to want to tackle my 12 year old on her restrictive eating?

(111 Posts)
NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 14:00:02

She has always been a poor eater. We've had battles since she was tiny and food is her favourite weapon. She has, with me persistently pushing her, got to the point where she eats fish, chicken, beef, lamb,turkey. She will eat chips but not roast potatoes or mash and pasta, dry of course. She will eat carrots, cucumber, peppers. She has rice krispies with a little milk. She likes bread and some cheeses. She will eat fruit. This sounds quite good BUT it all has to be cooked a certain way, has to look a certain way and if anything is touched by sauce of any kind, it will not be eaten, even if it just touches the edges. She is less fussy than she used to be about things like chips, but she is still very fussy with food.

Her dad doesn't help as he doesn't see it as an issue. We manage as a family unit with this BUT he doesn't see all the times when we go out with her friends and their mums and the eye rolling that goes on...the limits to where we can eat that has to be dealt with and the increased stress she is put under in those circumstances.

The question I'm asking is, was I out of order this morning raising this matter and telling her that she has a problem? It was in the context of her complaining about food tech and how 'useless' it is. I tried to tell her it would be good for her to learn more about food and to try new things and she objected so strongly and started to get upset. I have outlined to her that we can cater to her needs at home, but that she will have issues in the real world in future and actually, she does now. We can't easily go out to friends for meals. We went away with a friend recently and couldn't eat in a number of restaurants with her because she won't eat pizza, pasta with sauce or anything similar. We had a big, bosting stand up row this morning and she was distraught, which made me feel awful, but I would not back down. Now I wonder if I should have.

I don't want to give her an eating disorder, but she is a really clever, thoughtful kid and I think if I give her this info at the right time she will actually look at her behaviour with food and start to revisit her strategies. What do you think. Was I unreasonable to raise it? Should I not make an issue of it?? Help, please...

Kayano Fri 11-Jan-13 14:04:39

do you not think by ' battling' her you have made it MORE of an issue. She know it bugs you so she has dug he heels in. Just ignore an disengage an let's he get on with it.

ps, I will only eat raw veg - annothing for some but it not exactly a harmful big deal. an if coleslaw touches my salad - forget it! I'd rather not eateat.

I do think you will mmake it worse pushing the issue all the time.

sing left to my own devices I eat a lot more!

Kayano Fri 11-Jan-13 14:05:57

She can ask for pasta by itself with no sauce surely?

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Fri 11-Jan-13 14:21:53

I think you need to stop making an issue of it for the time being (really hard I know) and perhaps see your GP on your own and see if they think it is just fussiness or something more involved that might benefit from some kind of therapy.

lljkk Fri 11-Jan-13 14:22:33

It sounds to me like you are perpetuating the battle by trying to get her to change. it's the worst age to crack down on them for trivial things (and yes, compared to what else a 12-14yo has to deal with, it's trivial).

I'm with your DH. Hands off.

I do sympathise, DS4yo is similar, restrictive diet & very fussy HOW it's presented & prepared. Sometimes in restaurants he doesn't eat & otherwise we can usually order chips (he does usually eat). Would your DD have had bread roles in the pizza joint? I think most of them would have that available. And a glass of juice. That might just have to be her whole meal until some other snack can be obtained that meets her exacting requirements.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Fri 11-Jan-13 14:23:22

BTW - as far as going out is concerned, most places are pretty obliging.

We went for pizza recently with a friend of DD's who doesn't eat tomatoes so we just asked if they could leave the sauce off. Basically she had cheese and ham on toast but she was happy and ate the lot!

manicbmc Fri 11-Jan-13 14:25:12

Does she have any SEN? I only ask as it's a rather common trait in ASD kids that they hate food touching and find sauces or foods that are 'mixed' hard to cope with.

Could you do some food prep with her at home or get her cooking her own meals so she has things the way she wants?

Sirzy Fri 11-Jan-13 14:26:41

Sounds like I was at that age. I was very fussy and set in my way about food.

I have managed to grow into an adult who will try most things and manage to eat a full balanced diet. I still wont eat fried foods though and don't like a lot of meats.

If you make a big issue of it then it is more likely to become a battle ground. She is eating and from your list a lot more than I did. Don't pander to her fussiness but at the same time don't make it a big issue.

sooperdooper Fri 11-Jan-13 14:28:16

I think you're right to have brought it up, she is taking it to extremes where it's effecting what you can and can't do

If you eat out, do you order for her, check menus beforehand etc? Surely there must be something on most menus she will eat? If not, does she make the specific requests herself or do you make them for her? Maybe if she has to ask herself she would back down and try something different?

1NewMessage Fri 11-Jan-13 14:30:35

I would let it lie too.

FWIW I work with a woman who won't touch any kind of cooked veg or any sauces whatsoever. I personally hate if food types are mixed, I like it all separate so I can choose the ratio of foods I have in my mouth at one time. Both me and my colleague are pretty normal and manage to eat out smile

We all have our 'things'.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 14:31:12

That's helpful Kayano, thankyou, and I know we all have likes and dislikes about food to some degree, but I just worry so much that she misses out by having 'issues' around food. I have no doubt I contributed to them, but it is so hard as a mum to sit back and watch a child with a restricted diet become fussier and fussier. She only has the range she has because I have battled and cajoled and probably bullied her into eating certain foods. If I had ignored it earlier on she'd still be eating dry pasta and bread, chocolate biscuits, chips and cucumber, which she fixated on as a toddler!

We did end up in an Italian the last time we ate out with friends and she had ceaser salad without the dressing and the parmesan. So I paid £15 for a chicken breast and lettuce. Oh, and she left the lettuce! It almost makes me laugh, typing it out now, but it drives me insane.

I really think it will impact on her when she starts going out with friends. They'll want pizza or to eat Mexican or Indian and she'll have to stay home or say no because all she wants to eat is chips and chicken! It's life limiting...

I know making a big issue out of it will make it worse and I swear, I don't raise it often. Do you really think ignoring it is best??? Is there nothing I can do to make her eat a bigger range of food?

Sirzy Fri 11-Jan-13 14:32:56

Would you be happy if someone was forcing you to try something you didn't like or didn't want to eat?

valiumredhead Fri 11-Jan-13 14:33:22

Let it lie!

She could have had plain pasta at a restaurant.

valiumredhead Fri 11-Jan-13 14:35:20

She might well broaden her horizons later on. Personally I would completely ignore while making sure she takes a good multi vit.

LibraryMum8 Fri 11-Jan-13 14:37:28

I so sympathize but I agree hands off. As far as restaurants the things you mentioned they would probably have...fruit plate, etc. if this is the way she is, fine but she is going to have to learn eat around what she won't eat.

Easy for me to say, I'm sure hard to do, but I'd let her take some responsibility - have her make up her meals as she likes them, not you, if she's going to eat differently. I would not limit where I wanted to eat out at all, she's best to learn now how to eat around things - she might be doing it her whole life.

DeWe Fri 11-Jan-13 14:43:24

Dd1 is like this, she's also 12.
In her case she was a brilliant eater as a baby and toddler-right the way up to pneumonia at age 8. Since then we've got less and less she eats. If we have it too often she goes off it because she's had too much. Unfortunately there's 7 days in the week and about 5 things she eats without complaining.

I don't make a fuss over it. She'll try stuff, so that's fine. I try to make sure there's something she'll eat, even if it's just the pastry on the outside. She was only eating raw veg-now she's got a loose tooth, that apparenly hurts, so she can't eat it.

We get the tgrembling bottom lip when we go somewhere there's nothing she likes to eat, but she knows it's not going always with what she likes. If there really is nothing, she can have fruit when she gets home.

SirBoobAlot Fri 11-Jan-13 14:46:34

You're going to make things worse if you make it in to more of an issue. Access someone for her to talk to about it, if she wants, but don't make her feel bad about it.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 14:47:12

Thank you all so much for your measured responses.

Dumspiro I did speak to GP about it and he said it was probably because she was an only child, I should have more hmm. That advice was particularly useful as I have had recurrent miscarriages before and after dd and she will never have siblings. I have changed doctors since and maybe should see this new one about it.

IIjkk you are right.

Manic - she has no SN as far as I'm aware (I'm a SEN TA, so recognised that too) though she does have a bit of a thing about control, likes watching the same dvds over and over, she hates loud noises and she is really sensitive with her food. On the flip side, she's socially able and has no real issues with school or life in general, apart from food! She definitely has some autistic traits, but I think she's just a really controlled/control-freak type personality. She is great with children with special needs too...perhaps she is on the spectrum, or brushing up against it at the very least.

