Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fussy Eaters - A Blog Trail of Hope!

"You never know the impact your blog post will have."

I followed a link this morning from a favourite blog. I must admit the title had intrigued me, especially after my little episode last week. But it was the tale of how not to get your knickers in a twist about your child's eating habits.

Now, I know a lot of Mum's with kids on the autism spectrum drop by here. In fact, this post... which linked to another blog post is written by the mother of a young boy on the spectrum.

Well, we all know how I rely on riding on the coat tails inspiration from other blogs, and this one certainly is no different.

In a warped way I was blessed to be the mother of my TWO picky, fussy, sensory kids. Yes, both, not just my young man on the spectrum. In fact it is the younger son who was by far the worst, and in many ways, still is. Just like his MOTHER.

I was THAT child. My mother, Wise Woman, swore if it was not for Vegemite Saos and Milo milk, I would not be here today. For many years, right into late teens, my diet was unhealthy, limited, and unhealthy. I didn't eat any vegetables except potato (baked, mashed or chipped) and green beans. NO salad vegetable EVER passed my lips. Fruit was an irregular visitor to my digestive system, though Mum could persuade me to eat apple and orange cut up together if drenched in sugar.

You get the picture. My dad, Grumblebum, attempted the force route. I could sit at that table for hours, easily out-waiting him, refusing to touch the now cold and even further unappetising food "your mother has cooked you and by hell, you'll show her some respect and eat it."
Yep, he was from that school. I perfected the go to the toilet/shovel food into pockets of clothing purposely selected for the number of such/hide food in the back of my mouth and in the cavern of my facial cheeks until I could manage to get to the first (toilet) to spit it out techniques.

So, when the universe deemed it suitable to send me two sons cut from the same cloth, well, let's just say I didn't follow in my father's footsteps.

I'm here, I'm reasonably healthy, and I survived to widen my eating habits as I grew up. And so it wasn't a big issue. For me. For my parents it was. And it didn't help or encourage me to change.

Don't get me wrong, I have tried to get my fussy boys to broaden their food tastes, and now, as they are 14 and 12, they really aren't too bad.

To cut to the chase, here is the Madmother (very short) tip list. It may help, it may not, but you never know.
  • Imagination - one of my friend's who has a boy on the spectrum creates these amazing scenes for her kids. She calls them "dinner art". Amazing ideas which go down a treat. I only used to make up stories, more when the boys were younger. We would sit at the table, and I'd tell them of the giant who gobbled up all the trees (broccoli) and the good people of the tiny village who tried to defeat him by shooting carrot spears into his mouth. The pea rocks they shot at him... you get the idea.

"Fly away"
Copyright J. Negrin

"Let's go Surfing"
Copyright - J. Negrin. Brilliant mother.
  • Mates or extended family members. My children, even now, are far more likely to try something new if it is suggested by a friend or for us, family outside the core group. More the former now they are older. I cannot tell you how many new foods have been tasted and approved all because a friend has told them to! Get over for playdates and include a meal ANY friends who are more adventurous in their appetities. It may not work the first time (though it usually did for us) but persevere. At worst, they get to work on their social skills, and form a stronger friendship bond (and if you use some of the ideas in point one - your house will become the cool one to visit - a little bribery positive re-inforcement for such friendships to be encouraged never hurt).
  • Try, try again. Do not force, make it fun. As they get older, explain the nutritional benefits. It took my youngest to get really sick with some horrific virus before he really began to open up to healthy eating. Now he is a different boy. And yes, this is not my child on the spectrum.
  • If there are sensory issues involved - cater to it. If they prefer soft food, blend, puree, whatever. Then slowly, over time, introduce the food in a less smooth consistency, more textured, gradually, patiently bringing it back to its normal state. Baby steps. And if rejected go back to the pureeing.
  • Wine. For you, not them. Pour yourself a glass, sit, breathe. Kids grow up eating far, far less than yours. Seriously. (And yes, this is the same advice The Gourmet Girlfriend suggested, but it is what I have followed for many moons too: wine for the whine.)
And that is it. 

P.S. If this blog post had any impact or helped, please let me know. For I am still pondering on the future of this blog as the comments diminish. 


Suz @ Segovia and The I Love You Song said...

The blog chain links in all kinds of ways. I am definitely going to try the dinner art. Brilliant.
You know how much I value being able to come here and have you visit me in return. Xo

E. said...

Peer modelling can be very positive. Boy Child has tried a number of foods with friends that he refused to try at home. He has gone from a kid who survived on nuggets and chips, and Nutella or promite sandwiches to a boy who will eat most meat, apples, potatoes (in forms other than fried) and most surprisingly to me - pizza.

I've been drafting a post about HF ASD but I haven't managed to finish it. Probably because I've lost my blogging motivation. I hope it comes back soon.

Leanne said...

It is a very useful post. And ..thanks for sharing Jen's pictures again. I love her food people :)

Hey, re "future of the blog" - you don't have to cancel your blog MM. You can hit "pause" for an extended period of time without doing a full "stop, rewind and delete" Just put a "in hibernation" sign up.

I would hate for you to lose all your wonderful stats and have to start again down the track. You've had over 40,000 people visit! You don't want to start again in 3 years time back at zero do you?

Being Me said...

Really, really, really good idea! I do not have a child on the Autism spectrum, but trying to raise her on more than just plain pasta for the better part of 3 years was made easier by 'dinner/lunch art' esp. when new things were going to be tried.

I am certain your post will present the opportunity for others to give it a try! Love your stories with the two plates of food, awwwww you good mama. x

SJ said...

I don't blog but I read... great post. I'm a teacher and I love the insight your blog gives me. My toddlers often challenge my dinnertime patience-reasonable advice is fabulous. Thanks Madmother

Anonymous said...

My mother would call having a child who does things just like yourself "a grandparents revenge". Oh and don't forget the giant size jar of peanut butter. Over the years I've had my kids stay at a friends place to come home and say that they really liked what their friend's mum had cooked. I would get straight on the phone to find out what it was - sometimes worked. Cathy