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resistant eater support thread - come and join me.....

(280 Posts)
tricot39 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:32:20

I hate mealtimes and have done for 4 years now. DS is 4 and has issues with food (likely due to illness in his first year) since week 4. We finally sought help last year and have seen paediatricians, SALTs and dieticians. It hasn't stopped the number of acceptable foods declining. We are mow down to plain/dry carbs and soft desserts/smoothies and chocolate. We hide supplements in the smoothies!

Over the past year we have got so much better at keeping things calm at mealtimes and trying to avoid pressuring him to eat (i give myself 3 "eat ups" per meal). But all that means is that the stress gets bottled up.

Anyway having ruled out physical and social/communication issues it seems to come down to phobias. He is a cautious chap and doesn't like mess or lumps/bits. The last SALT i saw actually knew what she was talking about and said that if we did nothing else we should do desensitisation exercises. We plan to use the ones in Just Take A Bite [[ here]]. This thread is partly to record that process and keep us on track.

We dont know anyone else with a resistant eater and so have noone to let off steam with. I hope there are some of you out there in a similar situation who want to share? Particularly if you are further down this road - i want to hope that these execrises will work but hope faded a couple of years back if i am honest sad

If you have read this and and are thinking about posting about your dc who isnt that keen on veg or that "kids will not starve themselves" then please don't bother. You are way out of your depth and i get enough of this in rl! Sorry to sound rude but i am hoping to find some people who understand how utterly helpless i feel <sob>

Anyone out there?

storynanny Sun 25-Nov-12 22:48:45

Ps my first post on this thread was jennyl29 seem to have changed my name somehow!

Cupcakemummy85 Mon 26-Nov-12 09:28:28

Can I join please. I desperately need advise. My dd is 16 months, I've been putting up question after question on how to get her to eat. She seems to refuse most meals and its always a battle. I've tried ignoring and saying "that's fine if u r not hungry, don't worry about eating" I've tried making fresh pasta sauces hiding vegetables in it, worked once! I've tried giving her food she might like, chips, tinned spagetti, doesn't work. She even refuses yogurt. She might have a few bites Of a sandwich and never turns her nose up at baby crisps. She likes fruit though. But can they really survive on fruit and baby crisis?! I dread every meal time to the point I'm scared to put her high chair! I'm not very good with fussy eating as neither my dh nor I have ever been fussy or Ben refuse food for that matter lol. I cook fresh healthy meals from scratch every day and she just screams! Help sad

cantmakecarrotcake Mon 26-Nov-12 13:26:00

Welcome, cupcakemummy. You're in the right place. You'll find a lot of empathy here.

I'm trying to think of the advice that I so desperately wanted. DD is only a few months older than yours so we're in roughly the same place (except mine can say 'no'!)

A few questions first. Is she (hope i've remembered DD/DS correctly - i'm posting from an app that doesn't show the post i'm responding to) growing ok? Do you think she has sensory issues? Did she wean ok and this is a new thing, or has she always been this way with food? Do you give a multivitamin?

What I'd suggest doing is accepting (and respecting) her choice of foods. Even if it means feeding her what she will eat for a week or 2 (sandwiches, crisps and fruit isn't so bad). See what you can do with the sandwich fillings-wise to introduce what's missing (protein looks a bit low from your description). What will she accept? This should take the initial stress out of it for both of you. Having home-made food rejected is both heart-breaking and anger-making.

The paediatrician said to us that eating a repetitive diet won't do any damage if a child is getting all their vitamins and micronutrients so variety isn't everything. Supplements and formula milk is a good way of topping up dietary nutrients to help you worry less about food.

The other thing I'd do is cut down snacks for a while or offer part of her meal as a snack. DD ate some of the lunchtime sausage for her snack the other day - as long as it goes in at some point in the day you can ignore the social norms. I often keep leftovers in a snack pot and she comes back to it later (on her terms).

I don't promise any of this will work (we've all had duff and annoying advice, so I apologise if you've heard all this before) but I guess what I'm trying to say I'd relax and accept you have a resistant eater that won't change over night. Lower your expectations and treat eating anything as a victory.

storynanny Mon 26-Nov-12 18:10:37

Yes, I was going to say something similar - give yourself a break from the stress and worry by having a couple of days each week without cooking her anything, just give her those few things she will eat and make no comment to her.Obviously this is only my opinion, not based on anything medical, so of course it would depend on the general health of your child. As I have said before you are the expert on your childx

Cupcakemummy85 Tue 27-Nov-12 19:03:46

I'm not sure what to do now. She refuses to eat with cutlery now. She was so good at eating with her spoon and fork, so it really baffles me that she just wants to use her hands. Unfortunately I'd love to let her eat whatever she wants but she gets awful constipation and is on movicol. We went to see the doctor today ad he basically said it was my fault she was constipated and I need I make her eat more fibre. All very easy if u have a child that eats anything. How can u get ur child to eat lentil stew or any stew if they won't use a spoon and won't let u feed them either?! Needless to say I left the doctors crying. He won't prescribe any more movicol so I can't let her have banana or bread because thy block her up. Thinking to myself what can she eat. I'm close to mental meltdown sad I can't reduce her milk because I'm worried that is just taking important nutrients and fluid away.!!!!!

