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9 year old fussy eater(6 Posts)
Apologies in advance - this will be long.
DS(9) has always been a very fussy eater. We thought it’d improve as he got older but it hasn’t. Lately it’s got much worse & we’re now at a point where he’s barely eating anything at school or at teatime.
Today for example, school dinner was gammon, mash, veg - he doesn’t like mash or veg, he tasted the gammon but didn’t like it either so ate a slice of bread followed by chocolate concrete for pudding. For tea tonight I did chicken pie, chips, veg & gravy. He ate one chunk of chicken from the pie & that was it. Nothing else all evening before bed. This is a typical day for him. He will be desperately hungry in the morning & want several bowls of cereal plus toast to try to make up for it.
It has been this way for as long as I can remember. We had help from the health visitors when he was little - read all the books (my child won’t eat) & always tried to follow the advice that it’s our responsibility to provide the food & his choice whether to eat it or not.
We always used to clear the meal away without comment & offer nothing else til the next meal. It never improved what he ate. We find this hard to do these days - he is very vocal about disliking the foods & will spend the whole mealtime moaning. No matter how we try to avoid it, conversation is always drawn towards discussing what he is or isn’t eating. We’ve tried reasoning with him - discussing diet & why it’s important to eat a variety of foods etc. - it’s had no impact either, except probably to heap more pressure on
Up to now we have always tried to include something within each meal that he will eat. However he accepts so few foods now this is becoming really difficult to do. E.g. if we do chilli & rice with veg & garlic bread he would eat nothing. If I served nachos with it he would eat only those - so just crisps for tea. Which isn’t exactly a healthy offering. Often I would just cook some pasta. But then we are getting into alternative meal territory & DD then complains she wants some too. Or questions she DS is allowed something different.
We’ve told him we can no longer do this - he either eats what we serve or goes completely without til the next meal. So far he’s chosen to do the latter. We’ve also limited breakfast to just one bowl of cereal plus toast plus fruit (which is a perfectly normal amount) to prevent him overloading at breakfast so he’s hungry enough for his other meals. Still hasn’t made him eat them.
We are both so worried about him. He’s very skinny. Within healthy weight range but only just. Noticeably smaller than his peers. Our DD(4) eats what I would call ‘normally’ & has way more than him at every meal. If he does eat, he always seems to need to dash up to the toilet to poo during the middle of the meal. I worry he is doing it to avoid being at the table. Mealtimes must feel awful to him.
This is what he will eat:
Breakfast cereals e.g. Cheerios, shreddies, weetabix, coco pops etc
White bread, croissants & brioche
Apples, strawberries & grapes
Jam (only sandwich filling he will have)
Plain chicken or chicken nuggets
Ham or Pepperoni Pizza (but only if not too tomatoey)
Plain Pork chipolata sausages
Bacon Quiche (minus the pastry)
Cheddar cheese - only grated on pasta
Milk (only on cereal but caught him spitting it out this morning because he doesn’t like it)
He’s lacking most fruits, any vegetables, rice or potatoes, pulses, nuts, most meats. I’m worried he is likely to be deficient in lots of vitamins etc.
We waver between
-thinking we need to be even more tough (stick with what we’re doing but without discussion & nothing (even fruit) til the next day)
- thinking he could possibly have sensory processing issues with food/texture, which case the advice would be the complete opposite I.e. give him what we know he will eat.
We don’t know how to improve things. We love him so much & want him to have a healthy relationship with food. And for him to eat a healthy balanced diet. Should we see a doctor? School haven’t been any help.
Where do we go from here? Any advice would be much appreciated.
My son was like this. I took him to a specialist optician for his Dyslexia to get coloured lenses. The guy has a machine that omitted coloured light into a dark room. He asked about my sons son's eating habits and I said he ate a very limited diet. Sniffed all food before trying if at all. Anyhow. He said the coloured lenses would help change his taste buds. He said he needed blue lenses. He gave him Cadbury buttons to eat ( he only eats Cadbury choc) and while eating he changed the lighting on the machine to yellow and my son stsrted to gag n spit saying the choc tasted disgusting. When blue light came back on he was fine again. We got him to wear coloured glasses when eating and his diet improved. Dont get me wrong. Its still not as good as i want it to be but its a vast improvement. Might be worth looking into x
Looking at the food list could your son have sensory issues?
