resistant eater support thread - come and join me.....

(275 Posts)
tricot39 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:32:20

I hate mealtimes and have done for 4 years now. DS is 4 and has issues with food (likely due to illness in his first year) since week 4. We finally sought help last year and have seen paediatricians, SALTs and dieticians. It hasn't stopped the number of acceptable foods declining. We are mow down to plain/dry carbs and soft desserts/smoothies and chocolate. We hide supplements in the smoothies!

Over the past year we have got so much better at keeping things calm at mealtimes and trying to avoid pressuring him to eat (i give myself 3 "eat ups" per meal). But all that means is that the stress gets bottled up.

Anyway having ruled out physical and social/communication issues it seems to come down to phobias. He is a cautious chap and doesn't like mess or lumps/bits. The last SALT i saw actually knew what she was talking about and said that if we did nothing else we should do desensitisation exercises. We plan to use the ones in Just Take A Bite [[ http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1932565124 here]]. This thread is partly to record that process and keep us on track.

We dont know anyone else with a resistant eater and so have noone to let off steam with. I hope there are some of you out there in a similar situation who want to share? Particularly if you are further down this road - i want to hope that these execrises will work but hope faded a couple of years back if i am honest sad

If you have read this and and are thinking about posting about your dc who isnt that keen on veg or that "kids will not starve themselves" then please don't bother. You are way out of your depth and i get enough of this in rl! Sorry to sound rude but i am hoping to find some people who understand how utterly helpless i feel <sob>

Anyone out there?

BerthaTheBogBurglar Thu 08-Nov-12 21:19:28

OK, didn't want to read and run. I have 2 sons who are very very cautious about what goes in their mouths. Unless it's dirt they've pulled out of the plughole, that's fine apparently. But food, no. They're 7 and 4. They're not as difficult as your son, largely because they'll both happily eat piles of vegetables. Sweets no, broccoli yes.

So ds2's list is - dry carbs, chocolate (mousse, cake, biscuits), sausages (the right brand), cheese, apple juice, milk. Redeemed by the fact that he also eats grapes, banana, apple, pear, broccoli, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, and cucumber.

At 4, ds1 was probably at the bottom of the curve. We have added food in since then. Recently he has tried bacon, and I keep mentioning that ham is awfully like bacon! I'm not sure what the desensitisation exercises are - we did "have the food on a plate near you, have it on your plate, smell it, touch it, lick it, put it in your mouth, swallow a tiny bit ..." over months. I'm not sure what worked, or what is just him getting older. Certainly he seems less scared of food now. Texture is still the main issue - he likes meat but won't have gravy, because it is wet. Peas and sweetcorn are fine, but if they're mixed he will sit and separate them.

Ds1 would have starved himself - certainly when I got "tough" with food (eat this, there won't be anything else) his trousers started falling down after a fortnight. Ds2 just throws up. And he has Type 1 diabetes, so that is a major health risk for him.

I'm waffling now, I really don't have any answers. Hope, maybe. MIL says DH was the same. He lived on peanut butter sandwiches, apples and milk for a year when he was 4. MIL told the doctor, who said that sounded like a balanced diet to him grin. DH is still bloody fussy, and there are foods he can't eat without gagging. But he has a varied and normal diet. Happened in the teen years apparently ...

tricot39 Thu 08-Nov-12 21:40:48

Thanks for posting!!
I think i just need to know that we are not alone. Thankfully dd has showed me that it is nothing that i have done otherwise i would have gone entirely mad.
Interesting you mention your dh. Mine remembers that he ate very little until his tonsils were removed but he is still fussy and ds' look quite large to me (not that i have looked at any other toddler tonsils!).

