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Fussy (to the point of being ridiculous!) eater(18 Posts)
I am worried about my daughters eating habits, she's now 4 & her diet isn't great & I'm at my wits end. She's a lovely little girl, articulate, kind, thoughtful, sleeps well but is so stubborn when it comes to eating, I actually don't know what else to try.
She has always eaten fruit & cucumber but has only recently eaten peas & sweetcorn. I can't get any other veg in her. I can't liquidise it or hide it in any other foods as she won't eat them! She gags & often is sick if she puts any other veg in her mouth. I still put it on her plate, it results in a strop (every meal time) but she just won't eat or try anything new & says she doesn't like it (whatever it is, even when she's never tried it).
She eats cereals (& prefers plain puffed wheat, shredded wheat so the healthy ones), pasta (no sauce), bread (prefers wholemeal), she won't eat meat (apart from chicken nuggets or fingers...only processed ones, she refuses homemade) & wont eat potatoes (unless they're chips, processed ones...she refuses she home made).
She hasn't drunk milk (unless it's chocolate flavour which worries me due to the sugar content) since she was 16 months old as just wouldn't drink it. Yogurts she loves. She now has decided she won't eat cheese. So calcium wise, she doesn't get a lot.
She drinks water but I have to play games/race her with a glass to get her to drink any quantity.
I can get eggs into her by making pancakes. She loves toast (with jam or bovril) & about 8 weeks ago started eating sandwiches which was a result as I was sending her to preschool with a bread sandwich for lunch (a piece of bread, no butter).
We have tried sticker charts (& included items I know she will eat, e.g. Alphabites so she has some success) but she will not put anything new in her mouth.
We've taken away all treats (choc, ice cream etc), TV & are now trying removing toys.
I'm worried I'm being too harsh but I'm also worried that this diet will do her some harm. She recently had a DXA scan which shows that her bone density is on the poor side, not terrible but at the bottom of the scale. I've explained this to her & although we've had a good chat about it, she still won't try anything & is too young to totally understand. Long term, this could be really bad for her & it's my responsibility to get her to eat. She just seems to have a phobia of trying new food. I'd love her to eat a roast, spag bol, jacket potato, normal food. But when I serve her up the same as us, she doesn't eat. At all. I usually do a combination so make sure there are some things she likes on her plate, others she doesn't or doesn't know. Some nights I make sure her plate had chicken nuggets, chips & cucumber & then make a big fuss/reward her with treats as she'll eat all of that.
Sorry for the long post, I am at my wits end. I'm starting to wonder if she needs to see some sort of psychologist as it's ridiculous! It seems like a power thing at times, other times a phobia. Help!
Calling a GP/HV might be a good idea.
This is unlikely I think from what you've described, but I was like this as a child. I had terrible ENT issues (very deaf but only discovered when I was 8 or thereabouts) and have no sense of taste. That does make me rather fussy, as lots of food has a disgusting texture and without the taste, it isn't very nice (I hate all meat for example). No-one knew about the sense of taste until I was 14 and it made so much difference to me. As an adult, I mostly eat very spicy things. As I say, unlikely, but why I'd recommend seeking help rather than assuming its a power thing/phobia.
Good luck, it must be very tough (I understand why mum struggled).
Thank you! I appreciate your response! ive already spoken to HV so GP is an idea. She's on the 99th centile (& always has been) so she's not a tiny little thing but it's still not ok! X
I think you should stop with the removing of toys/treats - it's just going to make this into a bigger battlefield than it needs to be. She's not doing this to be naughty - if she wanted to be naughty there are easier ways to go about it. Don't make it emotional, IYSWIM - you'll just create more issues. Keep telling yourself that this is no big deal - do the bright and breezy thing - don't let her see that this is bothering you.
One of my (4) DCs was an incredibly fussy eater - it's only really been since he's gone to university that it's pretty much resolved. It was nothing I did or didn't do - same upbringing as his siblings who ate what they were given. He lived off pasta, yoghurts, bananas and toast with peanut butter, pretty much exclusively, for years and years. It drove me spare - but it's not a battle you can easily win. By just eventually throwing in the towel and giving him only what he would eat, it removed the stress of meals, and he did gradually start trying a few new things. It was a major win when he ate an apple.
One thing I did learn is that it's often about texture as much as taste - some kids are just hyper-sensitive to textures in their mouths.
That's good to hear, thank you! I'm consistent with her & worry people look down on me when they see her food 'choices' & think I give in to everything (I don't & apart from this issue, she is really well behaved).
I eat most things & just assumed she would too! I am hating the battles x
That isn't restrictive diet at all, much less "ridiculous". It's actually a quiet decent range -- much more than my youngest ate at 4yo.
I do wonder what people expect.
My friend (Indian, cooked curries, son would have none of them.) her 4yo son would only have dry cereal (no milk),
warm milk (to drink only),
chicken nuggets but never chips (she was delighted when he started eating chips),
plain pizza but only at right temp...
Some biscuits & some crisps.
Very little else!
That kind of thing gets ridiculous. Yet it's more variety than another child I can think of. You know your child has a restricted diet when you get super happy they tried a Wotsit.
I have a 4 year old dd. I am lucky in that some of the things she agrees she likes are fairly good for her - raw peppers, tomatoes, drinks milk.
She doesn't like new things, at all.
