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Aibu to "starve" my 5 year old daughter

(289 Posts)
Arrowfanatic Wed 06-Dec-17 17:08:47

Ok, hear me out.

As a baby my 5 year old ate a wide variety of food, she's my 3rd child and was the best eater. However as she has gotten older she has started to refuse more and more food. It has gotten to the stage now where all she will eat is chocolate cereal, shreddies, ham sandwiches and cheese and tomato pizza. She will eat crisps, chocolate, sweets and Apple's but "meal" wise that is it.

What do I do? I have never pandered to her, she gets exactly the same served up to her as the rest of the family and she just won't touch it. She is the most stubborn child ever. My health visitor said to refuse to cook anything she likes, that she won't let herself starve. Well that wasn't true, she went 3 days only eating cereal at brekkie and a sandwich for lunch. Would cry she was hungry but refused anything else until eventually on day 4 I relented and cooked pizza.

My aibu I guess is, would I be unreasonable to again refuse to cook what she does like even though I know she won't try to eat anything else. She's always coming down poorly, and gets sore lips and things which I'm sure is from a diet lacking in goodnss. I tried to get her to take vitamins, but she refused them totally.

Help me, I just don't know what to do??

reetgood Wed 06-Dec-17 17:16:02

Not true, some kids will starve themselves rather than eat. I’d want to take the pressure off this situation.

I am a fan of Ellyn Satter who talks about division of responsibility in feeding kids. You decide what, when and where. Kids decide how much and if they will eat the food provided. This doesn’t mean starving - it means they learn to be relaxed in the presence of unfamiliar food, enjoy family meal time.

For picky eaters she recommends being considerate without pandering, eg cook what you want to eat but include things that you know she will eat. No snacks between meals. Bread, ham, apples and cheese would give her enough food and a variety of food. Over time with pressure off, she may come to widen her repertoire. But getting enough food in her, even if it’s limited, is surely better than stressful and tearful standoffs.

Link to Ellyn Satter website

EvilDoctorBallerinaRoastDuck Wed 06-Dec-17 17:19:09

I agree with reetgood. That's a sensible approach. Good luck! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

Wolfiefan Wed 06-Dec-17 17:19:26

I would also go with the considerate but not pandering.
Roast dinners weren't a massive hit with one of mine. So I made sure to ensure there were things on the plate she would eat. Cauli cheese, raw carrot, chicken, Yorkshire pudding or sweetcorn for eg.
Also giving her some choice is good. Mine will eat chicken and sweetcorn and carrot and salad and cheese if I give them tortillas and tell them to make their own wraps!

ItStartedWithAKiss241 Wed 06-Dec-17 17:22:37

As a picky child who would starve rather than eat foods I didn’t like, I think you should just let your child eat what they like. I eat a normal diet as an adult, tried new foods at friends houses, school, restaurants etc as a teenager. I have awful memories from childhood of sitting at the table with food I wouldn’t eat in front of me x

Mammylamb Wed 06-Dec-17 17:26:01

I think present her with a small variety of food at mealtimes (but not too much) and let her pick and choose from the selection what she wants to eat. I hate the idea of turning food into a battlefield.

Sirzy Wed 06-Dec-17 17:27:56

Those who say a child won’t starve themselves have never encountered a truly “fussy” eater.

Ds tried his first new food in 6 months last week. I am serving it again tonight in the hope it will be eaten.

As she likes apples I would make sure they are available after meals so even if she hasn’t eaten she has something she will eat

Arrowfanatic Wed 06-Dec-17 17:28:26

Thanks for the replies.

I'm concerned as well that her list of food she will eat seems to decrease week on week. A month ago she would inhale pasta with green pesto, now she won't touch warm a week ago she would eat those from a jar hot dogs, this week she won't even entertain eating it.

I'm worried to pander to it in case it just encourages her to limit what she eats, but likewise I feel like the crappiest mother on the planet knowing my 5 year old isn't getting 3 good meals. Not to mention worries about her general health since as I expect with a lot of kids, she seems to want chocolate this and chocolate that. She's really little anyway, my other 2 kids are slim but tall and energetic, she always seems small, slim, pale and grumpy.

youarenotkiddingme Wed 06-Dec-17 17:29:20

I’ve never heard of the approach above but it’s what I’d suggest.

