Picky eating progress

May 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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About a month ago I laid down the law. I’m making one meal for dinner, and that is that. We got a lot of push back the first couple of weeks. He went to bed without any dinner quite a few times. One thing I didn’t anticipate: one ravenous morning he asked for bacon and eggs with his waffle. I was happy to oblige. Now he eats that every morning. He doesn’t eat all of his eggs, but he usually finishes off the bacon, and he always scarfs down the waffle. We’ve been experimenting with food coloring and pancake batter on some mornings, too.

Three or so weeks in we started to make some headway with dinners. It started with buttered green beans. Then peas. He’s still scoffing at pork chops for some reason, but he’s relatively ok with chicken. And I started a new rule: if he refuses to eat any dinner, he won’t be getting pancakes or waffles in the morning. Just cereal, eggs and bacon. That seems to have motivated him to at least TRY each food on his plate. He tried mashed potatoes (yuk!) and spaghetti with olive oil and garlic powder (yum!). For some reason bowtie pasta and tortellini is inedible, even though it’s all pasta. But I’ll take my victories where I can get them.

I also decided to give the Heartspring food method another go, the one where he tries one food for several days, working up to chewing and swallowing it. And we finally had success with peaches! Granted they’re the fruit cup variety with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on them. But, again, I’ll take my victories where I can get them. Now we’ve moved on to kiwis and bologna, with limited success. I stepped it up a bit, trying one new food at breakfast and another at lunch. I eat kiwis every morning, so it’s no bother for me to cut off a slice for him to smell/lick/bite, etc. And I can’t believe a kid who loves hotdogs as much as Liam does could balk too long at bologna. It’s basically a flat hotdog! Or so I keep telling him. 

We’re also making some real progress in the potty training department. We switched from Miralax to Phillips, and I make sure he drinks a whole glass of water in the morning after having his medicine. I’ve been really pushing the water lately, even buying him a bunch of juice options and a watermelon/kiwi water flavor thing. His favorites are still plain water and milk. James polished off all the juice pouches he didn’t care for. And today marks 14 accident-free days! Finally! He gets to collect his Lego prize tomorrow. And if he can make it just another couple of weeks, he’ll finally get to collect his Jake and the Neverland Pirates Skull Rock toy that has been sitting in its package taunting him from the top shelf for months. Progress! Huzzah!

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No More Mister Nice Mom

March 28, 2014 at 10:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Picky eating came to a head last night. For weeks we’ve been trying this new method of introducing food to Liam suggested by the therapist. And in theory it made sense. If I could just get him to put this stuff in his mouth and chew it up, surely he would discover it’s not so bad, right? We started with grapes. For five days he would take one bite and spit it out. The next five days he would chew up his bite, then spit it out. But when we entered the next phase – chewing and swallowing – we hit a brick wall. I talked to the folks at Heartspring and they suggested offering him a prize. So we did. And he ate it! Once. I tried the next night, and even with the offer of a prize, he wouldn’t eat it. In theory, once they’ve gone through this lengthy process, you’re supposed to be able to add the food to their rotation and they’ll eat it. But I’ve tried numerous times adding grapes to Liam’s plate, and it’s always a no go.

Not to be deterred, we moved on to peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I thought for sure he’d be on board. He likes bread. He loves honey. He even likes peanut butter, eating it right out of the jar sometimes. But as a sandwich? Apparently that’s akin to torture. We went through five days of licking it. Then five days of biting it. Then five days of chewing it. Last night he had to swallow it. And he just wouldn’t. I sat there for an hour bribing him with prizes and candy. He wouldn’t budge. I sliced off a small piece and said just to eat that. I sliced that piece in half again. Still a no go. Finally, James got fed up and said he couldn’t play Xbox until he ate it. Then he said if he didn’t eat that bite by 8:00, he wouldn’t be sleeping with his dog Lucy tonight. Finally, in an act of desperation, I threatened the unthinkable: I told him I’d take away the boo boo, his beloved baby blanket. That got his attention. He begged. He pleaded. But he wouldn’t. Eat. That. Bite.

Eight o’clock came, and to bed he went. No stories, no dogs, no blanket. And I told him in the morning we would try again at breakfast, and again at lunch. And if he still refused? No dogs or blanket are coming with us on our trip to KC this weekend.

Picture that scene in Footloose where Kevin Bacon is driving a tractor straight toward his high school rival. No fear, momma. And no jumping! He’s telling me he won’t eat his sandwich this morning, but he’ll try it at lunch. I have a feeling we’ll be dogless and blanketless on our trip this afternoon.

James and I had a lengthy talk last night, and we’ve come to the conclusion that the kid gloves have got to come off. Even if, after all the bribes and punishments, Liam does take a bite of his sandwich, what are the chances I’ll get him to do it for five nights in a row? And adding it to his lunchtime rotation? A pipedream. This tiptoe routine clearly doesn’t work for our son. He’s entirely too smart, and he’s totally playing us.

