Son has EXTREMELY limited diet & seems obsessed with ingredients(35 Posts)
Hello, just looking for any advice/ideas from anyone who has experienced similar or maybe can see things I might be missing.
Wasn't sure whether to post here so if someone feels it should be moved please let me know
My DS is just 12, and my main (but not only) concern is his diet. From the age of around 3 he went off quite a few foods and at 4 decided to become a vegetarian - this was completely his own choice, he wasn't influenced by myself or his dad.
From then his reluctance to eat certain foods became worrying, but I still thought he was just a 'fussy eater' and so did my family and health visitor. It never occured to me that it was so deep psychologically, and part of me hoped he would grow out of it, as MANY people told me he would. The other part of me however had a feeling that it would only get worse. I was right, as he became very controlling about what food he would eat.
We tried lots of things, but unfortunately I wasn't strong enough to completely stop buying the things he liked for long enough, and would never let him go hungry for too long. Typing that makes me realise that ultimately I am to blame for his issues
Now he eats the following - cheese on toast, cheese and tomato pizza (homemade usually), over chips, wholemeal pitta bread, cherry tomatoes. That's it for lunch and dinner. For breakfast he has cereal or an apple and grapes. Snacks wise he loves crisps, chocolate, ice cream and asks for these often, but I have to limit them obviously or they are all he'd eat.
Getting him to eat the meal items is a challenge, he frequently says he doesn't want them and will only have a few bites. He then says he's starving, and I believe him. He is quite tall, I think he's about to start puberty as his voice is getting a bit deeper and he's hormonal and moody, and his body must be crying out for food.
He is aware he has an issue, but says he can't control it :/ He checks labels for EVERYTHING he eats and it has to say it's suitable for vegetarians or he won't eat it. I have tried getting him involved in shopping, cooking, creating recipes, told him he can choose new ingredients to try - I can tell he wants to want to if that makes sense, but then he can't actually do it.
Don't want to drip feed but am worried this post is too long, but there is more to it and I have control issues over food too which I am sure have caused his. I feel so guilty and feel I haven't been a great mum to him in this way and want to undo this mess I've caused him.
Oh btw, he has seen several health professionals over the years who have been quite blase about this and said he's healthy and growing and for me to chill out about it, so that is why I have let it go on for so long as they insist the less pressure I put on him the better.
Thank you for reading.
Just realised my name on here is pretty ironic given the situation, but I don't make him eat cake FWIW
Sensory issues? I have issues with food that are similar and mine is sensory. Usually if it goes beyond just fussy eating there's a reason
Did you see the CH4 programme 'born naughty?' That was on recently?
It featured a child who only ate chocolate and sweets.
They got HIM To create a chart showing foods that he would like to try - starting from the bottom was what he considered to be the least "offensive" foods working up to food he wanted to try but thought may be more difficult. They gradually introduced these and he was able to try different things that he himself had chosen.
I just thought of this because you said that he seems to want to want to try new foods.
Interesting you say that LashesandLipstick as 2 of my nephews have Sensory Processing Disorder - one on my side of the family and one on my partners. I think I have that too but never been diagnosed, I do also believe I have ASD to some extent. Could I ask how you deal with your issues with food? Thanks for your reply.
I'm not suggesting your DS is naughty or that he only eats sweets and chocolate btw!
Hi LinaDee yes I did indeed watch that! My mum told me about it and I watched it last week, I actually found it really moving as it resonated so much with our situation. I mentioned the chart to DS and asked if he'd create one, he changed the subject as he often does when we talk about the dreaded food topic, but then I found a cookery book for children that was age appropriate from a couple of years ago and he liked one thing in there - homemade crisps
We made them and he got quite involved and I could tell he enjoyed it, then I asked him to choose any other recipes and he said he wanted to but when I tried to push him he got defensive. He is so hard to talk to about this but yes, I can tell he feels he is missing out as sometimes comments on how nice the food smells that I'm cooking for me and DP.
I will try with the chart again, he might just need a bit more encouragement.
"I'm not suggesting your DS is naughty or that he only eats sweets and chocolate btw!"
Haha he would if he could, believe me ;)
I struggle with it. Luckily a lot of the foods I like are healthy foods, I just have to eat them very plain. E.g plain pasta, plain fish rather than pasta with sauce or fish with salad.
It got better as I got older. When I was younger the thought of trying new food or accidentally eating a wrong food would cause me to start crying and get distressed
My advice would be to see CAMHS about this! My issues weren't picked up until later, and I think it would have been easier if they'd have been found earlier
CAMHS has been suggested, I would like them to at least meet with him and maybe assess him. The issue is DP disagrees and thinks if we treat him as though he has a 'problem' it might make him feel worse and feel as though something is really wrong with him. He himself had various issues as a child and had to see a psychiatrist and he said he hated it and it made him question himself and in turn rebellious. He dislikes any time I involve any outside help as he worries about DS becoming self conscious.
