Our Journey

Welcome To The Table Aug 16, 2012
We would love for you to join us for dinner. This invitation is reserved for only the closest and most understanding of friends. It has nothing to do with reserving our prestigious company for a select worthy few. I’m too tired to be pretentious. I would love to entertain a…

Where We’ve Been And Are Now Aug 16, 2012
What my husband, daughter and I eat is not acceptable to my son. The limited options of my son’s diet is not acceptable to us. There is no middle ground. No give and take. No compromise. The temporary answer used to be to make my son something edible by…

The Monster We Dine With Aug 25, 2012
I am two days into the three day food journal we must complete before our first visit with the dietician next month. In the meantime, I am still searching for that elusive savoir faire that makes food…

Operation Pasta Aug 26, 2012
An article published in The Seattle Times last year shed light on children with severe eating disorders. I wouldn’t go so far as to rate our monster as severe, but I can relate to the parents of the children illustrated in the article. I know their frustration. I know it well…

Dining with a Pint-sized Critic without the Frustration Aug 28, 2012
Dining with a picky eater is like trying to cook risotto in Hell’s Kitchen. No matter how well prepared or delicious the meal is, you just know someone is going to be yelling. Here’s some sanity saving tips…

Learning to Go Slowly Aug 31, 2012
When I started this blog, I was certain that my son’s quirky eating was nothing more than an ingrained case of picky eating. I was sure that I could cure him with a disciplined approach, with hints and tips, and with suggestions from well intentioned bestowers of ideas. Then I discovered the Duke Study…

Boldly Going… Boldly Sept 14, 2012
If you’re a geek like me, you’ve probably seen an episode or two of Star Trek. A 24th century sickbay is a haven of effective treatments and cures for unheard of ailments and inter-universal disease. Once the patient arrives, a myriad of non-invasive tests are performed by waving a small blue flashlight over the affected…

Finding Our Way Sept 16, 2012
I tend to look at life in general as a journey. As I cross more and more names of experts off my list, I feel more and more like this family is adrift on a very large ocean in a hurricane. And on a very small raft…

Making Chains Dec 16, 2012
Our visit with the pediatric psychiatrist went… somewhere, I guess. He listened to our concerns, TJ’s uneventful medical history, the episodes of choking, his fear of food and aversion to all things meat and vegetable. To sum up the hour long appointment, the doctor mentioned psychiatry-isms like anxiety, phobia and medication. The suggestion to try…

Our Secret Key to the Food Universe March 14, 2013
We’re coming out of another post illness hunger strike. It’s not a “strike” as in a deliberate avoidance of all food, more of a protective lock down to prevent undesirable acts of digestion reversal. TJ’s tummy is sore, queasy and not in a very accepting mood. It’s more frightening for…

Desperately Seeking Vegetables May 18, 2013
It began in the garden. Earlier this week, TJ plucked and ate a chive. A green onion-like herb, which is close enough to a vegetable in our yard. The last time he liked eating a vegetable, it was pureed and he was still in diapers. There he was…

Taming SED with Fire Aug 2, 2013
We have just returned from camping at a family friendly campground just outside of Fergus, Ontario. As we were packing, the question passed back and forth between myself and Hostage Dad. “What food do you bring on a camping trip for…

Why Meeting Needs Matters Oct 28, 2013
On one side of the table sits his mother, father and psychologist. They are in agreement with the psychiatrist who diagnosed the generalized anxiety and a trusted friend, a mental health nurse. He is too young to label based on a collection of intermittent behavioural quirks. He is a smart and thoughtful child. Eager to please. He loves learning new things and calls home with infectious excitement when he does…

Building Trust with the Food Averse Jan 23, 2014
There is no shortage of tips and tricks to fix the picky eater on the Internet. There is also no shortage of eye rolling from the feeding trenches. So when I came across “Fun taste-tests that turn picky eaters into gourmets” from…

Welcome to Anemia Mar 2, 2014
One of the most common parent concerns with a selective eating child is the lack of protein in their diet. Protein, as a macronutrient, is relatively easy to come by. It’s in almost everything – grains, dairy and of course meat and alternatives. Usually, when a parent says…

Mealtime Zen: Experimenting with Novel Food Mar 23, 2014
Experimenting with novel food for personal reasons is at the higher end of the eating competence scale. It means I am certain of finding acceptable food in sufficient quantity, and I am not stressed about wasting a little food to try something…