ConstantCraving Thu 08-Nov-12 21:43:38

Hi Tricot, I think we might have these issues with DD. Ate fine until about 18mths and has declined since then. Like your DS, DD has a mainly carb diet -brown toast, hot cross buns, breadsticks (sometimes with hummous), basic pizza (no chance of adding anything healthy / green to it) fishfingers and baked beans. Occassional raisins. Has recently dropped yogurt and pasta / pesto. Not sure where to go or what to do - she also only eats with her fingers and we end up feeding her sometimes even though she is now 3 years old. Have been hoping for the last 18 months that its a phase but its getting worse not better - have followed all the advice, don't get stressed with her, don't comment, do offer what she will eat with one or two new things - but to no avail. She seems healthy and will take vitamin supplements. Other than that she is happy and very bright, but very shy, hates groups, is still in nappies, likes routine (to the extreme) and doesn't handle changes well. Will have a look at that book. Sorry I haven't got advice - mayber someone will come on who has been though this and has some tips for getting out the other side.

tricot39 Thu 08-Nov-12 21:51:52

constant - shy, in nappies at 3.5 and hating groups. Aagh now that sounds familiar! DS also hated singing and group activities. A year on he is unrecognisable (apart from the food) and is turning out to be quite chatty. I am sorry to hear you have the same troubles but am faintly reassured

ConstantCraving Fri 09-Nov-12 20:40:38

Oh thank you tricot - I do hope that she will grow through this phase and the other issues don't bother me too much, i see it as her personality (though i do sometimes worry about ASD - and it has been suggested to me by friends), but it is the food that really stresses me out. She will just go hungry rather than eat, so the usual strategies don't work.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 09-Nov-12 21:06:05

Hey, can I join you guys?

DS, 4.5 yrs. old. Food has been a constant source of worry and stress. Always has been. Like you Tricot, we've seen SALT, consultant paediatrician, dietician. People think I am making it up when I say that he only eats a dozen things.

At the moment he eats Cheerios, Special K, bread with jam, Ski yogurt, banana, strawberry, raspberry, ginger biscuits, chips, home made chicken nuggets, fish fingers and omelette or scrambled eggs. That is it. Whenever he picks up new food, he drops old food. He won't eat pasta, porridge, pizza or ice cream any more.

He did not speak until about year ago. He speaks non-stop now grin. He has social interaction issues but less so than last year and even less than 3 months ago. Mine also has large tonsils and when he was referred to ent specialist, they said it wouldn't stop him from eating. If he eats a large bite of food as he is getting full he gags. I still feed him when he is tired.

He is super skinny and when he has cold and coughs - he catches a cold every few weeks - he stops eating and we can see his ribs sticking out. It's heartbreaking to see. He also has to eat frequently because he has low blood sugar.

Tell me little more about the plan you are following and why you decided to follow this plan?

tricot39 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:59:55

Hi popmusic
yup that all sounds familiar too! I have to say that ds seems remarkably healthy for his restricted diet. I think the supplements help. We give him:
Kindervital (3 types of liquid: multivitamin, floradix iron and saludnum minerals) plus a couple of squeezed vegepa chewable fish oil capsules. I would rather he ate better but it helps us worry less knowing that he is getting all the vitamins and minerals at least.

The just take a bite book has been on our shelf for a while. It covers just about every possible issue which can affect food refusal: from motor problems, through postural problems to phsychological issues. We have worked through different parts and used the tests to rule out certain problems eg we got rid of our antilop highchairs and got a tripp trapp instead as it has foot support.

We think we need to work through the sensory development. We are not too bad as he will mostly accept foods he will not eat on a compartmented plate. Sometimes he will touch it but willl rarely put it towards his face. The programne works through acceptance, touch, smell then taste via different exercises.

Phase i is a food diary to record the different exercises with notes and photographs. 30-40 pages. Get dc to paper the cover with pictures of food from magazines. When making entries get dc to stick in the picture and watch you write the notes. Read the diary each day with dc as a reminder of their learning about new foods. Try to do this away from a standard food/eating setting.

Phase ii is colouring in pictures of food. It is all quite gentle and slow paced!

tricot39 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:10:16

I forgot to say that the acceptance exercises are designed to teach the dc about food and the body/digestive system so that they realise that the purpose of eating and learn that it is not scary.

girlgonemild Fri 09-Nov-12 22:22:05

My DS is perhaps not quite as bad as yours OP but definitely much worse than the usual "doesn't eat vegetables brigade" He eats around 10-15 things, mostly dry carbs too!
I wonder if all the dc involved have been high needs babies and fit the highly sensitive child descriptions? My DS does. I have also wondered about ASD type diagnosis too but he is an extrovert type in many ways as well so his social abilities make me think not but his need for order, predictability etc. are much more extreme than the average child and he completely melts down if overstimulated etc.