Sooper We do generally pre-check menus and restaurants. We got caught out on a trip to London with friends where we struggled like buggery to get food for her during the day. She ate toast and chicken ceaser salad (no salad, no dressing, just the chicken really) all day. Breakfast was a delight, though, as they had a fruit bar and a toaster. Happy days!

1NewMessage I don't think it's going to go away, so maybe I just need to wrap my head around it.

I'm in bits at the moment, because I know I shouldn't have entered into a row with her about it. We were both crying before school because I am a little hormonal and she was just enraged with me! I explained to her that I really didn't want to upset her and I only worry about it because I want her to have the fullest life she can and I don't want her to miss out. She understands why I worry about it, but she says she's alright (which I know she is) and she is a tall, willowy blonde with few health issues and a lively life. She is, perhaps, being more pragmatic about this than I am... Thank you so much for your advice though. Looks like I have a little making up to do this evening.

CailinDana Fri 11-Jan-13 14:49:30

Let it go. Food is such a personal thing, forcing someone to eat things or questioning their food choices will gets most people's backs up straight away. I can understand your worries but making her conscious of it and berating her for it will absolutely not help.

Have you ever asked her why she is so restrictive with food?

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 14:55:00

I can't believe how helpful everyone is being. Thank you. I am taking on board everything that you're saying. I thought I'd get loads of, 'you made a rod for your own back there' kind of comments, so I'm really pleased no-one has gone there.

She does do o.k. on the whole. I try so hard not to baby her, but I think I do protect her totally from the eating issue. With her being an 'only' I can meal plan around her. DH and I have suffered as a result though and have eaten way too many chips this year! That stops now. She can eat what she can, I'll cook a portion of whatever we eat without sauce, but I'll explain we all need to eat more heathily as a family and she can make herself pasta if she wants to or eat what we are having...her choice.

I don't make her eat what she doesn't want to and have tried so hard this past few years to be chilled. I just flipped this morning though...I can see that she sees food as just fuel and not something to be enjoyed. She'll probably never struggle with obesity with that attitude, but I can't stop myself feeling like she's missing out. Thanks for your advice everyone. It's so much appreciated.

CailinDana Fri 11-Jan-13 14:55:23

X-posted. It sounds like she could be on the spectrum and needs control over her food as a comfort thing. If that's the case I would absolutely let it go completely - challenging her on it will only increase her anxiety and possibly make the situation a lot worse. I used to work with children with ASD and when the school misguidedly tried to root out the comfort obsessions of some of the children, all that ever happened was that the child developed a more severe, more dangerous obsession, often involving hurting themselves. So a child who flapped a scarf suddenly started biting himself, another child who was into dinosaurs stopped talking altogether. We all have things that make us a bit quirky and different - hers is a little extreme but it's not rude, it doesn't hurt anyone and it won't affect her health so there's no need to tackle it. She may decide to tackle it herself later on, at which point your support will be needed but for the time being just apologise for this morning, make it clear you are backing off but that you will always be there to talk if she needs it, and don't mention it again.

lljkk Fri 11-Jan-13 14:55:32

Well done OP for being open-minded. It was a point of derision for my mother if a person was very close-minded about foods, so hard for me to understand people who can be so ridiculously rigid in their preferences. DS sometimes drives me mad too. DH's whole family are close-minded about most foods, they just love staying within their little comfort zones.

CailinDana Fri 11-Jan-13 15:00:14

How would she respond to doing a meal for the family once a week do you think? Having that level of control might be great for her. Equally it could be huge pressure so check carefully first.

Be very wary of projecting your own views and feelings on things onto her. As a teenager I was very bookish and was often told I was "missing out" because I didn't enjoy drinking and clubbing. I was absolutely not missing out, just because others my age enjoyed it didn't mean I should. Those sorts of comments made me feel freakish and left out, because I couldn't force myself to like something just because others expected me to. If she's not into food, then she's not into food, that's just how she is. She eats enough to keep her going and as you say will never be obese, so it's all fine really.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 15:00:51

CailinDana she says she doesn't like food. She dislikes the taste of most things and doesn't really have a favourite food. Food is just something to be endured for her. I've tried to explain she hasn't tasted most things, but she won't listen. I have pointed out the foods she didn't eat when she was younger that she now enjoys (as much as she can) and she just shrugs and says that doesn't mean anything.

At one point she wouldn't eat sweets, other than milk chocolate, or drink juice. I can see she's grown out of that, so maybe she will grow out of different restrictions at different times.

I try not to berate her for her eating, but I also try to encourage her to try new things. I bought her cook books for Christmas as I'd told her we would be cooking more in the new year to get her ready for university. (She wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge, so I've told her she needs to learn practical skills to go with her academic skills).

We have cooked meals for daddy which she won't try. We've tried different ways of cooking things and she won't entertain trying it. We've baked, she's helped me shop and she's helped me meal plan. It doesn't change anything and she insists, she doesn't like food. It's just the way she is, I guess...

Thingiebob Fri 11-Jan-13 15:03:28

Can I tell you my experiences? I was an incredibly fussy eater as a child. I lived on marmite sandwiches, meat, potatoes and fruit! No veg, no sauce, no 'mixed up foods' and so on. Meal times and food was a source of concern and anxiety for me. I could never eat at friend's or relatives houses as if faced with a plate of something I didn't like, I would fly into a panic.

I remember being forced to eat school dinner when I was about seven and not being allowed to go and play until I finished my plate. I ate everything including the semolina for pudding and spent the remainder of break time throwing up violently. I used to check the school meal timetable each morning and my day would be wrecked with worry and fear if it was something I didn't like. I wasn't anorexic, just very restrictive with diet.

My poor mum used to battle with me at the dinner table trying to get me to eat certain foods, I think I had a problem with textures and smells. If I didn't eat it she would lose her temper and threaten to give it to me for breakfast. Alternatives were rarely offered, pudding was only available if you had eaten dinner. It was incredibly traumatic. From my parents' point of view I was just being 'awkward and fussy'. In fact I was terrified of vomiting it all up.

Finally years later my mum told me that when I was very tiny I had a weak stomach valve and nothing would stay down unless I had medication first. I used to sick everything up and I do wonder if this is where the fussiness stems from?

I am now in my thirties, eat a range of foods, love it too much actually! I get plenty of vitamins and iron so it did work out in the end.

I can't bear the thought of my daughter going through what I did when I was a child. I really can't so even though she can be a bit restrictive, I try not to let it bother me. She can have meals she likes a few times a week but then the other times she has a bit of what the rest of us have. I get her to try a little bit then if she really hates it, she can have a sandwich and fruit. This method has improved her eating vastly. She has started to eat carrots, risotto and mashed potato. When she goes to school, I will give her pack lunches.

Gentle encouragement, rewards and understanding seemed to work with her.

As for that doctor! What rubbish! I am glad you changed practices!

firesidechat Fri 11-Jan-13 15:04:03

As the parent of a once very fussy eater I would suggest not making an issue of it.

My daughter would eat chips, chicken, bread, cheese, yogurts, roast potatoes, tomato ketchup for many years. It wasn't quite this restrictive, but certainly felt like it. She didn't eat any fruit and veg until relatively recently. The only meat she ate was chicken and ham. She would eat the same meals for weeks on end. Despite all this she was very bright and very rarely ill. I think the fact that she drank milk (and water) did help her to get some good nutrition.

In the early days we tried all sorts of tactics but she is very stubborn. We tried not giving her pudding if she didn't eat her main meal. Just meant she went to bed numerous times with no dinner. Her dad once tried to make her eat spagetti bolognese and she still can't eat minced meat as a result. Completely traumatised her. Eventually we decided that it was best to relax and not make a big deal of it.

For a bit of context, the rest of the family are all very good eaters and not remotely fussy. We also love veggies.

Now for the good news. She is now in her early twenties and will eat most things. Loves vegetables, only meat she doesn't eat is lamb (because they are too cute) oh and mince of course, loves mussels, pasta etc. You wouldn't know she ever had problems with food. In the end I think she just got fed up with how restrictive her diet was. It made going out with friends a bit tricky and going to uni has helped enormously.

Hope that helps.

Oh and please try to ignore other people. There's always someone with an opinion on how you should bring up your children.

