The 5 stages of grief when feeding a picky eater

Sep 1, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Image: Anders Andersson/Moment/Getty Images

If you have a toddler who hands-down refuses to eat anything delicious that you prepare for him, you’re not alone. You’re just a parent. Welcome to the club and prepare to meet your demise.

I am a parent of two toddlers, and I am far from a stranger to picky eaters. I wish I could say the opposite was true and that I gave birth to a few magical unicorns who love everything I put in their faces, but that is just not the case.

To up the ante in my list of #firstworldproblems, I’ll do you one better. My oldest son has a laundry list of allergies, related to eczema, food allergies and asthma. We have put him on a restricted, clean-eating diet for now, and even with all of the backbreaking labor that we put into his meals, he still doesn’t give a shit. I guess you could say that our dogs are eating healthier than he is since they gobble up all the quinoa and grilled vegetables he throws on the ground.

Dealing with a picky toddler day in and day out will put you through the wringer. Here are the five stages of grief you can expect at any given meal: 

1. Denial

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This stage is also known as “foolish optimism.” Or, you are a fool if you believe that your kid will happily accept the dinner you made him. Not gonna happen.

2. Anger

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Photo credit: Line Cinema

Pushing the anger down deep inside you is the only way to deal with this stage. Don’t lash out at your picky toddler for throwing his food. They sense weakness.

3. Bargaining

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Perhaps the most common stage of all—one you will certainly see at most restaurants in an attempt to get said picky toddler to behave. Just eat this bite of broccoli, and I will buy you a whole goddamn family of wolves, I don’t care. I beg you.

4. Depression

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This phase will last all day long, and into the next meal that you prepare for your picky toddler. Get used to it.

5. Acceptance

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You may never reach this stage, but if you do, it will be like parenting nirvana. Or, you may think that you have reached the acceptance phase, until your toddler literally throws dinner back in your face. Again.

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