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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?

cantmakecarrotcake Fri 21-Dec-12 18:18:48

Wow, Wandymum, that's an amazing story. What a transformation. It's great to hear about success stories.

Perhaps I need to do more messy play with food and see how that goes. I've seen DD contemplating eating pasta so perhaps I'll start with spaghetti.

storynanny Fri 21-Dec-12 21:49:05

First thing said by son on getting home from uni today - I'm starving , what is there to eat, and proceeded to open all the cupboards to find things to munch on. How I cried and sobbed over the years that this would never be something I would witness.
Just dropped him off at the pub to meet his friends, they might even go for a pizza afterwards ( just basic cheese and tomato for him) this will be you young mums in 15 years time!!!!!!!

storynanny Thu 27-Dec-12 16:03:55

Hope you all managed to enjoy your Christmas dinner, with or without your little ones joining inxx

elecktra83 Thu 27-Dec-12 19:58:26

I understand how you feel, I have a four yr old son whom is very fussy. He wont eat anything with a sharp edge like roast potatoes, or any meat as it requires too much chewing, he has a fear of food being hot even when it is barely warm, he wont try anything and sometimes cries with his mouth open and the food sitting on his tongue not sure what to do with it! He only likes to eat smooth food like pasta, tinned spaghetti, yogurt, mashed potato. I have served him up a lovely meal many times and he would say that he doesnt like it even though he has eaten it before. I tell him countless times to eat his dinner and he sulks and shouts and refuses which makes it very difficult as I am wasting perfectly good food making meal times very stressful. Whether he eats his dinner or not he still expects a pudding which I dont know where this is coming from! He will eat little snacks during the day but wont sit down to a proper meal unless its something soft and I am almost at my witts end as I dont know how to help him enjoy food?

ConstantCraving Thu 27-Dec-12 20:31:34

Electra have a look at this:
Story had a lovely xmas and DD sat at the table for the entire meal and ate ALL .. of her hot cross bun grin.
Today I made pasta and pesto (an old favourite - but now rejected) for lunch and got DD to help. She then licked her fingers!! and didn't start screaming!! I'm seeing this as a breakthrough but was very cool and didn't comment or push her to eat any.

storynanny Fri 28-Dec-12 09:33:09

Extremely good link, describes my son exactly, especially the hatred of a sticky face, the refusal of a previously favourite(only) yoghurt because of a stray lump of fruit in it. He also could have been the toddler in the article saying this toast is too brown!
Re heing your 4 year old to enjoy food, you may have to accept at this stage that there is no way he is going to enjoy any eating experience and just get the calories in him the best you can.

cantmakecarrotcake Fri 28-Dec-12 18:59:22

Really interesting link. It feels like the only 'official guidance' that's out there. DD is definitely an innate selective eater. I was reassured by the fact that we should just concentrate on quantity not quality to ensure good growth. I may need to discuss that with nursery and print off that article.

We had a good Christmas. After trying (unsuccessfully) earlier in the week to eat a roast lunch with DD at the table we opted to eat Christmas lunch while DD napped. I've realised that DD will never enjoy sitting with us for celebratory meals so we've made peace (with thanks to this thread) with the fact that she may not join in with us. Hey ho.

storynanny Fri 28-Dec-12 19:10:22

Good for you carrot, celebration mealtimes are best done without trying to involve the resistant eaters til they are 18+! I'm being serious by the way x

storynanny Fri 28-Dec-12 19:14:51

Ps just made mistake of putting onion (as normal recipe) in spaghetti Bol, 21 yr old recovering resistant eater only ate the spaghetti and picked around a bit of the meat, as onion is to yet to be on the list. At least it's progress from when the whole meal would be rejected. As I'm following this thread with him I asked why he couldn't eat it. He had no other reason except "I don't like onion" , however I did point out to him that he has never even tried it, there was no further discussion!

cantmakecarrotcake Fri 28-Dec-12 21:38:07

Storynanny, your posts fill me with hope and sadness in equal measure. Things are better for you and your son (huge progress, in fact) but they're still difficult, aren't they?