CailinDana Fri 11-Jan-13 15:05:32

Forgive me for harping on but it's something close to my heart. It really makes me sad when parents won't just accept their children for who they are - when they try to make them different, which the child nearly always interprets as "better." Of course bad behaviour shouldn't be accepted but I'm talking about personality quirks, preferences, ideas etc. Home should be the one place where a child should be able to feel 100% accepted for who they actually are, and not worry about who their parents want them to be. From your last post it's clear your DD has told you very strongly that this is the way she is, and you've not listened. Time to start listening I think.

CecilyP Fri 11-Jan-13 15:06:51

Do you really think ignoring it is best??? Is there nothing I can do to make her eat a bigger range of food?

No, I doubt that there is, and from the list of things she will eat that you have given, it is perfectly possible to eat a balanced diet.

Of course it can be a bit embarrassing eating with company, or annoying if you are eating out, but even in pizza and pasta places it is generally possible to get something that isn't pizza or pasta, even if it is just a plate of chips. Sometimes the starter menu will have something might appeal to her. I agree with librarymum, not to limit where you eat out, but let her make the effort to work around it.

From her point of view, what she eats is normal and what others are willing to eat is strange. Think of it in terms of being transported back to the olden days and being surrounded by people eating tripe and onions, pigs trotters and bread and dripping.

Honestly, I think the less fuss you can make the better.

Up until the age of 5 I was a human dustbin and ate everything. Went into hospital for an operation under general anaesthetic and my taste buds changed. I developed an intense dislike for foods I used to love - in some cases the smell alone would make me heave, let alone the taste. Eggs being one. Haven't been able to go near an egg since then when I used to adore scrambled egg especially.

In the last few years (am now 38) I have improved and there are few more things I now like that I never used to. But I can still only cope with a very plain/mild sauce and still much I cannot abide.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 15:08:36

I keep cross posting, so apologies if I'm missing anyone out. When she gets home from school tonight I'm going to ask to borrow her cookbooks so I can plan out next weeks meals. I think she'll have forgotten this morning's row.

We have our special night tonight...that's where we spend time together doing things she wants to do, staying up late and having a 'sleepover' together, with sleeping bags and stuff. If she raises the issue I'll tell her I was out of order for making a big deal of the food thing. I won't apologise first though, as I don't want to bring it up again, unless she does. I'll say it's my problem really, and she will try new foods when she's ready, I'm sure. Hopefully, a few hugs and a couple of DVDs tonight will work their charm.

Thank you again for all your comments.

Thingiebob Fri 11-Jan-13 15:09:48

I can see the thread has moved on whilst I was typing my epic post!

I agree with Cailin, try and accept that this is how she is with her food. As long as she healthy, then it doesn't matter to much. What about her popping an iron and vitamin supplement? It does sound very much like a texture/sensory thing.

Not sure you can change this by arguing or forcing the issue. Perhaps this is just part of your daughter's uniqueness?

nickelbabe Fri 11-Jan-13 15:10:08

i think now she's 12, you should tell her it's up to her to make her food.

make sure you always have lots of stuff that's easy to cook, and recipe books etc.

but stop cooking for her.

tbh, it does sound like you've spent her life trying to get her to eat stuff, and sometimes that can make the problem worse.

when i was a child, i ate hardly anything , and eventually my mum left me to it.
i've now got a really varied diet and i love food.

Hullygully Fri 11-Jan-13 15:13:56

My dd has never eaten much, for two years she lived on red lentils, carrots, cheese, apples and cashew nuts.

She eats more now, but not loads. If she eats enough healthy stuff (which it sounds like) I'd just let her get on with it, she'll change in her own good time. Or not!

firesidechat Fri 11-Jan-13 15:14:48

Just wanted to add. I've often wondered if my daughter could be a super taster. There is a proportion of the population that experience taste more intensely than others and it can make them fussy. My daughter still eats one food on her plate at a time ie potatoes first, then meat, then vegetables. Apparently supertasters will often eat like this.

Maybe your daughter is also a supertaster. She may not be able to help her fussiness and this in turn may help you to relax about it.

ethelb Fri 11-Jan-13 15:15:10

I think that youneed ot explor reasons for the fussiness, but also stop pandering to it quite so much when it is inconvenient. You really shouldn't have spent all day looking for something for her to eat, she needs to realise she is very difficult to cater for and cater for herself while you get to thebottom of her food behaviour.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 15:15:10

It's also nice to hear form grown women who have problems with food even now, but have improved from childhood and don't miss out as a result of it.

It's true...I see things from my own perspective and I would lament the loss of a varied diet. DH and I love a gorgeous meal out and nice cup of coffee and after dinner mints smile I look at her plate of dried food and I weep inside.

I need to get a grip! And start to see that she sees our saucy, slop covered meat and thinks in the same way.

We're away next weekend with her friend, off to York for some Jack Wills shopping. I might just talk to her about strategies before we go and put the onus on her to ask for what she wants in the restaurants. Instead of trying to change her, I'll try to support her more. Thanks for the really useful advice.

deckthehouse Fri 11-Jan-13 15:19:33

My son is much younger, but for him bribes work brilliantly. I usually bribe him a couple of times to eat a spoon or take a bite and by the third time we're having the dish he's munching the whole lot happily.

1NewMessage Fri 11-Jan-13 15:20:18

"when i was a child, i ate hardly anything , and eventually my mum left me to it. i've now got a really varied diet and i love food."

Same here. I would have tuna sandwiches for lunch, and fishfingers chips and peas for dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY. For years. My parents and DB are huge curry fans and if we went out they'd all have curry and I'd have the one 'english' item on the menu which was ALWAYS chicken and chips. I look back and am amazed how little my mum seemed to care. I think it made her life really easy to cook me the same thing every night. I actually think I was more extreme than your DD, OP. The only veg I ever got was peas! There was never fruit in the bowl and I only ever got any at my grandma's house when she'd get in some melon for me once every couple of months as a treat!

But I had a really robust constitution and was never off school, and had a perfect BMI. When I went off to uni the food in halls was so bland that I came home for the first holidays and announced I wanted a curry. My famiily nearly died of shock. Since then I've eaten pretty much anything but I still don't like stuff to be touching!

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 15:23:50

Ethelb I know exactly what you're saying, but the day in question was a treat, a weekend in London with her best friend and her best friend's mum. The problem arose partly because her best friend is vegetarian, so had specific requirements for her food, but this would have been easily addressed if DD hadn't had her very specific requirements too. We had to reject a number of eateries because they couldn't cater to one or the other of our children.

It is rarely difficult for us to eat around her as a family unit, as we are easygoing eaters and there are only 3 of us, but we do need to give her responsibility for sorting things out herself as she gets older.

If I try to 'get to the bottom of' her fussiness, I think we'll be making a big deal out of it, which is what the majority of people here are saying I shouldn't do. She will, I think, decide to do this herself when she is older IF it causes her problems in her life. As others on here have said, they have had difficulties as a child but grown out of them, or they continue to have issues now, but cope.

As a 12 year old girl she gives us very few problems and I am grateful for that. If she ate as she should, she'd be the perfect child!!! And I'm fairly sure that's not supposed to exist, lol.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 15:27:33

My instincts are like yours though, Ethelb, hence the fight this morning. I should know better really than to put down my strongly held views and expect DD to fold. I was one of 6 kids and I never folded under pressure, parental or otherwise! Stubborness is part of her genetic make-up.

RudolphsNoseInMyXmasStocking Fri 11-Jan-13 15:27:39

Im sure my brother grew up on Weetabix and egg yolk! And equally, two of my daughters will only eat chicken (one will occasionally have gammon or a little mince), dd3 only eats plain pasta, no sauce, will have cheese. Veg wise, peas, sweetcorn and carrots, mash and chips. I regularly offer other foods but based on the fact they're both growing - one taller than me and one not far behind, I assume they'll get through to adulthood alright!

JustinBoobie Fri 11-Jan-13 15:28:19

I feel for you OP, you've been give great advice on here.

My dd likes ketchup, on the side.

If it touches any food, even if she likes it - she wont eat it. It's for dipping only the foods she wants to dip.

