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Does anyone have an older child who's a 'fussy eater'?

(13 Posts)
hairycabbage Sun 25-Aug-19 12:36:38

My ds is 11 and has always been selective about what he eats but I always assumed he'd grow out of it...
Has anyone got any tips on how to encourage him to eat a wider range of food? He's always had an issue with sensations (loosely diagnosed with OCD and Tourette's when younger but is under control just now) and doesn't like the feel of things in his mouth so he won't even try things if he decides he doesn't like them.
He won't eat any kind of sauces, baked beans, jam, jelly, egg, spicy food, lots of cakes/ puddings, most fruit and veg and only occasionally has bread/ wraps. He eats cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, most meats, plain pizza, apples and bananas. He'll sometimes eat a pie or casserole but picks all the veg out. Basically anything plain is ok!
I'm genuinely worried that when he starts secondary school there will be days where there is nothing in the canteen that he will eat.
I've tried bribery, gentle encouragement, hiding healthy food but I think it's almost a phobia as he simply refuses to try anything outside of his comfort zone.
FWIW we have two other dc who eat anything and everything!
Anyone who can offer advice, experiences etc please do post!£

GummyGoddess Sun 25-Aug-19 12:43:47

ARFID? I have it and hypnotherapy has helped a bit but I will never eat like a normal person. Pressure makes it even worse, I'd rather starve.

OvalCanvas Sun 25-Aug-19 12:51:44

My middle child is a fussy eater , she's 12. Whilst I'm aware that your son's food issues run deeper than hers , what's really helped my daughter is learning to prepare her favourite things. If she doesn't want what we're eating she simply cooks for herself. Would this be an option for you?

OvalCanvas Sun 25-Aug-19 12:54:06

Oh , and I've always given her a packed lunch as she's always been anxious about the canteen menu being something she hates. She now makes her own.

Annasgirl Sun 25-Aug-19 13:01:06

Yes OP, my DS who is 12 is like this. He is very fussy. I worried that he would never eat and have difficulty when he went out more and had a longer say at school which happened last year. He still does not eat a wide variety, but he is now very hungry all the time so he eats a lot of what he usually eats (pasta, rice, plain burger, cereal - basically anything white! - no veg ever). He has also, very slowly and on his own initiative, started to try more food (but only when he decides, and DH and I don't interfere). So last week we were at a family day out and I took the kids to MCDonalds for food (once a year birthday event, we literally never go there as he eats nothing) and he was so hungry after the birthday treat (a climbing day) that he ordered 2 Big Macs (with no topping) and he ate them both!!! (I was thrilled - I never thought I would see the day when m son eating 2 Big Macs would be a cause for celebration, but life changes us)

Also, my cousin, who is 6ft 5in and very healthy adult, was a very, very fussy eater until he was 20, according to his mum, and he only ate potatoes and sausages for dinner every day. He never ate veg.

So, be calm, ask him to get more involved in his food preparation (because it becomes a pain having to prepare 2 dinners constantly,) and show him how to prepare basics (like toast, French toast or something that he likes) and he can at least grab that as soon as he comes home from school and if he eats a large breakfast and takes a small lunch that will see him through.

tarheelbaby Sun 25-Aug-19 13:14:43

With all the best wishes in the world, I think you just have to let him get on with it because that's part of what secondary school is about - coping with the real world. Let him rise to the challenges in his own way.

Well done to you for dealing with his issues patiently. It can seem like catering and mollycoddling but it's a serious thing for him. My DD (starting yr8) is not as picky as your DS but she does have a short list of acceptable foods (equally as seemingly random as your DS's) and when we are on holiday we struggle to find restaurants where we can enjoy interesting food but she is also able to cope. Her secondary school has a wide range of options and she has managed to find things she likes. She has even tried and liked some new things on friends' recommendations!

From your DS's list, I think he'll be able to eat most of the main meal most days: pasta, meats, potatoes. Would it work for him to bring his own snacks/packed lunch some days? Now that he's a big yr7, he could start doing that for himself. If you are worried about nutrition, you could make sure that meals/snacks at home included extra of his preferred fruits/veg. I do this with my DD.

