Recently my Mom shared a blog post with me that touched me in a way that few other things can. In this blog, a mother was sharing her success of eating with her son at a fast food restaurant. In front of him is a hamburger and fries with just a few bites gone but this alone was a huge success.
Before we began our journey through food therapy we felt completely alone. It seemed as though no one really understood, or sometimes that no one believed us, that we struggled so much at mealtime. Restaurants were completely off limits, getting together with family and friends induced a level of panic I personally don’t care to relive, and through it all, we worried about our little girl.
I remember a specific occasion soon after Charlotte started her new preschool. I was a parent volunteer for a late summer trip to a splash pad. Charlotte loved playing in the water, running and screaming with her new friends. After the kids were fairly worn out it was time for a sunny picnic with all of the other kids and parents. As we sat down that familiar panic set in, is Charlotte going to eat anything? She has to be so hungry after all that activity. The amazing thing about that day is that I cannot recall what she ate, but what I do remember is watching another little girl, slightly younger than Charlotte, peel and eat an entire banana. For any other parent this might have gone completely unnoticed but for me, I took an intense interest in her activities. I remember sitting there thinking, will Charlotte ever be able to eat an entire banana? Will she be able to visit a friend at home and not have a complete melt down? Will it be possible for us to go out to eat at a restaurant without her dramatically pushing away an entire plate of food? What did we do that caused her to struggle with food to this degree? Through our journey in food therapy, we learned how to help Charlotte through these hurdles. She learned how to try new foods, deal with new textures and what to do when she came across a food she didn’t like.
There are days that we still struggle at mealtime. This isn’t a destination, rather a journey, which is something we have learned as well. To this day we continue to use the tools we learned in feeding therapy, and I am continually surprised at the progress Charlotte has made.
Charlotte is six now and it feels like a lifetime ago that I sat with her on the grassy hill and worried about her future. As a parent I know I will never completely push that worry out of my head, after all, that is my job. However, today I am confident that we have given Charlotte the tools necessary to navigate food in her own unique way.
Remember, you are not alone. There are hundreds of families just like yours that struggle at mealtime, and we all know the feeling of dread that can set in before mealtime.
Reach out to professionals, advocate for your child with your physician, and lean on others that have already started their journey.