Drives me up the WALL, but hey ho... I can't fight with her about food, she has a varied diet (is fussy though) and is healthy. That's my main concern.

nickelbabe Fri 11-Jan-13 15:31:21

my entire childhood was the same sandwich for lunch, the same dinner.

my version of sunday lunch was mashed potato, stuffing, a small slice of chicken and yorkshire pudding (i did love gravy though)
i wouldn't eat any of the veg, and definitely no cooked carrots

i still can't eat boiled carrots - i can eat them roasted, but chopped up small.
and i cannot eat peas.

ethelb Fri 11-Jan-13 15:31:28

OP that sounds sensible. My post wasn't supposed to sound mean, but as someone who has a good friend who is an extremely fussy adult, she has only managed to cope by recongising it is a fairly big social disability and has to take responsibility for those kind of situations since the beginning of her teens. Or she just wouldn't have had any kind of social life. Unfortunatly, she just doesn't like food.
Does your daughter realise its not normal to make people wander round to different restaurants trying to find something to suit them (presumably you knew the friend was veggie before)? If so then fine, if not she needs to work it out.

nickelbabe Fri 11-Jan-13 15:32:52

1New - i thin kuni was the turning point for me, too.
i discovered broccoli, courgettes and pasta and tomato-based pasta sauces.
i discovered veg that wasn't cooked to an inch of its life!

Kayano Fri 11-Jan-13 15:38:08

I'm not even joking OP, I never had sweet corn, mushrooms or curry until I was married and I always used to order plain scampi and chips. Now I'm like ' Oh that looks so interesting, I'll try it! with no pressure fRom anyone :D

it'll get better in time, just prepare yourself as it could be a long time... I was 23!

ChristmasJubilee Fri 11-Jan-13 15:46:20

Ds2 (15) is a bit like this. He has no diagnosed special needs but I'm sure he is on the spectrum. (Ds1 has an ADHD dx and ASD tendencies.) He has problems with textures and can't eat food that is mixed or touching other food. He had developed quite a good range of foods that he would eat and then got flu and went off most of them again.

I have a two week menu plan which, with slight adjustments, suits him and everyone else and I don't make any fuss if he doesn't eat something. We rarely eat out but can usually find something for him.

He was born with a floppy larynx and was a very sickly baby. I don't really know if that has any relevance.

Jins Fri 11-Jan-13 15:48:55

I'd back right off and leave her to enjoy what she does enjoy.

DH was an impossibly restricted eater as a child but that changed once he got away from his mother spent more time with friends. Now he'll eat anything and everything unless he's at his mother's house

Turniphead1 Fri 11-Jan-13 15:52:19

Just a small thought. I have a similarly restrictive eater (DS 7) who has similar likes to your DD. I have found rather than producing a plate of food for him to eat at mealtimes - I give him an empty plate and little bowls of the foods on offer. Some of which he likes some he doesn't. He feels less pressure this way - and is more likely to try something new.

I am full of sympathy re eating out and other people. It's so embarrassing to go to someone's house and explain we he only eats chicken beast. They then cook him some and he won't eat it because it isn't exactly the way he likes it. Grrr confused

I am hoping by the time he is in uni he will be drinking pints and having 2am curries like everyone else. Maybe not though. He ploughs his own furrow this boy.

If you wanted to try and help her to try more foods, this is what I would do:

Think of something she would really like to "earn" ( DS game? trip to cinema? etc) It should be something extra to things she would normally get/do. When you prepare a meal, make hers just how she likes it but have a little of something new separately. (I'm thinking of a teaspoonful on a separate little dish or saucer or whatever). She can avoid the new thing without comment or issue - if she only wants to to eat her "normal" foods that absolutely fine, but if she feels like trying the new thing she will earn a "credit" towards the treat. That way there is no negative pressure but she has the option with a positive reward. Then the key is patience. To begin with maybe even for a couple of months she is probably likely to resist trying new things but once she feels that she is really in control and no once is forcing anything, she may start to try stuff sometimes !

SashaSashays Fri 11-Jan-13 15:59:03

I think everyone is right in saying let her get on with it. You said food is her favourite weapon and I imagine this is because it is the biggest topic of anxiety for you and provokes the biggest reaction.

I personally would go with telling her that you will no longer be interfering with her food and what she eats. I don't know how your meal set-up works but that she can tell you what she wants for a meal or cook it herself but that you will not be fussing round trying to get her to have what you're having etc. I wouldn't be spending time trying to find somewhere to eat that fitted her or trying to sort something on the menu. Most places have chips or bread, she will have to learn to cope.

I'm saying this as a parent of 5 DC, all who were massive eaters except for one. My DS (who never had any issues with digestions or was made to eat dinners etc because I did think of that) lived on a diet of chips, white crustless bread occasionally white rolls, mild cheddar type cheese (had to be yellow and sliced never grated), white grapes, bourbon biscuits, milk chocolate, bbq sauce, yorkshire puddings, white rice, soy sauce and nesquik cereal with warm milk for over 16 years. No meat, no veg, no fruit other than grapes, no sauces, no fresh juice, no christmas dinners. I spent about a year trying to change it and gave up, when he wanted to add new foods he did, when he didn't there was no way to make him. We went out to eat he had chips or some bread or nothing. I always told him it was his choice to eat like this and I wouldn't inconvenience others for him. Eventually got to teens, started going out with friends he would just have chips which are available nearly everywhere or a drink. He started to try new things at his own pace, is now 22 and eats a much more varied diet, still quite fussy but I'd say in 5 years that will be gone.

Just make sure she takes vitamins and otherwise let her get on with it. If its ever making her unhappy I'm sure she'll tell you or seek help.

Acekicker Fri 11-Jan-13 16:08:21

The 'little milk' and not having parmesan rings a bell with me - I was allergic to milk from being a kid until I got pregnant. Not full on anaphylactic shock but it always made me feel very sick and as I got older I would be sick and get hives. I hated milk and everything that had it in (to the extent I wouldn't eat processed chicken slices even though I loved chicken - you can imagine how much that drove my mum crazy). I was also vehemently against most sauces (as unsurprisingly a lot contained milk or butter). Ditto never really liking pizza much either due to the cheese. I was considered freaky as a 5 year old as I would only eat Bournville choc not milky bar or anything, the same went for cake: fruit cake only (relatively little butter) and I loathed fairy cakes etc.

Is there a possibility of something like that perhaps?

To be honest what she's eating is ok, the foods she eats are all pretty healthy ones. I'd be inclined to let it ride for a while...

EuroShagmore Fri 11-Jan-13 16:10:47

As a former fussy eater, I agree with the advice not to make an issue of it.

Like Thingiebob, I had issues with certain textures and just no interest in food. Eating was something that got in the way of things I liked doing, like playing and reading. I just wasn't interested. I stopped eating meat when I was 12. It was partly all the animal rights campaigns that were around then (this was when the battery chicken conditions were publicised and the Body Shop was campaigning for all sorts of things) but also because I just didn't like it very much. I eat meat now but fat will still make me gag (my husband looks very bemused when I try to cut the fat off streaky bacon if served it in a hotel). It is fat I really don't like, not meat, but I somehow couldn't realise and articulate that when younger.

I am now in my 30s and still have things I hate (like meat fat) but most people do. The thing is adults are allowed to have food likes and dislikes. Children are somehow not supposed to. I eat a broader range of foods than my husband and am a bit of a foodie now.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 16:12:46

Hi educatingarti. We have tried all of this. We've done a goal plan, where we've identified the foods she's willing to try and those she's not. The main ones she won't ever try are sausages, as she feels sick just thinking about them. I said when she developed this aversion that that was fine. We all have things we won't contemplate eating and that's hers.

I have promised her Jack Wills vouchers if she tries something new every day for a week. I've put tiny portions on the side of her plate or separately, and she's not even looked at them. I think she is, perhaps, a little old for me to try it again, though perhaps it would have worked well when she was littler. Now if anyone has a magic wand on their person, I would happily wave it over her and make her into the perfect child. Sadly I don't think either thing exists (the wand nor the perfect child) smile

I wasn't a very hungry child, and didn't like many foods that my family ate. I was made to eat everything on my plate, and food became a real battle ground. Transpires that I actually have severe acid reflux and the foods I was rejecting were those I couldn't really digest. Unfortunately my parent's approach resulted in me becoming very frightened of meals, and ultimately a long battle with anorexia.

Please try not to fight about food, or force her to try foods. The very best approach is to cook and serve a meal, and not comment on who is eating (or not eating) what. It will take a while for her to relax around food, but you will be doing her a massive favour. It is so sad when children become scared of meal times.