I think I'll start by seeing the GP and explaining everything to them. The last time we saw a professional was 2 years ago at his primary school, she would see DS for an hour a week for 6 weeks and she felt his issues were probably control related, she also mentioned possible OCD but said to wait a couple of years to see how he progressed after changing schools.
Thanks for sharing about your situation, I know it can be so stressful to live with food issues and people can misunderstand them drastically.
This almost sounds like a phobia to me, given that you think he wants to overcome it but can't.
That feeling that you know you are being daft, want to do something about it but ultimately can't makes me think of when I'm faced with a big spider, want to deal with it but fight or flight kicks in and I flee!
It sounds as though he has developed a habit with limiting his eating. For as long as he can remember this is how it has been and every added year reinforces it.
I wonder if CBT would be worth a try. I know of a couple of people who have had great success using CBT to overcome fears/break habits.
If you want to encourage him to try new food perhaps try the food on its own rather than mixed? So try a new type of fruit rather than a dish with it in.
I understand your DHs views tbh I saw some pretty useless therapists. There were a few who were good though, and the services have improved! if you can get him on board I'd try it.
It can be - I still can't go out for a meal with people and people think I'm bloody weird for it. On the whole it doesn't affect me much though. Bothered me far more when I was younger
Make them eat cake - my oldest DC (10) is exactly the same as yours - he has an extremely limited diet - driven mostly by texture and colour - and a physical and mental reaction to new foods and eating in general that is very distressing for him and for me and DH
After (at least) 8 years of this - 3 months of which consisted of ONE food eaten for every single meal - we were finally (after a lot of pushing
begging from me) referred to CAMHS. His counsellor has worked with him (and me) for quite a lot of sessions now and we are about to be referred to the next tier with a view to an ASD diagnosis - he has other issues alongside his strict diet which are mostly about rigidity, black & white thinking and control
I'm not sure how I feel about the diagnosis tbh - I veer between feeling it will be helpful in the future to feeling upset about how I now view his future - time will tell.
I would just like to say that this situation is NOT of your making - every nutritionist and GP and dietician we saw also said he would 'grow out of it' and 'it's just a phase' and 'don't pressure him' etc etc. And so we went along with it and he hasn't extended his repertoire at all - in fact it has constricted
Also I have three other children and none of them have any issues with food at all. He is the way he is and we (me and him and DH) are trying our best to cope with it. None of which has been helped by other parents suggesting that 'he'll eat when he's hungry' and 'just put it in front of him, he won't starve himself' - whereas actually no he won't eat and yes he will starve himself
Sorry, I didn't mean to make this all "me, me, me" but just wanted to say I know how you feel and to wish you good luck with your referrals - it's a slow process round here unfortunately
Lashesand Lipstick - thanks for the tip, I had a chat just now with him and suggested he think of one single food item over the next week that he would feel able to try. Didn't get much out of him, he said he'd have a think. Yeah going out for a meal can be tricky, can relate to that one. He refuses to eat much at all so me and DP often look like we're just really tight and only there to feed ourselves - he got a free pudding with a meal once but was disgusted by it so I happily devoured it..that time even the waitress jokingly commented on how it was meant to be for him
I'm glad that now things are ok with you and you are able to deal with your issues, interesting that you say others think more of it than you do, I'd say that's a good thing as it means you're coping with it.
Hi rednsparkely, it's good to talk to someone who has some experience of this with one of their DC - it's so bloody hard isn't it?! No need to apologise at all, I like hearing other people's responses and things they've tried when dealing with an issue of this nature. I'm glad to hear your son has some support in place, I really hope it will be what's right for him eventually and whatever diagnosis he may get, I hope that he gets whatever help is available.
So true about other people telling you they will grow out of it - the amount of times I heard that was ridiculous in the end. Somehow I just knew that he wouldn't and that it was 'in him' if that makes sense.
I will try to get a CAMHS referral, that seems like the next logical step after seeing the GP, will update.
Many thanks for your replies!
Make my 12yo ds has autism and is a 'food refuser', we've learned to optimise the nutrition in what he will eat (with the help of a dietician) and very occasionally he will try something new, rarely it will become a regular. The latest addition is carrot cake (but only from
Waitrose and only with the nuts picked off!)
