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Getting DD to try more food

(26 Posts)
FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 16:16:34

Hi all

DD (4) has ASD (HF). She's making excellent progress with her language and social skills. I'd like to work on widening her accepted foods if at all possible. She won't eat any fruit, very little veg and not much meat. She is growing fine, although I do worry about her getting all the nutrition she needs. I also worry how she'll cope with lunches when she starts school.

She now eats pasta after a very slow, gentle approach but she just won't put things in her mouth to try them, even when she's enjoyed them in the past. If we take the same slow approach it feels like she'll take forever to broaden her palate.

Has anybody found a way of getting their child to try more foods? Or any stories of how your child used to be an awkward eater and is now a foodie? I love food and wish she would too!

user1483945709 Wed 18-Jan-17 16:34:56

At 4 ds's diet was extremely restricted. 'Beige' food chips, dry bread, dry breakfast cereal, crisps and not much else, day in, day out. Same thing for every meal. He was severely anemic.

We tried dieticians, specialist food clinics, CAMHS food group. We tried introducing food slowly, menus etc. I read books etc. Nothing really helped.

Ds is now 13 and eats a much wider diet. I have found time, more knowledge of food and what is healthy has helped. The biggest thing has been ds WANTING to try new foods of his own free will. So I think control and not liking change is a big thing to be worked around. Pushing just made ds more anxious about food.

I would give choices and try to keep new food similar, with agreement from dc, being the important thing.

Packed lunch, instead of school dinner?

FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 16:40:55

Thanks - that gives me some hope. We are definitely not pushing, it's just frustrating when she won't eat something that she has eaten happily in the past. I send her with a packed lunch a couple of days a week to pre-school but it's generally carbs 3 ways. She does like some strong flavours eg piccalilli, HP sauce (which she'll quite happily eat with a spoon), so I think there may be a textural issue as well as control. I think I need to find ways to increase her exposure to different foods in a non-meal way.

user1483945709 Wed 18-Jan-17 16:49:09

Ds would do that, if he did accept a new food, he would drop an old food! So never increased! It's was like he could only tolerate having 5 foods in his diet at any time.

Yep, texture was/is a big thing for ds, no mixed textures, no sloppy, no food touching etc.

Have you tried taking your dd shopping, give her a basket and letting her choose? Ds loves this

FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 17:10:15

DD is a fabulous shopper - she loves helping me and choosing fruit & veg. She says "bananas" with such enthusiasm. It's such a shame one has never passed her lips (although banana chips and banana yogurt have been eaten at times)! I will try to find more cooking we could do together. She loves making chocolate chip cookies. Although we're about to embark on kitchen refurbishment!

user1483945709 Wed 18-Jan-17 17:20:52

Sorry my first post sounded a bit doom and gloom! Just because certain things didn't help my ds, doesn't mean it won't help your dd smile

We did try a menu with ds, like a card with pictures of food on it. It had his usual food on it, a few new foods. So he would pick his old food and one new food to try. It worked in as much as he would try a new food, but never got any further than just trying or excluding an old food!

We tried smelling, touching, licking and tasting a new food. I found if he wouldn't touch a new food, it wouldn't go near his mouth. So touching and the feel of food food was important to ds. This might be worth a try. It might show that it's the smell or feel or both which is important to your dd.

FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 17:51:28

Don't worry, I've found your input helpful, it's good to bounce ideas around. DD will decide whether to touch a food or not based upon its appearance and maybe smell, although she never smells things when I ask her to. I wonder if that's something to investigate a bit more.

New development : she wants to dip her finger in the (tangerine bubbles) bath water and lick it. Must try the same with food!!!

user1483945709 Wed 18-Jan-17 18:05:39

Same for ds, if he doesn't like the look of it, he won't touch it. In order for it to go near his mouth, he has to touch it. Won't use a knife or fork either. All finger foods! Ds seems to have no sense of smell.

It's all very sensory isn't it.

You have to laugh, won't put food in their mouths, but want to eat bubbles grin ds wanted to taste paint!

Good luck with the finger dipping!

tartanterror Wed 18-Jan-17 18:08:13

Stop trying to get her to eat. Concentrate instead on offering nice foods and making mealtimes pleasant - sometimes the pressure to eat can make the whole experience of meals aversive. If a child avoids mealtimes they also miss out on a lot of social stuff.

We have massive problems with food and spent years "trying" - therefore failing and feeling stressed. We heard about Ellen Satter's Division of Responsibility and it helped us live with it. Parents decide what/where/when of meals and the child decides if/how much to eat. Serve buffet-style in dishes on the table for helping yourselves. Say what things are but don't "offer". Don't put things on to plates - self service only! Consider splitting up meals into constituent parts - i.e. Pasta in one bowl and sauce in another. Offer tools like cutlery and tooth picks so the food doesn't have to be touched. Always offer at least 2 things that each person can eat. Try to make it look like a coherent meal rather than "catering" to the selective eaters.

Get to a stage where mealtimes are happy and relaxed then consider expansion by offering. Best done away from mealtimes but see what works. Have a reward chart for steps to eating - look/touch/lick/taste. Expect to do all this hundreds of times.