I don't think she is using food as a weapon at all. She has become tense and stressed around food and needs to feel she can relax again. Don't try and control her, leave her alone.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 16:22:00

I don't think there are allergies at play here Ace as she eats cheese like it's going out of fashion. Goats cheese is a favourite. She eats slices of it from those little log things that come in the plastic cases.

I think the deal about making her think about her own food and sort out her own menu is something I have to bring in. I have mentioned it tonight. She is not happy about it as she is a lazy little swine busy girl, but I have told her that DH and I are cutting down on chips and eating more healthily, so chips will only be on the menu on Fridays. The rest of the time, she'll have to eat a modified version of what we're having or she'll have to cook/help us cook her alternative meal.

I've said that we just don't want to be tempted by her crap meal choices, which often involve chips and 4 tons of cucumber. If I could buy shares in cucumbers, I'd make a fortune!

Newyears - just read your last post. I hated sausages too, especially the big chunky spicy ones my mum bought. I used to heave at the table when they were served up.

My mum did all the things you are trying, and I found it stressful and controlling. I really did dread mealtimes. Would you be willing to try a different approach?

Put all food in serving dishes and allow everyone to help themselves. Really resist the urge to comment on what she eats. Force yourself not to look at her plate, or urge her to have seconds etc. Basically just treat her as you would an adult guest. It will take time, but I can guarantee that once you genuinely stop watching and commenting she will relax and eat better.

Turniphead1 Fri 11-Jan-13 16:28:03

I wouldn't worry about her not having sausages in her diet. Sausages are fairly rubbish. Processed pork & sulphites. Even the "posh" ones.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 16:34:46

Thanks for the advice worsetershiresauce. I have worried about the anorexia thing in the past and my DH told me to back off a few years ago. Since then, I've had few arguments with DD about food, but I am quick to criticise when it comes to .

I know I need to step back. So far, we've been lucky and DD eats way more than most of her friends who have gone from being fantastic eaters to really, really picky eaters.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 16:44:11

Xposted worsetershiresauce. For years now we have given her the food she likes in a rota. She has roast chicken with carrots, yorky puds and one roast potato, which she eats under duress to some degree; chicken curry without the sauce (she doesn't eat the rice or the sauce, but she likes nan bread); gammon and chips; pasta and meatballs (no sauce). We might swap the gammon for lamb or we might have beef for our sunday lunch. She doesn't eat much of it, but we don't worry about that too much. If we have shepherds pie, which she hates, she has meatballs and plain pasta.

I don't think I've actively watched her eating or stressed about it for a year or two, BUT when we hit critical incidents, like going away and not being able to eat out easily or her complaining about food tech this morning, it brings everything back to me and I react badly.

I will start to put the food in bowls though, as I do totally control her food portions. I never complain if she leaves anything, unless she leaves masses of food in her haste to get a pud, but I think that's just the usual debate you have with kids....if you have enough room for pud, you have enough room for those carrots, kind of thing.

You're quite right Turniphead1 . Sausages were something that I was quite happy to see go off her eating list. Unfortunately I didn't want pasta with sauce off the menu.

I did think she maybe had that supertaste thing going on,but she eats some weird stuff like Brie, goats cheese, extra dark chocolate. I'd have thought, with intense flavours like this, she must have bog standard taste buds, surely?? I think it's one of those things...not serious enough for me to seek medical help, so one of those things that will remain unknown.

Enfyshedd Fri 11-Jan-13 16:59:23

Hi NewYears - Another fussy eater here. I drove my DM to distraction when I was younger, gradually dropping a few foods along the way as well. School dinners were a nightmare for me, and DM had to finally relent and give me packed lunches in primary school after the assistant force fed me a cooked dinner at 9/10 years old and I threw the whole lot up. DM just about managed to keep me having runner beans with Sunday roasts, but to this day I have to have food in front of it on the fork so it's not visible as it goes in my mouth. Only in recent years have I been able to not return a plate of food in a restaurant if they have included salad, peas or suchlike when I have specifically asked them not to put it on the plate.

I agree with the textural thing as well - I hate mushy food, so on the rare occasions I have cereal with milk, I put very little milk (probably 100ml or less?) and keep stirring the cereal so none of it is sitting in it for long so it doesn't go mushy. The only time I will eat mashed potato is when it's crisped on top of cottage pie. DP finally managed to get me to try porridge for the first time a few months ago and he was astonished to see me retch as I tried to swallow a couple of spoonfuls of it - at 30 years old blush. I haven't tried it since...

Getting your DD to help prepare meals is probably one of the better ideas - it worked with me. It does take time - I spent about 18 months each time helping my DM prepare spagetti bolognese and chicken tikka masala before I would even contemplate tasting the food myself (they're now 2 of my staple meals) - they were the only food with sauce that I would eat until well into my 20's (I still wouldn't go near ketchup/mayo/mustard/etc with a 10 foot bargepole). Getting used to preparing the food & cooking it means that you get used to the textures and the smells and eventually you can't resist testing your own concotions.

Basically, the only advice I can give is don't make food a battleground, and just try to gently encourage her. You'll get there eventually.

Ilovesunflowers Fri 11-Jan-13 17:01:32

I was terrible as a youngster. I still have some issues around food but will eat an awful lot of stuff I wouldn't do then. It doesn't cause me any issues. I would leave it to be honest. She will extend her diet eventually.

Lafaminute Fri 11-Jan-13 17:03:06

I heard a mother tell a child psycologist (on the topic of a difficult eater - younger than yours but maybe the principle is the same) that "she ate a yoghurt for me" and his response was she didn't eat a yoghurt FOR YOU. How did you benefit from that yoghurt? She ate it for her. I think the gist was that as long as she sees you having a vested interest in how and what she eats it is a battleground. Easier said than done I am sure.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 17:04:10

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for stopping me from thinking my daughter is beyond weird! And for helping me to put things into perspective.

Lafaminute Fri 11-Jan-13 17:04:44

PS like Sunflowers I was a terrible eater too - boarding school cured me of that (ie restricted food supply and no choice) but I would eat ANYTHING nowadays - and plenty of it!

"I have promised her Jack Wills vouchers if she tries something new every day for a week. I've put tiny portions on the side of her plate or separately, and she's not even looked at them. I think she is, perhaps, a little old for me to try it again, though perhaps it would have worked well when she was littler."

I agree this might work better with a younger child. I think however my suggestion was a bit different as it was a total "no pressure" thing. The reward would be eg 7 tries of new food = Jack Wills voucher but no pressure as to when she did this - could earn over months if she wanted. Putting food on separate dish means she can totally ignore it if she wishes without it upsetting her or fearing it will "contaminate" the rest of her food! It would be important to resist cajoling "why don't you have a try" type comments. Totally neutral, you are perfectly fine if she doesn't try, but the option is there if she wanted to. It might take quite a while for her to believe she is really totally in control but after that she might be tempted to try. I wouldn't make a big fuss if she did try either, just a "that's cool" and hand over a token towards the voucher!

You could even just try the small bit on another plate tactic without the reward but make it absolutely fine if she didn't try it. In the end, as it is so available, once she really believes she is in control ( and that trying one thing won't lead to pressure to try anything else) she might give things a try!

OneWaySystemBlues Fri 11-Jan-13 17:43:18

My son has ASD, is 16, and has a much more restricted diet than your daughter does. He eats meat, chips, bread, cake, biscuits, ketchup, marmite, milk and orange juice. No fruit or veg at all. No pasta, no rice, nothing. And all food dry - no soggy stuff like mince or gravy. I used to fret about it a lot when he was little, but when he was around 4 I decided that I had enough to tackle and out of all things facing us, I'd rather work on his anger than his diet, so I let it go because the stress was too much. I cook the same meals for him week on week - sausages monday, chicken tuesday, steak weds, etc etc. His issues are with taste, texture and smell, as well as being very rigid about new things and a bit OCD about doing anything new too.

However, now he is 16 he has done nutrition etc so much in school and he's well aware that his diet is not ideal and he is starting to WANT to eat more healthily. Admittedly, it's still hard work because he still can't face a lot of the foods - we've just started getting him to eat tiny pieces of apple. But I feel more hopeful that he's old enough now to know how important diet is and I'd be over the moon if he could regularly eat some apple. If he managed to regularly eat one sort of veg it'd be better than winning the lottery! What I have learned is this - the more fuss you make, the more you make it an issue, the more stress it is for everyone and it won't make it any easier for your child to do what you want. It isn't about being naughty or awkward - there are real sensory issues. Bribery won't work - it doesn't with my son - because it isn't about them being deliberately awkward - they really can't do it! Gently encourage, but don't make it an issue or get into fights about it. Make sure your relationship is one where she feels she can talk to you, but the more an issue you make of it, the less she will want to talk about it when she does eventually want to start eating more variety. Good luck, it isn't easy, but I think if you hold back and be patient she will, like other on this post, make some progress as she gets older.

