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ds (3.5) eats very restricted diet - Help needed!

(7 Posts)
popcorn123 Thu 20-Aug-09 10:19:50

ds is 3.5 and has never been a great eater (unlike ds1 who eats everything and anything)

He was weaned onto pureed food (homemade) when he was about 5-6 months (no problem with that) and offereed finger food and a littleof what his brother was eating. He never took to proper solid food and didn't chew as such until he was well over 1 year.
I then felt obliged to keeo giving him some pureed food until about 18 months or so.

He has nevef liked new things and likes to eat the same things. He has never eaten meat since he stopped having pureed food despite it being offered in every imaginable form.

He doesn not eat any vegetables - as would eat apples/bananas/grapes/raisins etc until recently.

Now all he eats is

Breakfast cereal (will eat any )usually has shreddies/weetabix
Bread/toast - only with butter/soft cheese/cheese.
macaroni cheese
yogurts (only if no bits)
bisuicts/chocolate/vanilla ice cream - never refused
plain pasta

I have started to be much more strict and offer him 2 choiced which is likes like bread or banana - if doesn't want that he doesn't eat anything.
He is not underweight but is at the very slim end of normal.
He sleeps 12 hour no problem at night and is very active during the day and is developing fine.

I have always thought he had a mild phobia about food and new things and I know I have been too soft on him - he has always been offered what we eat but never does.
I have now realsied that it has turned into a bit if a control thing for him as he was explaining the other day that the pattern on teh apple was wrong therefore he couldn't eat it.
He is otherwise a very charming and easy to manage 3 year old who plays and interacts well, odd short lived tantrum now and then and sleeps no problem.

He is starting nursery at the moment and today he is staying for lunch for the first time. He has been very worried about it asking me if they have macaroni cheese and peach yogurts. He told the nursery teacher that he didn't want to stay for lunch and she said he could just eat toast he calmed down them but I was hoping that peer pressure would encourage him to be more experimental.

He often helps with cooking and baking - to no avail - yesterday he enthusiasticly helped to make carrot and raisin muffins took one look at them when they came out the oven and said "I don't like them " I only like chocolate crispie cakes and that was the end of that.

Please help - I want to encourage a wider range of food without making it an issue.
GP's are obsesses and ds says "I don't eat very well" I always say you eat fine you will learn to eat more as you get bigger.

Please help!

gingerbunny Thu 20-Aug-09 10:30:48

my son is just the same, although we have recently had a break through and will now eat raisins and breaded chicken and mash (if bribed). we have a star chart and everytime he tries something new he gets a star.
He has to try one mouth full of something new, and then the next time he has it he has to have two etc (unless he likes it then he eats away).
I started giving him the new things along side something i know he likes. If he doesn't try it there is no pudding and no supper. This was a battle for a few days but he soon got the message, he will at least try new things most of the time now.

Acanthus Thu 20-Aug-09 10:43:08

I hae a fussy eater. I never did a star chart for eating - I didn't want him to see eating as "good" or "bad" behaviour. I give him some stuff he does like with some stuff he doesn't, and insist he tries the new stuff. He normally doesn't eat it after he's tried it!

But he eats some food from all food groups (well, except nuts and oily fish...) and he has normal healthy mealtimes without stress modelled every single day. I truly believe I will get there in the end and he will eat normally and more widely than now as a teenager.

He is now 8 and eats pasta with tomato sauce, chicken, white fish, sausages, mince dishes, bacon, potatoes plain mashed or oven chips, bread of most types, carrots, green beans, broccoli, peas, baked beans, apples, strawberries, bananas, grapes, raisins, some cake, sweets, chocolate and ice cream (funny that!), yoghurt, cereal. Not cheese or anything eggy. Nothing with a cream sauce or in a casserole. But I don't think it's too bad.

shootfromthehip Thu 20-Aug-09 10:48:32

Sounds like my DD when she was younger. She would actually gag when asked to even try new things and never actually do it. I too think she was slightly phobic wrt food. So here's what I did- feel free to pick and choose any bits of it that you think are appropriate/ would be something you'd be willing to try.

