mum and bear

An adventurous journey into the life of Parenting kids with Autism and without!

Food Wars – Tips to get fussy kids to try new foods

I have been having ‘Food Wars’ with Ty lately and it’s been hell. For both of us. His diet is very limited, unless it’s highly processed or full of carbs and/or sugar he won’t even look at it… Much less stick it in his mouth. I mean, I’ve seen the kid eat dirt but he still won’t eat a single vegetable or piece of real meat.

For a long time Chris and I figured as long as he is eating it will be fine and haven’t made him try new foods. We let him stick to his diet of sausages, eggs, anything even remotely resembling (or once used to be) a potato and baked goods (cookies etc) because honestly…. it’s easier. Poor parenting on our behalf!

School lunches went downhill rapidly last week. Ty decided he hates wraps and he had already turned on bread last term. Now I’m baking like a mad woman trying to find recipes that I can hide veggies other than potato in without changing the colour or texture…. Do you know how hard that is?! We’ve come up with mini quiches and pizza scrolls that are just tomato and cheese so far.

I introduced fish fingers to him and although I know they are still highly processed I figure the pro’s outweigh the con’s in this department. He ate them skeptically. WIN! Then I introduced chicken fingers. They are as close to actual chicken as I could find in the frozen section, and he ate those too! I tricked him into eating a piece of fish by telling him they were giant fish fingers. I’ll do whatever it takes…

Food issues and autism usually go hand in hand.

I know, I know, it’s not Ty’s fault, it’s because he is on the spectrum. I have to remind myself of that because as he gets older, because sometimes I feel like he’s just being stubborn . He gags and cries/screams when I try and “encourage” him to eat anything he’s not used to and sometimes it escalates to full on meltdowns. I try really hard not to let it get to that stage and so I usually cave in and make him sausages or homemade pizza on a multigrain wrap. Not much nutritional value there….

Eating issues are very common with ASD kids. Whether it’s eating too much, rigidly eating the same thing (colour and texture) or eating non food items, it’s a lot for parents to contend with and makes it harder when you have to cook more than one dinner for everyone.

So what are some strategies for helping your child with their food rigidity?

Acording to experts (not me, I’m struggling and using these tips too!)…

  • Introduce new foods on a “testing plate” that is separate to their plate and just sit it near them. Encourage them to smell, lick and maybe taste the testing food.
  • Slowly incorporate the testing food onto their plate and act excited (and get everyone else to play along) when you eat yours.
  • Use visual backup, write a story, draw a picture etc. Ty’s speech therapist had  laminated pictures of food she had cut out and stuck sticky dots on the back of. Then had a picture of a plate and let Ty pick what foods he wanted to stick on his plate. That was an interesting activity as he actually put all the foods he likes, but you could take it further and ask them to pick one veg, fruit or meat they would like to taste as well.
  • Give them choices. Let them pick their own veggies, or even their own plates and cutlery. If we give them some power to feel like it’s their choice they are more likely to try new things.
  • DON”T STRESS OUT ABOUT IT! Find the joy in meal times and your little one will too. Make eating a positive time and you will have more luck!
  • Don’t give up if they don’t want to eat something straight away, keep putting it on their plate and get them used to having it there…. And get ready to catch if you have a thrower!

Sometimes you just gotta ask for help…

I’m so scared Ty is going to end up with Diabetes (Type 2, like me) when he grows up that I have to do something. I just haven’t been sure where to start to change his diet. He tends to throw food off his plate that he doesn’t want…. Seya brocolli!

So I talked to Ty’s occupational therapist and she is pretty keen to set up a healthy eating plan for him. Which will include daily exercises… He should love that!

If you are struggling it might be time to talk to a professional about your little ones food issues. A local doc or your autism co-ordinator should be able to help. Remember, it’s not failing to ask for help 🙂

If you have any ideas to throw at me or anything you have tried and had success with, I’m all ears 🙂 I could really use the help!

Sarah

 

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