Greenkit Fri 11-Jan-13 17:53:38

How old is she

My DS14, has always been like this and at one point would only eat jacket potato with butter and pasta with butter, usually some sort of cereal for breakfast.

He would eat a roast dinner, but now wont eat potatoes, veg or gravy, so now its chicken and BBQ sauce. There is a long list of 'yuck' food

I don't make a fuss and he seems happy enough, I put the food on his plate and if he eats it, he does and if not well he doesn't.

I do try and get him to try a small mouth full of different things and he is pretty good at this, but mostly it ends in a nah don't like it.

Don't stress, the more you do that the more she will use it to control you.

strumpetpumpkin Fri 11-Jan-13 17:54:21

you are giving her a bloody eating disorder. Leave her alone about food. Please.

littleladyindoors Fri 11-Jan-13 18:06:28

Another fussy eater here, I still hate things in sauces and prefer things don't touch too but now I am much older I am so much better. For me it's a texture thing so that is a big important thing for me for trying things. I was like this until I was about 13-14 when I first went to a buffet and no one encouraged me to try things, I just decided that was what I wanted to do. I grew up with no pressure and that worked well for me. My mum was great as she just allowed me my fuss and never apologised for me in restaurants. If I asked for something without X Y or Z she just went along with it. My MIL used to apologise for me when she first met me, drove me nuts because I was entitled to order what I wanted and eat without sauce or whatever. The support was the thing that gave me the confidence to try more.
I did have an eating disorder later on, but I must stress that this had nothing to do with the fussy. It was a self esteem thing mixed with control. Food was the only thing I had control over, and it was more about portion than what I was eating.

frogspoon Fri 11-Jan-13 18:39:18

As long as she is eating enough to keep her healthy, let her be. She will introduce foods in herself when she is ready

I used to be an extremely fussy eater. As soon as I moved away from home (at university) my eating patterns branched out a lot more (although I am still a little fussy!)

I think part of the problem was that my parents made such a fuss about what I did and didn't eat, always commenting, that it put me off wanting to try new foods due to their reaction. They also never gave me the opportunity to try a food I had previously refused, but simply made me an alternative.

NewYearsEvelyn Fri 11-Jan-13 20:09:18

Thanks strumpet. It's easier said than done when it's a constant factor in your life. And I don't have a go at her every day. We have had one fight about it today. Before that it caused issues whilst we were away. Apart from that we've tried to feed her different things without adding too much pressure and we've tried to reward her for trying new things. It didn't work. We have talked about different strategies because she needs strategies. I am nowhere near giving her a food disorder...

PretzelTime Fri 11-Jan-13 20:23:29

she does have a bit of a thing about control, likes watching the same dvds over and over, she hates loud noises and she is really sensitive with her food.

Really sounds like she has Asperger's.

Primadonnagirl Fri 11-Jan-13 20:34:04

I agree it's not worth making an issue re her tastes.. They'll probably change over time but I do agree with you about..gently but firmly..tackling the way she deals with it. By that I mean she needs to understand not everyone can cater to her preferences, that if she goes out or a meal she can't complain there's nothing she likes etc... Have had loads of experience of this and really feel people shouldn't be made to feel bad about their preferences but equally shouldn't expect everyone else to fit around them

strumpetpumpkin Fri 11-Jan-13 22:11:08

eating disorders are nearly always passed on by well meaning parents, with clumsy tactics.

Please, just stop letting it be an issue. She eats a decent variety of foods.

OxfordBags Fri 11-Jan-13 22:30:57

I am a supertaster and prefer flavours like dark choc or goat's cheese. It also gives me an aversion to textures, like anything mushy <does little vom inside mouth>

I am going to play devil's advocate here - you say she now only eats certain things she once didn't because you cajoled her into accepting them. Have you ever considered that in fact she a) would have come to like or accept these anyway but more importantly b) if you had not cajoled her in the first place, she probably wuld have had an even greater range of foods she will tolerte or even enjoy now?!

You really sound very fixated and controlling about the issue. All mums here know what it's like when your child goes off food even for a day due to a cold or similar, but - and I'm sorry to say this - this really does sound as if you made a mountain out of a molehill when she was little and have created this current situation. I love my food, but if my Dh started banging on at me at what I ate, how I ate, how much, what I should try, blahblahblah, I would not be able to eat and would want just really unthreatening, bland food I didn't have to think about, just to get the ordeal of eating over and done with to make him STFU.

You say you and your DH love food, love a wide variety of food, etc. Well, bully for you - your daughter does not (be that naturally or because you've accidentally created the situation). Why does she need to be like you? Must because you enjoy something doesn't mean she is missing out. My parents love to play tennis and I find it boring as all get out, but somehow my life is not an aching void without racket sports.

Time to let her grow up - you are not giving her space to get out of the 'I am a tot and mummy is forcing a spoonful of something strange and gross into my mouth and I can't stop her' zone. Stop with the cook books and talking about cooking at University (years away!) and what to eat when you go on trips and all that shit. It's just a constant dripdrip of reminding her she makes you anxious and disappointed. That in itself would kill anyone's appetite, never mind a prepubescent girl's. sorry to be so blunt, but there you go.

DoodlesNoodles Sat 12-Jan-13 00:05:34

It sounds like she could be on the spectrum. hmm confused. I don't think it is a good idea to make statements like this. You give loads of great advise but I think casually diagnosing DC's with Asperger/ASD is inappropriate. (sorry)

NewYearsEvelyn. I can really sympathise with you as my three teen/young adult DC's are all fussy (as is my DH confused ). My DD who is 16 eats a similar diet to your DD. Obviously, it is a bit of a worry but I think her diet is reasonably healthy even if it is somewhat restricting. My DS's and my DH are Much, much better than my DD but they would recoil in horror if you offered them something like a vegetable moussaka grin

My take on it is that it is now her problem. I provide healthy tasty meals that usually (but not always) include things that she will eat. She is perfectly capable of making something for herself if she is hungry. She takes care not to eat junk food. I know it causes her a problem when she goes for sleep overs but she knows it is her problem and would never ask for special food. Sometimes she says (politely) she is not hungry rather than have to eat something she really dislikes. I continue to offer new and tasty foods but I dont do much else.

If we were going out with friends for dinner we would not take her likes into consideration (within reason). When we are at restaurants I let her order her own food. Recently, she actually asked a waiter if she could have a child's meal as she was not feeling well. I knew she only said that as she didn't fancy any of the rather elaborate main courses on offer.

My DC's all play sport, all do well at school, all are healthy and well behaved so I don't think having a 'plain' diet is doing them any harm health wise. However, I think it can be awkward for them socially. I also think my DC's are missing out by not enjoying lots of lovely tasty food.

Gomez Sat 12-Jan-13 00:14:51

Against then flow I think you were quite correct to point out to her that how or what she choses to eat will impact as she matures and moves away from her family.
We have a friend who is a complete pain in the arse - many random, illogical and bizarre dos and donts. She has passed this onto to 2 of her 3 children.

I have coeliac my diet is restricted and I can't understand why anyone would chose to do so. So friend won't eat chicken for example but will eat hot dogs (the most foul version of mechanically reclaimed 'food' known to man), will eat some cheese not others. Madness.

Of course your cant force your daughter to eat or not but she needs to understand the implications of her choices.

lljkk Sat 12-Jan-13 09:28:52

The Girl's diet sounds pretty balanced and reasonably nutritious (especially for a teenager, let's face it). I think that her fussiness about how it's prepared is probably a much bigger problem, that would socially limit her rather than impact physical health. Hopefully she will figure out for herself that it's fun to try new things.

My 4yo barely eats any fruit or veg & always has been like that. I quietly tear my hair out about it. It will impact his health eventually if he doesn't mature into broadening his diet.

HilaryClinton Sat 12-Jan-13 09:34:16

Sounds like you both have quite entrenched positions. Would she prepare her own meals, or better a meal for the whole family?