Cupcakemummy85 Tue 27-Nov-12 19:04:29

Ps I did cut down on snacks and that did work quite well smile thank you

ConstantCraving Tue 27-Nov-12 21:30:16

Cupcakes your doctor is a loon - can you see another one in the practice? Constipation is really common in toddlers, no matter what the diet and can be hereditary. Children are often on movicol for years - my DD 3yrs, has been on it for a about a year. She also has feeding issues (see above) but actually she does have enough fibre - my doctor thinks she takes after me (poor thing!) and has a sluggish bowel. Seriously do try and get a second opinion - I think that he is seriously out of order to refuse a medication that she needs. Good luck.

tricot39 Tue 27-Nov-12 21:41:11

Hi Cupcake and welcome
You don't mention whether or not your DD is losing weight, but presumably the GP has checked out her growth etc compared to the charts?

When we first sought help (I am ashamed to say that he was over 2 before we realised that we had a problem that we were not going to be able to fix) we were given this booklet here

We then graduated on to this one here

You can get hard copies of these through your HV or dietician at the baby clinic or children's centre or your local health NHS trust's dietician service.

The main messages are that you have to remain completely calm and nonchalant at mealtimes PLUS the idea that calories are king. Variety is a secondary issue. There are lots of good tips in those leaflets and I think that most children will respond to the techniques. The key is staying calm and with hindsight I really do wonder whether our stressing at mealtimes in the first few years didn't just consolidate the problem. So take the chance of using our collective experience and try to get into a calm state about it now. Yes - I know it is easier said than done, but it does get easier with practice.

I think that many children start developing fussy eating habits about 18 onths. The fact that she previously ate well and was using cutlery does make me wonder whether she is just in a phase which she will grow out of if you can back off. I was still having to spoon feed DS at 2, so I am well impressed if your DD was keen enough to eat independently before that, never mind use cutlery!! Anyway if you ignore "bad" behaviour and praise the good stuff, you might find that she comes back to the cutlery in time.

You are also already ahead of us if your DD likes fruit. That is great as if you can get plenty of that into her you are less likely to need to use vitamins and supplements. (see up thread for our list of liquid supplements and fish oils that we hide in a daily smoothie for our DS). If she likes crunchy/crispy things then try to think of high calorie foods in that vein. So you could try giving her Salt n Shake crisps (without the salt) alongside the preferred baby crisps, maybe? Or dry fruit & fibre breakfast cereal without the milk in it? (my DC will only eat it dry as a sort of crunchy snack!) Think about the "acceptable" foods that she likes and then try to get similar stuff so that you can rotate things so that the meals are not always the same. We don't have a great deal of rotation but I do my best. The main thing is that you have to put aside any expectations of variety or homemade stuff or all the things that you think that a "good mum" would do. Nobody has told our DCs about this, so they are not aware that they are expected to appreciate it! wink

It never worked for us, but do you think that she might go for food if it was cut into interesting shapes? Or there was a picture on the plate that she had to eat to see?

Try keeping a food diary over a month. You can then try to see if there are sufficient calories going in over a day or a group of days, rather than at a meal. That can be a bit reassuring. DH spends a lot of time looking at calories and protein contents of what we feed DS. It is amazin how much protein is actually in bread, which is lucky as that is mainly what he lives on!

If you try all of that and document what you have done with diaries, if your DD is still difficult after 2, then you will probably be able to convince your GP to get you a referral to see a dietician. If she is constipated he might send you earlier tho? I assume from his comment about it being "your fault" that he might not have realised that she is a resistant eater?

Sorry you are having a hard time. I hope it gets easier for you soon.

SummerLightning Tue 27-Nov-12 22:16:47

Hi, only just discovered this thread, and so haven't been able to take it all in but thought i would chip in.

