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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...

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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