Food issues

(25 Posts)

Our new son was meant to be a great eater, or so foster family told us. He is very fussy and doesn't eat much with us!

Help! Please...

kmarie100 Sat 24-May-14 16:43:45

Snap! We were told that too. Trouble is that every family has their own idea of normal meals. Dd wouldn't eat any friut and veg when she came. It's taken a lot of patience and hard work to encourage her to try new foods. Almost like weaning again. Just asked her to lick the foods and taste them at first then gradually progressing. 4 months on and we've made so much progress. Eating much more now. Best of luck take it slowly. Don't worry a child wont starve itself if they are hungry they will eat. Dd did loose a bit of weight at first but seems to be maintaining it now.

hackneylady Sat 24-May-14 16:58:51

I'm not an adoptive mum, but could it just be that because he's had/is having a big move, he'a a bit unsettled and is usually a great eater, but will take some time to get back to that? If I'm at all stressed, my appetite's the first thing to go and it's been that way since I was tiny.

hackneylady Sat 24-May-14 16:59:26

'he's', sorry, not 'he'a'

WalkTheLime Sat 24-May-14 17:11:17

Hi Italian. I haven't adopted either but you gave me some good advice the other day so hope you won't mind me returning the favour?

Totally agree with kmarie that every family's idea of normal meals is totally different and my DC can be fussy with things if they look or smell different to what they're used to. Also agree with Hackneylady that he's probably a bit stressed and unsettled which might affect his appetite.

One practical bit of advice that I have only just learned is to make the most of unconscious grazing. So in the same way that I can mindlessly work my way through a bag of crisps or a packet couple of biscuits when watching telly - i've started giving my DCs bowls of chopped up fruit/cheese/breadsticks etc when they're watching telly. They'll often eat a bowl of snacks without really realising it! Might be a good short term solution for you so at least you know your little boy is eating something.

Kewcumber Sat 24-May-14 22:00:45

I know how I feel when something major is going on - sick and nervous and not really focussed on eating.

Even if he seems to be settling well, he's probably apprehensive about the changes.

Give him some choice but not too much, plenty to drink (high calorie uf he's not eating much) and chill out if you can - its very early days.

I had the opposite problem - DS once he realised he could eat as much as he wanted just ate until he was sick, at virtually every meal for months. Then he went through a stage of not eating much for a couple of weeks then eating like a horse for a week.

At 8 he is a little picky and suspicious of food (checks sell by dates!) but is pretty OK.

Kew approve of your ds checking the food dates!

Thanks one and all.

I know it is early days and maybe more is going on underneath, I will be gentle with him. He is quite into dairy so he won't starve.

Actually he is gorgeous, I just want to do the best for him.

Lilka Sat 24-May-14 23:27:51

Absolutely he won't starve, and it's important to remember that kids don't starve themselves (excepting those with anorexia) and however fussy he is or little he seems to be eating, he is eating enough to keep him going and he will keep eating enough, even if he isn't eating the ideal amount of food. If we know that, then we can feel a bit more okay about it when our kids leave lots of food - which can be really worrying for us, even when we don't need to be worried.

There is nearly always more going on underneath, and food is such a big area of life in many ways, one of the few things they can have control over at such an out of control time in their lives, and as people have said, your emotions, stres levels and environment have quite a big role to play in your sense of hunger/fullness. So it's not surprising that food issues are so common

Not that that makes it easy to live with, I know! But I remember my DS went right off his food a short while after coming to live with me, and both DD's also changed their eating habits. It's difficult, but it all got so much better with time. Food issues are one of the first things to get worse here when the kids are feeling stressed

I'm sure you are doing a fantastic job smile

I try to take a similar approach to Kew - offering some limited choices, providing healthy snacks they can take at any time without the pressure of being at the dinner table (and I think the family dinner table environment, whilst IMHO the best way to eat, feels quite stressful when you've just moved into a strange house and if the child feels under pressure it can make food issues worse). Basically not making a big deal out of eating. Dinner table is low key and I try (varying degrees of success) to keep the conversation away from the subject of food and don't mention how much the children are eating at all. If the food doesn't get eaten, then fine, it's not eaten. No need for a fuss or consequences, I accept you're not going to eat that and that's absolutely fine, but mummy is not cooking you a second meal of xyz instead. Next mealtime is a new event.

Don't wear yourself out trying to devise new and interesting meals that he will definitely eat all of - if you're serving up a healthy diet and you know he's eaten the food happily before, then you can serve it again even if he says he suddenly won't eat it. Food issues are usually about your emotional state and stress and perhaps about control, not about genuinely suddenly hating abc food forever.

Again, it's early days for your DS and this might be an ongoing thing for a while, but I'm sure you are absolutely doing your best for him always

MyFeetAreCold Sun 25-May-14 02:36:32

Italian, DD was the same, even the foods we were told she loved she wouldn't eat. 6 months on, it's getting better.