We now tend to try and do 'family tea' a few times a week where everything is in bowls in the middle of the table, so you take what you want. I always makes sure there is something she likes there, e.g. Roast potato (she likes them now as I told her she wasn't allowed them as they are too salty for children - so if course she then wanted them!) or bread and butter, but for the 'main' I don't push it. She has got a bit more Adventurous trying a little bit of things with this approach. Certainly seems to be better than when I dished up at the counter, and it removes the battle a bit. Simply a case of if you take it you try it, but don't worry if you don't. Any attempt at trying something gets lots of praise and attention, but there is lots of joking and saying things like 'you can't have that one its daddy's favourite and he wants to eat them alllll up etc'
lljkk I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking that's a pretty good diet
When Ds1 was younger he would eat - dairylea sandwiches, yoghurts (only a certain brand and only apricot flavour) cucumber chunks (chunks not slices!) sausages, beans and 1 type of biscuit - that's it!
If he'd have ate fishfingers chips peas and sweetcorn I think I'd have wet myself!
I think you need to relax, stop punishing her for something she ultimately can't really help and crept that there is a good range of food there
I'd still see your GP as it sounds like she may have some sensory issues, but in the mean time relax and stop making meal times a battle zone
Another who thinks that's not actually too bad! Better than my 9 year old anyway. So long as she is getting something from each main food group she will be fine. My DD is another chocolate milk drinker, although with her it's almond chocolate as she is dairy free, her dietician says not to worry! With regard to calcium can you get more fortified foods into her? Some orange juice has added calcium, as does some breads. Try not to stress about it, there are lots of healthy children around with much more limited diets and she may become more adventurous as she gets older.
I'm rather shocked you'd remove toys in this instance. It's a good way to give her a very unhealthy relstionship with food.
My daughter was very similar...even down to the foods she'd eat.
She's 9 now, the tallest in her class, absolutely strong and happy. Not overly skinny but very slim.
Some children are like this. Making her feel bad about it won't help.
Actually, don't worry about the calcium if she is eating yogurt. At 4 she only needs 452 mg a day which she can easily get from milk and yogurt. My DD is dairy and soya free and dietician is happy for her to get all her calcium from choc almond milk and fortified bread.
She sounds like a 4 year old, mine will eat carrots and peppers and slightly different toast toppings and will eat omelette and bacon. But he is far more adventurous at preschool with his friends (has tried more food there than at home). He also seems to not like trying new foods but I can see why, its scary.
His sister went through a stage at school of literally just having a ham sandwich at lunch at the same now. She grew out of it and now has a wide ranging diet (including sushi, curry etc).
I think you are being too harsh and really setting up a battle over something that you dont want to be a battle. Take a step back stop taking things away and stop making some foods better than others.
One thing though add in a vitamin both mine take one every day and that helps immensely
What sandwiches will she eat? Will she eat mini pizza (bread, tomato purée, cheese and tuna/chicken).
2 of my children are fussy but they both love fish. They also like tinned fish.
What about breaded white fish? It's a step towards eating whole fish but still looks like a giant fish finger.
We make sure we have Ella's pouches in - ds is 3 but still eats the brown prune one a couple of times a week, he loves it and it's an extra couple of portions.
We give ds the little shreddies (well Aldi ones) with Greek yoghurt on top. We then put sprinkles on (raisins, strawberries, nuts, seeds and anything else sprinkly)!
Make sure she gets a multivitamin daily and relax. The worst thing you can do is punish her for this. You need to take the pressure off and give it time. Keep offering her different foods and let her choose what to try.
My brother was a lot worse than your dd and the biggest mistake my parents made was making it into a battle. The harder they fought the harder he fought back until he barely ate anything. It turned into anorexia caused by a fear of food. Once he left home and was in control of his own diet, he started trying new things, and now has quite a varied diet.
I read somewhere about an approach that some dieticians use involving repeated tastings of the most miniscule portions, I mean match head sized, working for new flavours. With textures, I'm not sure what the current approach is but oral defensiveness is a thing and Occupational Therapists are bound to have some ideas about what to try. I would get googling and see what you can find. Bone density would probably be helped by extra Vitamin D, my Ds's can't swallow pills so we used a spray.
As others have said her diet is pretty good and you are probably not helping the situation by stressing about it.
My DS2 is very very similar. I am quite strict about treat food and sweet drinks as I feel they can "sicken" the palate for other things (he still does get treats plenty just we are careful and it's water with meals except for if we are out)
If you are worried about bone density I would try increasing the amount of walking and running she does as that will build bone mass. And being outside in sunlight gives you vitamin d unless skin is covered.
I'd be wary of calcium fortified foods I like bread. Calcium can make things taste chalky and the last thing you want to do is put her off bread or oranges when she can eat yogurt instead. Yogurt at breakfast and one for pudding/snack should be plenty of calcium.
Also don't be taken in by other parents' chat. Most children are fussy about certain things. Parents will loudly boast about all the things their children will eat or proclaim them not fussy. Reality is often very different.
Thank you! I get so many comments from friends/family about her 'poor diet' & how their children eat/ate much better than she does. & also they say they are surprised that I have allowed it to get this bad as I'm a teacher (not sure what that has to do with it especially as I teach secondary). Or that maybe its my fault that I went back to work when she was young/weaning (which I had no choice about)
Initially I thought it was fine but I've had so many comments & when we go to other people's houses for tea, they insist on pushing her into trying things/eating that I have got worries. They joke or are disapproving when she doesn't eat. She is polite & declines if she doesn't like something but people rarely seem to be happy to make her some toast or make her some plain pasta (hardly much effort or expensive). I often take her a picnic or packed lunch to ease my embarrassment but that gets laughed at too.
I'm glad you think she eats reasonbly well as I initially did & have been beaten down my people's comments & being told I should do something to sort it.
What's frustrating is that she is an incredibly well behaved little girl & I have friends who make out that their kids poor behaviour isn't as bad as her eating habits. It's the only thing I have to worry about with her & maybe that's why some 'friends' make an issue of it. Thanks, you've all given me something to think about & I'll be telling a few people to keep out/bugger off when it comes to how to deal with my child
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