Monday, January 14, 2013

Picky Eaters

While I'm sure every parent thinks they have picky eaters, I strongly suspect (and would probably be willing to bet upwards of $100) that Alan tops 99% of your children!

Many kids on the spectrum are on limited diets -- the most common of which is the gluten free-casein free (no wheat or milk products) diet.  We had Alan tested for wheat and milk allergies when we tried the biomedical treatments and the results were that he was moderately allergic to milk but not at all allergic to wheat.  So we tried to eliminate milk from his diet.  The only problem with that was that milk was the only source of protein in his entire diet.  We tried rice and soy and he wouldn't drink them.  He has never let us put flavoring of any sort in his milk so we couldn't even try to hide the flavor in chocolate milk.  Score:  Alan 1, Parents 0

We next tried to eliminate lactose from his diet.  This did work.  Dairy Ease or Lactaid both taste close enough to regular milk that we can get him to drink those with relative ease.  This seemed to end his chronic (albeit intermittent) diarrhea.  Alan 1, Parents 1

We took him to "picky eaters" food class near home.  This was at a local organization that was specifically for children with autism.  He lasted two classes before the OT asked us to please not bring him back.  Alan 2, Parents 1

Next we tried taking him to a local OT center that specializes in sensory problems and has several people that deal specifically with broadening a child's palette.  The entire center has supposedly done wonders for so many local kids.  We had three different OTs work with Alan for almost a year (driving 20-30 minutes each way) and all they managed was to get him to touch certain undesired foods to his tongue.  He would not go the further step of holding the food in his mouth and they (somewhat reluctantly) admitted defeat.  Alan 3, Parents 1

"So what does he drink?" you might ask.  If left to his own devices he would only drink soda.  Sigh.  So we give him a small cup of soda and an equal sized cup of lactose free milk.  He usually drinks the soda and the milk sits on the table until he wants more soda and then he will finally drink the milk.  Sigh.  I am not sure who wins in this one so we will keep the score the same.  Alan 3, Parents 1

"So what does he eat?" you might ask.  Basically we give him four foods at a time.  
  • a favorite (either Oreo cookies, a Poptart with the edges broken off or a cereal bar which we had to stop giving him when we finally figured out that the only kind he would eat were Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk and cereal bars and that was causing problems)
  • a fruit -- usually apples but occasionally he will let us give him purple seedless grapes (no green or even red)
  • a bowl of something -- white cheddar or cheese popcorn, corn puffs, rice cakes (cheddar or ranch only) Cocoa Puffs or Honey Nut Cheerios
  • animal crackers
And that is it.  He eats those same things all day, every day and has for the last 2-3 years.  There is no protein in his diet other than the milk.  We started including the animal crackers simply as a "break food".  He would eat the favorite food until he was as wide as he is tall so we added the animal crackers on to the plate so he would be forced to eat something he doesn't really like to slow him down or provide a break.  Again, I'm not sure who wins that round so we will call it a tie.  Alan 3, Parents 1

What about when we go out to eat?  He will eat French fries and he will drink soda and that is it.  Alan 4, Parents 1

What about vitamins or supplements?  We had him on Juice Plus for several years.  He took the gummies quite willingly for a long time.  Then he started pushing them to the back of his throat and gagging himself with them and we had to take him off them.  Luckily we did have a wonderful SLP a few years ago that taught him how to swallow pills.  In fact, he is the best in the family now at swallowing pills.  He will put his entire fist of medicine in his mouth and then chug a glass of water and they all go down.  Another tie.  Alan 4, Parents 1

Several experts in the field have told me that no child will starve themselves to death and that is probably true.  However, when the alternative is to have a knock down, drag out fight with an incredibly stubborn young man who can make the whole house miserable -- is it really so awful that he eats popcorn for breakfast?


  1. Picky eating: the fun stuff

    So here are some random things I've tried with both children I have worked with and my own child who is not "on the spectrum" as they say but definatly in the grey areas of the different border ;) arn't we all?

    Natural food dyes, ""non synthetic"" to color foods to a particular preference so that you can add new carrots whaaaa?

    Foods in the shape of trains, cars, boats, what ever is the fixation..use it!

    Plain plates, or character plates..rainbow plates or no plates..whatever one get the most attention or is less distracting to the senses < can be both yes

    Food rolling: that is hiding foods in prefered foods < is this a lot of work "yes.. but so is life right? can be combined with natural food dyes

    A juicer, this one seems to work for a lot of folks, making your own vegetable mixed juice or using a carbonated addition to make juice soda:

    If you can only get one fruit and one veggie usually a carrot in ..then at least its one "other thing" right? ;)

    Protein powder added to cookies, cakes, popcorn with flavor being mindful of texure "of course"

    Much love and support on your journey hon ;)

    1. Thanks! We do make our own soda. He usually likes cola but I might have to try to mix some juice in with it! Unfortunately he wants 100% preprocessed foods! Ugh. I was having a bagel yesterday with Nutella on it. The first time Joe saw Nutella he thought it was chocolate sauce and wanted to try it. Alan, on the other hand, looked absolutely horrified that I was even putting it in my mouth! lol He won't even eat homemade cookies!!!! He is a little PITA when it comes to food!