Delphine31, I meant to reply to you in my PP, I agree I think he's got a phobia of certain ingredients, mostly non-vegetarian related. He boycotts certain brand names quite often because of reading an ingredient and panicking about it, thinking it is 'sneaky' or 'scary' in some way. Definitely habitual too, he has routines with his eating and only likes eating certain foods together or has to have a particular type of cheese. I'd def be willing for him to try CBT, I think that would really help him.
Thanks Polter mm carrot cake!! What other foods does he eat if you don't mind me asking? When was he diagnosed with autism and what were the signs of it beforehand?
He was diagnosed at 6yo and had presented with fairly typical Asperger stuff (social, communication, sensory problems, repetitive and rigid interests, plus serious anger stuff too). He's also diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, but his referral to specialist feeding clinic was refused as he's not considered 'fixable' in any easy way, so we plod on.
His standard daily diet is:
Marmite on bread or toast
Multivitamin and mineral tablet
Marmite or Nutella on bread
Marmite (can you see the theme?!) rice cakes
Marmite in rolls
He will very occasionally eat bacon, bananas, raisins. I will give things like Fererro Rocher and peanut M&Ms as treats for the teeny bit of extra protein and nutrients in the nuts. I choose bread carefully and he will eat seeded and wholemeal rolls. He will eat very dark chocolate which has iron and other minerals.
That actually seems like a decent diet considering the limitations, good to see he likes Marmite
Also good that he likes yoghurt and smoothies. It is so worrying though, does he seem ok health wise? As I've noticed a huge increase in appetite in DS over the past year and he must not be getting anywhere near enough calories so I worry all the time, especially as he refuses to eat at school (except 1 bag of crisps, sometimes).
I understand a bit about SPD too and of course that is related to eating so it all goes hand in hand, as eating becomes a different experience for someone with that.
I'm glad you're managing his autism, and honestly that diet looks great to me, the dietician is a fantastic idea for support!
I find whenever I look at another child's limited diet I'm always envious of what their child eats and mine doesn't! Our's certainly makes for easy picnics
Yep, ds is growing, alert and academically flying, somehow he's meeting his nutritional needs. He's very rarely ill, more portly than he should be, but is due a growth spurt so I'm not worried about that.
Hi, thought I'd bump this rather than start a new thread as all background is in OP.
My son's diet is sending me into a spin! He is SUCH a strict vegetarian and checks labels obsessively for the green 'V' sign. He has a new science teacher this week and they're studying nutrition, he was telling me all about her and how she's a vegetarian too. She told the class about how lots of products are actually unsuitable, such as Fanta and some yoghurts and milk. He is even more worried now and this morning wouldn't have our Asda milk with his cereal because it didn't say vegetarian.
Milk is one of the things he trusted before and had a lot of so am now going to have to get his from somewhere else - not a problem really as I go to a few supermarkets, but it's really upset him that he'd been drinking it.
He then said he hates science because he doesn't want to know all the things this teacher is telling him
To me this sounds more like orthorexia than anything else. Is your son also concerned with maintaining appearance/weight? Orthorexia often manifests initially as vegetarianism/veganism, then the person gradually cuts out anything containing many calories. The "pickiness" is used as a cover for eating way too little.
Oh my goodness yes...it has gradually crept in over the past year or so. He thought he was fat at first when he clearly wasn't, and over the school hols he said he needed to start working out and did I have any weights he could use?! He keeps asking me if he looks any slimmer and saying he needs to improve his body.
I've never heard of orthorexia, am going to google now. Thank you so much.
It is interesting that orthorexia is also characterised by symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. A friend of mine has a teen son who has recently been diagnosed with ocd and he is similar to your ds in terms of a very limited diet and also a fear of food being contaminated.
He was diagnosed through CAMHS, and is seeing a therapist regularly, which is helping with his anxiety.
I hope you can get some help soon
Thank you rarity. Glad to hear he's getting some help now
I don't know what's wrong with me, something is stopping me getting him referred to CAHMS. I think its because his dad is completely against it and still thinks he'll get past it in time. But also DS would hate all the assessments and scrutiny, he gets very anxious and worried in such situations and with appointments etc so feel bad putting him through it.
On balance though, if it is an eating disorder and not just 'fussiness' then his health comes first.
In my gut instinct I know what I have to do.
He's been obsessing again tonight, asking if we can trust food manufacturers and then asking if I think he's fat. He then said not to tell anyone about his worries which makes me feel worse now posting about it, but wtf can I do, am worried sick?
An anorexic or bulimic would tell you the same--please keep this secret, don't tell anyone! The shame is part of the disorder. Getting it into the light matters. I saw a friend waste into almost nothing because of orthorexia--it can also take the form of extreme exercise as the person strips out every last nutritive thing from their menus.
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