way he started to scream in terror and run away or clamp his mouth shut and refuse to eat. Whilst I haven't managed to help him overcome his extreme food aversion, I have learned to deal with it the best I can.
If you have a child who is similarly repulsed by most food then let me assure you that you are not alone. You are not a bad parent. There is actual real life, really helpful help out there... when you know where to find it. But my book is about more than that because sometimes even when you know where to find the real life, really helpful help things still don't get better. Sometimes despite everyone's best efforts you're still left feeding your kid endless packets of chips and a handful of multivitamins. What do you do then??
Well, if you want to, you can choose acceptance. You can forgive yourself and your child for not being perfect. And, when you're ready, you can join me in learning how to be an advocate. This is a new experience for me. I'm not used to speaking up. I'm not used to using my voice to stand up for others. But these children, like all children, have rights; the right to eat the best they can without fear of punishment, shame or judgement. And one day they will grow into adults with the same rights.
As parents we have the right to choose forgiveness and acceptance. This world is far from ideal. There are so many ways that we as parents fall short of perfection. If I can, I would like to reduce the sense of shame and grief that can accompany the decision to accept that your child might never eat what you or the world thinks they should. I still have a ways to go myself. I still find myself trying to hide my son's fussy eating (or if not hiding at least not drawing attention to it). I still find myself feeling sad and sometimes embarrassed when I can't hide from it.
I don't quite know where this blog is heading. I don't know what to expect from putting myself out there. All I know is that I'm stoically ignoring the voice in my head that's telling me I'm being ridiculous for opening myself up like this. I'm fighting valiantly to stay open to the process. Join me if you want to. Ask questions if you have them. Share your experience if you feel like it. Because, I have a good feeling that together we can achieve something not too shabby.