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

(278 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?

Tolly81 Wed 05-Dec-12 16:44:50

Hi all, been reading through posts and trying to rack my brains for what helped with to break the cycle of my fears over food.
I also know how stressful it all is and disheartening as the things I might suggest you may have tried dozens of times before - none of them worked for me and my parents first time but they did help in the long run. I also have a lot of emotion reading this post as I had an awful pregnancy with hyperemesis and vomited through my whole pregnancy. Went back to hating food for the first time since childhood - horrible.
So as others have said
As others have said, ditch the guilt about variety and home-cooking straight off. In order to have success in introducing new foods, they always need "safe" foods to retreat to.
Keep eating normal food around them. They will still be curious about other food. I did really want to eat normally but felt I couldnt - but my parents example of normal healthy diets I'm sure helped in the long-run.
Talk about food and food textures. Encourage them to touch food while reassuring them that they do not have to eat it.
Keep experimenting with different textures.
Don't avoid social situations where DCs will have to eat around others - it was actually one of the things that forced me to try more normal foods.
Sauces are a great idea (if you can get DCs to eat them). I would eat gravy and someone else mentioned ketchup (salt is a necessary evil here). They can also try sauces by dipping a little finger in.
Only offer microscopic amounts of new foods - large amounts just seem so daunting.
If you are going to try bargaining only do it with food that they will accept as otherwise it just heaps on the pressure and can make them hate food even more as it is food standing in the way of them and what they want to do.
Don't do what my parents did - made me sit at the table in front of my cold Sunday dinner all afternoon while everyone else had gone and my brothers and sister were playing without me while I slowly sneaked tiny morsels to the dog!!!
Stay positive - hardest bit I think but you will most likely get to a point where DC will eat an acceptable diet. It's a hard process along the way though. Good luck again. Any more thoughts and I'll let you know x

Cupcakemummy85 Wed 05-Dec-12 18:04:57

I'm nearly at my whits end with my dd's eating. I dread every meal and she has been refusing dinner again. So I just took the plate away when she was done, offered her a yogurt and said no more about it. I even made the hidden vegetable pasta sauce that she normally loves. The only way to get vegetables into her is if I juice them apples and other fruits, helps with her constipation too (just another problem on the list sad

storynanny Wed 05-Dec-12 18:47:33

My son suffered dreadfully with constipation for about the first 7 years of the non eating, had lactulose by the litre bottle, but oddly enough it seemed to sort itself out by about 8 years despite the variety of food still totalling about 7 items.
When hummus was mentioned it reminded me that he went through a phase one particular year of eating breadsticks dipped in garlic dip for 2 of his "meals" a day. I used to take it to cafes and restaurants, holiday chalets, airplanes with me and he was happy! It seemed to me that once he found a safe food he was happy to have it day in day out sometimes for a year.
When he goes out with his friends now eg for a pizza, nobody bats an eye when he asks for his with no tomato, just cheese, basically grated cheese on bread! Chinese and curries, student favourites, are not on his radar, he just has a dish of chips alongside them. What Im trying to say is as he has grown into a young adult, he has adapted his food repertoire sufficiently to join in socially, although I have said before on this thread, it's not a favourite activity.
Going back to the health concerns, although I reported he seemed to thrive and rarely be ill, I do recall that on the odd occasion he was unwell, he seemed to take forever to get back to normal, maybe because he didn't have a great deal of reserve or fat on him.

ConstantCraving Wed 05-Dec-12 21:01:46

Cupcakes sorry things aren't going well sad - all I can do is empathise. My DD used to eat pasta and pesto, it was a fail safe - then she just stopped. Fishfingers have gone recently which has really stressed me out. I keep cooking them and offering, but she just wil not have them. Its baked bloody beans every night... but i guess that's better than nothing! My DD is on movicol for constipation too.
Tolly thanks for the sauces tip - as she does (sometimes) like hummous as a dip i might try tomato ketchup and see if that'll help with the fish fingers.

tricot39 Wed 05-Dec-12 22:33:41

sorry that things are not great cupcakes. you sound like you are doing well on appearing stress free though! keep going.