Over years DS added chicken, pork crackling and melon to his repertoire but it was SLOW!! I reckon he will get there at about 18 once he is in full control and decides he is ready. Good luck and get to "zen" with it all as quick as you can for your own sanity! Good luck

user1483945709 Wed 18-Jan-17 18:31:18

Tartan hope you don't mind me asking, how would that work with an extremely restricted diet i.e. For example child will only eat one type of breakfast cereal, no milk. Lunch dry bread, no butter. Dinner chips.

Same thing every single meal time.

FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 18:38:19

Tartan - meals are happy and pressure free. We do put food on her plate, but if she doesn't want anything then she'll either offload it or leave it. There's no pressure to try anything, but we do tell her what everything is and if it's similar to something else that she likes then we tell her. Eg these are sausage meatballs. We also often put a yogurt out at the start. In fact she began eating pasta by eating yogurt first! It's the expansion bit I need help with, so I will take on board your advice and hope it helps. Is just gutting to know she used to eat a wide variety of food and now she won't sad.

starfishmummy Wed 18-Jan-17 19:35:32

With ds we just made sure that he had something we knew he would eat and there would be other food - that dh and I were eating- which he could try if he wanted. Hes 18 now and there is still stuff he refuses to try - but he does have a reasonable variety and loves his fruit and veg!

tartanterror Wed 18-Jan-17 20:44:00

Sounds like you are on the right track Flossie but just expect a glacial pace and then anything better is a success! Our DS ate a better range until 18m-2y (no "normal" textures tho) and then the restrictions really kicked in and we dropped foods consistently over the next 2 years - it was nerve wracking.

user with a diet that tight you don't have a lot of room to manoeuvre so I'd offer preferred foods/brands at each meal but try to do "food chaining". So with the cereal pick another almost identical cereal from another brand and offer it alongside the preferred kind or I'd offer same (trusted?) brand but different cereal. Try making the smallest possible next adjustment. I imagine that would take a lot of offers to be considered but it might work eventually.

My DS is less extreme than your DC but his only variety is in the type of dry carbs which are acceptable. No veg, fruit or meat - he is still the boy occasionally on tiny bits of roast chicken or the occasional nugget/part nugget. When he was maybe 3 I decided to try to get him on to pizza as that's such a ubiquitous food. I started by making a flat dough base and later put the thinnest smearing of passata & baked it dry. Over about 2 years I was able to microscopically shift the passata to a normalish thickness although still quite dry. One day we got caught out and had to eat in a shopping centre. Cue desperation trying to find an acceptable thing as for some reason chips were in short supply. A pizza place had a Pizza Rosso (no cheese) on its board so we took a chance and although I asked for it "dry" it was definitely not! DH and I studiously looked away (braced for failure!!) as DS examined it. Shock - then tried it! That was about age 5. That was liberating for all of us as it meant we could eat out. He now likes Pizza express and can eat a whole kids menu only omitting cheese from the pizza (as he likes brownies). Over the last year he's expanded again to have dough balls (at home) dunked in warm passata. I'm hoping this might lead on to ketchup but that's defo a long-term project....

With chips and potatoes I've tried to expand into different shapes/forms but it's difficult to get things uniform enough in appearance to satisfy him. So often if I get him to accept one form, another type will drop off the list. He eats potato waffles so we bought a waffle maker and tried sweet ones which have been a moderate success as we can get egg into him that way.

Going to great ormond st feeding disorder team helped last year. No real effect on him but more for me and DH. They put him on prescription vitamins which has saved our sanity. We mix mango as smoothies and chocolate milk (almost straight double cream) at home so can add supplements to them if careful about colour/taste/texture. NutriBullet is a wonder for getting no lumps! The GOSH reward charts got him to like melon but getting a ready supply of perfect ripe melon in the right colour/consistency is almost impossible so he doesn't eat much - but I still claim it as a victory!

As I said glacial.... I try to remain zen and offer experimental things when I feel up to the emotional investment.

Any help?

FlossieFrog Wed 18-Jan-17 21:58:54

Tartan - thanks, my DD also did the dropping foods thing around 18-24 months. We seem to have the opposite issue to you - she will eat ketchup but not passata! She was dipping peas in HP sauce for dinner grin. Quite resolute that she didn't want mayo or tartare sauce though. And she was asking for sweetcorn at dinner despite leaving the sweetcorn I put in her packed lunch. I shall proceed glacially.

user1483945709 Thu 19-Jan-17 06:39:25

Tartan yes thanks for explaining. 'Food chaining' is something I did try, back in day, without realising that what's it was called! Also much of what you described we did try.

Ds's eating is much better now, although still restrictive. Not sure if it's due to anything I tried!

Thanks again

user1483945709 Thu 19-Jan-17 06:43:40

Flossie that's interesting that your dd used to a wide range and now doesn't?

What happened? Can you think of a time when it changed?