My DS is nearly 4, i don't know if he is defined as a "resistant eater", but he was not at all keen on solid food from the word go (always loved milk). At about 15 months went to HV in despair as he wasn't sleeping and only ate bananas, fruit puree, ready brek, yoghurt and rice cakes. She gave me leaflets that sound similar to what are described above, I do remember them saying "carbohydrates are not usually a problem, toddlers will usually eat pasta or bread or potatoes" and feeling like crying as he wouldn't touch any of them. The somewhere he started gradually eating more and we had the pesto pasta (he started eating this randomly when I bought a pack of those pasta salads from tesco and he just picked it up, I was so amazed and delighted) and houmous (known as "thomas") sandwich phase (bread he started eating one day when I put it in front of him for the millionth time), which lasted til about 2.5. During this phase DH and I had many blazing rows as he thought we should starve DS until he ate new foods, I thought we should keep offering but not stress (easy to do when you are having blazing rows) - MIL helpfully repeatedly told me her smug opinions about how we were just giving him what he wanted too.
I should point out that at no point has he been skinny (but he is very very short) so I haven't been worried on that count. Nor is he particularly anxious or socially shy or anything, nor worried about mess, etc. He is definitely very sensitive to textures or anything strange being mixed into his food though.
Anyway around this time we weaned DD and she ate EVERYTHING and I realised that it was nothing we had done and just the way he was. I think this made us both chill out a bit. Now he is still very fussy but he eats fish (preferably fish fingers or battered fish but also salmon with pesto or other fish at a push), chicken (preferably breaded but normal at a push), chips (if smothered in ketchup), pasta with creamy, or cheesy sauce as well as the pesto, mini sweetcorn (if smothered in ketchup), and most fruits. Occasionally omelette, the very tops of broccoli, the whites only of eggs. I am kind of happy with it as at least now can take him to a restuarant and usually find something he will eat! If I am cooking for him and DD only, I cook something he will at least like part of - if I am cooking for all of us I will cook things I know he won't like. I then tell him (usually to great tantrum) that he has to try it, and if he doesn't like it I will get him some toast or something. He now will usually take a proper bite of something I know he won't like in order to get something else (this is a major major develompent as I am sure you will appreciate) - I am happy with this (as it is through finally agreeing to taste things he didn't like that he has gradually added the odd new thing to what he eats)

Anyway I realise that he probably doesn't qualify and is no-where near as bad as many on this thread and the lack of health problems means it is less worrying - but I thought I would post anyway as may be interesting or help in some way.

tricot39 Thu 29-Nov-12 06:35:06

hi summer. lots of points in your post struck a cord with me - rows at mealtimes and dh opting for starvation, weaning a second child and the daily grind of selecting acceptable foods. it does sound like your ds is better than some but he definitely is on the resistant side of fussy! thanks for posting

tricot39 Sat 01-Dec-12 07:30:57

well we have read the "why do we eat" book, decorated ds' scrapbook, learned about food pyramids and teeth. no noticeable difference to his eating but he has some new vocabulary! dh and i seem to feel better being able to "do" something.

think we will try to do some messy play (driving a toy car around a tray of different foods) later.

SummerLightning Sat 01-Dec-12 09:09:16

Have you got the Charlie and Lola one (I will never not ever eat a tomato or something). I quite like it (doesn't work though!)

tricot39 Sun 02-Dec-12 22:24:26

yup! didnt work for us either!

HollyMadison Mon 03-Dec-12 07:22:02

I'm marking my place to read later. I'm so happy to find this thread -am almost in tears with such happiness!! You are not alone. Will come back later x

ConstantCraving Mon 03-Dec-12 21:10:15

Things not going well here - DD had the total of two homemade banana and raspberry muffins, some milk and three spoons of baked beans today. She has a mouth ulcer - which is making a bad situation worse sad.

storynanny Mon 03-Dec-12 21:35:12

Poor girl, that reminded me that my son got very frequent mouth ulcers and I often wondered if they were diet related, due to a deficiency of a particular food group or vitamin.
As Christmas approaches, as I have already described on this thread, my 21 year old can now just about join in with a modified Christmas dinner, however, I'm very aware that eating is still not a particularly pleasant or sociable event for him, he just seems to be mature enough now to " go through the motions"I have been discussing this thread with him and he can come up with absolutely no reasons for not eating, he does take the very blasé view however, that it doesn't seem to have done him any harm! He hasn't got the recollections as I have of all the pleading and bribing and tricks that went on. That's probably very good as there were many many many hysterical mealtimes over the years.
One of his older brothers was so distressed at one time and convinced that little brother would die of starvation that we were offered family therapy to talk things through. It helped big son but needless to say did nothing to convince little son to eat as he was perfectly happy and content with his list of permitted foods.
I will keep reading this thread as it is all so familiar and fresh in my mind still, hope I can help you a little bit with my reassurances.