CailinDana Sat 12-Jan-13 09:36:46

Doodles I don't have such a big head that I think people take what I write on MN as gospel - I wasn't "diagnosing" as I am not a doctor and I wasn't asked for professional input, I was speculating based on my own (extensive) experience. Saying someone is on the spectrum isn't a big deal - it's not an insult and I don't think it'll change a mother's view of or love for her child. To me it's the same as saying "I think she might be anxious" - just speculation on what might cause her behaviour. If you have an objection to ASD for some reason, that's your business. I would expect the OP to tell me herself if she had a problem with what I said.

BooCanary Sat 12-Jan-13 09:40:57

Op - I feel for you. I have been on both sides.

As a child I was incredibly picky. Hated most meat except chicken, almost all fruit and veg, and most bread products. I was skinny as a rake and my mum despaired. I still remember terrible dinner times.

Now I am the mother of a picky child (karma grin!), and I see how awful it is on the other side.

However, little will be achieved by worrying about the future and pushing the issue. I now eat most things, but still have a handful if foods that shall never pass my lips( and I am certainly not a rake, mores the pity!!).

Try to relax - she won't starve and is at an age where she needs to take some responsibility for any impact her pickiness has on social life.

sameoldlovebunny Sat 12-Jan-13 09:44:28

read up on asperger's syndrome. i think you might find things you find reassuring. or informative.

GoldenGreen Sat 12-Jan-13 10:09:32

I am an ex fussy eater too. It all sorted itself out by the time i was 18. The only thing I would add to all the advice here is to please not make it a big deal in front of your friends, family, teachers, waiters etc as it can be upsetting and might make her more stubborn - my mother would joke about it to people, roll eyes etc and it certainly didn't help. ( you sound lovely btw and it doesn't sound like you have done this - but just in case!)

DoodlesNoodles Sat 12-Jan-13 10:15:09


A far more tactful way to tell someone that you think her DD ^may be on the spectrum* (your words) would be to ask if she her DD has any other behavioural issues and to ask whether she has spoken to her DD doctor or teachers about her behaviours.

I don't object to ASD (what a peculiar thing to suggest)

I do think saying someone is on the spectrum based on brief information given in a few paragraphs online is highly inappropriate. Do you honestly think it is an OK thing to do? Professional people would never just blurt out something like that.

CailinDana Sat 12-Jan-13 10:22:19

Doodles - the OP mentioned it first, in fact in one post she said her DD "definitely has some autistic traits." I wasn't just suggesting it out of the blue. You said I should ask if her DD had any other behavioural issues - the OP had already described these behavioural issues, such as watching the same DVDs over and over, noise sensitivity etc. Perhaps you didn't read the thread?

NewYearsEvelyn Sat 12-Jan-13 10:45:24

I don't take any offence about anyone saying dd is on the spectrum. I work with children who have SEN and have worked quite extensively with children who are autistic or have Aspbergers. She does have tendencies, I have considered the possibility, but have to say that DD shows only the signs mentioned.

On the many indicators there are, she has no significant difficulties. She's supportive and encouraging of others and shows quite sophisticated social skills at times. That makes me think that her tendencies may brush up against the spectrum, without it being a life affecting thing.

She's a member of jazz club at school and wanted to go on the venture week at Easter. That's not typical of a spectrum child. She is an only child and, though able to mix well, she likes getting her own way when she can. That can perhaps emphasise her tendencies.

I see no signs of an eating disorder right now. She has a great body image. She's confident, socially and at home. I love the way one or two people are painting me into a monster based on a couple of comments made on an internet forum...someone who is creating an eating disorder in a child who has eating difficulties. It could happen, but I'll bet my bottom dollar it doesn't because DD has a great self image. She has issues with food, I am undoubtedly responsible for those, but I can't turn the clock back and make it perfect. Faced with a relentless, daily battle about food for years where Mumsnet advice ranged from starve her, to encourage her, to reward her, to bake with her, cook with her, etc, all of which we attempted, we arrive And yes, I take responsibility for this, but don't shoot me down for trying to address it, even now.

I wouldn't have posted on here at all if I wasn't giving thought to what I do with her and what I say...I'd just get on with it and not care. As it is, I have taken advice from people who have been like my dd, and people who have coped with children like dd and I have taken heart from this. Blame at this stage is not really constructive and, I have come to see, neither is bringing this issue up with her. So...on we go. I have some more strategies to teach her and to use myself and they will help immensely, so thank you.

DoodlesNoodles Sat 12-Jan-13 18:44:29

CailinDana I have reread the thread and I do see where you are coming from now. Altough I still think it is inappropriate to suggest a posters DC's may be on the spectrum I now understand the context in which you did this. As I mentioned earlier I believe that you have given lots of good advice and I didn't want my earlier post to be combative.

crashdoll Sat 12-Jan-13 18:59:39

I'm read the whole thread and one thing I wanted to add is that parents cannot 'give their child an eating disorder'. hmm Certain things/actions/behaviours can contribute but eating disorders are far more complex than that. They are serious psychiatric conditions and placing guilt on parents is unnecessary and inappropriate.

lljkk Sat 12-Jan-13 19:46:49

I totally get you wanting to tackle it. That part YANBU.
But to actually tackle it, it's so blooomin' tricky. That's why I think your DH's perspective is better bet, for now.

LaCiccolina Sat 12-Jan-13 19:59:24

I have read the thread. I actually think you are doing a very good job of dealing with this. Ur posts are measured, fair and genuine. I'm sure their are moments of angst or pain but its done with love I feel from ur words not negativity.

If you saw an article about a food disorder in a magazine? Would you discuss it together? Do you discuss magazines? Body image? Anything? I just wonder if that's a way to ascertain her opinions on topics which may give u additional insight to how she sees things. She's a young lady now, less ur baby and maybe a bit of reconnection to her burgeoning opinions could be helpful?

LaCiccolina Sat 12-Jan-13 20:00:18

On iPhone, soz about spellings!

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 20:00:54

I read the OP thinking this is my dd to a T. She ate everything as a baby, but eats less and less - she is nearly 9. Nothing with a sauce, plain pasta, rice, potatos etc. She will eat chicken and tiny amount of other meat. It is a nightmare for me as we mostly eat salads in the summer, and stews/chillis/spag bol etc in the winter. She eats carrots and fruit. She had school lunches from aged 2.5 (we are in Belgium) until 7, without issue, then they changed the provider. She would no longer eat them and now has a packed lunch - where one type of ham only is acceptable in a sandwich.

She is also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and labels in clothes. I try to persuade her try stuff, but she would rather go hungry than eat something she does not fancy.

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 20:08:37

Can I make a suggestion?

To stop food becoming a power struggle, make her meal. Put it down in front of her, without comment or eye contact.

Leave the room.

I bet you, if you did this, she will try and engage the old dynamic and criticise the meal, with a list of why she didn't eat it.

Try it, and report back.

PretzelTime Sat 12-Jan-13 20:09:27

Does your DD have AS Portofino? I recognize the sensitivity and only wanting to eat certain foods from other girls with AS. Sometimes the AS behaviour can be mistaken for eating disorders, or lead to them. Don't have any advice on how to handle it, though, sorry.

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 20:26:12

Well no. Her cousin has a statement for AS, but she does not seem to have any other strong "symptoms" I have thought about this, and after discussion about family "traits", I scored very highly on an online test for example. It made a lot of things fall into place.

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 20:27:24

She does not like it when food is presented "differently"

PretzelTime Sat 12-Jan-13 20:32:53

Btw I don't want to offend when I suggest that other's children may have special needs, because if there is a possibility I think it will be helpful see if it's true. Because if it's true, there may be helpful resources where you could learn how to handle certain problems that is tough for your child too (like eating problems)

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 20:35:09

No - that is fair enough I think. I am not offended. smile

louschmoo Sat 12-Jan-13 20:40:22

Hi newyear. I haven't read the whole thread, just first page, and i'm sure you've had some great advice. Just to say, i was exactly the same as a child and teenager, including the control-freak tendencies. In fact your description could have been me! I almost completely reversed my general fussiness when i left home and went to university. Basically as soon as i was totally in control of what i could eat (and as soon as my weirdness about food became apparent to my peers on a daily basis) i started to relax around food. I am still relatively fussy compared to many people (i would be very uncomfortable even having beetroot in the house for example, which i know is extreme!). But i do now eat a normal range of foods and have no anxiety issues around it at all except for beetroot which is clearly evil.