Plus, we’re still having issues with potty training, and clearly his diet is a huge factor. He eats freeze-dried fruits and veggies every day, nothing fresh. Unfortunately, it’s been too easy for me to pop something in the microwave for him, pour out some freeze-dried veg on a plate, and his separate meal is complete.

In the immortal words of Red Foreman, “Fun time is over.”

Starting Sunday, no more separate meals for this kid. He can still have his usual waffle for breakfast, and I’m happy to heat up a hot dog or chicken fingers for lunch. But for dinner he gets a plate of whatever we’re having. And if he doesn’t want to eat it? Fine. No yelling, no threats, no bribery. The consequence will be hunger. I think he’s old enough to understand that, and to handle it. But he’s young enough that he won’t go sneaking food behind our backs.

One hurdle I’m facing is my almost equally picky husband. But James and I talked through the plan, and I think if we allow one or two nights per week when Liam gets a separate meal while we eat our favorite super spicy recipes, we can make that work. And James is happy to eat popcorn shrimp or baked chicken fingers, so we’ll have some kid-friendly options. But the freeze-dried food is off the table for dinner.

No more half measures! This is it! Stay strong! And at the very least, if this goes anything like my last experiment in picky eating, I’ll have a lot of amusing blog fodder.

The ball is rolling

February 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Back in July we had ourselves a little incident at a pool in Maryland. We’d been visiting with friends for a few days, and I’d arrange a play date with my friend Julie, her two girls, and my friend Sarah and her daughter Jeanie, who we’d been staying with. We’d already had a few issues on our trip, but I’d had high hopes that I could visit with my friends and Liam would have a good time playing in the pool.

Instead, Liam got clingy, wouldn’t get in the water, wouldn’t play with the kids. We were the only ones there, so it wasn’t an issue of crowdedness. He wouldn’t eat what I brought and threw a huge hissy fit. I ended up spending the whole play date fuming with him in my lap, unable to catch up with my friends and wondering what the hell was wrong with my kid. Afterward, Julie got me in touch with a relative of hers in Wichita who might be able to help. She suggested Heartspring, a non-profit that deals with children and their developmental problems.

I’ve always known Liam was a little different. Even as a baby he never seemed comfortable around other people. I’ve read a lot of books on introversion and just figured that was his deal. But it honestly never occurred to me that something more serious could be going on. The director at his last preschool did mention something about occupational therapy, but he seemed to be doing so well after school started, I never looked into it.

Pages and pages of paperwork, a long waiting list, and months later, we finally got an appointment to see the child psychologist. My primary concern was his inability to cope in social situations. James thought I was overreacting. That Liam’s just an introvert like his daddy, and that he’ll outgrow whatever is going on in his formative years.

But now, after an initial meeting and another session for testing, I feel vindicated. This is not all in my head! He’s back on another waiting list for his official assessment, in which they’ll go over all the paperwork and testing, but the therapist gave me a lot of useful tips on how to help him with social anxiety and picky eating. She also recommended I get him tested for giftedness when he enters kindergarten. Which doesn’t surprise me. He already impressed the dentist with his knowledge of science, after all. It will probably take a month or two before we get more information, which may include some therapy sessions. But in the meantime, we’re going to work on some of his behavioral issues at home, particularly his bossiness and need to get his way all the time, and see what we can do to correct them.

The therapist also recommended occupational therapy to help with his fine motor skills. Cognitively he’s sharp as a whip, but he can barely write his name or hold a pencil. He gets terribly frustrated playing with Legos. We’re going back in a couple of weeks for an assessment.

The ball is rolling. And I’m feeling a lot better. Liam tried eating a grape tonight! Progress!

The Picky Eater vs. Baked Chicken Nuggets

September 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I thought surely he’d try this one. It’s chicken breaded in panko crumbs with parmesan cheese and various herbs. I admittedly served it with two side dishes I knew he’d never touch: canned beets and alfredo pasta. But breaded chicken? Easy sell. I talked up the chicken nuggets all afternoon, that I was going to make them in the oven, and he could help. But when it came time to make dinner, Liam was more interested in watching Lion King for the millionth time. Fine, whatever.

Finally it was time for dinner. Liam took one look at his plate and screamed his head off, ran into the living room and proceeded to lay on the floor kicking and screaming. I ignored him for the first half hour, insisting that he come up and just TRY the chicken. Mmmm, it’s so good. Mommy’s really outdone herself. I was met with, “Those aren’t the chicken nuggets I liiiiikke!” After I’d finished my meal, I came over and sat with him on the couch. I told him if he didn’t want the chicken nuggets I made him, he could suggest another healthy option from the pantry. I told him his dried fruits and vegetables were ok, but I was NOT cooking him anything, particularly his favorite Tyson chicken fries. That set him off again, so at 7 o’clock I told him he’d just have to go to bed hungry. Despite complaining that he was “staaaarving!” he picked going to bed over eating anything at the table, including some dried peaches and corn I’d put in a bowl for him.