SummerLightning Mon 03-Dec-12 22:24:50

Just quickly on the mouth ulcer front - my DS got hand foot and mouth disease when he was about 10 months, and I actually suspect that this might have been what started off his fussiness. In particular me stressing about him not eating and trying to make him eat after his mouth was hurting. I caught it off him and it bloody hurts and lasts ages and is a total pain! Just thought I would mention it as I am sure he has had it since (you can get it more than once) - the mouth ulcers are the worst part of it but it also gives them spots on their hands feet and bum.

Incidentally DD has had it as well, but it didn't stop the gannet eating. Nor the time when she just learnt to cruise and fell and nearly bit her tongue right through. Funny how different they can be.

storynanny Tue 04-Dec-12 09:38:35

Not sure if any of you have experienced this with your resistant eaters - my son did not get any teeth till about 15 months and then went to secondary school at 11 still with all his baby teeth intact! I was convinced it was diet related , although he did drink loads of milk, but was reassured by medical staff and dentists that it was unlikely.

Tolly81 Tue 04-Dec-12 17:18:05

Hi tricot39, I just wanted to post and say that as a child I had exactly the same diet as your DS and there is light at the end of the tunnel as I now eat a very varied, balanced and healthy diet.... But it took a long time!
My list of acceptable foods was almost the same at your DS's age, and I really would rather (and did) go hungry than eat. At that time no-one knew about food phobias (I am almost 32 now) but looking back I realise now that was what I had. I would involuntarily gag whenever I ate food I couldn't cope with. It was not anything to do with the parenting - I am a middle child of 5 and my parents did nothing different with me than the others and they all ate normally. My mum thinks it was linked to the ENT problems I had as a child.
My main issue was textures more than flavours (although that was a bit of an issue). The fact that he will still have smoothies is really positive - I possibly would have but they weren't really around (I would have apple juice though). Its hard to remember what worked but try working out/talking to your DS about what it is about the foods that he dislikes, then try to emulate a food/texture that he is comfortable with e.g if he likes roasted potatoes try roasting carrots or other veg. If he likes mashed potato try carrot and swede mash. Keep trying different ways of preparing food, and only try one item that he is uncomfortable with at each sitting. Also do keep going out for meals from time to time even though it might be daunting - a lot of the time I would try something new when in a different social setting.
It is a long haul but just wanted to offer my sympathy and that negative food associations are not necessarily lifelong (although some of mine persisted through most if childhood). I love my food now, have run a marathon, exercise regularly and eat almost any kind and style of food. The book sounds good too. It is such an upsetting problem for everyone involved (I hated it and found mealtimes so stressful). Good luck to you x

Tolly81 Tue 04-Dec-12 17:32:05

Have just read a few other posts on here and just wanted to add to what others have said - keeping on offering things in a non
Bribery works better than punishment or threats (as I'm sure you've already found), I simply felt even more upset and under pressure about something I felt I couldn't control.
I was underweight and short for my family (who are all very tall) but actually of average height. Most of my calories came from milk through my whole childhood! Just want to reiterate it is not your fault (any of you) and you are doing a great job. I am only just starting to wean my DD and live in fear of her having the same problem but so far no issues thank goodness.

Tolly81 Tue 04-Dec-12 17:37:25

Sorry didn't finish a sentence: offerings things in a non-jusgemental and relaxed (as much as possible!) way is probably the most likely to work. This post makes me emotional just reading about it! It is such a hard thing and everyone thinks its the parents being too "soft"!

tricot39 Tue 04-Dec-12 21:21:54

sorry to hear that constant. i seem to remember rinstead gel being good for ulcers. i also agree thatlots of ulcers can be a sign of some sort of vitamin defficiency. i just do not know what one!

thanks for posting tolly

tricot39 Tue 04-Dec-12 21:22:28

or thanks

ConstantCraving Tue 04-Dec-12 21:24:20

Thanks all - and please keep posting Tolly and story, it does really help knowing there will be an end to this - I mean I know there will be, but when you're in the middle of it its hard to stay positive. DD ate some hummous and breadstick today - so a better day.

cantmakecarrotcake Wed 05-Dec-12 15:43:33

Story, DD got her first tooth at 12 months and at 23 months only has 10.

DD has just had Norvirus (oh great!). So since last Thursday has pretty much only eaten rich tea and Belvita breakfast biscuits. She's a bit brighter today so I'm hoping I can reintroduce some of the few foods she did eat. But now she knows there are biscuits on offer I suspect it'll be a hard task with much wasted food. sad

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