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Mealtimes take over 2 hours in my house

(93 Posts)
WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 17:50:41

DD is 6, going into year 2.

At school she gets 20 minutes to eat and only manages about half of what she is given.

If I time her and take the plate away after say 30 minutes she’ll have eaten 1-2 mouthfuls. I did it before and she ate hardly anything and lost weight.

We have no TV, no toys, no talking at the table. She takes ages. With those things she takes even longer.

Bribery doesn’t work; she just shrugs and isn’t bothered. I’ve tried punishing her for not eating enough/quick enough and she just stops eating if I do that. I’ve even tried “If you eat your food quick enough we can go and do x” X being something she really enjoys (like go to the park or swimming or visiting a friend).

Changing the time we eat, swapping the main meal to lunchtime and changing where we eat to have no distractions hasn’t helped.

The only possible way to speed it up is to feed her. But then I can’t eat myself at the same time.

We’ve seen a dietician who discharged us because DD does eat a good variety albeit incredibly slowly (she loves fruit and most vegetables, and will eat foods with different textures examples she will eat spaghetti Bolognese with bits in). Smaller portions don’t help.

The dietician did think that DD just doesn’t enjoy food in the same other people do. He suggested ignoring her completely once I’d finished my food, it improved things but not by loads (probably knocked 10 minutes off the overall time). He also suggested not mentioning food to DD unless she asks about it. She never asks about it and we never talk about it.

I am fed up of spending hours and hours trying to get her to eat each day. School were pretty worried about it before the lockdown as by the middle of Reception most children have learnt how to eat enough in the time given. When School left her to eat she was still sat eating when the bell rang for afternoon lessons and she still had over half a plate of food left.

I am asking for any tips to speed her up? Mealtimes seem to be the bane of my life and with it being the holidays seems the perfect time to tackle it.

OP’s posts: |
Snozzlemaid Wed 29-Jul-20 17:56:13

Could you involve her in deciding what to eat and cooking/preparing it to maybe get her more interested?

WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 17:59:32

Snozzlemaid

Could you involve her in deciding what to eat and cooking/preparing it to maybe get her more interested?

She absolutely loves cooking although wants to wash her hands quite quickly once it's all ready, she's just not bothered by eating it.

OP’s posts: |
Snozzlemaid Wed 29-Jul-20 18:29:52

That's a shame. It must be very frustrating for you.

Wannabefarmer Wed 29-Jul-20 18:34:14

I have one of these. I leave her plate on the table and clear up around it. She can come back and graze on it as and when she wants. She has got much better since her little brother came along who is an absolute hoover so that tends to speed her up!

Chrysanthemum5 Wed 29-Jul-20 18:34:29

It may be different but DD went through a phase like this when she was 11. She is autistic and had become convinced that she might be sick if she ate. The doctor was kind but again not too worried as her diet was generally healthy. We ended up seeing a child psychologist who got her past her fear and now she's generally ok (but still won't eat outside the home or school)

So your DD may be completely different but is she generally anxious? Maybe not eating is a way to get attention?

Hugs to you as I cried so much when this happened to us

june2007 Wed 29-Jul-20 18:36:05

I would allocate a set time So if it takes 2hr limit to 1.30. And if she is not done take it away. To me it shows she doesn,t want it.

ThickFast Wed 29-Jul-20 18:42:41

What is she doing in between mouthfuls? If 1-2 mouthfuls takes half an hour. Does she just move slowly or chew slowly or daydream?

WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:44:59

ThickFast

What is she doing in between mouthfuls? If 1-2 mouthfuls takes half an hour. Does she just move slowly or chew slowly or daydream?

A bit of both, she takes a lot of cajoling to speed up between mouthfuls and she chews incredibly slowly.

OP’s posts: |
WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:45:31

Chrysanthemum5

It may be different but DD went through a phase like this when she was 11. She is autistic and had become convinced that she might be sick if she ate. The doctor was kind but again not too worried as her diet was generally healthy. We ended up seeing a child psychologist who got her past her fear and now she's generally ok (but still won't eat outside the home or school)

So your DD may be completely different but is she generally anxious? Maybe not eating is a way to get attention?

Hugs to you as I cried so much when this happened to us

She can be extremely anxious so counselling is a good idea, I will speak to school about a referal.

OP’s posts: |
BlankTimes Wed 29-Jul-20 18:45:50

There could be a physical reason.

How's her speech?

Can she actually chew?

Is she just mushing the food in her mouth with her tongue instead of chewing? Watch closely as it's not always apparent.

If so, see a paediatric occupational therapist and ask them to check her jaw muscles and see if she has hypotonia.

Fairybio Wed 29-Jul-20 18:46:00

I can see that it is stressful.

The aim is to get her to have enough calories in a day. Don't feed her. At six, she is too old, and it won't help the problem. Not allowing talking sounds very harsh, and not a good environment to foster enjoyment of food.

Perhaps she needs smaller meals more often. So a small breakfast, a morning snack of a bagel, a small sandwich for lunch, two afternoon snacks of fruit and cheese, a small supper and a bedtime snack.

Make every food as calorific as you can. She has to sit down for a few minutes each time, ideally eating with someone else at the table and chatting as normal, then can get down and go back to playing with no punishments for not eating.