AngelDog Fri 09-Nov-12 22:42:43

tricot, what was the concern about the Antilop highchair, if you don't mind me asking?

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 09-Nov-12 22:47:15

I read somewhere that if they have food issues that hey have issues in other areas. For example, DS wouldn't let us brush his teeth for about a year, trying to get his nappy on when he was a toddler was a battle, same for getting dressed. Also, the same website said that its likely to beau from Truman when they were little. Mine had no chance! Emergency c-section, followed by 4 days in neo-natal unit and then 2 weeks later, back in hospital for filer to thrive sad. I do believe that all this had an impact? How about you guys, do your DCs fit this profile?

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 09-Nov-12 22:47:37

hey they

FourTables Fri 09-Nov-12 22:48:01

Just to send you some sympathy. My DD2 was like this. DD1 and DD3 were fine, normal appetities, normal fussiness. DD2 however was under a paed and dietician for a few years when she was 1-3 years old or so. She fell off the weight charts, mealtimes were just miserable for everyone. Most days she would eat less food than would fit on my palm (over the course of the whole day, and I have child-size hands...). She was scarily skinny. There was yelling, spontaneous vomiting, crying. It was horrible, horrible, horrible. Though like you, I recognised that I had to be calm about it, it was so hard sad.

I remember the joy I felt when DD2 first accepted pasta. That was HUGE! Pasta meant that I could get her to eat something hot! I can also remember the mealtimes when I the only thing she would eat was raisins, breadstick and cheese, in minute quantities.

BUT I can now report that at 8 years old, dd2 is now 'normal'. She eats normal things, and more unusual things. I never thought she would eat things like sandwiches, or sloppy food like risotto, or cauli cheese. She eats salmon and roccket ffs! She eats meals, whole ones, not just acceptable foods specially selected and prepared 'just so'.

I just wanted to say that it CAN get better. It did for us, and I never thought it would. I still remember those bad days, but they are very distant memories now. I wish I could tell you what worked, but I think these issues are very child-specific, and DD2's issues were not about lumps for example. For us, totally backing off, not forcing nor even expecting her to eat seemed to help, ie giving her control back. It was very hard though, as she was so skinny, with red eye bags and frequent vomitting. I agree that well meaning poeple offering advice just made everything worse. Unless you have had a child like this, you just can't understand!

Good luck with it. You have my sympathies! Crossing fingers for improvement. With DD it was v v gradual, almost inperceptable. But looking back now, I can't believe how far she's come smile.

FourTables Fri 09-Nov-12 22:49:44

POP - my dd was born on time, at home, in water. Totally untraumatic birth...
However, she was always a sensitive, hard to care for baby. Lots of screaming, fighting nappy changes, fighting sleep etc...

girlgonemild Fri 09-Nov-12 22:55:01

Pop that is so interesting...my DS was also emcs. low oxygen, terribly low heartrate, cord wrapped, v. long labour, 2hrs pushing etc. a lot of stress and some head injuries for him :S I do think it can contribute to their disposition.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 09-Nov-12 22:59:58

Ok, sorry about my post. Stupid iPad! Not Truman but trauma. Not beau but be.

Thanks, Fourtables. I really want DS to get where your daughter is. Hopefully we will get there. hmm

tricot39 Sat 10-Nov-12 07:24:22

Thanks fourtables!!
That is the sort of story i was hoping to hear! A colleague's son only ate cheese sandwiches for years - but he only switched to normal food when he went to uni at 18!! I dread a wait quite that long!

pop ds was another home in water baby. Mind you it was a long second stage. I was told that it was stress in the third trimester which resulted in a fussy baby so i always felt guilty about working hard through that period as i was stressed. Latterly i think it is his personality. For a long time i was very angry about the birth thing because i felt cheated - we had gone to great lengths to have a homewaterbirth - so where was my calm happy baby???

angel the antilop is a fine high chair if your dc has good muscle tone. But for those who are a bit more floppy, doing without a foot support can affect posture. I think the example was sit on a tall stool, let your feet swing, allow yourself to slump and then try to eat. It is tricky because your head flops forward so getting food in is tricky. Nonetheless having a foot support made little difference to us but it gave him more control about meal times - he chooses to be there rather than being lifted into place.