Apparently my husband and MiL were both fussy/resistant as children and both are complete foodies and excellent cooks now so I'm hoping DD follows in their footsteps.

My NY resolution will be to try regular messy play and to get her involved in cooking - maybe assembling a pizza or something.

storynanny Fri 28-Dec-12 21:56:42

Be forever hopeful, it might not take your child as long xxx my son is happy and healthy, in fact always has been healthy and only unhappy when I was on the food warpath!

piggybank Sat 29-Dec-12 21:20:00


I am so pleased you find the article helpful. It does feel like the only advice out there and I have't found much else aside from pithy crap about how a healthy child won't starve itself etc etc.

It describes my son to a T and his father as well - so at least I know he comes by this behaviour naturally. My son looks nothing like his father so my dh has joked that at least the rest of the family knows he's the father when they sit down at the dinner table with our food resistant child!

Thankfully my husband eventually grew out if it and now loves a huge range of food :-)

As others have said, I really appreciate reading everybody's experiences especially the successes which give me hope!

Thank you as well for advice on getting vitamins in. Syringe is out at the moment unless I want to physically hold him down :-( What I have found is this - that the NHS Healthy Start children's vitamin drops only require 5 drops to get a full dose. I am very annoyed they haven't been offered to me already so I'll be ringing my hv on Monday. They are supposed to be for children until they are 4 and I guess some of your children will be older but hopefully that link might be of use to someone.

I hope getting some vitamins in will help my ds who is always sick at the moment.

All the best. Hope you all had a good Christmas.

cantmakecarrotcake Mon 31-Dec-12 18:22:28

Anyone else struggling with the Christmas holidays? I know I said I'd try and chill about food this week but I miss nursery!! They give me the break from mealtimes that I so desperately need.

DD is not only resisting foods but food in general (unless it's biscuits or chocolate or, thankfully, cheese). And now she's nearly 2 there's the added behavioural element. It's just so tiring! I feel awful but I can't wait until Wednesday! hmm

cantmakecarrotcake Mon 31-Dec-12 18:24:45

Piggybank, did you speak to the HV?

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Mon 31-Dec-12 18:34:42

We have had mixed mealtime experiences over Christmas. Christmas lunch (bread, cheese, cucumber, beetroot) and Boxing Day lunch (pasta with a small amount of sauce) were fine as he had something on his plate that he could manage, but since then it's gone downhill a bit and we've had several meals with nothing passing his lips except water.

The paediatrician has asked for him to be weighed monthly for the time being but has said that we don't need to see him again for a year, which is encouraging.

JosMorgan Tue 01-Jan-13 22:40:06

tricot thank you so much for this thread. I can relate to everything I have just read on this thread. Have you had any luck with Just Take a Bite? I give anything to have normal mealtimes

chocolateygoo Fri 04-Jan-13 20:20:35

We've got DS's 2.5 yr development check with HV next week. I can't decide whether to tell her about the eating or not. On the one hand it would be good to get some support. On the other, I don't want an earful of 'no child will starve themselves' style advice. What do you think?

Just wanted to say also: thanks to everyone for the leaflet links posted above, they're really really good. I've printed them off to show to family members...

I'm trying to make some little steps in widening DS's diet by introducing more 'bad' food. I'd been avoiding it before but from what I've read its important firstly to teach him that trying new food is ok, then worry about its nutritional content.

We've had a few successes: Rice Krispie bars are now acceptable (took 3 offerings for him to taste a bit and like it). He will also now eat bread with chocolate spread on it! Hoping to move onto other types of sandwich filling now that bread is accepted, but taking it nice and slowly and sticking with chocolate for a few weeks. Sometimes I think: 'I'm getting excited because DS ate bread - WTF is going on here?!'. Its so reassuring to know that its not just us going through this.