Those plates that are spilt up for carbs etc are great. You can give ham (as the protein) and then some apple in fruit and veg. Rest of fruit and veg and carbs can be what family are eating.

Then say nothing - choice is there for her to eat.

There’s no reason toast and apples can’t be used as snacks so she doesn’t starve. But she gets them at snack time not as an alternative to refusing food.

I can say as an adult that eats loads of stuff (but absolutely will not touch certain goods) but an EXTREMELY picky child - it’s torture having a full plate of food in front of you that you really want because your staring - yet physically gag at the thought of eating.

Liken it to others things like choice of clothing, density of bedding etc. Everyone’s tolerances are different and there has to be an element of choice in life.

Bobbinsandthread Wed 06-Dec-17 17:30:46

I was a fussy child, I would not eat things I did not like.
As an adult I am not fussy at all, it's why I am not too hard on DD (fairly fussy).
I sometimes ate the same meal for a week blush. I ate more as I got interested in food, at my own pace.

magpiemischief Wed 06-Dec-17 17:32:16

Not sure this is the correct course of action but it is what I'd do, I'd make or top the pizza, if pre prepared with fresh veg and meat. Chopped very finely then covered with a bit more cheese. If homemade I'd add whole meal flour / spelt flour a bit more each time I made the dough. The tomato sauce would have added finely chopped or liquidised veg. And fresh meat from the family's main meal.

SheepyFun Wed 06-Dec-17 17:32:25

ItStartedWithAKiss241, can I ask what changed so that you wanted to try new foods?

DD is almost 5, and eats a pretty restricted diet, though it includes some fruit and veg. I typically make her food she wants (during the week she eats before DH gets home) though I try to make it vaguely balanced. It has made meal times much more pleasant.

The difference with DD is that she never wanted to wean - she would gag and vomit when presented with food until she was 1 (when she got better at gagging so no longer needed to vomit). She didn't become fussy as a toddler, and is slowly eating a bigger variety of food. She will starve herself rather than eat - she demonstrated that at nursery (where we collected her at 1, so she wasn't going without for a whole day), and she still drinks a lot of milk.

magpiemischief Wed 06-Dec-17 17:33:13

I'd also get her cooking. Get her to look through recipe books and pick things she'd like to try.

Wolfiefan Wed 06-Dec-17 17:36:29

Don't feed utter crap or fill her up with chocolate.
I would also put new food on her plate. Just accepting it on the plate is a start.
Try engaging her with cooking. Ds would help me make quesadillas. He started by just having cheese but then added other ingredients.
Oh and helping gets them touching new food. Also a good start.
Totally avoid making food a battleground. Praise if she manages to try new food but don't argue or try and force it.
I also have been known to buy food for ME. My DS loves watermelon. I sat on the sofa hugging a bowl and moaning when he said he wanted some of MY watermelon! wink

Arrowfanatic Wed 06-Dec-17 17:37:45

I do get her cooking, very frequently. We make all sorts as I really enjoy cooking and she is always super excited to cook but when it comes to eating it she point blank refuses.

She ate brilliantly until she was around 16 months. Up till that point she ate everything, often had second helpings. Then she gradually began refusing and now I never l know from one week to the next, hey, from one day to the next if she'll suddenly decide she no longer will eat something.

So, I should make sure I feed her food she likes every day even if it's just pizza?

Zevitevitchofcrimas Wed 06-Dec-17 17:38:51

your making an issue out of food, she needs massive distracting over food.

You totally need to diffuse this. Simply let her eat what she likes, dont make a fuss, dont dig in, dont look at her in a funny way - dont seem annoyed or frustrated. Just feed her what she likes.

Once she calms down and is fed her favorites and food isn't an issue any more, gently try other tactics in tasting, or start to bake, home made pizzas with loads of topping - get her to help you chop etc. Just casually try stuff - a pepper - etc...there are many ways to skin a cat.

