Feeding With Trust: B’s Story

May 15, 2013Mealtime Hostage – The Group

Hi. I’m wondering if there are any people in this group who have older children who prefer most of their food pureed?  My granddaughter will “duck swallow” anything not smooth and complains it makes her feel like she is going to choke. She would rather starve than eat almost anything else.

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I was just reading about “pressure” and I am definitely guilty of the ‘one more bite’ and also of ‘praise’. She tried Kellogg’s Berry Fruit Crisps (and liked them) and I definitely showed my delight (not necessarily fireworks and hand clapping but “I’m so happy!”) I didn’t realize this was pressure, too, but it definitely makes sense. We’ll drop the pressure & promote more trust and take this journey with all of you.

May 23 – Our selective eater has been loving dinner buffet style. She seems quite willing to try more new things when it’s her choice to try it. Her mom (my daughter) and I were discussing the “offering” of food and how we’re going to help B experience new foods, visually and texturally. We talked about play food and how we should play food/kitchen more.

We asked her if she’d like to help us pick out the groceries. We sat in her room with her and talked about what kinds of foods she thinks she’d like to try while we wrote the grocery list out. To my surprise, it wasn’t all baby foods.

I was quite delighted when I stopped by yesterday to hear the Puree Lover say she was going to have macaroni and cheese first, diced apples (the soft kind in juice) second, diced peaches third, and rigatoni last. I just said, “It all looks delicious,” but inside I was jumping for joy and doing cartwheels. I left 2 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (B’s favorite) as a surprise when she was done. She ate so much, she just asked if they could be kept in the refrigerator until she was hungry again.

A 7 1/2 years of age, this is HUGE! She was a “good eater” as a baby but slowly drifted toward to an almost completely pureed/vegan diet. It was amazing how letting go of the pressures (which I never saw as pressure until I joined here) allowed her to let down her guard and open up to the experience of new foods.

While I’m sure not every day is going to be a “I’m going to try everything on the table” day, I’m delighted we had ONE.

May 29 – Working with B on writing out the grocery list has expanded her menu a little bit to include some “chunk” foods. This weekend, she tried chicken! She said she only liked it “1/4” (she describes everything she likes things in fractions and percentages), but it’s a start. I’m really hoping she continues to willingly try new foods and stops losing weight soon.

June 25 – Our little one has been much more interested in food now that the pressure is off to “taste” it. She actually wants to touch and smell many more things. She’s still very limited in what she actually tries, but we’re making great strides in touching and smelling things that she would not tolerate looking at in the past.

When we were at the grocery store today, she bravely sniffed the radishes and the carrots (still with their leafy stems). There was no hesitation at all and she actually did a little “Look, a baby carrot,” cooing over the experience. She still won’t eat a carrot or a radish, but she’s no longer cringing at the idea that I will. I’m really happy with this progress.

July 27 – Lately, B has been asking to taste the spices (in order… cinnamon, granulated garlic, seasoned salt, old bay and paprika). She likes the first 4 and said the paprika would probably taste better with something else mixed with it. She’s also asked to taste Bisquick, Flour, instant pancake mix, and Coffeemate powdered creamer. But, she is not eating the food we’re cooking with the spices/powdered items in it for the most part.

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I love it and I think it’s great that she’s tasting the spices and powdered foods. I’m hoping that once she grows accustomed to the taste of the individual ingredients, she’s going to start trying some of the end results.

She’s been asking to taste the spices on her own while we’re cooking. I’ve been consciously trying to avoid suggesting she try anything, as I don’t want to pressure her. She has been helping me cook for a few years now. She’s actually quite good at it… she says she cooks by smell so she won’t have to taste it. At first it was just the measuring that she liked, then the measuring and operating the hand mixer, and then the measuring, mixing and now she’s touching the foods and tasting the spices.

The only thing she’s even expressed interest in eating was raw hamburger when we were making Italian meatballs. I had to say no for the sake of safety. Perhaps it’s time I buy the attachment for the stand mixer to make our own. I really think we’re heading toward the end result we’re hoping for. I’m not saying I expect her to start scarfing raw veggies and dip, but maybe some tasting of her own cooking isn’t too far off.

I can see how much progress she’s making with the new approach. She’s trying “ingredients” now. She’s mixing the ingredients together and watching us truly enjoying our meals that we’ve prepared together. I think we’ll try some flavorings in cream cheese this weekend. She loves it and if she’s part of the experiment, I think it might be just the medium she needs to bridge the gap to mixing flavors.

August 7 – B sat at the dinner table and said that she was imagining what our food tasted like. She asked to smell both meat items we had (it was Wendy’s Chili and Burgers) and then she closed her eyes for a moment. She told us that she didn’t really want any but she likes the smell of them. It’s progress. I’m happy.