At the start i made sure there were three things on a plate at every meal (meat, veg, carb) figuring shed probably eat at least one of those. I found one thing I could rely on her to eat at lunchtime which was filling and she ate that every day for months. This gave me leeway to experiment a little bit at dinner time until I found ways of getting all required food groups into her! She's still not a good eater but I've stopped worrying about it. Also, like others have said, try and not make it a conversation topic and avoid comments.

And vitamin/calcium gummy bears are your friend if you're worried about nutrition.

Thanks so much everyone.

I guess it was a shock because foster family said he was a good eater (and foster family are genuinely lovely so I know they are telling the truth). He also was very good about getting up and going to bed and that seems to have gone to pot too.

It's weird because now you ave all said it, it makes perfect sense. I think if he were shying away from us etc I would understand it. But he laughs, cuddles, kisses, calls us Mummy and Daddy and generally fits right in!

He did have a little mini meltdown in supermarket today to do with 'driving' the trolley. It was funny because I was a lot more relaxed about it all than I would have been with DD at 3. What was good was that once he had had his very quick meltdown he was very cuddly. So he seems quite relaxed with us!

fasparent Sun 25-May-14 06:54:16

Meal times is like a Military Operation in our house 8 too feed every day
this includes us., all have there fads , younger ones are picky too a stalking 6ft 1in 13 years old like a preying mantis who eats for himself and everyone. All were picky and choosy when they 1st came some are vegetarians, others health fanatics, Wish could we had a Barbecue every day with a wide selection of food, salad, and fruit. 10 year old healthy eater but secret sneaker (thinks we don't Know).
All will settle for you in time would not worry at all , all kids are different.

Am up early feeding new born will eat till kingdom come, Other one is fast asleep has always slept through, wake her at our peril , will play on when awake after nappy change , only have her bottle when she is ready, but will not leave anything, and has too have her little supper before bed , just a few extra ounces., Two total different baby's with different character's and needs.

Would not worry too much will settle as you see for us all are quite different

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 25-May-14 08:41:45

Food was - and still is - a major control issue for DD. It's one area where she is in charge rather than all these grown ups who make decisions for her. I've no good advice, though, as we haven't cracked it beyond trying not to fret too much...

fasparent Sun 25-May-14 09:14:25

Many older children have experienced trauma and loss prior too being placed in care, some when placed in care, most settle with FP's., being moved too permanency, can be a trigger effect in the short term, as with all ours, but all settled well, some thought food as we sat aghast at the amount they put away, some were very withdrawn and finicky with their food, most will be experiencing loss but with time will get better with confidence and self esteem. Some will settle strait away.

Jennifersrabbit Sun 25-May-14 09:27:04

Anxiety - yes.

Foster families x 2 with ours, both lovely, both said the kids ate anything - basically our interpretation of 'anything' wasn't the same as theirs!

Also subtle differences between what you cook and what foster family cooks will make big worries. Cue
panicked email to foster family asking why DC1 wouldn't eat their favourite shepherds pie - we'd only gone and put tomato purée in it, outrageous experimental cooks that we are smile may just be worth checking with foster carers if there are particular brands of food and serving those for a while so they are vv familiar to him (yes even if it's stuff you would never ever normally buy)

DC2 lived on ketchup sandwiches and spaghetti hoops for a while, which was a regression from diet in foster care. I well remember the breakthrough when a 'nana' was recognised and requested! Is now a bouncy healthy 6 year old (and has a more varied diet ...)

Agree with everyone else - food is not your biggest battle, keep it low key and he won't starve himself!

Good luck he sounds gorgeous smile

Thanks so much.

Yes, Ketchup, he would live on that!!! We have a dipping bowl of ketchup (a miniature ramekin) next to him and dd for some meals. Ho he can use it but he ends up eating it with his fingers like some sort of rock star with caviare.

He has just started eating bread, he likes it in tiny triangles or 'soldiers' it makes all the difference how it is cut up!

Kewcumber Sun 25-May-14 09:44:58

Also - how long has he been at FC's? Because if he's been there a while they may well have forgotten how he was when he arrived. If someone asked me about DS's eating now I would say he was a good eater, that doesn't mean if he went to stay with complete strangers that he would eat much.

I also agree that the subtleties of food escape us adults, you only have to look at that thread talking about how a fussy eating child wouldn't eat the lovely home made pizza (childs mother said she would eat pizza) and many people said that not all pizza is the same and they're right. Particularly for a child who is dealing with massive change.

Even if he likes the change, its like meeting new friends and going on holiday with them a week later and spending every waking moment of your day with them and only eating what they provide and living in their house. Even if you like them, its exhausting.

