Thursday, June 09, 2011

Helping Her to Eat Better

Getting my daughter to eat better isn't working. I'm shifting focus onto HELPING her eat better. I think this is deeper than just toddler/preschooler misbehavior. I think she has a deeper issue. Most kids take to promises of treats, hunger pangs, or other methods of getting them to eat healthy foods. Not my daughter. She would rather go without the treat and eat non-food items (she refused lunch today and ate a birthday candle she found outside instead!!)

Mixing veg in casseroles doesn't work either. She doesn't like mixed up foods and can spot a tiny sliver of spinach in a gallon of tomato sauce and refuse the whole meal. The reason she refused lunch today is that I put a tiny bit of homemade peach sauce (like applesauce, but made from peaches) on her peanut butter sandwich without her knowledge. She refused the sandwich after several bites telling me it tasted bad. I took a bite and couldn't even taste the peach sauce for the peanut butter! Then, she was so upset, she refused anything else I offered her.

As a side note, I'm also not too keen on letting her go hungry until she eats in desperation. She reacts like she may have blood sugar issues like me and hunger usually results in a sobbing, unreasonable girl for the remainder of the day.

So, here's what I'm doing or have done to help her eat better:


2. I listed all the healthy foods she does eat. It's a small list, but it gives me an idea of what I can feed her that she'll actually eat. She does have a rotation, though. A food she ate and loved last week she might refuse again for months on end only to ask for it and eat it again all of a sudden.

3. Keep a food journal.

4. I made a food group chart for her with 14 spaces to fill with stickers for each food. They say that it takes approximately 11-14 days of trying something to develop a taste for it. It also gives her a visual for accomplishment, though she seems rather disinterested right now.

5. Let her help in the kitchen and garden. She watched me make her baby brother's homemade formula the other day and asked to try the fermented cod liver oil and the nutritional yeast and bifodobacterium infantis and she said, "yum" to all.

6. Take her to farmstands and pick-you-own places. Though, the last time I did this, she literally ate a piece of dog poop instead of the berries. Yeah, you can bet I freaked out. I screamed so loud, I'm amazed the farmer didn't come running to see what was wrong! Granted, that was 2 years ago.

7. She seems to prefer dried fruit over fresh, so I hauled out my dehydrator. I've got peach fruit roll-ups in it now.

8. The Healthy Home Economist (link in left sidebar) had an article about using speariment extract for picky eaters. I might give that a go, though I don't think her appetite needs whetting. It's her palate.

I've tried smoothies to no avail. This morning, I tried a slushy made from strawberries for her and she tried it, but didn't like it, so I'm turning it into a popsicle in hopes she'll eat it then.

For added information, sitting with her and encouraging her to eat doesn't work. She gets terribly upset, imagines up a stomach ache, and her saliva becomes really thick and chokes her should I repeatedly offer her a food she doesn't want to it. If I do manage to get it in her mouth, she holds it under her tongue and won't swallow it. She usually can't swallow it anyway because her saliva gets so thick under the stress.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. She sees the doctor in a couple of weeks, so I'll hopefully get some answers from him.


The Kitchen Witch said...

I hope I don't offend you because I am sure you thought of this, but have you brought up the possibility of PICA to her doctor yet? People with PICA are compelled to eat non-food items even when there is plenty of real food around them. There is a theory that they have a vitamin deficiency that makes them eat the non food items but right now they really have no explanation as to why they are obsessed with eating non food items.

glojo said...

She might be a "supertaster." They're more able to taste bitterness, fats, and sugar than most other people. Interestingly, they also like saltiness better because it masks bitter flavors. Take a look at the foods she likes and see if there's a pattern in either taste (salt, sweet, sugar, sour) or texture. I wondering too if there might be some hidden food allergies that her body instinctively recognizes. I think you're wise to include her in food preparation and to let her taste the ingredients. How about have her help you plan a few day's menu as well? Good luck.

a suburban housewife said...

Someone else may have suggested this, but have you heard of the book "Deceptively Delicious"? I have it, and since the fruits/veggies are pureed, your daughter wouldn't be able to pick out a piece of anything! The only thing I don't like about the book is it calls for "fake" ingredients (margarine, for example). I just substitute the real thing instead, and the product turns out wonderfully.
Blessing to you as you work through this issue :)