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getting stuck in a rut with dd1's meals - any ideas?

(10 Posts)
silverfrog Fri 12-Sep-08 09:58:24

dd1's biggest 'routine' need is around her meals. she is quite controlling about them, but used to eat a fair variety of stuff. we are now down to spag bol and curry. oh, and biscuits, raisins, fruit bars, etc, but proper meals are non existent.

she will eat breakfast.

so, yesterday she had:

breakfast: rice porridge with fruit/raisins stirred in, and a coupkle of bowls of corn cereal + a few more raisins.

lunch: fishfingers - she ate about 3 bites, then had biscuit, blueberries, raisins.

tea: curry - she had half a dozen spoonfuls, then berries, biscuit, raisins (see a pattern here?) and wanted a coconut bar but I said no.

today is shaping up to be the same (and she is in a foul mood already, presumably the sugar rush dropping off).

the main problem with her is that, on past form, if she is refused something, she then will no longer eat it (even if it is her favouritest thing ever - hence me shopping around in bloody december to find blueberries - they are at least good for her!). She has stopped eating bananas because of this, and soup, and went off fruit abrs for a long while, and even doesn't eat cake now because I idn't give it to her once.

So, once she likes something, she tries very hard to incorporate itinto every meal (see pattern above with meal, then berries, then biscuit, then raisins - although she doesn't get a huge amount of any of these things), and although i try not to fall into this, I do get edgy as don't want her limiting foods too much.

so, what I need is suggestions for main meals, and suggestions as to how to rotate the 'extras' in dd's meals without her thinking I am refusing things.

I think that she is eatig too much at breakfast (first meal of the day, and all that, and also because of the knock on of not eating properly at tea the previous day) and so is staying fairly full all day and not getting properly hungry. but how can I get ehr down from brakfast still hungry? or should I limit breakfast, and go through a couple of days of tantrums while she readjusts her appetite?

oh, i wish there was a manual about all this...

r3dh3d Fri 12-Sep-08 10:25:00

Can you get hold of a book called "can't eat, won't eat"? It's entirely about ASD eating issues. It's a mum's survey of what problems are out there and what worked in practice rather than written by professionals. It doesn't have any easy answers. But it has so many stories in there you are bound to pick up some tips from someone in a similar situation.

One of the things that worked for us in very dire straits was switching meals around. DD1 at one point was eating only one meal a day - weetabix for breakfast. Refusing all else.

So I gave her cottage pie for breakfast which (under protest) she eventually ate. She got weetabix for lunch and we were up to 2 meals. I find breakfast the meal at which they are hungriest so you can push the envelope a bit (whatever that means blush).

silverfrog Fri 12-Sep-08 10:45:47

Thanks, i'll have a look fopr that book.

I had thought about switching meals around, but I'm not sure i wantto start the day on a tantrum - dd1 would not take kindly to the change... but I may consider it if she will at least eat something decent that way. (not looking forward to cooking curry for breakfast though <bleurgh emoticon>)

she does have supplements, so is gettign at least some vitamins and minerals that way, but they are supposed to be alongside actual food <sigh>

I think a crackdown on biscuits might be in order, too...

amber32002 Fri 12-Sep-08 13:02:25

I'm not any sort of expert on the psychology, but I can lend a thought or two about why meals can be a challenge.

Smell: Total sensory overload from the unfamiliar smells of something new.
Taste: Sensory overload from the taste of it.
Temperature: It might be scarily hot or scarily cold.
Texture: It might feel slippery or rough or sharp
Parent's reactions: "If I say or do something, mum might start reacting to it and then I have to concentrate on mum as well as the scary food. And sometimes if I don't want something she takes it away and then I've no idea if she'll do that the next time too, so it's safer not to want it. I can cope with foods that are scary in predictable ways, as I already know that curry will be burning and smelly, and raisins feel rough and fish fingers have a rough outside that hurts enough that I stop after just a bit of it."

Go for anything that's as low smell, as temperature-neutral and as soft to eat as possible, perhaps, in a really regular routine in which she can approach it as warily and quietly as a deer would approach something new in a forest. What's the room like where she's eating? Is there quiet and low background smells? It all helps take away some of the sensory overload.

If no luck, I'm guessing the docs may be able to recommend a supplement that could help?

silverfrog Fri 12-Sep-08 13:15:51

Thanks amber, some of what you say is true.

dd1 does have smell issues, and possibly some texture ones too (but texture not as bad as smell). there have been penty of things over the years that she has rejected on sight, i'm assuming because of smell (although curry has been a consistent favourite all her life hmm).

however, she was, until the last couple of months, eating well. her meals (other than fishfingers) were all sauce based, with either rice or pasta. she doesn't like potatoes, and won't eat bread/toast/etc. that's fine, I can deal with that, and we had a good range of foods going.

she used to eat:

fish pie
shepherds pie (weirdly, potato acceptable in these)
tomato/chicken/veg/rice thing
moroccan lamb (sometimes beef) stew - lots of cinnamon/all spice)
thai green curry
moroccan chicken soup
red lentil/tomato soup

as well as spag bol and curry (and in allof the above, i could vary veg - just chuck in whatever I had in the fridge). She really was a good eater (and good amounts too - she is a tall girl)

fishfingers she only had as she had them at nursery and liked them, and so i continued as they were the only 'dry' food that she would eat.

the whole not eating thing is really recent.

she is sitting at the same table, in the same room, with dd2 there as well (has been for over a year now) and nothing else has changed.

