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To not make my son food he likes all the time

(110 Posts)
Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 18:56:33

Long story short, ds2 (8 yr old) is an extremely fussy eater! He never used to be this bad. We have brought him up the same as ds1 (12 year old). He was baby led weaned and would eat most foods. But as he grew he developed a very sweet tooth and a dislike for most meals I made.
If it's not the taste he doesn't like, it's the texture, or the smell, or it's too this or that, there's always some complaint. The only food he will always eat without fuss is ham sandwiches, chicken nuggets or a Sunday dinner.
Over the years, I have always made us all the same meals, in a hope that he would grow out of it. Me, my Dh and ds1, love all kinds of meals and enjoy a balanced diet, always cooking from scratch, and I think I'm an alright cook. If ds2 didn't like it, we would say "fine, don't eat it, but you're not getting anything else until supper". But it would come to supper time, and he would often request two suppers as he was that hungry. Then I became worried that he was eaten the wrong sort of food as supper is cereal/ toast kind of snack before bed, not a main meal.
He has an odd/ quirky personality and is currently being assessed for autism, so because of that, I made the decision to start tweaking his food to his tastes, to make him happy and get him to eat. So now I spend loads more time tweaking mess ( so they don't include onions or other stuff he doesn't like), or I will make him something I know he will definitely eat but tweak it to make it healthier ( chicken nuggets with veg etc).
It takes me more time to do all this, but he STILL has complaints about the food I make.
AIBU to stop the nonsense and go back to cooking one meal for all of us, as it seems like all the effort isn't getting us anywhere. Or should i persevere bending over backwards (it seems) to make him what he likes, even though he will still complain and not eat it all????

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Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 18:59:12

And i forgot to mention, the portion sizes are fine for his age

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VettiyaIruken Mon 18-Jan-21 19:06:00

I wouldn't, not if it turns out he has autism.

Mine, especially the youngest, have always had very big problems with textures, food combinations etc. It isn't normal fussiness. It is literal torture for them. There are battles to have and battles not to have. Make the best of what he can eat, give vitamins, keep offering or making available other things cos it never hurts to give him the opportunity to try and don't add to the stress of it by trying to force the issue. It won't end well.

In fact, if you back right off it is more likely that eventually he may want to try something, because you'll have removed the stress from mealtimes.

Gilead Mon 18-Jan-21 19:09:03

Autistic people honestly don’t do it because we’re difficult or fussy. Even at 62 the smell of a banana can make me sick.
My (autistic) ds was similar to yours so I taught him to cook, he now eats almost everything.

x2boys Mon 18-Jan-21 19:14:09

If he's autistic it could be due to sensory issues etc ,my son has been autism and learning disabilities ,whilst obviously not the same scenario I make him what he will eat because otherwise he just won't eat , I think my point is that you don't really want to make food an issue ,continue to offer lots of different types of food ,but if he won't eat it ,I wouldn't reatrict what he will eat

Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:16:09

I don't know whether he is autistic, but I've a feeling he is. Time will tel when he finishes being assessed. If he is, he is very high functioning, but it's such hard work trying to please him all the time. I know that sounds selfish, but until we get a diagnosis, I don't know whether he is being difficult or he needs help confused

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MaLarkinn Mon 18-Jan-21 19:17:05

i have a 14 year old boy who is a fussy eater. i made chilli for dinner today and he has pasta with his.

i’ve given up to be honest and hes old enough now to sort his own dinner if he doesn’t like mine.

Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:17:44

But i get told a lot that I need to pick my battles with him

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WineIsMyMainVice Mon 18-Jan-21 19:20:04

My philosophy has always been if they’re hungry they’ll eat.

ComtesseDeSpair Mon 18-Jan-21 19:21:19

If he’ll eat a roast dinner then at 8 and presumably capable of reasonable insight, I’d try working with him to see if he’d be willing to try various components of roast dinner in different combinations and with different flavours. You know he likes the flavour and texture of e.g. potato, carrot, beef, broccoli, which is a starting point to working out what can be safely changed or added to those ingredients for them still to be acceptable.

YouCantBeSadHoldingACupcake Mon 18-Jan-21 19:22:26

If he has autism, food is not a battle you are going to win (I have 2 with autism) it's not just a dislike, it's more than that. They physically cannot eat anything other than their limited diet. Sometimes if something is introduced very slowly you might have success, but for mine unless it is beige or light brown it is not being eaten

ComtesseDeSpair Mon 18-Jan-21 19:23:58

But also, don’t stress either of you too much over it. Make sure he takes a decent multivitamin and mineral supplement and then just let him get on with it if need be. There aren’t many adults - even autistic adults - who only eat ham sandwiches and chicken nuggets, his palate will broaden as he gets older and is peer influenced or just fancies trying new stuff.

SnowFields Mon 18-Jan-21 19:25:06


Stripyhoglets1 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:25:07

Not if they aren't neurotypical they won't Wineismymainvice.
They just can't eat some things.