SuperPixie247 Wed 29-Jul-20 18:46:49

Can you say something like "we are going for a walk at 6.30pm so be done by then please"? So you have a planned event at the end she won't want to miss.

foreverandalways Wed 29-Jul-20 18:47:37

I had the same issue with my daughter all through her younger years...she is now 28 and a vegetarian, still struggling at times with food...the appetite of a fly, yet looks healthy still somehow! What I used to do was leave small amounts of food on plates at different points around the house and whilst she was busy doing her own thing, schoolwork etc etc she would pick at these bits of food and eventually finish it all, in her own time without causing anyone else any undue stress through no fault of her own and grew at an acceptable level...I know it is a worry but please try this ...I hope it helps you..good luck

Stompythedinosaur Wed 29-Jul-20 18:48:20

What happens if you don't feed her but prompt her e.g. put the food on your fork, put it in your mouth, eat it etc. Would she do it or is the slowness linked to a desire for control?

I think I would just leave her eating after a reasonable period (maybe 20 mins) and get on with other things, letting her know she can join when she has eaten enough. I would let her decide what constitutes enough food.

Does she eat snacks any faster?

WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:50:37

BlankTimes

There could be a physical reason.

How's her speech?

Can she actually chew?

Is she just mushing the food in her mouth with her tongue instead of chewing? Watch closely as it's not always apparent.

If so, see a paediatric occupational therapist and ask them to check her jaw muscles and see if she has hypotonia.

Her speech is ok but it hasn't always been, so it could be related to that I hadn't thought about that thank you!

OP’s posts: |
WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:51:37

SuperPixie247

Can you say something like "we are going for a walk at 6.30pm so be done by then please"? So you have a planned event at the end she won't want to miss.

She's really not bothered, she'd just either not eat so we can go out or she'd still take ages. If I take the food away with her eating hardly anything then it doesn't make her eat quicker the next meal.

OP’s posts: |
WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:52:45

Fairybio

I can see that it is stressful.

The aim is to get her to have enough calories in a day. Don't feed her. At six, she is too old, and it won't help the problem. Not allowing talking sounds very harsh, and not a good environment to foster enjoyment of food.

Perhaps she needs smaller meals more often. So a small breakfast, a morning snack of a bagel, a small sandwich for lunch, two afternoon snacks of fruit and cheese, a small supper and a bedtime snack.

Make every food as calorific as you can. She has to sit down for a few minutes each time, ideally eating with someone else at the table and chatting as normal, then can get down and go back to playing with no punishments for not eating.

The not talking was suggested bu the dietician and I don't like it but if we talk she's even slower. I might just go with it though.

OP’s posts: |
WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:54:17

Stompythedinosaur

What happens if you don't feed her but prompt her e.g. put the food on your fork, put it in your mouth, eat it etc. Would she do it or is the slowness linked to a desire for control?

I think I would just leave her eating after a reasonable period (maybe 20 mins) and get on with other things, letting her know she can join when she has eaten enough. I would let her decide what constitutes enough food.

Does she eat snacks any faster?

She chews really slowly as well as dawdling so the cajoling helps but doesn't speed up the actual eating.

I might just leave her at the table and do what i need to do when I've finished eating.

She doesn't really snack, she never says she's hungry or asks for food. If I offer she'll eat it but it still takes ages. A mini malt loaf took over half an hour to eat earlier.

OP’s posts: |
maddiemookins16mum Wed 29-Jul-20 18:55:00

Maybe it’s all a bit too much, no talking at the table? Do you all just sit in silence? Perhaps that adds to it, she may feel it’s all about eating and she’s under the spotlight? Do you serve it up, or serve yourselves?
My DD was a poor eater, so we (this is going to sound twee) played The Waltons game. She loved The Waltons so I bought a gingham table coth and put everything out so she could help herself.
We also had at least the radio on with dinner, eating in silence (?) sounds like mealtimes aren’t fun.

HerNameWasEliza Wed 29-Jul-20 18:55:35

May not be relevant but I have a friend who gives her kids soooooo many snacks that they're basically not hungry at mealtimes. Then they eat like snails. A few times when they were with us and there were no snacks they ate normally. Slow side of normal but normal. What does your DD actually eat during the whole day?

MrsVMorgan Wed 29-Jul-20 18:56:45

Does she drink milk? We always let DD have warm milk In the evening which fills her up before bed smile

verypeckish Wed 29-Jul-20 18:56:49

She can be extremely anxious

In your OP you say that you have tried punishing her for not eating enough or quickly enough. Whatever you do, please don't do that ever again.

Someone who is extremely anxious finds it very hard to swallow anything. By making a big deal out of mealtimes you are increasing her anxiety to the point where she just can't eat. That's why she takes so long chewing one mouthful - she is having severe difficulty in swallowing it (I know this because I was like it - I dreaded mealtimes).

You need to take the pressure right off. Sit down together for mealtimes, and talk about anything and everything except food. When the rest of you have finished, make no comment, just clear the finished plates and get on with your day. Leave her to finish by herself. Pay no attention to her whatsoever apart from asking her to take her plate into the kitchen when she's had enough.

cameocat Wed 29-Jul-20 18:58:11

Hi OP

I have one of these, she is now 13 and eats at a normal speed but took forever when she was younger. She still has a small appetite and I don't think will ever be particularly interested in food.

I know it seems like it will never be fixed but hang in there!

WeLikeFoodJustSlowly Wed 29-Jul-20 18:58:21

HerNameWasEliza

May not be relevant but I have a friend who gives her kids soooooo many snacks that they're basically not hungry at mealtimes. Then they eat like snails. A few times when they were with us and there were no snacks they ate normally. Slow side of normal but normal. What does your DD actually eat during the whole day?

She's not a big snacker, she never asks for food or says she's hungry. If I give her a snack she eats it but I try and limit it to twice a day (morning and afternoon) usually things like fruit or rice cakes.

OP’s posts: |

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