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To ask how on earth I get my DC out of this food habit?

(55 Posts)
PatterPitter Wed 29-Nov-17 22:10:33

I have four DC - DS is 7, and I have 3 DDs aged 5, 2 and 3 months. DS will eat pretty much everything except fish and broccoli. DD(5) has ASD and so her relationship with food is difficult. It's gotten to the stage where she eats the same foods in the same order each day, and I let her eat in front of the TV while I'm cooking for DS and I. This is because she won't eat at the table if others are eating different foods because she's distracted by the sight/smell of their food and sometimes gagging or sick because of it. Even if we were eating the same thing, she would barely eat any - in front of the TV for half hour is the only way I've found to get anything into her. She won't eat anything cooked besides McDonald's nuggets which we have once per week.

Each night she has:

Cucumber, pepper and carrot sticks
Two big slices of cheese
Ham sandwich

There's not much sustenance to it and she's borderline underweight. A main problem with it is that her 2 year old sister sees her being particular and won't try anything new, either. She wants to eat the same as DD(5) then a few extra bits at the table with DS and I. She is a healthy weight so I don't know whether to break this habit by giving her the same as DS and I and she can take it or leave it, in the hope that eventually she'll try it?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

goose1964 Wed 29-Nov-17 22:41:53

That actually looks quite a good diet, shes getting fruit and veg for vitamins, ham for protein and bread for carbs. Could you try variations of the food she will eat,like told instead of a sandwich and if that works perhaps something like a fruited bun?

NoSquirrels Wed 29-Nov-17 22:50:37

I think there's a couple of issues which are actually the same thing, in a way:

1) Your DD(5) needs the routine & stability or won't eat, because of ASD - OK to keep giving her this control.

2) Your DD(2) is a fussy toddler - best not to create a fight over food, and give her some control.

Can you try to give DD(2) variety in her lunch, rather than dinner - so serving her the more varied hot meals at the table at a different time?

Can you also vary a little what DD(5) gets, as a PP suggested - just by putting different additions onto her and her sister's plates, so that toddler DD gets to try new things there too (even if DD(5) won't touch them at the moment, important that they're visually treated the same. So a little bit of sweetcorn one day, or some mango as well as strawberries, or the ham sandwich served in a new way/with a wrap etc. Dollop of hummus alongside for the carrot sticks?

I'd also try really hard to have may two dinners where everyone sat together and ate together (so one where everyone joins DD(5) on sofa with a variation on the picky sandwich tea, and one where DD(5) joins everyone at the table for a picky sandwich tea).

Calvinlookingforhobbs Wed 29-Nov-17 22:54:46

I think the first thing I’d want to tackle is the tv eating. Could you still give her her tv time whilst you cook, but insist she eat at the table with you all? To start with keep your meals bland and then start to increase choice/variety and implore her to do the same?

PatterPitter Wed 29-Nov-17 22:59:49

If DD(5) is given anything different on or near her plate, she won't eat anything at all.

DD(2) won't eat anything cooked either, besides potato waffles and toast occasionally.

hazeyjane Wed 29-Nov-17 23:01:28

That sounds very hard.

Is your dd with ASD under a dietician?

I would say, if she is borderline underweight, that if she will eat in front of the TV to stick with that for her.

With regards to your 2 year old, it is tricky as this is a prime age for being fussy about food, but it is often grown out of (unless you have concerns about her development also - I posted on your thread about her speech?)

gamerchick Wed 29-Nov-17 23:02:09

I remember these years with my asd kid.. he had barely nothing but ready brek for years. Not many people understand it’s not your usual fussiness.

Tbh I wouldn’t change the routine yet. The Telly thing and whatnot just isn’t important... no matter what people say.

Keep offering tastes, mines nearly 11 and he himself wants to increase his range of foods. Total determination despite the sensory thing.

Take or leave will turn into leave. I think they’re capable of starving themselves tbh.

imokit Wed 29-Nov-17 23:02:22

Reward chart for DD2 and DS, if you sit at the table you get a sticker, if you try a little of everything you get a sticker - x stickers = toy/special treat.
You need to include DS in this as if you don't you'll be inadvertently punishing him for being good.
Also are there anythings DD1 likes but DD2 doesn't like as much, as I'd go for a run of giving DD1 those things, while serving DD2s favourites at the table, this may help entice DD2 to the table and if you do it for a while get her in the habit of sitting with you, before you start introducing other things.

PatterPitter Wed 29-Nov-17 23:14:07

Yes, she's under a dietician who advised just to keep her eating whatever she'll eat.

DD(2) just won't try anything new. I've tried reward charts but she isn't bothered. She'll eat more than DD(5) but a typical tea is:

Cucumber, pepper and carrot sticks
Pepperoni slices
Ham sandwich

Whereas DS and I had chicken in flatbreads with rice, peas and sweet corn. I would love to just cook something we could all eat and don't want baby DD to follow the fussy example too.

CheapSausagesAndSpam Wed 29-Nov-17 23:19:35

OP, I think it's fine at the moment for her. She's eating and happy to eat.

She doesn't have to fit into everyone else's world at times when she should be enjoying herself and relaxed and eating is one of those times.

I think that since, she has ASD, she's constantly working extra hard to fit in with the world around her that she could be allowed to eat as she does...for now at any rate. She's only 5.x

zzzzz Wed 29-Nov-17 23:23:42

It’s a good range though and you’ve found a way she can eat. (Mine has similar issues and it’s so hard.)
If it was me I’d up the chicken nuggets. Ds used to be able to eat those and they are a good stepping stone to other meets and require biting into in a way that is hard once you stop doing it for a while.
Does she take vitamins? If not then try and work out a way of doing that. Someone told me, Sometimes low iron can make you lose appetite so it becomes a bit of a vicious circle. I don’t know if that’s true for us but the vitamins help focus, so we soldier on.

