I can definitely appreciate the idea that some people or cultures feel that rejection of food is a rejection of love. I never realized how emotional a topic food was until we started dealing with all these issues.
We have dealt with a lot of “Just don’t give him any food until he tries it; he won’t starve” from well-meaning people in our lives who do not understand. They do not know the countless times we tried that, or the times we have sat at the table for hours, or the times my son has vomited when he did try something. The times he has choked on food he couldn’t eat properly. The times he has had a serious allergic reaction to a food, which has made him terrified of new foods. It is heartbreaking and very difficult as a mother to not be able to nourish your child the way you want to. It is hard to have to pack up food everywhere you go, and drive around town to five different grocery stores every week because each one carries something your kid will eat that you can’t find anywhere else. It is hard to try to find the time and money for therapy, and hard to hear someone in a restaurant sitting behind you say “That kid is way too old to be eating that.”
People who believe that someone rejecting their food is a rejection of them and their love need to stop thinking about themselves, no matter what culture they are from. If someone offers my son a food he is allergic to, it could kill him, so I want him to know it is always okay to say no without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings. That isn’t fair to do to a kid, and ignorance or culture isn’t an excuse. I get that not every child who is a picky eater has an actual disorder or medical problem behind it- but the idea that it is “polite” to try things and that someone isn’t if they don’t is something I wish extended family or friends would let go of. If a parent does not make their child eat something, no matter the reason, it’s not anyone else’s business.