She used to eat 100% pureed food. 80% of her preferred food is pureed fruit. She will currently eat oatmeal, finely cut angel hair spaghetti with red sauce, and macaroni and cheese (but only certain types) in addition to her previously accepted foods (dairy products and 1st and 2nd stage, and one type of 3rd stage Gerber baby food). Once in a great while, she’ll eat pizza cut into small sized bites (like you’d give your toddler) and strawberry pop tarts.

We’re getting there. Slow and steady. NO PRESSURE has made
all the difference in the world. I never knew I was putting such pressure
on her as it felt so right to encourage her to eat.

When she finished eating her bedtime snack tonight, she said that she thinks if she “gets good at eating” she’ll get bigger. We all agreed that eating definitely helps children grow and then she said, “You’ll see, I’m just about ready to give eating a go.”

August 8 – We’ve been at several doctors’ offices this week. On the way back from the appointment we had at noon today, she said she wanted to go to Taco Bell, and then asked me if they had anything she would like. I let her review the menu and she chose Cinnamon Twists (deep fried pastry coated in cinnamon sugar). Then she said, “Can I add these to my diet?” I said, “Sure.” Then, she took a HUGE bite and said, “Good ’cause they’re delicious.” She ate 3 big bites. I said, “I’m glad you like them.” Then, she asked if we can get them whenever she wants. I said she could have them whenever we go to Taco Bell. She’s happy.

August 22 – Well, B came back from her vacation with her dad. She didn’t lose much noticeable weight. She said it was hard to eat in a different state because everything smelled different but she ate as much as she could. I’m just grateful she’s back and happy. It was a feast of safe foods tonight. Welcome home, little one.

August 29 –  It’s been a week since she came home. Her appetite is in full swing and she’s eating (almost) care free. She has been making comments like, “From the items on your plate, I would pick the pork chop because it smells yummy,” and “I think that chicken would be scrumptious with this spice on it.” She has yet to eat a pork chop, but she took a huge taste of a seasoning mix we made even though I said it was spicy. She ran through the house saying, “Hot! Hot! Hot!” but smiling the whole time.

I explained that a dairy product would take the hot out. She grabbed a yogurt and a spoon (without the normal “inspection” for packaging colors, etc.) and ate it. She said, “Now I know to have milk or yogurt handy when I eat my spicy food,” and went back to mixing the seasonings. She had a cereal taste test with my husband with one cereal she knows she likes and 3 cereals she always sees my husband eating. She liked 3 out of the 4 cereals and ate some of them chomp-chomp-chomp style… no tiny bites, no fear. It was a beautiful thing. She’s almost 8 years old. This is the first time since she was a toddler I’ve seen her eat with vigor.

I offered her a taste testing of spices in cream cheese. She said that she’d really prefer tasting all of them alone first. No to dried parsley but yes to dried sage. She’s definitely showing her trust in the foods we serve. I’m so thankful for the support I’ve gotten here and all the posts that helped me let go of the pressure and expectations I was putting on her. She’s blossoming into a curious taster in front of our eyes.

August 30 – She tried salami and ham this morning. OMG, I can’t believe it! I think I might skip through the work day. I’ve been keeping a regular supply of her favorites included in the meals. She gets at least one of those to choose from every family meal (luckily, she’s been on vacation from school so we’ve had a LOT of family-style meals with the food in the center of the table.)

She’s been making my lunches on days when I have to go to work. I get a variety of sandwiches. She’s tasted a few items involved in my lunch that were similar to her favorites (a different cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing) and today she took an interest in meat! She has only ever taken a few bites of meat over the span of her whole life. She usually refuses to have anything to do with it. She tasted both and decided the salami was “meh” and the ham “had no taste, so I choose no”.

I’m calling it a win. I smiled all day.

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September 1 – In the last 3 weeks, B has tried about 20 new things. Today, she actually asked for something different for her breakfast and ate it. I’m so proud of her enthusiasm. Her lunch box used to be 3 different baby food containers. Pears, oatmeal with pears and cinnamon, and sweet potatoes. That was it every day. This year, her lunch box contains banana, cubes of Colby-Jack cheese, Mini Oreo cookies, a mango squeezer, and a drink, most of which she eats at school!

From barely 10 individual pureed foods on her acceptable list to where she is today, with an active curiosity and a willingness to take a real taste of something. She trusts us to feed her. It’s been a beautiful journey. I cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

Mealtime Hostage supports parents with Division of Responsibility feeding, developed by Ellyn Satter.

 

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One response to “Feeding With Trust: B’s Story

  1. Thank you so much for your words. I have a three year old with severe fear toward food due to food allergies. Where we live, the doctors just aren’t sure how to go about treating the phobia side of her eating problems. I’m excited to read your blog entries and suggestions directly from someone who’s been there. You’ve helped bring some hope into the day!

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