1. Treat me with the same respect you would show a “normal” eater. I am not spoiled or manipulative, I am anxious and very cautious. Resist the urge to make comments about what I’m eating, or to try to get me to eat in a way that YOU prefer. I am quite capable of choosing what I’m comfortable with from what’s available.
2. You know that nonsense about offering a food 10, 12, 17 or 20 times? Forget that noise. If I think food looks like something I might want to eat, I’ll have a go at it, otherwise, I’ll try it when I’m ready. Accept that I may never want to. Telling me “you’ll like it”, “just try a little”, or “you don’t know what you’re missing” will not convince me to eat something that, to me, does not look like food.
3. I have a very sensitive sense of taste and smell. Food can be downright overwhelming, frightening even. I don’t want to look, smell or touch anything that frightens me. I most certainly don’t want it in my mouth. Let me decide when I’m ready to try something new and let me spit it out if I change my mind.
4. It is absolutely NOT OKAY to bribe me with dessert for eating my veggies. This just reinforces what I already know – that vegetables are icky. Let me eat dessert WITH or BEFORE the rest of the meal. Often, starting the meal with something pleasant helps me to relax. Nobody eats well under stress.
5. Embarrassing me (or allowing others to embarrass me) based on my eating habits doesn’t encourage me to eat. I really don’t want to be the center of attention. This only makes me feel uncomfortable and less likely to want to eat in a social setting.
6. Please stop reminding me that I’ve had the same food repeatedly over the past few days (or weeks). I already know that I will get bored, and I may already be bored with it, but right now, it’s the only thing I can eat.
7. Don’t force me sit at the table or insist I take one bite of everything on my plate. I should not have to earn your love by pleasing you with what I eat.
8. Do not take away what I am comfortable eating in the hopes of forcing me to eat something different. I will not eat because I’m hungry. In fact, I would prefer to be hungry rather than eat something I can’t. Please include me in social eating events by ensuring there is something on the table that I can eat, even if it’s just a basket of rolls. I do not wish to be catered to and I am amazingly easy to please.
9. I don’t want to hear about starving kids in some far-off corner of the world when I refuse to eat something. What I eat or don’t eat does not take food away from anybody anywhere on this planet. There is no need to take my food preferences personally. I am trying my best to be respectful and pleasant during the meal. Perhaps you could do the same?
10. Do not define me by what I eat. Do not judge my parents by the variety of my diet. The less said about my eating, the better. I eat to sustain myself, not for your judgement or approval. Go play mommy wars somewhere else.
11. I may not always make the healthiest choices. I am fully aware of this. Please stop assessing the nutritional quality of my diet. It’s embarrassing, and makes me feel guilty and self-conscious. If I was interested in knowing which nutrients are lacking in my diet, I would seek facts from a knowledgeable professional. I don’t recall asking for your opinion.
12. This is just the way I am, I am not trying to be difficult. When you support and advocate for me, you show me that you love and accept me for who I am, not what I eat. It’s difficult for me to trust you when you act like my most interesting quality is the food on my plate.