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How tackle extreme fussy eating?

(26 Posts)
river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 06:31:45

Hi, not sure if this is the right board to post but seems the most appropriate. Dd now 12 suffered from severe reflux as baby and had it to a degree until about 3. We were advised by paediatrician at time that this can affect subconscious fear of food long term and not to make a big deal if it. We therefore opted to not ever force the issue - what she eats is a healthy but very limited range of food which has not expanded or changed in the last 6 yrs or so. For example she eats carrots and apples daily but no other veg/fruit and only a certain variety of apple etc. She has a healthy appetite.

She would like to be able to eat more variety (for health and social reasons) but is physically unable to try different foods ( she would gag). She has a somewhat anxious personality and I have a feeling that teen eating disorders wouldn't be far off if we forced things with her. For now, as I said, she has a healthy appetite.

We don't really know what approach to take given that this has been around for a long time and she clearly isn't growing out of it. She had some counselling for anxiety around friendships a couple of years back but as her eating is so rooted in the subconscious I am not convinced this would help much here.

Any advice? Thanks

autumnnightsahoy Tue 24-Oct-17 06:38:56

If she's gagging when certain foods are in/near her mouth then she has an oral aversion and probably should have had a course of oral desensitisation when she was little as aversion from severe reflux is extremely common. Not sure your doctor gave you the right advice there.

She will never just eat these foods she needs to get used to them being near her hands, face, mouth, teeth, tongue etc without gagging and panicking before even contemplating biting / chewing / swallowing. This can take years to overcome but it's great to hear she's keen to try as that's the hardest bit.

She could probably benefit from some psychology input as well to heal with the process.

I'm an SLT and I often have children on my books at 2-3 yrs old with this pattern and it takes years of perseverance on the parents part to have lots of no pressure food play, no praise for either trying or not trying and just lots of opportunity to touch different foods without the fear of being pressured into trying them.

river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 06:44:07

Thanks - I've just read it is called selective eating disorder?
When I say we haven't forced the issue I don't mean that we havent encouraged her to try foods, particularly when she was younger. We just haven't done what would have happened when I was a child i.e. If you don't eat what the family has you go hungry. She will nibble things but then immediately says she doesn't like them.

river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 06:47:12

She makes food in cookery etc at school quite happily bit with no intention of eating it. The gagging would only happen if forced.

What is a SLT? What kind of specialist should we be looking for? Many thanks for your help

eyeoresancerre Tue 24-Oct-17 06:52:53

I don’t know if you’re on Facebook but there’s a really good forum there. If you join there’s lots of practical advice and over 1000 members who have children with same issue.
It’s very difficult to know what to do so I sympathise madly with you as we have been having the same ongoing issue with our DS.
Hope the link works.

river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 06:55:57


Sirzy Tue 24-Oct-17 06:57:17

I think the fact she is at the point of putting things in her mouth is a good start.

What foods will she eat?

hazeyjane Tue 24-Oct-17 07:00:16

My ds (7) has an extremely restricted diet. He has to have fortified drinks and puddings, as his growth has faltered. He is under the hospital dieticians and has seen a speech therapist and OT who had input about sensory issues and oral motor skills.

I can't see that link eyeoresancerre - could you let me know what the name is of that group?

Sirzy Tue 24-Oct-17 07:05:05

Hazey it is called “ selective eating or picky eating?” I have just requested to join

river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 07:24:08

Sirzy - she's eatennsame food for years - we are vegetarian so that further limits things but basically she eats the following.

Baked beans, homemade quorn bolognaise if I liquidise the tomatoes and onions! Houmous, nuts, carrots, apples, quorn, milk and cereal products, cheese, quinoa, pasta, bread etc. Doesn't drink anything but water or eat anything sweet apart from chocolate.

hazeyjane Tue 24-Oct-17 07:54:53

Thankyou Sirzy, found it and have requested to join. We are at a point with ds, where he is just not taking in enough, and what he is taking in is pretty lacking in nutrition. I am just grateful he would accept the fortified orange juice, and one flavour of pudding!

river1, the food she eats sounds nutritious, and a range of textures which is good.

eyeoresancerre Tue 24-Oct-17 10:15:50

We seem to take a baby step forward so often and then 3 steps back. I’ve given DS a Holland and Barrett kids multivitamin with iron everyday since 2yrs. Makes me worry less about vitamins etc when he’s only eating white bread and hummous for the 3rd day.
Think they are 10 pounds for 150 so not too bad price wise.
SED or AFRID which is food avoidance is quite a huge subject but most Drs say it’s fussy eating and it’s just a phase. It’s a bloody long phases for my son!

hazeyjane Tue 24-Oct-17 10:40:06

Ds won't take any multivitamins, and has no fruit or veg at all (although he is obsessed with orange juice), he also only has tiny amount of protein and won't touch milk. Hence the fortified drinks.