My ds never ate a wide range.

tartanterror Thu 19-Jan-17 19:25:14

There is a natural fear of food in most children which develops around 18-24m when the drop accepted foods. ASD children can take this to the extreme or have a smaller range to start with. Normal fussy eaters tend to start broadening their range out around 5-6y. Apparently around age 8 is another good time and age 13-16, then late teens. Fingers crossed for all our DC then eh?!

user1483945709 Thu 19-Jan-17 19:52:51

Oh interesting I never knew that. My ds was like it from the moment I started to introduce solids as a baby. He would only eat two types of baby food and it had to be that brand too. Wouldn't eat lumps etc and on and on it went! He was extremely extreme!

I'm not sure what happened really, it seemed to happen overnight, aged about 12, he started to ask to try new things! His diet is still restrictive, but much improved.

OT/hospital told me it was a sensory thing. CAMHS an anxiety thing. So kinda sensory imbalance, making him anxious about food.

Yes fingers crossed, I'm sure we will all get there or thereabouts in the end!

FlossieFrog Thu 19-Jan-17 20:48:37

I think DD was just as tartan said. She would chew pretty much anything (except banana) when we did BLW, but around 18-24 months she dropped lots of foods and was suspicious of new things. She ate (and enjoyed) mango and vanilla yogurt tonight when told there was no more apricot! It's just so frustrating that she would have that without a second thought, but won't try other things she has eaten in the past. I think food from containers/packets is more appealing than my home cooked food!

user1483945709 Fri 20-Jan-17 06:41:59

grin Flossie, try put your food in containers!!

DandelionAndBedrock Fri 20-Jan-17 07:02:13

I worked with a child with food issues, and the advice I was given from a borough specialist in autism was to stop expecting the child to eat, and start finding ways to engage with food and play with it - cold pasta dyed with food dye to be sorted into different colours, fishing things out of water with tongs/tweezers/slotted spoons, potato printing, carrot printing/anything printing (rice cakes make interesting patterns).if you are on Pinterest, google "sensory food play".

I was told it might take a month or so to get the child to properly engage with playing and that I shouldn't expect it to have an effect on eating for a while, but it has really helped. I realise it doesn't help in the short term though.

tartanterror Sat 21-Jan-17 12:14:10

Oh yes - brands are much more reliable and consistent (therefore safer than home cooking!) - so depressing for us mammas. That is all part of it - safety, security, reliability.

Playing with food - completely fine with that. Science experiments with spaghetti - yup. Move on to eat the stuff - not a bliddy chance!

The thing is that when food is tricky and each mealtime stressful, the last thing I want to do is then fill up the "playtime" between meals with therapeutic stuff on food that has no effect on DS. The play stuff does work on DD - as does the shopping/growing/cooking/baking etc - but on DS it just extends the misery to the rest of the day and is just not positive.

My latest technique is to suggest he tries something new at mealtimes if I know it is pretty close to something he likes or has liked. That seems to work best. He is building up confidence that he can taste a little of a new food and not have me insist he eats it.

Inspired by this thread, I think thought I would see if I could make moves on omelette. He did for a while eat a thin smearing of boiled egg yolk on toast but hasn't for ages (there is a micro-difference in texture between 2 parts of the yolk - apparently). So he likes the taste of it, but the two-tone colour puts him off (I think). One of our meals is a potato & pea fritatta that DD likes and I offer a serving of plain fried potatoes on the side (mainly for DS but available for all). DS is nearly 8 and I asked if he would like to taste the fritatta. He took a tiny bit of crisy/brown egg from the side and said he would like it. I asked if he would like a plain omelette next time - he said he would like a potato omelette (with the potatoes arranged in a particular shape - I said I couldn't do that) so I quickly knocked up a 1 egg omelette in a mini-pan. He tasted a bit from the edge again and liked it but said he didn't want to see much yellow. We have agreed that next time I will flip it over and try to carmelise the top..... sigh .....tiny steps.

user glad to hear about age 12 - I'm very encouraged smile

Ineedmorepatience Sat 21-Jan-17 13:08:15

This article might help OP

network.autism.org.uk/knowledge/insight-opinion/understanding-and-managing-eating-issues-autism-spectrum

user1483945709 Sat 21-Jan-17 13:47:53

Tartan, I really would really like to say x, y, z really worked wonders for ds. However, I don't think the improvement has had much to do with anything I've tried! And I think we have tried just about everything, food play, messy play, tiny changes, just tolerating food near him, menus, CAMHS counselling, specialist feeding clinics etc, etc.

I think as ds as got older he is more aware of his food issues and realises a) he doesn't eat like others do and b) what is healthy and why you eat.

Ds even ordered steak in a restaurant and ate most of it! I never thought that day would come! After not eating any meat for 12 years!

FlossieFrog Sat 21-Jan-17 15:03:39

We had lunch in pizza express today. DD ate quite a lot of plain pasta and a chocolate brownie. It was awesome! Only a few months ago pasta was off the menu for her, so I will definitely consider it a win! Now we just need to get her to have some sauce with her pasta...

Thanks for the links and ideas to try, I will read through and work out what to try next!

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