Author Topic: Fussy eater getting worse - help!  (Read 2973 times)

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Offline Kellyjs

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Fussy eater getting worse - help!
« on: January 04, 2018, 07:30:06 am »
Hello lovely ladies,

Admin please feel free to move this post as I was unsure whether to post here or in schoolers.

Sorry, yet again for being quiet, life has quite literally taken over since moving 😩. The reason for the post this time is that I desperately need some help with DD. She is 4yrs old now.  Born in July so technically 4.5 now (where did my baby go??  :o).

Her fussy eating has gotten from bad to worse. Usually it has gone in phases and weíve gotten through it, but I fear now weíre at breaking point. When I was pregnant with DS and during the upheaval of living with my parents for a bit I went with the easy option of only doing dinners sheíd eat. For th last year, Iíve tried to introduce new foods with mixed reactions. Now, Iím ashamed to say itís now resulted in her eating barely anything with me screaming at her that Iím worried about her health, sitting on her naughty step away from the family dinner time, no tv, toys consificated, no new dance class that she wanted to start this year etc etc.
Iíve tried everything. We went through a lovely period a few months ago where she was rewarded a star for her chart and after every 4 meals, she received a reading book (she adores reading), complete the sheet, of 4 sets of 4, she got a spot the difference book. That worked well for a bit, but again I got into the habit of only cooking about 6 different meals 🙄.
I just donít know what to do anymore, if I keep reacting the way Iím doing I think Iíll create an eating disorder, And/or damage our relationship. Sheís at school now, started in September so we do get limited time to reconnect 😢.
The pattern of foods donít make any sense. Sometimes it appears to be texture like pasta... she hates it, so I donít cook with it. Iím not too keen on it so I live with that one. Soup, some days Sheíll eat it, some days not.  Makes a real fuss until she gets bread to eat with it, then will eat a whole bowl! Curry is the same with naan bread, says she hates stir fry as itís mixed together? But then will refuse a typical meat and two veg meal like last night with fish and sweet potato?

What do I do ladies, I hate this constant battle with food? DH is not helping either as heís as upset as I am so weíre not balancing each other out on this one. I need a plan, someone that has least been through this before?

Thanks is advance,
Kelly xx

Offline Buntybear

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Re: Fussy eater getting worse - help!
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2018, 19:05:08 pm »
Oh wow big hugs. Olly is going through a phase at the moment too (saw a video about choking at school) and so we are down to a handful of meals (pizza 3 times this week!). My nephew will eat only honey sandwiches and yorkshire pudding with peas so please don't think you are alone! I am sick of me going on about healthy eating to him and we have just agreed over pizza that from Monday(back at school) that we are going to try more foods!

Please please do try not to shout or punish her over food! I know it is hard  :P Eating and food needs to be a pleasurable experience with positive connotations. Could you sit her down and together write a list of her favourite foods and dinners? She is old enough to do a bit of helping in the kitchen too so could you try and get her involved?

Try to look at food groups to ensure she is getting a bit from them all but I think it was our Creatiosn who said that it doesn't have to be alone the same plate or even day but over a few days. So if she eats no dairy one day but does the next then that is OK.

What foods DOES she eat and start with that xxx

Offline Erin M

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Re: Fussy eater getting worse - help!
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2018, 19:44:07 pm »
I agree with this ^^^^^

Mine eats a rather small list - though also doesnít seem defined by texture, temp, etc - I make sure that thereís always something that he will eat and try to get him to try new things from there.  Heís getting better at willingly trying new things and that was the key with my older 2 to get them to eat a wider variety of foods....but I know with mine, itís not something that I can really reward or punish out of him, it just takes him developing confidence that he can try new things and trusting us to not give him foods that will make him super upset.  Mine would never touch any of the foods you mentioned, if it makes you feel any better.  :)

Offline Katet

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Re: Fussy eater getting worse - help!
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2018, 22:48:45 pm »
My DS1 was a limited eater as a toddler/preschooler and at 14yo he eats most things except raw veg and things that having braces prevents.

No way at 4 he's eat soup or curry... so I don't think she's as limited as you think.
 Be mindful that 50 years ago the range of food in an average house was 1/3 of what it is now, and 100 years ago it was 1/6th. In 1944  a 4 yo ( my Mum) in an Australian familywould eat porridge for breakfast a cheese sandwich and a meat and potatoes and one veg evening meal with fruit and custard... that was a daily diet, day in day out. Biologicaly a 4 yo has between double an 10 times more taste buds than an adult, so flavours are tasted stronger.

What worked for. Us (and worked incredibly well)
1) only expect one new food to be accepted every month (on average)
2) 1 simple rule, we eat what we want from the plate with no comment or drama from parent or child
3) 5 things on the plate.  Starting out it was 3 things likely to be eaten, 1 possibly  eaten and 1 new thing. Stick with rule 2 in the early days esp parent.  5 things could be some bread ( never enough to fill up on) cheese and apple as the will eat, then green beans as the possibly eat, and then thee other item was what DH and I were eating, or some nights it could be pasta, cheese and lettuce as the will eat, bolognase sauce on the side as the may eat and tomatoes as the not eat.
4) extra of a preferred food was judged based on the time, was it likely they might try something more on the plate or were they tired and just needed more food
5) never make it a drama, good quality healthy bread and water can be enough to live on and they'd never starve
Over time I worked out DS1 needed exposure to foods about 100 times before he'd embrace them.
Over time I changed it to 1-2 will always eat, 1-2 sometimes eat, and 1-2 new foods based on what DH and I were eating.

