playing with our food...

Let's see if I can manage three posts about food in one week....:)

Parker is a special eater and, until recently, I've been so frustrated at what I thought was picky eating. It has been a year and a half of struggle. Something happened when he was around 10 months old and he went from eating everything he was offered to not tolerating the texture of most foods. It isn't just that he won't eat most foods, he won't touch them. He has never touched his birthday cake.

He basically lives on cereal, fruit, nuts, yogurt, waffles and rice cakes. He will eat a corn muffin on a good day. There are a few other things he will eat, but they are not part of his daily diet. Griffin is 6 1/2 months old and eats more variety. I hear moms talking all of the time about how their kids will only eat pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese...kid stuff. I long to have a child that will eat these things. I would love to go out to a restaurant and not have to bring special food. I would love for Parker to have fun with food...to enjoy the many tastes and textures that he is missing out on. Right now I'm just hoping that he'll touch them soon.

I've spent the past year trying to figure out what I did wrong and how to fix my picky eater. I've asked advice from more experienced parents and I've tried it all. Nothing has worked and, in fact, I now believe that we may have made it worse. I'm tired of beating myself up about this and it is clear to me that what I've been trying to do to fix the problem...is not working. I must change my direction.

Lately, I've been trying to take a step back and observe Parker at mealtimes. He seems like he has true anxiety about food. He won't even look at the food that we put on his plate for him to try. When he accidentally touches one of the foods, he has a physical reaction and sometimes gags. We'll be talking to his pediatrician about this soon but in the meantime, I've started what I like to call "food therapy". Of course I don't say this out loud to Parker...we call it an art project:) Basically we play with food with different textures a couple of days a week. The first day we tried this, Parker and I spent time making a face out of cheese, veggies, peanut butter, honey and cooked potato. I never asked him to taste the food, I just wanted him to experience fun with food. So yes, I asked him to play with his food! I think Parker knew he was supposed to be having fun, but he laughed nervously throughout the experience and displayed some really strange physical reactions. He refused to touch the honey and did not even acknowledge the peanut butter on the table.

I realize that this is probably not very interesting to a reader...but sometimes my posts are more for myself than anything. My purpose in writing this is that I might be able to look back on my blog in a year and see progress. I hope that Parker will have a better relationship with food and be more comfortable trying new foods. I hope that we can move from just touching new foods to tasting new foods. I don't know how Parker got this way and it just doesn't matter anymore. I am learning that I just need to deal with the situation at hand and move forward. Should be fun...and messy:)


Tammy said...

Hi Amy! I know a lady whose daughter is/was a lot like what you described and she was diagnosed with a sensory integration disorder (she was an otherwise very bright and happy child, much like Parker). She's been going to a food class for the last few months and has made tremendous progress. A lot of what they do in the class involves playing with food and things such as licking a food to get used to the texture, etc. Now I'm definitely not jumping to the conclusion that Parker might have that disorder, but it might possibly be something worth looking into with your doctor. And it definitely sounds like you're on the right track with the food play!

Liz said...

My 4 year old went through a stage where he wouldn't eat certain foods because of texture. He has gotten a little better but he is still really funny about if there is something on his plate that he doesn't like...he refuses to eat unless it is taken off his plate. He will just sit there and cry about it. I know this isn't the same as what you are going though, but it is still a frustration. I can't imagine what you must be going through.

Amy, you are such a good mom! I think what you are doing with Parker is so great. You are such an encouragement to me to look for the different things that will work for each of my children.

Hang in there!

Kimberly said...

Landen is just like that. When he was an infant he loved everything, and now trying to get him to take a few bites is so stressful, then he will just try to throw the plate on the ground (thank goodness for the dog, lol) but yeah, it's tough. I thought he would love spaghetti-o's, well I was hoping he would b/c I LOVE THEM, but he HATES them! Who knew?

Aleah said...

Hmmm...it'll be interesting to see what comes of the food play. That was a great idea!
Cotton balls do the same thing for me but I don't have to eat them ; )

Carrie said...

Parker's current menu sounds exactly like Sam's so I know your pain. Hang in there!

Amanda said...

Amy, oh amy! :) You have just described my Josiah. i could go on and on about this. we need to get on gmail and talk!

Kati said...

Wow...I can't imagine! Kallen LOVES to play with his food. Too much in fact.

Maybe him and parker could collide with each other resulting in a happy medium for both boys. A little more comfort with foods for Parker, and a little less for Kallen!!!

Munchkin Land said...

Amy, again I'm awe of your parenting skills and the ideas you implement. Wow! I think this is a wonderful idea and I really think you're going to see improvement with his fear. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help from afar. We'll have to talk about a dinner menu when you get out here. I want to make something he'll like...

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Jennisa said...

I read just the first couple paragraphs of this, and I will come back and read the rest. You should give me your email address, because I have a 5 year old who has went through food therapy for this and her "sensory" issue with touch and stuff. I think I might be able to shed some light on some things your going through. BUT, have heart....my 5 year old has a food list as long as your Parker...

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