Teagoann thanks for taking the time to reply. That’s really interesting about the blue lenses - had no idea it could have that effect.
We have always suspected he could have sensory issues but school have monitored him & say they see no problems. This included monitoring his school dinners & they said he ate well, yet he tells a very different story. Most days he says he didn’t eat much because he didn’t like it. I can’t be sure if they monitored what he chose to put on his plate vs what he actually ate though.
Anyway I’m worried that without support from the school the GP won’t take us seriously.
This morning he’s got up in tears saying his tummy hurts & he feels poorly because he’s so very hungry. He’s barely eaten for 3-4 days now. We’ve had to have yet another talk about how we’re not starving him - he is choosing not to eat. I really don’t know if we’ doing the right thing or not. I think we’re at the stage where we need professional help.
Sorry to hear you are going through such a tough time. We did end up cooking different meals. My sons diet was limited but weirdly quiet good luckily. Home made potato soup. Mince and potatoes with grated carrots through it. Mashed egg sandwiches or ham sandwiches without butter or sausages. He would eat Cadburys chocolate as a treat. My other son refused to eat potatoes or chips of any kind however so mealtimes were a nightmare. We did end up batch cooking and freezing stuff they liked for convenience. We would often sit down as a family to a large pasta meal to please one and give the other a plate of soup or have a carry out n just give them a bizzare combo of mash n egg sanny. Anything as long as they ate something. The glasses were a godsend and as he grew up he kind of grew out of it a bit. Hes in his 20s now and has recently tried steak for the first time to impress his girlfriend lol. Ooo what i did find was for example.. if we all got together and made our own pizzas or burgers from scratch so he could see and feel what was going into or on it he would often eat more. Hes still like this and will still ask for mince if we are having a bbq to make his own burgers then rave about how much better they are than everyone else's. Def a sensory thing 🤣
Hello, it's so hard, isn't it? Both of my children are fussy. I have a nearly 10yo and a 6 yo (both boys). Personally, if I were you, I would call time on what you are doing. I've read about and tried "division of responsibility" feeding but I simply could not get the calories in (my eldest is v sporty and NEEEDS FOOD). Plus I found their hunger and weakness intolerable.
DOR really doesn't work for everyone. When I was doing DOR my eldest lost his appetite for even accepted foods and stopped eating safe foods in safe places. That maybe doesn't make sense to many people (without an extreme eater) but he got so hungry he stopped being hungry. He also lost his joie de vivre. I felt it disordered his eating more than it already was. As a result I had to work hard to rebuild his appetite against his accepted foods.
He now eats well/to fullness of the foods he likes most of the time. If he gets too hungry, he won't eat/refuses food. I have learned that he 'needs to eat in order to eat'. One skipped meal or snack and he is shut down to eating. FULL STOP. I think that's who he is and not the fault of DOR but most definitely one of the reasons DOR failed for us. Now he's nearly 10 I coach him on self awareness about this and the importance to him (specifically him) of keeping himself topped up because he burns very brightly.
I feed them each their accepted foods. I then feed me and my dh separately. It drives me INSANE to do this. However, they are fed. They are growing. The eldest maintains his sporty life.
What has worked for my eldest was..
1. Feeding him to fullness of his safe foods.(even if I have to give him 5 bowls of cereal).Did this for a long time without challenging him.
2. Food chaining. Small challenges (really small) along side his new found confidence in being full/satisfied/my promise that he will never ever go hungry
This has brought the eldest from eating one type of cereal 3x a day (before school) to now eating nutella sandwiches at school and having 4x accepted meals at home: plain pasta w/parmesan, plain meatballs with nothing else (god forbid I serve with pasta), breaded chicken goujons), rotisserie chicken. He is still regularly topped up with porridge, weetabix and cheerios but I do limit these if he has refused an accepted meal.
I have food chained from here again recently and he will eat most types of roast meat (on it's own not accompanying things), steak and frites, pasta with bolognese sauce. However these are limited quantities and only served occasionally.
Most recently (after that poor lad in the news went blind), I said if he doesn't eat bolognese once a week he's not going on the xbox. That is actually working!! Started with one bite (yuk) and now up to about 10 bites (mum, this is actually ok but can i have some cheerios?)
Hope that helps! It really is so hard. I'm getting nowhere with the 6yo. Still very much in stage 1 of my steps above with him. I feel like writing him off as a lost cause and feeding him to the dog next door, lol.
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