Cupcakemummy85 Mon 10-Dec-12 18:07:39

I'm trying to stay strong but it's not like my dd will even eat crap food lol. I think she's eaten ok but meal times are so stressful because she won't use cutlery so I have to come up with meals she can eat with her hands. I'm starting to feel worn out and run down. All I get from my mother and mother in law is unwanted suggestions of what to do about her eating and constpation and I'm close to a breakdown lol

chocolateygoo Thu 13-Dec-12 07:43:05

Sorry your relatives aren't being supportive cupcakes. We had a fun visit from MIL yesterday, she attempted to get DS to eat a scotch egg by standing over him saying 'go on go on go on go on go on'. I had to turn away so she couldn't see me snorting with laughter...

For the last 2 weeks, DS has eaten: breakfast cereal for breakfast, crackers & butter, yoghurt and fruit puree for lunch, breakfast cereal for dinner. No meat, no veg, nothing cooked.

The book tricot recommended finally arrived a few days ago and I've been enjoying reading it. Starting to think about making a plan to try expand his eating in the new year. Its certainly a lot more helpful than Annabel Karmel's fussy eater cookbook which just had me laughing, I couldn't find a single thing in there that DS would eat!

I'm feeling quite relaxed about it all as a few days ago we accidentally set fire to our living room curtains. We managed to put it out with a fire extinguisher but it was the scariest 5 minutes of my life by such a long way. The fact that we're all ok and the house didn't burn down means that DS can just eat whatever he wants for a few weeks before I start to worry about little things like diet again!!

storynanny Thu 13-Dec-12 08:13:34

Rereading all the posts I can see a definite pattern and common list of foods emerging with many of your resistant eaters. We could write a book or blog about our experiences and experiments!
As you know if you have read my posts, all will be ok in the end (19years possibly as in my sons case to become anywhere near "normal") give yourselves a break over the Christmas week and try not to worry about the intake for that period. I've already posted that I've been discussing this thread with my son, his latest contribution is " let them eat what they want, it didn't do me any harm"!!!!!!!
Looking back, I don't think there is anything at all I could have done differently except not shout so much when I was really at the end of my tether. Fortunately none of my friends and family interfered after I said please don't make any comments in my hearing, it's medical and I'm dealing with it the best I can.
Just keep reminding yourself that it a unique part of your child's personality, development, character etc and that one day you will be able to look back and think that you did your utmost best as a mum for your child xxxxxx
Ps Xmas dinner was a joke until age 19!!!!! Don't worry about it though its only another yuk dinner as far as your child is concerned.

Tolly81 Thu 13-Dec-12 10:03:12

Think chocolateygoo's post is true - it is such a stressful thing it's so easy to get down about it but important to keep it in perspective. Agree with story - have some time off over Xmas and try again in the New Year. Thought as well that I would sometimes nibble a little bit of bubble and squeak even though it contained the dreaded veg - I think again it was a textural thing but depends if your dcs will eat mashed potato - if not unlikely to work. Anyway hope you're l doing well x

SummerLightning Thu 13-Dec-12 14:00:22

It's my ds' birthday on Xmas day. He's still getting Xmas dinner though even though he won't eat it <evil cackle>. He will make up for it with mince pies and chocolate I'm sure the poor dear won't starve.

ConstantCraving Thu 13-Dec-12 21:02:59

Cupcakes my DD won't use cutlery either and will no doubt be having baked beans for xmas dinner! We are still on toast , banana and raspberry muffins, raisins, hot cross buns, occasional hummous and breadstick, very occassional plain pizza (no hope of hiding veg) and the beans.
She is also not potty trained yet and is shy in social situations - and even with close family like my Mum who she sees twice a week. This thread helps so much because i don't know anyone else with a child quite like her.

storynanny Thu 13-Dec-12 22:55:30

And it does take over your whole life! In fact reading this thread has brought back so many memories. I'm on holiday for a couple of days with my husband and I find myself thinking what son would have eaten out of the meal we had in our hotel tonight And actually even now at 21 it wouldn't have been much.
Starter veg soup and bread, only would eat the bread as too many bits in soup. Pork chops (no, never touched pork in his life) mash, no never, peas, yes, carrots, yes, dessert, posh ice cream, no, it had fruit bits in it. Of course the difference now at 21 instead of 0-18 is that he would be able to go to the bar and get a snack of his choice and a pint! Not terribly healthy I'm afraid, but as I've said before he seems ok, just hope he isn't storing up problems in later life.
Keep smiling over christmas and just feed them anything they likexxxxx

storynanny Thu 13-Dec-12 22:56:50

Having a resistant eater takes over your life I meant, not reading a thread!