An adult family friend has food/texture issues. He says that his parents forced him to eat things and punished him when he gagged or vomited! But when he discovered girls, he taught himself to eat some foods in restaurants so he could go on dates. Now he can eat most things but still avoids plenty, especially fruit. His 11yr old DS is similar: he's been eating mainly pureed sweet potatoes, peanut butter and blueberries his whole life. As PP says, he'd rather just go hungry and it's not really a choice - he can't force the food down. His foods are so limited that a few years ago his teeth were all loose. The doctors were baffled but his dad realised he had scurvy!! so now mixes vitamin solution into his squash.

hairycabbage Sun 25-Aug-19 15:15:46

Thanks everyone. He does usually take a packed lunch (and makes it himself but I would regularly check it and find a single pork pie and a banana or similar!). I'm just thinking it would be nice to have the option to eat in the canteen if his new friends are too. He manages to eat at least part of all the meals I cook but it would be nice to see him eat a more varied diet. As a pp said he would rather not eat at all than eat something he didn't like the look or smell of; he loves cooking and will prepare a meal but simply refuse to try it.
Maybe it will improve with maturity hmm

ShippingNews Sun 25-Aug-19 15:23:33

He seems to be eating quite a lot of foods - I wouldn't worry about him at all. My son is 30 and he still eats about the same as your DS - he has always just managed his own diet and is perfectly healthy . I remember once he went to a friend's wedding , and couldn't eat any of the fancy food that was on offer. He ducked out and walked to a convenience store and bought a hot beef roll, then walked back to the wedding . We still joke about it !

kateandme Sun 25-Aug-19 15:34:17

i would get him involved if you can.
could you say you want to try some new meals/foods to interest the family so its not singling him out.and would he help you cook/choose find some recpies/foods
tell him you want to make him comfortable so can you come up wth some recipes together.
would he eat things like torilini
chicken and bacon pie
puff pastry pizza slices

also when they become intwined in the behaviors and and certain safeness it can be so hard to break.especially if their is previous of ocd can be a very hard illness to fight against no matter how stepping away and in front of others whenthey have known him to be like this for so long can be so hard.
could you try hve a list/notepad for if he wants to and feels able he can write down any food/recipe/cocern for you to look at.this is less out there then/less confrontational and might be easier.
is your dc worried.have you spoken about it?is their anythign you coudl try together.anything he wants help with.this then puts it in his control.

DelphiniumBlue Sun 25-Aug-19 15:36:48

Best tip I ever got was that fussy eaters need to get used to seeing small amounts of a new food on their plates several times before you even suggest that they try it. So, say 5 peas on the plate,alongside the rest of the meal and no comment about them eating it, for about 10 days running. Then ask them to eat a really small amount.
Another thing that helped was finding out what they objected to - if its texture, try offering raw food , mine would eat raw but not cooked carrots and tomatoes ( eventually) and even now as young adults will prefer raw spinach to cooked.
My oldest was very fussy as a child and didn't really eat a full range until his late teens. It was extremely annoying and I did feel it limited us as a family, like where we could go to eat out. I tried to downplay it and not create fights over food, but with hindsight I think one can be too accommodating.
Don't worry about secondary school, I'm sure there'll be something in the whole canteen that he can eat, and if not he can take a packed lunch. His choice.

DonPablo Sun 25-Aug-19 15:39:30

My son was fussy until secondary school. No underlying reason. He discovered sushi and as a result will now try almost anything. Especially if it is japanese in some way!

He discovered a live of spice through eating bombay mix. He had some and felt like his mouth was on fire and got all worried. When he realised it soon went, he was off.... Couldn't get enough!

He still won't eat a tomato, but hey, we can eat curry and all sorts of stuff now that he wouldn't have dreamed of even trying before.

Maybe you could get your ds into a cuisine in a sideways way? It was his love of anime that strayed his food adventure off....

hairycabbage Sun 25-Aug-19 19:57:06

Thank you everyone for the wise words. Ds is absolutely fabulous and gradually has explored new food over the years but it is a very very slow process- it took three years for him to try ice cream and he only tasted a strawberry for the first time last month (and he won't be eating any more!).
The OCD is more or less under control; it was hygiene and germ related and he's ok for now but I suspect it's all linked as he feels safe with what he knows.
We had a bbq tonight and he ate two steaks, a sausage and some cucumber but avoided the pasta, salads, sauces and bread but it isn't the worst meal in the world!
For now, it doesn't appear to bother or worry him but as suggested I think I'll try experimenting with what he knows, eg adding veg to his favourite macaroni cheese and encourage him to come up with ideas.
Thanks again

kateandme Sun 25-Aug-19 23:32:21

doing variants on mac and cheese worked great here.
adding meatballs.
it can become a baked ziti type thing too whihc is basically mac and cheese with spagbol mixed in.(seriously is way nicer than it sounds.
bacon to mac and cheese
tomatoes and peppers.
a fave with the kids is also a layer of salmon on the bottom of the dish then your mac and cheese on top.(allthough he has to have salad cream with this!)

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