The Path to Food Acceptance Oct 19, 2014
There was a time when cheese was known as That-Thing-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named in the presence of TJ. I would mix cottage cheese (shhh) into his smoothies (he added it), but because he couldn’t read the words on the packaging, it was easy to boost the protein and fat content without bringing…

Breadmaker Dinner Rolls with a Side of Courage Nov 6, 2014
In August, 2012, I wrote this post. This is where we come from. Between then and now has been a lot of patience, a lot of learning, a lot of reading. A LOT of learning. To move from that place of…

Beef and a Pancake Jan 15, 2015
We’ve had a burst of courage here at the Hostage Household. After the homemade bread trials, TJ felt he was ready to burst out of carbs and dairy and boldly venture into meat. Tacos are a…

Beware the Bribe Feb 11, 2015
It’s no secret that vegetables are healthy and everywhere we look, someone has a vested interest in getting kids to eat healthy. There’s just one problem. “Getting” someone to do something they don’t want to is pressure, and using pressure to get kids to eat anything rarely ever works. I know I need to…


8 responses to “Our Journey

  1. Thank you for this amazing blog! My son, who is now 5, has had food anxieties since the age of about 2.5. I cried as I read through your Journey because every post was as though you were describing my son and our lives! It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch him get nervous about food! And this site has given me hope that his anxieties will get better. I now know that rather than placing so much emphasis on what he eats, its more important for him to trust me. THANK YOU!!

  2. Hi! What a relief to read your blog. I just wondered, at what age do you think things like this will be taken seriously? My son is 2 years and 4 months, and the entire list of foods he will eat is this: oranges, toast, biscuits (as in cookies – I’m in England lol), spaghetti and noodles (but not pasta in any other shape or form), ketchup and hummus. Honestly, this is literally it and I could cry every time I think about it. Like your son, Arthur started off eating loads of different foods, and would eat pureed versions of what we were eating, but gradually he’s eliminated stuff from his diet bit by bit until it’s been reduced to the list I just wrote. People won’t take how stressful it is seriously – I get all of the usual “he’ll eat if he’s hungry” stuff (he WON’T), and we are lucky in that we can sit together every night and eat as a family and this MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. I don’t know what to do, because he’s still so little people keep telling me he’ll grow out of it……… Do you have any advice? Sarah xxx

    • Hi Sarah:
      From here, I can’t offer anything specific. Feeding struggles are much more complex than the short list of foods a toddler will eat, and to give you anything more than a guess, I would need more information.

      I can tell you this. In my experience, the biggest influence in a child’s eating is the communication that occurs around food. Worry and frustration change how we sit, how we breathe, and the tone in our voice. Without a single word, we have communicated volumes. There is a phenomenal amount of communication that occurs around food. It is very easy to unintentionally tell a young child without a single word spoken that “your eating upsets me.”
      Parents send this message (unknowingly) out of love – because we want our kids to grow up healthy; however, children tend to perceive our good intentions as something else. Kids do not “grow out of” this message; rather they grow into it and accept this inability to please their parents with eating as shame, and part of their sense of self.
      It’s important to figure out what barriers are in your little guy’s way so he can be successful with eating. If you are interested in supporting your son’s journey to a healthy relationship with food, please send me a message through the contact form. xo

  3. Thank you for this. I live in the south of the UK. Is there anything going on nearer me that may help?

  4. My grandson is 8 years old. Until he was 2 he ate and enjoyed most everything. Then it all changed. He now eats a lot of the foods he likes, but it is a very limited choice now. He won’t eat bread, meat, salad and seems to live on pasta. He will not try anything new, or eat foods he used to eat but now says he doesn’t like. He has never been ill after eating, is bright, sporty, but small for his age. He worries about going to new places in case he can’t find anything to eat that he likes. At the moment everyone in the family pander to his preferences, but I’m not sure that is the right way about it.
    Any advice would be very welcome

    • It’s very common for ARFID-like eating behaviour to begin around the same time children become naturally suspicious of food (neophobia), typically between age 2-6. In general, parents aren’t given any support to promote food acceptance in children – so they do what seems to work- often catering, so the child doesn’t lose significant amounts of weight. I’ve been there – it’s a hard and scary place.

      I’m currently working on a parent coaching course with a reformed adult picky eater that is planned for this fall. In the meantime, Helping Your Child With Extreme Picky Eating (available in the Pantry Shop) is the best resource out in print for our food-cautious kids.

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