Thanks, today has been better, a small tomato, a tiny piece of a vegetable and a bit of fruit plus two small packs of spaghetti cheese (which is cheese, not spaghetti) some fruit juice and the tiniest crumbs of bread and tuna for lunch today. I think I will call that a result (plus a bit of chocolate!). He is running around happily so I am sure he has some energy.

I am taking all your wise words on board and not giving any pressure, he sees fine.

He is having ice pops, which he loves, and I figure it is getting liquid into him and cooling him down as today is quite hot and he is not very keen on water.

MrsBW Sun 25-May-14 20:08:37

Hi Italian.... You and I are at the same stage grin .... We bought DD and DS home 3 days ago

Question for you lovely experienced adopters

Meal (roast) eaten twice before very happily by both DS and DD. Presented again tonight. Suddenly refused (we now know it's because they were shattered... Only clicked after they went to bed, later on)

DD asks for a yoghurt (she's literally eaten 5 mouthfuls of main meal). We say no. Cue tears and angst.

Did we do right? If she hadn't liked the meal, we would have given her a yoghurt, but we know she's eaten it before.

Also... DS suddenly decided he didn't like small strawberries (only big ones), or the green bit of broccoli (witnessed him eating several times before, FC tells us it's his favourite vegetable). Not too sure how to handle that one... Have tried telling him it's the same to no avail...???

Any advice very welcome.

Italian happy to start a new thread on this if you'd rather.

MrsBW Sun 25-May-14 20:36:12

Should add... BM was v controlling over food. Would insist they finished meals.

MrsBW I am more than happy for you to get opinions here as the issues are very similar. Yes, we are also not long into ds being home so I am sure some of the issues will be similar.

Personally, I would probably have given dd the yoghurt and not worried but with ds because I knew he had eaten well at foster family I was more pushy at first. We did have part of intros while he ate here and so all in all it's been long enough for me to start to build up some bad habits!

But now, after reading people's comments, I am re-thinking and would say now that I would bend to the kids will re food and just focus on bonding.

So MrsBW for your situation I think now I would have saved the dinner and re-served with fresh gravy and heated up the next day! And let her have a yog.

I never liked the idea of forcing kids to eat and never did with dd (birth child) but with ds - because his foster family pushed him to eat a bit and said that he did not eat much when he first came - I felt I needed to push too. But now I think I agree with all the other comments and I will not push him. He loves yoghurt, cheese and milk so he seems to be OK and I will wait for him to come round. It is early days and bonding is the most important.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 26-May-14 08:22:28

For DD certainly, it's all about control for her. So we let her do whatever within reasonable bounds - if she wants to have her yoghurt first then a sandwich, fine (provided she finishes the sandwich, and it's only in those sorts of circumstances where we insist on getting close to finishing). Similarly, allowing her to leave a mouthful or two on the plate is fine if she has insisted that she can't possibly finish it all up.

Though we are still having issues with her trying new food at home (not a problem at nursery!!), and more or less it's the last big area of anxiety and conflict, 2.5 years in... So maybe take what I say with a pinch of salt!!

MyFeetAreCold Mon 26-May-14 10:35:19

In the early days mrs bw we'd have let her have the yoghurt because we needed to get some calories into her. These days, if the meal is something we know she likes, she needs to make a fair effort at it to get pudding. Crucially here though, this can't be seen as (or presented as) a reward or a consequence, just a fact. Likewise if she doesn't make an effort at mealtime she doesn't get snacks as soon as she declares she's hungry, she has to wait for snack time.

I personally wouldn't reheat uneaten dinner, because that brings last meal angst to new meal. I've had to get very used to food waste.

We're still in the thick of this so I'm not claiming we've cracked it at all. A lot of this is designed to preserve my sanity as much as anything else.

Kewcumber Mon 26-May-14 13:19:27

I think it depends what you're giving as a pudding - yoghurt and fruit isn't really more or less healthy than a main course so I wouldn't restrict when or how much they can have.

As I said earlier DS went through a phase of eating until he was sick (regularly) and it was a real struggle for me to let him but I took teh attitude that he needed to relearn how to deal with food properly. He also had control issues around drink and had to have a sippy cup of water within arms reach always (gosh I'd forgotten all about that!) - this went on for over a year from memory.

I think being relaxed and letting him do whatever he wanted with reasonably heallthy food has worked in the long run and luckily he really doesn;t have many residual food issues.

But I have weight issues so I'm not a fan of using food as a reward generally. I think its OK to say that chocolate crisps and cake is a treat and you can't have any unless you've had a reasonable diet that day but I think its OK for children to see yoghurt as a healthy food to eat (as long as it doesn;t have more choclate than youghurt like some of them do!)

Kewcumber Mon 26-May-14 13:21:33

I never expect DS to clear his plate like a friend of mine does. I think from a healthy weight perspective you need to learn when you are full and stop not keep eating just because its there!

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