Sirzy Tue 24-Oct-17 10:51:19

Thankfully ds sees his multivitamin and calcium supplement as medicines so happily takes them along with all of his others!

His diet pretty much consists of brown toast (right brand!) with strawberry jam, hot dog (sausage only not bread), tuna jackets and chips!

Sirzy Tue 24-Oct-17 10:52:12

He has high calorie drinks too as what he does eat he doesn’t eat much of he never seems to feel hungry so one slice of toast and half a jacket potato would be a good eating day!

DaisyRaine90 Tue 24-Oct-17 10:52:34

My brother used to eat only about 7 foods. Now he eats anything 😊 well, almost...

eyeoresancerre Tue 24-Oct-17 13:54:25

Hazeyjane that sounds really tricky. Are the fortified drinks on prescription or can I get them at a shop?

eyeoresancerre Tue 24-Oct-17 13:55:09

DaisyRaine90. I’m glad, to be honest I l

eyeoresancerre Tue 24-Oct-17 13:56:31

Sorry posted too soon. I live in hope that I’ll be able to say something like that. I’ve made my peace that it may not happen but that is my secret dream to be able to say that in 10 Years. X

river1 Tue 24-Oct-17 15:45:35

Sorry to see so many of you dealing with this. We are lucky in that so far DDs diet hasn't been too bad and so doesn't appear to have harmed her.

Has anyone come across Felix Economakis?

applecharlotte Tue 24-Oct-17 15:54:44


Have a look at 'Sensory Food Aversion'. Some kids develop very rigid food rules and won't eat foods outside of those rules (sometimes for not reason, sometimes triggered by an illness or linked to a wider developmental issue such as ASD etc). My DS 6 gags if he is trying foods that aren't either smooth and wet or lumpy and dry.

We got a referral from the doctor to the local childrens SLT/Eating issues clinic and I can't tell you how helpful it has been. We have just completed some parent workshops that were full of strategies to get children with SFA to try new foods. It was also really comforting meeting other parents of children with similar issues. Some were much more extreme and there were parents of teenagers there.. its a long process to change their thinking round food but I'm feeling very hopeful. I spent 5 years googling this stuff and speaking to doctors and couldn't find any help or anyone else with similar eating issues.

If anyone would like to see the handouts we got DM me your email address and I'll send them over.

(sorry this has been written v fast!)

hazeyjane Tue 24-Oct-17 19:46:17

eyesore they are Nutricia drinks/puddings prescribed by the dietician. They're horrible really, full of sugar, but high calorie and a 'complete food' so containing lots of vitamins, protein etc.

eyeoresancerre Wed 25-Oct-17 20:21:35

Thanks* hazeyjane* they sound good actually.** I feel we are way past worrying about sugar at the moment. I kind of think that’s a problem to be dealt with at a later date. My son is v underweight so any extra calories help.

hazeyjane Wed 25-Oct-17 20:31:59

I know, I feel the same about needing the calories. Although Ds also has problems with his teeth (lack of enamel) and has already had 4 out, and his dentist said these drinks are a nightmare for teeth. I suppose I just want ds to keep eating food food (however restricted) rather than meal replacements, we narrowly avoided tube feeding (due to aspiration) when he was younger, and it has been mentioned again recently as a way of getting fluids into him (severe constipation).

However.....Today ds had a sip of dd1's milkshake in a cafe! He didn't gag, he even said he liked it! Progress!!

eyeoresancerre Wed 25-Oct-17 21:43:53

You must be really pleased. I love those moments when they try something new. I want to shout it to everyone.
Now will you do what I do and rush out and buy every type of milkshake available in all flavours and textures just in case!
But seriously what a good day for you. X

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