PurpleMinionMummy Wed 29-Nov-17 23:25:10

I have the same problem. Younger dd copies my ds whose eating is awful. It's difficult when they're too young to understand why they can't eat the same.

fannyanddick Wed 29-Nov-17 23:29:33

I think I would be tempted to do as you said and tell your 2yo that everyone eats together except 5yo and she must wait, eat at the table and have what you're having.

Once she know 'thems the rules' and you're not budging, she will come around. Could someone take her to play in the other room whilst your older daughter is eating so she doesn't get tempted so much?

It may seem a bit unfair to the others right now, but it time they should understand that everyone has different needs and you have done your best to meet all their needs as best you can. And for 2yo that means a broad, cooked diet.

Also, chicken or tuna would be a great alternative to ham if a swap could ever be made. Too much processed meat is not recommended now. I know it may not be possible but if she does eat nuggets....

PatterPitter Wed 29-Nov-17 23:36:49

Yes, they both take vitamins.

I tried a period of only offering what DS and I are having to DD(2) but she just refused and was happy to go to bed without eating rather than try any. I think they'd both eat McDonald's more often but obviously it isn't ideal and I worry DD(5) will get fed up of it if she has it too often and as it's her only cooked food I don't want that to happen.

Spartasprout Wed 29-Nov-17 23:45:38

In 1979 my oldest daughter aged 2 refused everything except biscuits. I went to the GP because I was worried, I made loads of different meals and she refused them all. Just wanted biscuits. The GP said her weight is fine. let her eat biscuits, so I did. She soon got sick of them. He advised me to just offer her what she'd eat (i.e. biscuits) and nothing more. Within a couple of months she'd got sick of it and started eating a full range of fruit, veg and meat. I'm so glad I saw that GP - he made me see it was ok to not attempt to tempt her with other stuff, and it took away her power (if you see what I mean). I just felt relaxed about it all and she's now a mum of teenage boys with very healthy appetites. Good luck, I remember how anxious I felt.

EndofSummer Wed 29-Nov-17 23:58:44

Firstly I’d say her evening meal sounds really fine! Wish my ASD child would eat such variety.

So it’s not terrible by any means.

I think time, persistence and patience pay off.

Put a tiny bit of something different on a separate plate every day. If she won’t have it near her, just leave it on the table. No fuss. Every day.

Make buying food fun. Laugh and get her interest in things like pizza by say, if she likes numbers, cutting it into however many slices she wants. But no pressure to eat it.

My son is terrible. I give him formula every day just to make sure he’s getting nutrients.

PatterPitter Thu 30-Nov-17 00:00:51

If there's any hint of anything different, she won't eat a single crumb of anything sad

minipie Thu 30-Nov-17 00:05:07

2 is a pretty fussy age, and that's not a bad meal.

I'd suggest - carry on with your DD5's arrangement. 2 yo can eat the same if she wants, with some extras like you list above. I would be more strict about eating at the table not the TV, than about trying new foods. Appreciate this is hard when your older DD has tv on. Ideally try more variety at lunch when DD5 isn't there, but don't sweat it too much. Try to expand range more once she is 3.5+

PatterPitter Thu 30-Nov-17 00:07:22

It's only DD(5) that eats in front of the TV while I'm cooking. She joins us at the table but just can't eat there.

minipie Thu 30-Nov-17 00:22:36

Ok great, so the 2 year old isn't wanting to copy her in that way. In that case I'd be pretty relaxed about her eating the same food as 5yo DD. Just introduce something new on her (2yo's) plate every so often, a bit of what you and DS are having, one day she may try it.

TwoBobs Thu 30-Nov-17 04:23:34

Just putting it out there (sorry if it's inappropriate to say) but could your younger DD also be on the spectrum?

I sympathise! My dad is on the spectrum and she's got very particular recently. I took her

TwoBobs Thu 30-Nov-17 04:25:09

food shopping at the weekend in the hope of tempting her with something new. I was so shocked that she picked a couple of new things or stuff she'd cut out of her diet. I bought them but now we're at home, I've offered them but she won't touch them!

TwoBobs Thu 30-Nov-17 04:25:40

DD, not Dad!

LaurieF Thu 30-Nov-17 06:24:56

We went through a stage with DS around the same age where all he would eat was sausages, tinned macaroni cheese and bananas. I spent so long trying to get him to eat other foods but I think part of the problem was how anxious I was about his eating? I would get very worked up and worry about his lack of fruit and veg intake etc. It took a long time for me to realise that my pretty neurotic behaviour was actually part of the problem lol!! Once I stopped worrying so much he then started to eat more and try different things. He is now 13 and regularly cooking things like Thai curry for the family and has a great diet. I guess I'm trying to say just leave her to it, let her eat what she will eat for now (her diet sounds better than his was!!) and I'm sure things will change on their own.

laurzj82 Thu 30-Nov-17 06:41:32

My daughter is under assessment for ASD. Your daughter's diet is much healthier and balanced than hers. I agree with the very sensible advice offered by EndofSummer

Another thing you could maybe try is super slowly, with no pressure, varying her evening meal, maybe cut the sandwich or the veg differently (warn her first!) or change the brand of the ham or the bread, then maybe next, add the cheese into the sandwich, then maybe change to a toastie (to introduce gently to cooked food) etc etc.

You say she doesn't like cooked food but likes McDonalds nuggets; is it a sensory thing do you think? I wondered if its because the nuggets have cooled down? Would she eat something like nuggets at home if you cooled them down before serving them? Just a thought.

Good luck! I will be following this thread for ideas too!

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