1) Accept that you may have pandered to them and that stopping the pandering will be the only way to 'fix' these issues.

2) Accept that it took a long time to narrow the food types to the small numbers they eat now, and it will take as long to 'fix' the issue- systematic desensitization is a way of treating phobias and you are going to use the same principals with food as you would with any other phobia IMO (it took me a year of hard work to get DD eating in anyway similar to the rest of us)

3) Start small and reward all initial progress.

4) Make a 'new food chart'. Have a target of about 3 new foods a week and let them pick it up, feel it and eventually encourage them to lick it. If they refuse, then explain that they won't get a treat (I gave her 3-4 smarties for trying something new). If they get to the point where they are tasting it (she spat out a LOT of stuff)then they get a happy face beside the picture of the new food- a constant reminder of progress. This can take weeks.

5) Keep it positive- 'big up' their progress- phone their Dad/ grandparents and let them tell them. remind them that they have tried it before and they like this food.

6) Some people are 'supertasters' where they have heightened responses to foods and their tastes. This means that sharp tastes will be more extreme etc etc, your DS may or may not be like this but it will make tasting things difficult so keep trying.

7) let them try everything- when you are cooking and adding herbs/ condiments- let them try them all. They may or may not like it but they are trying stuff.

8) When you have made progress with tasting, don't adapt meals/ cater specifically for them. DD isn't keen on risotto for example but she will eat it and mainly eats the bit she prefers. BUT she is still eating exactly the same as us.

9) Take the pressure off food- make it fun and let them help you. Eventually the will ask if they can taste thing but this will be a long way down the road.

Wow, this is an essay!! It's SOooooo hard having a fussy eater. My DH and I love food, I cook everything and am always trying new things- it's also a big social thing for us and I found it very sad that DD never really seemed to enjoy anything we ate. It made life so hard and embarassing going anywhere, constantly having to explain that she didn't like this, that or the next thing. People think you are being fussy on their behalf but it's not that, you just know that they won't eat anything if they can't have what they like.

Anyway, I hope some of this has been useful- DD is now 5.4 and will eat Thai green curry, cassoulet, nearly all the veg we've been growing in the garden and a massive variety of other things. She can still be a bit picky re fruit and veg but she is light years away from where she was: polenta and truffle oil are one of her favourite dishes (get you emoticon).

Don't depair, it can be resolved but it will take an age- just keep at it and don't offer alternatives when they start to make progress. Good luck.

popcorn123 Thu 20-Aug-09 12:06:59

Thanks for all the great hints

shootfromthehip - I think I will have to go along similar lines with ds - he has never eaten well so it not a phase. I agree I have pandered to him to much thinking if I was laid back he would grow out of it and he gets stresses about going out to eat and wants to only go if they have chips or macaroni cheese.
gingerbunny - nice to hear from someone in the same boat. I have tried the well there is nothing else and he just goes to bed hungry and wakes up starving. I think stickers well help
Acanthus - that is exactly what I have been doing putting something he likes with something he doesn't like together it hasn'y been working (6 months of trying) but it sounds like your son has a really diet now -I can only dream that he will be the same.

Time to stop the pandering I think but accept that it will take a while.

gingerbunny Thu 20-Aug-09 17:55:15

I worry about my DS, as my cousins boy was the same and he is 15 now and still eats a very very limited diet and I don't want ds to become like this.
He weaned really well so it's so fustrating, but i do try and not make a big deal out of it in front of him.
My health visitor is really supportive and she makes my ds a certificate when he has been trying hard.
I think 'shoot' is right it will be a long road, but i'm hoping to get there eventually.

Acanthus Thu 20-Aug-09 19:49:12

I'd never get thai curry or cassoulet down DS2 envy

But I still think stress free mealtimes are the most important thing, plus the fact that a healthy varied diet is presented to him even if not eaten in its entirety.

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