I thik I could probably tackle the main meal issue by cracking down on the biscuits and extras, but if I do that there is a high chance that she will stop eating the extras, and much as I don't want her to live off raisins, they are a useful snack at times.

I don't want to make this an issue - we have got this far by sheer luck (she is 4, and has always eaten really well - didn't bat an eyelid when I changed her foods to gluten free) the only problem we have had is with drinking (wholeother issue) and we seem to be winning there. BUT, I do not want her to be living off biscuits etc. She is tred and emotional today, and I think this is due to bad diet. she is getting enough sleep, but looks as though seh could do with an extra few hours each night (she sleeps 8.30pm - 7am minimum).

ho-hum, back to the drawing board...

r3dh3d Fri 12-Sep-08 13:49:06

DD1 is 4, too. And also used to eat everything during the "picky toddler" stage but started restricting much more about a year ago. I think it's partly texture (why else eat fish cakes, but not fish fingers - unless peeled?) but mostly I don't know what it is. I try to play to the texture thing as far as possible - she likes crunch so at the moment there's a lot of stuff in pastry.

Possibly restricting very very gradually would be the key? If she doesn't consciously realise the amount of biscuits has reduced then she may not have the adverse reaction?

We're on supplements too. I work on the basis that if the supplements are in, and enough calories and enough calcium, then anything over and above that is a bonus.

I'd love to know how you get the water in, though. No hope of that here!

silverfrog Fri 12-Sep-08 17:06:21

Thanks, r3dh3d. Maybe it is late onset of toddler pickiness? <clutches at straws>

dd definitely has a texture thing going on - she has had most of her meals as sauce based meals since she was about 12 months old due to drinking issues and trying to get liquids (in any form!) into her, and so she now doesn't really "do" dry foods. I do occasionally wonder whether to offer them more frequently now that she drinks a reasonable amount, but at the moment they would definitely be refused, so can't do it yet.

restricting gradually is a thought, but she only gets one biscuit after her meal, and think she'd notice if it was broken (although have never really tested this, so could give it a go)

on the drinkng front - sadly not water (she used to drink that, but won't anymore), I'm not sure what worked really. After nearly 3 years of practically tearing our hair out over it - the worst was after dd2 was born, when she did not drink a single drop of liquid for 9 months).

I can't even remember how it started - I ordered a couple of different rice drinks, and juices, in lunch box sized cartons, and she tentatively drank those. She used to drink a chocolate rice milk, but after not having it once when she asked, no longer does - she is down to a pear/pineapple juice mix, from a straw out of the carton only. I wish i could get her drinking from a cup (any sort!) so I could water it down, but for now, any liquid is better than no liquid.

When we went on holiday earlier this year, she did drink quite a few different juices from the carton, but not now we are home - but if she's done it once, she will (crossed fingers) do it again. She has also drunk water form her sister's sports bottle twice now (the barest of sips, but every drop counts!)

I reckon, on a good day, she now drinks about 200ml, plus milk on cereal/in porridge - not ideal, but a good start.

Thankfully, she has never been constipated from it, but I live in fear of her stopping again.

Marne Sat 13-Sep-08 09:41:48

Dd1 (as) seems to go by texture and temperature, she will only eat dry food which can be handdled, nothing in a sauce or gravy, so no soup, pasta etc.
She wont eat much meat as she says its to tough to chew, she will eat sausage and sometimes chicken. She won't touch any veg but will eat fruit.
Basicly she lives on fish fingers, sausages, garlic bread. She wont eat potato unless in the form of waffles, so no mash or rost potatoes (they are too rough)

I suplement dd with vitimans and i let her eat fruit as often as she likes (blueberries, strawberries and bananas (oranges are to juicy)

Dd2 (ASD) at the moment eats almost anything, hopefuly this will last, she has always been a pig. grin

UniS Sat 13-Sep-08 14:33:50

can she cope with seeing how many biscuits / raisins she may have in a day and when they are gone they are gone - box is empty.
So your not refusing to let her have them, there ARE no more to be had.
Also how far can you push the contents of a meal she will eat- how much like stir fry can curry become.... will she accept curry with nann bread as well as rice, then instead of rice.

silverfrog Mon 15-Sep-08 19:56:47

Thanks for all suggestions.

She is still not eating well, despite whittling down breakfast, and also drastically reducing snacks (she has taken the "half biscuit" well, thankfully).

she is clearly still hungry at the end of her meals, but has come down with a cold, and so that might be interfering with her sense of taste/smell.

UniS - she doesn't have the understanding for that kind of system - if I showed her her day's allocation of biscuit/raisins then she would assume that is for now, and still look for them at the next appointed time...

She did used to be very good at stretching meal boundaries in that way (curry to stir fry, etc) - that is what she has recently lost.

Oh well, hopefully it is a combination of full moon-ness and cold, and she will be back to eating again soon.

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