ConstantCraving Fri 04-Jan-13 20:36:24

Hi chocolatey bread sounds amazing!! Well done! With regards to HV you could tell her - AND show her the leaflet to stave off any unhelpful advice...

piggybank Fri 04-Jan-13 22:03:50


Thank you for asking cantmakecarrotcake - I did speak with HV and ended up sobbing over the phone. How embarrassing! Must be my pregnancy hormones. I got the vitamin drops and a lot of reassurance that although it could take months or years, if I keep feeding him the calories he needs and eating food with him that eventually things will improve. It gave me hope.

Christmas has been very tough. I know exactly what you mean about the toddler attitude and a hungry toddler is even worse :-(

Since moving from a very restricted but healthy diet of home made sheherd's pie at both lunch and dinner plus porridge or oatibix bites for breakfast to just porridge or oatibix at ALL meals, his behaviour has become very negative. He feels happy for a short while after eating his cereal but the energy doesn't last very long and he then becomes irritable.

He's been poorly on/off for 3 months and he gave up his shepherd's pie mid Nov after a vomiting bug and chest infection. After about 6 weeks we tried to starve him of the oatibix, telling him they were no longer selling it -- Well, it failed! He starved himself by eating only his breakfast and a few crisps every day. After a week, he stopped eating at nursery too, so we gave in and gave the cereal back. We just couldn't afford for him to regress in the only place where he actually eats normal food (nursery).

Today was his first day back at nursery after Christmas break and thankfully he started eating there again - YAY! It was as though they send home a different child - a happy one.

We are so SO lucky that ds has somewhere he feels safe to try food - thank goodness for nursery! It might sound crazy but we are thinking of moving from 2 mornings a week at nursery to 5 mornings a week. This would give him 5/7 days where he was eating breakfast and lunch as a normal child. Maybe he would reach a tipping point where he would trust food enough to eat at home?

Enough about me and my ds! Please tell me more about what has and hasn't worked for your children. Do many of you have other kids and how do they eat? We are expecting DS2 in March so I wonder if things will be the same again (oh joy).

Thank you all again for sharing and Tricot for starting this thread!

piggybank Fri 04-Jan-13 22:14:17

chocolateygoo Well done - rice crispy bars and bread = big success!

Definitely talk to your hv about it. Print out the article and if you get the old 'children won't starve them selves' crap then ask the hv to refer you to someone with more experience in this type of problem. And get some of the Healthy Start vitamins - just 5 droplets for a full dose - amazing!

Let us know how it goes...

Cupcakemummy85 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:14:41

My dd has gone back to her fussy ways. I thought we had made some progress as she started eating cereal and soup and drinking fruit and veg juices. I was ecstatic! Now she refuses to eat and pretty much drink anything I give her. I'm fed up of crying after mealtimes. My dh just acts like a parrot and says the same things over and over again I feel like strangling him right now. My baby is due in four weeks I don't know if I can handle the stress! She ate nothing last night and I mean nothing and isn't drink anything. I don't know whether to try a new tactic or just let her dictate what and how much she wants.

cantmakecarrotcake Thu 10-Jan-13 18:29:08

Sounds like good progress from chocolateygoo and piggyback.

I had minor victory with chocolatey milk froth from my mocha the other day. Sounds weird but when I've offered it on a spoon before DD would just refuse. It's a little thing but it'll keep her from running around the coffee shop long enough for me to drink a coffee now.

But otherwise we're still battling the behaviour (terrible 2s) at mealtimes. I've been letting her wander round and eat just to get food in her. Nursery noticed today when she wouldn't sit nicely and have a carpet picnic at tea time.

It's her birthday next week. I wonder if she'll actually eat any of her lovingly-made birthday cake...

chocolateygoo Tue 15-Jan-13 07:52:26

Well we saw the HV and even after I had said 'we tried starvation and it didn't work, he just ate nothing, cried all night from hunger, then filled up on breakfast', she still said 'no child will starve themselves'!. Not sure what she was implying - I should offer last night's dinner at breakfast, lunch, etc until he eats it?!