I'd not restrict what you eat but would provide what you know he will eat - but encourage him to try other food too. If you get a diagnosis you will at least then know how to deal with it moving forward.

x2boys Mon 18-Jan-21 19:26:37

It could be a mixture of both I guess ,my oldest son doesn't have autism but he can be more picky than his brother ,I just wouldn't make an issue of it particularly if he does have autism

HazeyJaneII Mon 18-Jan-21 19:28:33


My philosophy has always been if they’re hungry they’ll eat.

This really isn't always the case, especially when there are underlying complex reasons.

Soontobe60 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:29:59

I’m a great believer in not pandering to this, however I also know children with autism can have real issues around food.
Until you know otherwise, I’d just give him what he likes. Ham sandwiches, chicken nuggets (good quality ones) and enough Sunday dinner to portion up for the rest of the week. I eat anything, but I’d love Sunday dinner every day!
FWIW, my DD would only eat chicken nuggets, cheese and cucumber when she was small - she now eats absolutely everything.

x2boys Mon 18-Jan-21 19:31:55

Do you have an autistic child @WineIsMyVice? Because some autistic children won't eat some foods no matter how hungry they are .

MojoMoon Mon 18-Jan-21 19:31:56

If he eats all elements of a roast dinner (meat, potatoes, gravy, sauce, etc) that is quite a lot to build on.

I don't think the rest of the family should be always having to eat something dull just because he won't eat something else. But is there a middle ground - you do spag bol, served with a side of veg, he isn't keen on the bol so can have just the spaghetti, carrots and a grating of cheese?

Or you have curry and you make a side he will eat (carrots etc) and he has the rice and that side dish.

I'd knock supper on the head as well. He doesn't need a bowl of cereal before bed. If he is starving, have a piece of fruit.

wintersdawn Mon 18-Jan-21 19:32:44

I've one autistic child aged 9 and one NT child aged 7. Both have their own fussiness with foods, some of it is age related, general child related and some is autistic related.
There are somethings I won't push on them as I know it's just genuinely not liked. One can't stand nuts, the other would happily live on peanut butter. Typical differences same is in adults.
Main meals wise I make sure that they get a meal I know they'll eat every other or every third night. In between there will be possibly an element that they aren't keen on or it'll be something they've never tried. So example this week Monday is spaghetti bolognese (fav meal), Tuesday is chilli, rice, nachos, guacamole (one not keen on rice, one won't eat guacamole), Wednesday veg stir fry ( both will pick and not be keen), Thursday fish fingers, chips and beans (fav meal). Doing this has lead to them being willing to accept some new elements over time.
Breakfasts are help themselves and lunches are either school or they make their own sandwiches at the weekend.

Rockhopper81 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:34:47

As others have said, if he has autism, food issues are linked to sensory issues rather than a choice. Even if he is 'very high-functioning' (not really a term used nowadays to be honest, autism affects people in different areas in different ways), sensory difficulties are still very common. I say this as an adult with Asperger's (although would probably be a diagnosis of ASD now) - I have areas I am very adept in, but areas I very much struggle with, but would probably have been called 'high functioning'.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. Autism or not, the 'eat it or nothing' method isn't particularly successful for any food aversions/picky-ness. The only possible difference being it might be possible to pressure a neurotypical child into eating something they don't want, but you won't be able to do that to an autistic child.

If he has foods he likes - even if a limited range - can you always make sure there is something he will eat on a meal, alongside new foods. Even just tolerating and touching them is a step in the right direction - for example, I can't even touch a mushroom, let alone eat one! I wouldn't recommend not giving him anything if he won't eat dinner, as it's likely to lead to secretive eating and hoarding of food.

But as someone pointed out, most autistic children eat more variety of food as they get older. Just don't make this a battle at the moment - it's not the hill to die on.

Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:39:14

That solid advice Rockhopper

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Deadringer Mon 18-Jan-21 19:39:52

Annoying as it is, it's possible that he can't help it. I think a lot of people do pander a bit too much to their dcs likes and dislikes these days, but sometimes there is a genuine issue. I had an awful time as a child because there were so many foods i hated. I couldn't bring myself to eat food that everyone else in my family loved, i think i must have had some sensory issues, i regularly went hungry rather than eat. I think tweaking what you make is a good compromise, but if you give him stuff that you are fairly sure he likes moderately well, (he doesn't have to love it) then i wouldn't listen to any moaning, you did your best, he can eat it or leave it.

Jambalaya76 Mon 18-Jan-21 19:43:19

I have lately been making mess he likes, but then every 4 days or so, I will make is all the same mea in a hope he will
Like it. Tonight was homemade potatoe wedges ( didn't like them, too overcooked), homemade baked beans ( he thought they were ok ish, didn't eat much of them) and chews and bacon crispy cakes from Aldi. He loves cheese, likes bacon, likes breaded things, but he didn't like these because they were too mushy! This is an example of me trying to accommodate his tastes but getting it totally wrong! He is now eating two bowls of cornflakes. Back to the drawing board sad

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Clarinsmum Mon 18-Jan-21 19:43:23

My autistic son is a ‘fussy eater’, he gets given the food he likes and will eat. I am happy to just make what he wants, when he wants it, there is no point in trying to change him until he is ready. I can see that one day when he can control what he is eating, he may change and try new things. This isn’t a reflection on your ability as a parent, it isn’t about you and he isn’t doing it to annoy you.

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