MY dd has weetabix, lunch at school and nearly always either jacket potatoe and beans/cheese or tuna and sweet corn. She likes yogurt, apples and avacado,. i am not worried I feed her what she likes. When she gets older she will try more stuff.

PinkyBlunder Wed 06-Dec-17 17:38:55

Yeah your HV is talking crap actually. A child has exactly the same autonomy over their body as an adult so if an adult can starve themselves, so can a child. Also by taking that approach your just going to breed a whole anxiety around food which is counterproductive and damaging for later life.

I take reetgood’s approach (but didn’t realise there was a whole thing written by it grin)

I have rules such as, I only cook one meal and my DD chooses how much she eats BUT to get pudding (fruit or yogurt usually) she needs to have eaten a decent amount. I.e not two mouthfuls! And I take notice of how much she eats so I can adjust accordingly with the end goal of having a clean plate. I also take into account what she had at lunch at school. Why would she want to eat the same pasta dish twice?!

When my 4 year old is going through a picky phase I do things like get her involved in the meal planning, get her involved with the cooking, try new things together, ask her specifically what she doesn’t like and don’t cook them, offer a couple of choices ‘shall we have sausages or fish this evening?’, always make sure there’s some things o know for sure she’ll eat on her plate, discuss food ‘when you were 2 you loved sweet potatoes! Maybe we should try them again’

So far so good. There’s always difficult phases but there’s less angst getting through them. Our issue at the moment is getting her to eat faster (especially breakfast) but I think we’re playing a long game there....

PrincessoftheSea Wed 06-Dec-17 17:39:22

It might just be a phase. I have a fussy eater. I have always just given him what he wants to eat (pandered I gues within reason) and been totally relaxed about his fussiness. He is now getting more and more adventures, but in his ow time. Agree that fussy eaters will starve themselves.

As long as my fuss-pot eats a reasonably healthy diet, food is not a battle I fight.

Wolfiefan Wed 06-Dec-17 17:39:48

That's not what has been suggested.
Offering something she will eat as well as different foods is a good idea.
Maybe consider a dietician referral or speak to GP if concerned.

Offyougo Wed 06-Dec-17 17:40:45

But she didn't starve herself she was eating breakfast and lunch.hardly starving.i would clear the house from those foods*cereal chocolate ham etc) and only cook healthy.
I never pandered to fussiness and all of mine day basically everything bar one or two foods

Zevitevitchofcrimas Wed 06-Dec-17 17:40:57

Yes arrow - its all very normal, my dc have swooped and changed foods for ages!

my 10 year old claims To hate fish but happily guzzled down salmon skin in a sushi restaurant grin even I wouldn't have eaten that!

dont even ask to her to eat what she has made - dont put her under the spot light...ignore it!

Arrowfanatic Wed 06-Dec-17 17:41:29

Wolfie, I always put it on her plate and get "I hate that" in response. I usually say to just try one piece or just touch it to your mouth but she won't. It's like the very thought of the food becomes toxic and I don't want a battle ground. I was never a fussy child and although my other 2 (8 & 6) have foods they hate they eat a wide variety. My 5 year old won't touch a single vegetable for example.

magpiemischief Wed 06-Dec-17 17:42:11


So, I should make sure I feed her food she likes every day even if it's just pizza?

Pizza is a starting point. Build variety into the definition. You could have different bases. Different flours, even a cauliflower base. You can put a variety of meat and veg into the topping. You can use different cheeses. So her tastes can be developed from something she is comfortable with. Little by little.

Zevitevitchofcrimas Wed 06-Dec-17 17:42:20

The problem is - it probably is a phase but when mum is acting like a maniac over it - it turns it into something else and this is what concerns me.
Back off - let her be - then re visit when this clash is forfotton about

Dexywexy Wed 06-Dec-17 17:43:15

My dad has a very limited diet. He would not take vitamins until a dietician explained to him that it was important. She told me that he was lacking some things in his diet but was not too bad as eating from all food groups.

I only give him food he will eat and very gradually he is showing an interest in trying new foods. He saw the dietician when he was 5. He is 9 now. She said I should accept him as he is. He gets totally freaked out by food he does not like. He is extreme.

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