Anyway - the good thing is that she is sending a colleague with more experience out to see us next month. Apparently she has lots of really good stickers. hmm

piggybank its really interesting that your DS will eat at nursery normally. I was wondering whether starting school would help sort things out, but now thinking maybe I'll leave him for lunches at preschool (starts sept) and see if that helps at all.

Also re. child 2. DD is 13 months old and was a great eater. Now she is noticing that her brother gets cereal for dinner and refuses her carrot etc as she wants cereal too! ARGH!

cupcakemummy the best advice seems to be get the calories in, in any way you can, then start worrying about healthiness. Definitely take a step back and stop worrying with your baby due so soon (congrats!), its too much to tackle all at once. (1) get DD eating something every meal and snack, even if it is unhealthy. Maybe give her 2 or 3 choices of things you know she likes. (2) when she is happy eating, and you are ready, start introducing new food alongside what she is comfortable with.

One the useful things the HV did give me was a portion size guide, which made me realise I'd been expecting DS to eat far too much for his age. E.g. for a 2 year old, a portion is a tablespoon, so just one tablespoon of yoghurt is great. Half a slice of toast is right (I'd been trying for a whole or even 2 slices!).

I've also had some success getting DS to drink more fruit smoothies by telling him they are yoghurt, which he loves. i.e. DS do you want this drink? No. DS do you want this yoghurt? Yes! Drinks 3 glasses of it!

cantmakecarrotcake Tue 15-Jan-13 20:39:53

Chocolateygoo, grr to the HV! They really have no idea about anything outside of 'average'. I thought they were supposed to catch those with 'issues'. I went numerous times with weaning issues and they had no useful advice at all (have you tried finger food being the classic at 10 months - what the %^*+ do you think I've been doing for the last 4 months?) angry

Also, not to kill your hope (seriously, hang on to every bit you have), but DD is equally picky at nursery. For the first 6 months I took all her food in, then decided to see what would happen if I stopped. She's ok with tea (sandwiches etc) unless it's beans on toast, but never even picks at the hot lunch. They try her every day but she ends up just eating sandwiches or toast. hmm

Mealtimes continue to be stressful her compounded with DD not being able to sit still long enough to actually eat anything. I'm reassured by my friends with kids the same age (2) being in the same boat though. It just makes getting the calories in her even more difficult. I'm going to get her weighed and measured next week and see how she's doing.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Tue 15-Jan-13 21:32:23

I'm afraid that I don't have a high opinion of HVs. They were hopeless when I asked for advice about DS's eating during the the first year and a half of his life. They need more training re: outside of the norm.

We've had a couple of successes with DS (4). On the whole, we have backed right off in terms of getting him to eat. No more "just one more bite". Now when he says "may I be excused please" I say "of course" with a smile. Occasionally, I will tell him he can finish his dinner later because I don't want him to get grumpy. So, if he has hardly touched his fish fingers and chips, I put it on a new plate and offer it about an hour later. Sometimes he eats it, sometimes he doesn't and sometimes he asks for something else (cereal). Today he ate a tiny piece of fried fish that I had cooked for the adults. The other day he ate a tiny piece of cucumber. Not a great deal but it's his first piece of veg since puréed food!

In a way, it is easier now because he can understand better. He talks the talk about healthy food at least grin. He knows he has to eat otherwise he gets grumpy but he normally asks for ginger biscuits (it's his fad atm) when he is hungry. But at least he is telling me he is hungry which is a vast improvement. I try to give him protein at lunch and dinner with his heavily carb based food, either in the form of eggs, fish fingers or chicken or ice cream (lots of fat!). The other thing I have done is leave it a little bit longer before I give him food and that seems to have made a difference in terms of how much he eats too.

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