The bedtime routine went surprisingly well, and now he’s snoozing away, not in the slightest inconvenienced that he missed dinner entirely. Tomorrow we’re trying pork chops, a recipe he’s eaten before. We’ll see how it goes.

The Picky Eater vs. Spaghetti and Meatballs

September 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Liameatingmeatballs

So we’re 0-2 this week. I went to a lot of trouble to make this as Liam-friendly as possible. I made him four separate, non-spicy meatballs. I asked if he wanted sauce before I slathered it on. (As you can see in the photo, he opted for no sauce.) I even toasted him up some garlic Texas Toast, which I was sure he’d be happy with. There was some pre-dinner crying, but he came to the table sooner than he did last time. He happily ate his toast, and even ate all the peas. But he wouldn’t touch the spaghetti and meatballs. Scratch that…he did lean down and LICK one, then proclaimed it inedible.

Then…then!…he has the audacity to DEMAND dessert, like somehow he’d earned it by merely tolerating the offensive food on his plate. Which then precipitated the 20-minute fit. Ah, there it is.

But I stuck to my guns. No meatballs, no dessert. More wine for mommy.

And my meatballs rocked. They totally kicked ass. I’ve got leftovers that I can’t wait to eat. But it’s all lost on my picky eater. Sigh. His loss.

The Picky Eater vs. Mean Mommy

September 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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When Liam was a baby, he would eat just about anything. I delightfully mashed up homemade baby food myself. I researched recipes for healthy finger foods. My kid wasn’t going to eat processed food, no way! Sure, I also gave him some goldfish crackers and Spaghettios on occasion, but for the most part, my kid was a healthy eater. Until he turned two. Suddenly, and very emphatically, he wanted nothing to do with peas, sweet potatoes, baked chicken, or blueberries. No more fresh fruit or veggies at all, in fact. I tried dipping fresh strawberries in powdered sugar…he just sucked on them and spit them out. I tried baking broccoli and cheese together in little finger food bites. He tried one and refused the rest. I snuck carrots into baked muffins, but upon seeing some orange bits inside the muffins, he wouldn’t touch them. I had to resort to food coloring on the next batch…but even then he only ate them for about a week. The only vegetable he’d deign to eat were those freeze-dried peas and corn from Whole Foods. He started eliminating even more tried-and-true menu items: eggs, mashed potatoes, even ketchup! Slowly, but surely, he beat the healthy-eating willpower out of me.

Fast forward almost three years, and if anything, Liam’s picky eating has gotten worse. We’re on a steady dinner and lunch rotation of chicken fingers with dried peas and dried bananas, hot dogs with veggie sticks and dried corn and fruit snacks, Spaghettios with meatballs and Texas toast, or Swedish meatballs with dried peas and dried peaches. The only sandwich he’ll eat is honey. No peanut butter. No lunch meat. No cheese. For breakfast he always wants an Eggo waffle or french toast sticks, Cheerios, or very occasionally, oatmeal. I have to cart his food with me wherever we go, because in all likelihood they won’t have the “right” chicken fingers (Tyson Anytizer Chicken Fries, to be specific) or the “right” Spaghettios (shapes with mini-meatballs).

I’ve heard and read everywhere that kids this age should be eating what the adults are eating. But here’s my problem: I’m cooking for both a picky adult AND a picky child. It’s taken me years to lock down menu options that James actually enjoys eating, but many of our favorite dishes are spicy ethnic fare that Liam won’t touch with a ten foot pole. To be fair, most kids couldn’t handle this kind of heat. Conversely, James would probably love eating chicken fingers and french fries and the like for dinner every night, but since that’s all Liam will eat when we go to a restaurant, I’m loathe to make it at home, too. In fact, I think I’ve very wisely banned french fries from our home menu.

I’ve tried putting my foot down. I’ve prepared a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast for Liam when we have breakfast for dinner. All he eats is the toast. I prepared chicken in crescent rolls (minus the cheese, how he likes it), and after throwing a 20-minute fit, he finally came back and ate it. But only after I promised him ice cream. Same goes for grilled pork chops. For two nights in a row Liam refused his dinner entirely, and he didn’t eat until breakfast the next day.

So this week, while James is out of town on business, I’ve decided to try a little experiment. It’s not going to be perfect – we’re headed to KC tomorrow and staying for a lunch at Okie Joe’s on Tuesday – but for the rest of the week I’m going to cook meals that are both adult and kid-friendly, and Liam is going to eat them or go to bed hungry. I’m ready to be mean mommy. Especially after our fruitless grocery store outing this morning, in which I actually had to put food back and leave the store because he was screaming at the top of his lungs and hitting and kicking me uncontrollably. Like a two-year-old. Seriously.

So, assuming I can make it back out to the store this afternoon, I’ll be offering these relatively-healthy kid-friendly meals this week: Spaghetti and homemade meatballs with Texas Toast; Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles and canned green beans; baked chicken fingers with canned beets; and caramelized pork chops with carrots and pasta. And who knows? Maybe he’ll surprise me. But I’m not holding my breath.

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