The trouble is that there are a multitude of environmental, psychological and biological factors which can come into play and which can be very subtle - from what i have read. So for example a dc who hates toothbrushing they had a selection of exercises designed to reduce oral sensitivity (or manage it). Other exercises are about strengthening muscles (postural or motor/chewing). As these dont apply to us i will not work through them - our issue is definitely in his head...

tricot39 Sat 10-Nov-12 07:27:27

Hi also girl. I think sensitive children are more likely to have food issues - well based on my sample of 1 anyway!

buzzgirly Sat 10-Nov-12 07:52:08

I'm glad I found this thread, although I'm not sure if I will fit in - dd has a complicated history! She has just turned 4, but when she was born her oesophagus not attached to her stomach amongst other things. She has spent a lot of time in hospital, the oesophagus is completely normal now but she has choked several times which has meant us resuscitating her, ambulances.

So I know the problem with food is down to DH and I, Granny's etc have also let her off with far too much. Due to the panic over choking, she never had any lumps until she was 2 and I think that can affect them.

She should be able to eat anything now, but that isn't what she wants. What she will eat happily is Heinz tomato soup, tinned spaghetti, grated cheese, fish fingers, toast, yogurts and chocolate digestives. She also loves tesco basic pizza, I tried to make a home made version with lots of veg but she wouldn't even try it. She also has bowel problems so this diet is useless.

At the moment we are seeing SALT due to a speech delay, I am also trying to get a referral back to dietician to get some advice.

I dread mealtimes so much, it always ends in tears, tantrums etc. We have tried reward charts, praise, having a "picnic" type meal but nothing. I am so worried about her health.

I will catch up with the rest of thread now.

DorisIsWaiting Sat 10-Nov-12 08:24:32

Oh I feel your pain.

DD2 has CF she is supposed to eat 150% more calories than the average child. She actually eats probably a third of an average child.

She refuses all supplements as she doesn't like the texture (gags and vomits). We are now onto maxijul powder in her drinks which has helped with her weight gain (she's on the 2-9th centile). Those who say oh she'll be fine do NOT realise that if she does eat her appetite decreases even further until she is on mouse bites we have to push food or her bowels block too (another joy of her CF).

She has reduced her breakfast options to a chocolate bar (for her the dietician is happy with this!) on very good days we may get in a waffle oir pancake but these are few and far between she refuses toast or cereal, anything egg based, and anything with a thcker texture i.e. smoothies. and that is just the breakfast joy!

All her meals have to be managed for fat content with medication given for every 5g of fat.

I have not heard of the Take a bite book so will be looking at that later thanks

I will come back an read the thread properly later, avoiding this mornings drama in the kitchen.

AngelDog Sat 10-Nov-12 11:36:29

Thanks, tricot. We've been having mealtime issues with my difficult eater (he's not a resistant one so I don't qualify for this thread...) I wondered whether that might have something to do with it. He does have underlying problems like sensory issues, poor balance, oro-motor problems, food allergies etc.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Sat 10-Nov-12 14:04:47

buzzgirly my DS had speech delay and, believe it or not, when he was not speaking he was only eating about 5 different foods. As soon as his speech picked up, he started eating more foods. I know a dozen different food is not a lot, but it's more than double what he was eating last year. [Smile] Apparently, we use the same muscles for eating and speaking. The SALT says that there is definitely a correlation there.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Sat 10-Nov-12 14:05:52

smile

ConstantCraving Sat 10-Nov-12 14:54:15

Fourtables thank you for posting - its so good to hear it will pass from someone who has actually been through it!

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