ConstantCraving Fri 14-Dec-12 20:41:40

LOL grin a thread will do that too!!

cantmakecarrotcake Sat 15-Dec-12 17:39:32

I have a question - toddler related.

How do you deal with bad behaviour at mealtimes?

We know it's best to keep everything calm and not to make mealtimes an unpleasant experience but things like refusing to sit down, throwing cutlery and tipping plates off the side of the highchair/table. But do you let it go or treat it as you would with any other child? (Although threatening no more food obviously won't be a threat at all).

So far we've been sitting DD (nearly 2) in her high chair facing the back door as a kind if timeout and if we're out she gets strapped in the buggy - neither of which really seems to bother her or result in a "sorry mummy/daddy" but she's probably a little young to get the cause/consequence yet.

Any thoughts/experiences you can share would be much appreciated.

cantmakecarrotcake Sat 15-Dec-12 17:45:43

Good advice to not stress about eating for Christmas week. I shall take that on board and chill if she'll only eat cheese sandwiches and biscuits.

storynanny Sat 15-Dec-12 19:37:46

Re christmas dinner, at the height of resistance eating (about 2-9) we decided not to make son sit at the table on Christmas day with the family so everyone else could concentrate on enjoying their meal for once. From 9 onwards we expected him to be old enough to sit at the table for the duration of the meal and he just had his modified version, ie whatever was on his list! Fortunately none of his grandparents made a fuss.
Keep calm and carry on!!!!

piggybank Thu 20-Dec-12 21:39:53


I am so pleased to have found this thread because although I can talk to friends in rl about this issue, none of them really understand how difficult it is too live with.

I haven't had time to read all the posts here but I will come back when I can to catch up with the thread.

My ds has just turned 3 and is resistant. For main meals we are down to porridge and one brand of cereal. He is sick with an ongoing chest infection so I don't know when I'll be back to read and post again but I found this article which some of you may find of interest. It certainly made me feel less alone and better armed for a doctor's appointment I have tomorrow to discuss with GP.

One of our main concerns is getting some vitamins in. But how on earth can you get a resistant eater to take them? If Iput them in cereal he rejects it. Only drinks water so rejects that too if I put them in there. I can't even get calpol or antibiotics into him FFS

Here it is -

Thanks thanks

HollyMadison Fri 21-Dec-12 07:38:40

I finally come back to this thread to post properly! My DS is 22 months and a resistant eater. He had acid reflux in his first year (he has come off the meds now and I think the reflux has gone although sometimes I'm not so sure sad ).

He didn't wean well and was never interested in food. By 8 or so months he became frightened of food, stopped taking a spoon, stopped eating solids for 2 months and tube feeding was talked about. We managed to avoid that and now he eats a very limited diet.

We have seen SALTs, dietitians and a child psychologist. The latter wasn't much help as, despite not eating for 2 months, he ate a meal in front of her! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We currently see a SALT weekly for speaking and feeding issues but this is because he has a hearing impairment. We pay for this privately as we are not in the UK.

For anyone considering SALT I would definitely say it is a good idea. For us it has helped us eliminate potential issues and also the therapist has made observations of things which I hadn't realised (eg she realised that the foods he eats - tofu, avocado, peas - are foods which melt in the mouth or can be swallowed whole which probably means he struggles with chewing). She is also doing mouth sensitivity exercises with him.

I dread meals with extended family and sometimes feel like breezily asking PIL to look after him one dinner time so they experience it. I don't as I worry that whatever craziness they'd unleash would set him back.

I have so much else to write but I have a question for you experienced ones: how do you feel about feeding in front of distractions such as TV? I seem to have got myself into a situation where DS will watch things on my iPhone (and now he generally refuses to eat without it). The good thing is that I can sometimes feed him things with a spoon which I would never be able to do otherwise, especially mixed up things like stew. I start with something he is not suspicious of such as rice and slowly mix in stew. These are things he wouldn't touch himself. Despite this his list of foods is still limited and amount eaten small. Should I keep doing this for as long as I can thus ensuring he gets food down? SALT is not that keen as she says he is not learning about the food, which is true.