I had a routine where 2 nights I would do things I knew I'd get 100 happiness from them - sausages and home made  chips, nuggets and home made chips, then one night was a picnic night with a pick your own food from a platter, the other 4 were meals that I wanted them to take on board, standard ones like bolognaise or lasagna, strip fry ( which I did deconstructed, with no sauce, so cooked each part separately, then tossed it together for DH and me, but served the boys one pile of meat, rice or noodles, and different veg piles.

I've never been a parent to use a time out/ naughty step because I was a child that would become more stubborn with being punished and it disconnected me more from my parents and I didn't want that. I was a limited eater as a child too and I know I'm not now, so I chose to make it a journey rather than expect results now, I did some research to understand the information above about taste buds and history and with that I was able to be calm and grasp that it was my lack of understanding that led to frustration rather than a difficult child. By 8 DS1 would eat what's on his plate no matter where we were. My nephew who was a great eater at 4, at 13 is a much more limited than either of my boys and My mum admits I was her most limited eater as a child and my brother her best eater, but now it's totally the opposite... my brother is a picky adult... he eats everything he did as a child, but given he's 51, the variety from then is less than half what it is now... so his diet is more limited than mine KWIM.

A really good way to look at it is look at how well she is reading and doing arithmetic at the moment... it's pretty basic and limited... by the time she can read Harry Potter and do her 12 times table... then expect her to pretty much eat the variety you do, until then make sure you offer up the good choices, but also the bread or naan that will feed her...over time she will eat more... they generally do.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 10:07:42 am by Katet »
dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05

Offline creations

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Re: Fussy eater getting worse - help!
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 10:42:25 am »
HI there - stopping by with a hug.
I don't have a fussy or limited eater but wanted to offer whatever I can in way of support or tips.
It would really help, as BB said, if you could list the foods she will eat.
Ignore that one day she likes it and another she doesn't children don't always use the right vocab to explain what they mean.  As example my DS would eat a huge portion of something and then when full he'd stop eating and say "I don't like this"  If i said "you do like it you've eaten loads" he'd just be more adamant he didn't like it, what he was really saying was "I'm full".  It can be quite frustrating and it can be upsetting when a lot of effort has been put into food prep for someone to sound so negative about it.  For me the key was to hear "i'm full" when he said "I don't like this" and I would model how to say it, sometimes he'd echo back sometimes not. The important part though is not to get into an argument over whether they do or don't like it.

Although I don't consider my DS at all fussy with foods outsiders might not always agree.  He wouldn't touch soup until he was about 4 or 5yo (which many other parents though was very odd and fussy) and now he says he likes soup but I know he only really likes tomato or vegi soup, he can't stand creamy soups such as cream of mushroom or cream of chicken even though he likes mushrooms and chicken and cream and also likes canned cream of tomato soup.  He doesn't eat rice, cous cous, and only the past year has started to eat cauliflower (assume the texture of cauli he finds similar to cous cous and rice). Stews he has always eaten but for years I used chunky veg and separated out the different components onto his plate and he wouldn't eat it mixed up.  Now he'll eat it mixed but if I make a mixed vegi/meat soup I drain out a portion of chunks for him to eat as "stew" if I am going to whizz up the rest into smooth soup. He won't eat anything mashed (loves roast potato but won't eat mashed)... I could go on.

A balanced diet really doesn't need to be a huge variety of foods.  If the diet isn't balanced over the course of a week (rather than each meal or each day) then I'd suggest working out which areas are lacking and experiment with how you can improve those areas rather than always trying different foods and always trying to increase the variety and quantity and feeling overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps we could help with some ideas if you list what she eats?  Keeping a food diary over an extended period of time can help - maybe some of us could spot something that is hard to see when you are wrapped up in the emotional aspect and worrying about her.

I would stop all punishments and rewards based around food including giving any sort of food as a reward for good behaviour or for achieving something. I know lots of people give sweets or treats as rewards for doing well with reading or whatever, but I personally think treats should be given because it's nice to have a treat sometimes and not because of some other skill/behaviour. I wouldn't use reading and books as reward for anything either.  I try to be extra mindful of the effect of rewards if I am ever tempted to give one and always try to think on the flip side "so what if she doesn't do what I what?" She doesn't get a new book? I remove her books? I ban books?  If the flip side isn't healthy or helpful for her development then using it as a reward probably isn't helpful.

I think you might need to take a few deep breaths and talk with your DH about how you both respond with and around food to start afresh with a supportive approach, work out a calming method for yourself, maybe agree on a key word you can say to one another which means "I notice you are getting emotional about DDs food, I can handle this for now so take a minute for yourself to re-balance".

What is she having to eat at school? Could you ask school to keep a food diary for you which comes home each day so you know what and how much she's had?  School can benefit eating in some ways - that's how my DS started eating cauliflower and he even has a mouthful of rice from time to time.

lots of hugs.  Food can be an emotional topic for lots of people and it is understandably a very difficult thing as a parent to think that our children are not eating what they should.  I hope we can help with some practical advice here for you x