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  • Trouble with eating

    My dd isjust a little over 2 1/2. She has consistantly been under weight. I've met with a dietition and have found healthy ways to increase healthy fats in her diet. Things had been going well until I got pregnant. I suffer from sever hyperemesis gravadarum. Basically it means I really can't eat a lot. I"m on home care. I run IV fluids and medications the majority of the day. Although I have people who are attempting to help me maintain my home, the cooking has been left up to me. I really don't have the energy to cook a great deal and have begun to rely on boxed food and fast snacks. I'm in my third trimester and have started trying to add different foods into her diet. Quick rice meals, chili (from scratch), on really good days I'll slow cook a chicken, steam some veggies and make some noodles to go with it.

    Unfortuantly she has become even fussier with her eating. She will not eat veggies (cooked or raw). She won't eat a lot of meats. She'll only eat white pasta (no couscous, rice, and even her mini wheats have become a fight to get her to eat 1/2 a small bowl full). Last night I made her a rice stirfry with ham, green and yellow beans, and jasmin rice. I would have been happy if she ate even a couple of mouthfuls. But she wouldn't eat anything! I tried feeding her (sometimes this works to get at least a few mouthfuls into her), but she just started screaming that she hates rice. We took it away from her and said when she was ready to eat she could have her supper back (she will through food during a temper tantrum and I really didn't feel like getting on my hands and knees). When she calmed down I explained to her that all this food was really good for her body and to please give it a try. She sat there until everyone finished eating (as we don't let her leave the table unless everyone is done) and then asked to be cleaned up. This just an example of what our meals consist of. I've tried explaining to her that she can't have kraft dinner, pizza and peanut butter sandwiches at every meal. Her body needs variety to grow and be strong...but all she wants is dairy and fruits. My MIL (who is currently living with us to help with cleaning in the house, as well as, to give her a place to live as my FIL has decided he no longer wishes to be with her) is starting to push and push dd at supper time to eat. She's even said that I should just give her the things she likes until she tires of them. Her thoughts are at least it's some calories and their is nothing wrong with white pasta and white crackers. I've tried to explain that even though I'm very sick I'm trying to ensure that dd is getting a good diet whenever possible and when not (as i'm too ill to cook) I'll be alright with McDonalds and other take outs.

    I don't know what else to do to try and get my dd to eat. I would greatly appreciate any information you guys have on fussy eaters. As when I'm done being pregnant I'm hoping to compleatly revamp our diets back to being heavy on the fruits and veggies and more whole grained foods. Thanks a lot for any suggestions and if you have questions I'll be happy to answer them.

  • #2
    That sounds so tough. My sister-in-law has struggled with getting her daughter to eat. It hasn't been easy on either of them. They figured out that my niece has sensory issues with food. The book that has helped them with this is called Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges. It is so hard to know why toddlers don't eat, but this book mentions several factors that might be contributing to the issue.

    Another good book is Preventing Childhood Eating Problems: A Practical, Positive Approach to Raising Kids Free of Food and Weight Conflicts. I have never read this book, but I have several friends that say it has helped them to stop fighting with their toddlers about food.

    I think that you should feed her something that you know she will eat at every meal. I would also put the foods that you want her to eat on her plate, along with the regular foods, so that she gets used to seeing them. Toddlers learn by touching and playing with things, so do let her play with the new foods. If dd sees these foods on her plate, they are more likely to become familiar to her which might increase her chances of trying them. I would not force her to eat the food, and if she screams about the new foods being next to her favorites, then just have them on a different plate for her to explore when she is ready.

    Just Take a Bite talks about how to create a supportive and nurturing eating environment so the child can feel safe to explore new foods without coercion, deception, or punishment. It mentions that you should not discuss the child's eating habits or how much she eats during the meal. The authors also suggest that role reversal, like feeding bites of food to mom or dad, might influence the child to explore new foods.

    I don't know if you are feeling up to this suggestion, but letting her pick out a new veggie at the grocery store might help her be more adventurous with what she eats. My children sometimes feel that the food tastes better if they get to help make it. At least you would have MIL to help you with the kitchen cleanup You could also make up a batch of dd's favorites when you are feeling up to it. That way you can just pull out a dd size portion of kraft dinner from the freezer or a pb and j sandwich from the fridge, so it won't feel like you are having to cook two different meals for dinner.

    Take Care ,
    Amber

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    • #3
      it sounds like it is becoming a power struggle

      It is common for children your daughter's age to become extremely picky eaters and start rejecting foods they used to like. It also sounds like food is becoming a power struggle between you and your daughter.

      I recommend the book Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by the nutritionist Ellyn Satter. Her philosophy is that it's your job as a parent to make healthy food available frequently, and it's your baby/toddler/child's job to decide what to eat, how much to eat, and whether to eat at all. She opposes little tricks and games (like the spoon airplane game) to get a reluctant child to take a few mouthfuls, and she argues against things like "just take a few bites, then you can leave the table." The idea is to take the power struggle out of this situation and allow your child to be in control of her eating.

      I can imagine how hard this must be when you feel pressure about her being underweight. However, Satter talks about how sometimes a vicious cycle can develop, where the more parents communicate how very important it is for the child to eat, the more the child tries to assert power by not eating. Conversely, parents who try to restrict food because they fear their child is overweight can unwittingly spur their child to rebel by eating more, sneaking food, etc.

      If you can't find Child of Mine, Satter wrote another similar book called How to Get Your Kid to Eat (but Not Too Much).

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      • #4
        What a very difficult time for you, the third trimester is so hard even without the extra stress of HG. For your sake have you looked in your area to see if they have any of those fresh/frozen meal places. Here we have 2 of them you can either just place an order and pick up or go and put together your meals. They do all the prep and all you do is assembly and then you take them home, freeze them and toss in the oven at meal time. They are full of really good foods. We have two one is called Entree Kitchen, and the other is Simply Homemade. They are called assembly kitchens. That might help give you a break from all the cooking and still feel good about what they are eating.

        As far as the pickiness goes, sounds like my 2 year old, but I'm sure the underweight issue is stressing you out beyond the normal worries of a picky eater. My favorite book is "My Child Won't Eat" it's out of print but there may be a copy at your local library or our local LLL has a copy. It is written by a doctor and it is always my go to book when my daughter starts getting picky about eating.

        Also my daughter is a big snacker, it is hard to get her to sit down for an actual meal so I try and make sure I have a variety of snacks that I feel good about her eating. I think of the food groups when I'm finding snacks for her. I buy organic breakfast bars, essentially Nutrigrain bars because I know I can count that as a whole grain, but she will eat it because of the fruit in the middle. I started getting the organic ones because they have more whole grains and less sugar and no HFCS. Then I let her mow down on the fruit as much as she'll eat, this time of year the cutie oranges are a life saver she'll finish off 5 a day if I let her. I also try and do yogurt and cheese which she really likes. I try and keep in mind the food pyramid. Also my doctor recommended to really not let her drink anything except water because if she drinks milk she fills her stomach up on milk and doesn't want any solid foods. She weaned in my second trimester. We also do a lot of soup with lentils because she will drink the soup which she seems to like. Good luck!!!

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        • #5
          Just in case you were thinking about looking up any of the books that were suggested, the book Child of Mine sounds a lot like what I have heard about Preventing Childhood Eating Disorders.

          I was wondering, have you thought about getting dd evaluated for oral-motor or sensory issues? Those problems can be so sneaky sometimes. It is hard to know what is just regular toddler pickiness and what might be a physical problem.

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