For me my issues - which went as far as being incapable of eating foods from a plate which had TOUCHED a plate with food i didn't like (i would vomit if forced) - were very much about control and anxiety. My parents didn't really know how to deal with it when i first started being 'fussy' aged 2. And over the years it became very deep rooted in my mind that i couldn't eat certain things or under certain conditions.

Looking back, i probably would have benefited in some way from CBT or similar therapy. BUT i totally grew out of it all by myself and am fine!

I would definitely say that the more of an issue you make of it, the more stubborn she may be. That's how i was anyway smile.

Mayisout Sat 12-Jan-13 20:53:21

My nephew was like this - had this stupid thing about not eating anything with sauce or gravy (but would eat any amount of sugary crap). Would eat a plate of mashed potatoes and a lump of cheese when we had stew or meat and gravy.

He snapped out of it in his late teens when he was old enough for meals/drinks out with his mates, he didn't want to look an prat and started eating everything.

Bigpants1 Sat 12-Jan-13 20:55:00

Your dd does have some sensory issues, one of them food.(that is not the same as saying she is on the Spectrum).
My dd is 7yrs. She has a restrictive diet, though she has been at least willing to try a few new tastes over the last year. She hates her foods touching, does not like sauces etc. But, she is healthy & has plenty of energy. I will not make food an issue for her, she either likes something or she doesn't.
If someone has sensory issues, not liking something is beyond their control. They don't need cajoling, or nagging, or made to cry.
From reading your posts, the food issues are yours, the control issues are yours. Your dd will be fine, & as she gets older, she will devise her own strategies for eating out. Please back off, let her eat what she wants, & she will be happier. If her eating stresses you, eat separately from her & ignore, ignore, ignore.

Kiriwawa Sat 12-Jan-13 21:07:35

Two things I want to say here:
1) there are a lot of other types of SEN that can contribute to restrictive diets which are nothing to do with ASD. Children with sensory issues (dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder) can also have real issues with food but not be 'on the spectrum'
2) having a visceral, intense reaction to food stuffs is not about a power struggle as one poster has said.

Evelyn's DD is, like my DS, not very interested in food. It's not about power. It's about not being interested. So trying to get them interested is key. Giving them a load of food they don't like day after day is not going to break the power struggle, because there isn't one. If Evelyn's DD is anything like my DS, she will just walk away.

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 21:24:09

With mine, I have bought cook books, I get her cooking - she really enjoys it, but she will not eat the food if she does not like it. I get cross sometimes, say - what if such and such has a Pizza birthday party. What would you do? She has never EATEN pizza, so can't genuinely claim to dislike it.

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 21:26:11

Walk away is right.

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 21:29:16

She even went away on a Cooking holiday for a week at the seaside last year. She came home and was able to put together a lovely dish of tomatoes hollowed out and stuffed with prawn cocktail. DH and I ate them - lovely. She would not touch a prawn if her life depended.....

stleger Sat 12-Jan-13 22:18:58

My dd1 is 19 and has quite an odd diet - but it does work as a 'food pyramid' in its own way. It does make eating out hard for her, especially with her boyfriend's family as they like a nice French restaurant. One way of getting her to try new ideas is to take her round the supermarket, and letting her put stuff in the trolley with no comment. Sometimes we hit the jackpot, mostly we don't.
She had a class on ASD recently, in which students discussed 'weird things my mum do', and concluded we are all on that spectrum!

NewYearsEvelyn Sun 13-Jan-13 08:32:42

Wow...I thought this thread was finished when I went to bed last night but I am so grateful for your continued input! I do think DD has some quirks in terms of her approach to food and life in general. I think I phrased it wrongly in some ways. It's not exactly a power struggle or a battle now, but I do get over-emotional when talking about it to others and phrase it that way. I am convinced that in many ways it is my problem. I'm the one battling, not her.

DD's issue is sensitivity to textures and tastes. She really does struggle. In terms of shopping and meal planning we have tried so much to get her to engage, but she isn't interested. When added to the battles we used to have when she was young, I gave up with that kind of thing.

For the last 2 or 3 years I have generally given her mostly the food she likes with, occasionally, a dollop of something new on the side. I've always said to her, it would be nice if you tried it, but it's your choice. If she leaves food, I don't nag her. The only times we have altercations really is when I highlight a stressful situation we've had with food, ie going to a cafe, being hungry, and not being able to choose anything to eat at all, and I've asked her to think about it, which makes her defensive and me angry. I know I'm in the wrong with that and I really am trying to control it. It is my issue you're right but I challenge any parent to be perfect and I accept I am far from it!

I do think she has sensory issues. She does not like the texture of many, many things. She took ages to change her brand of toothpaste. She would only wear one brand of knickers (thank you fashion branding for getting her out of that one!). She still likes some fabrics and not others.

She shows fear when faced with new foods and she becomes anxious when we are out. I want to figure out a way of helping her with that stress and, thanks to input from here, I have new ideas to help with that. We are away next weekend and I'm going to say to her, the night before, we're going to be eating out. Let's choose somewhere her friend is comfy and see if the place we go to does chips or toast or chicken breast for her. I'll be positive and say that we can go anywhere, we just have to look for the lemonade in the lemon.

The situation is hampered by the fact that she is a pre-teen and likely to explode at the drop of a hat right now. Treading on eggshells is a way of life for me at the moment, but then, I guess it's the same for any pre-teen parent.

DH and I have just sat and discussed strategy. We are eating more healthily this year, so we are going to put more healthy food on the table. We are going to reintroduce foods she has dropped from her list, no pressure, and see if she'll go for it. We'll make sure there is plenty of stuff on her plate she likes too, like yorkie puds and carrots. The cookbooks are out and from here on in it's up to her if she goes for it. Again, thanks for the input. This is me, walking away from my 12 year old and trying to get a grip of MY eating problems smile

NewYearsEvelyn Sun 13-Jan-13 08:48:57

Just to add, on the eating disorder front, DD has a really positive body image. She's willowy, but has curves in the right places, iykwim. She doesn't fit into some skinny jeans, even though she has no body fat, because she has hips. We've talked about this and she's happy with her shape, on the whole. She has a friend who is overweight and when said friend moans about it, dd is always able to turn things into a positive for her. They went clothes shopping together and when her friend got fed up because some stuff didn't fit, dd told her it was only because that clothes company were rubbish, making stuff in weird sizes, and dragged her to the next shop. She highlighted that some stuff didn't fit her either and it didn't matter. I was walking several paces behind during this process and loved watching them shop together.

She takes criticism from others well. She's never been touchy about what people say to her. I sometimes think she's made of teflon when she talks about what girls have said to her and how she's dealt with it. One girl called her a lesbian and she laughed it off, saying so what if I am? The problem is???? Another said they really didn't like her and she laughed and said 'and your view matters because?'. The same girl threatened to hit her and dd just said, 'yeah, right...when you grow another foot or two, come back and see me'. I always thought she was meek and mild, but the strength she shows when refusing food clearly is brought to bear in other circumstances too.

She's a popular girl, but she chooses her own path. She rarely goes with the crowd. The issues above are the sum total of problems she's had at school, other than a couple of spats with friends which have blown over in days. I am really lucky to have her as a daughter and perhaps that's where I need to focus my attentions.

Mayisout Sun 13-Jan-13 09:02:08

Having posted slightly scathingly of my DNephew's food fads I remembered that throughout primary school I threw out my lunch, I wouldn't draw attention to myself by telling the dinner ladies not to give me much and creating a fuss in the queue, but threw out most of the main course, especially the meat, almost every day, except for soup which was prob a once a month winter thing.
I hated gristley meat, which was common in those days, but just didn't really feel hungry, I don't think I liked the noisy communal eating. Tried sandwiches but didn't care for them much either.
I wasn't skinnier than normal. Just fussy.

NewYearsEvelyn Sun 13-Jan-13 09:28:27

I think it's easy to roll eyes at kids eating habits til you get one of your own that starts being fussy. Like anything else...we are sometimes smug about things til we realise that it was not our parenting or genetic strength that made our children clever, well behaved, fabulous eaters, kind, pretty, etc. It was just dumb luck :D And show me the perfect child and I will show you the most deluded parents ever! (Disclaimer: All our children are perfect to us, sometimes, but I guarantee someone will be able to find fault with them. DD has hair that's too perfect; skin that's too creamy; legs that are too long ;) )

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