HollyMadison Fri 21-Dec-12 08:20:07

Piggybank I syringe vitamins and meds into DS. After vitamins being part of the routine for so long I can generally get them into him ok and sometimes he opens his mouth for them. Although he is a little guy and I can put him on my knee and wrap one arm around his body and across his arms. I've learnt to syringe a tiny bit at a time into his inside cheek or he will vomit. takes about 5 or 6 squirts to get 5 ml down. i don't know what we'll do when he's too big for this.

storynanny Fri 21-Dec-12 09:16:35

Definitely go with distraction therapy!!!!!!! I managed to get a few mouthfuls in here and there whilst playing dominoes, card games, doing puzzles, building Lego, fun workbooksetc in the high chair, in his little chair in front of the tv, anything goes anywhere! As a result of so many activities intense 1:1 time my son was an expert mathematician by 5 years and could read before he went to school! There is an up side, keep going and stay calm, you know best, ignore the family and their "advice"

HollyMadison Fri 21-Dec-12 11:40:13

Thanks - will keep on with the distractions but go back to some interactive ones rather than using music videos...

Am also keen to hear people's views of dealing with bad table behavior as another poster asked...

storynanny Fri 21-Dec-12 12:13:20

Ps re salt saying he is not learning about food - he is, but at the moment he is learning that he hates it. He will learn what he can tolerate when he is grown up.
Son home from university today, will be showing him all the latest posts on this thread! It's taken 22 Christmases to get him to partake in a nearly normal Christmas meal, with , GRAVY!!!!!!!! I think he finds meals easier now he can wash it all down with beer!

wandymum Fri 21-Dec-12 17:45:25

Hi ladies, I just wanted to offer you some hope.

MY DS ate nothing but HIPP stage one baby chocolate pudding until he was 2. He became anaemic and I had to syringe various supplements into him whilst he screamed and tried to fight me off. Every meal time was an absolute trial and I thought about nothing else for the first years of his life.

Like others have said, he had bad acid reflux as a baby and our Drs think that he developed an association between food and pain. His phobia became so severe that he'd projectile vomit if you just put food in front of him. He wouldn't even touch it.

We were about to have to take him into the hospital for tube feeding when we found an amazing SALT. She came to our house and played with him 3 times a week for an hour at a time. He was too young to reason with so she just played with food with him. They started out painting with the chocolate goop he would eat and gradually included more foods and different textures until he was happy touching a wide range - she made it all great fun. Then they played feeding the foods to a range of dolls and toys. Next she moved on to trying to get him to smell the foods, then to just touch them to his mouth and then finally to eat them. It took about a year but it worked!

Once he was actually willing to put something in his mouth things moved very quickly. We were advised only to try and feed him perennial kids favourites to start with - sweets, chocolate, ice cream, McDonald's chips! Pom Bears etc... to help reinforce the idea that food could be a pleasure. Within a couple of months he was eating sandwiches, veg, fruit, pasta, fish fingers etc...

It was a genuinely amazing turnaround.

He is 4 now and eats more or less normally. He can still be a bit picky about mixed textures but eats a balanced diet and all our lives are so much better.

I never imagined DS would ever eat even vaguely normally so, just wanted you all to know that no matter how bad it seems now there is hope.

cantmakecarrotcake Fri 21-Dec-12 17:54:46

Agree about the distraction techniques. I always start a meal in the highchair as I do believe in DD learning to sit and eat 'nicely' and this is also expected of her at nursery. Invariably she'll eat only a few mouthfuls of her savoury meal then starts throwing stuff on the floor. I move on to yoghurt and take her down.

Her calorie intake at this point is pretty poor so I bring her into the sitting room with what's left of her meal in a snack pot or tub and let her watch tv. Some more usually goes in.

The throwing and generally behaving badly does my head in though. I know it's part of the resisting but I can feel my face turning to thunder which really isn't productive, I know. blush

Vitamins... The syringe has to be the way forward if a spoon/mixing with food/drink won't work.

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