Managing Food Allergies and Eating Problems: The Picky Eater

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“I don’t like that!”

“I’m not eating those blackberries.”

“Yuck!”

“I don’t want chicken, I want potatoes!”

Managing Food Allergies & Picky Eaters~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

Two-and-a-half years ago I never would have heard those words.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Superman used to eat pretty much anything, including Brussel sprouts.  I’m not sure what happened, but over the past year or so, Superman’s tastes have changed dramatically.  He turned 5 in July 2014, and even then he ate so much better than he does now at the precipice of 2015.  Feeding him is a daily struggle.  I aim to put well balanced meals in front of him, but he wants nothing of fruits and the only vegetable he’ll willingly eat is broccoli.

It is such a struggle that I routinely cry over why he won’t eat….or gain weight.  He’s a mere 30 pounds at 5 1/2 years old, and he’s as skinny as Popeye.  It’s discouraging when his peers are towering over him, and we are more often getting asked if his nearly 3-year old sister is his twin.

We don’t know why he won’t gain weight, and we don’t know why he’s so picky.  What I do know, is that I’m going to tackle this head on and persevere in my goal of keeping Superman healthy.  It’s going to be a long road, trying to figure out if his pickiness is sensory issues, 5-year old drama, or food allergy related, but I’m hopeful that mealtimes will improve.

Tonight’s experiment to get him to eat without complaining at bedtime snack was simply changing the venue.  I put a blanket on the living room floor, declared it a picnic, and set down the snack.

Managing Food Allergies & Picky Eating~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

 

Was it a miracle worker?  Yes and no.  Superman and Tinker Bell thought it was a blast and willingly drank their smoothies….that were secretly fortified with So Delicious Dairy-Free yogurt for the added calories and probiotics.  Did he eat the Rice Chex in the bowl?  Nope.  He detests cereal, wet or dry, unless it’s in the form of a Rice Krispie Treat, Muddie Buddies, or Chex Chicken.  I knew he would reject the cereal, and that’s OK.  I knew he would slurp every last bit of the Sunbutter smoothie, even with the hidden ingredient.

I used three tactics here to manage a picky eater: a venue change,  two options, and a smoothie that housed healthy foods, but a secret ingredient.

What do I want you to take away from this experiment?

I want you to be creative.  Not artsy-fartsy.  Just creative.  Food allergy kids are flexible, because they have to be.  Sometimes they get bored, because of their limited options.  A simple blanket on the floor transformed this snack for my child and took the emphasis off of the food and put it on the experience.  Don’t be afraid to have fun with this!

Here are some ideas on changing (or improving) the venue:

Have a pajama party and have a snack or breakfast in bed

Let the kids eat in the play room and if young enough, let them include their stuffed animals and dolls

Change seats at the dinner table (musical chairs!)

Dinner theater-have dinner while watching a movie

Add fun placemats or crazy straws

Hat party-everyone wears a different hat at a meal

Older kids may enjoy having a dinner party with friends, input on meal plans, or want to cook dinner for the family.  I used to teach middle school, so I know how hard it is to please that age.  If you have ideas for tweens/preteens, leave them in the comments below.

These ideas probably won’t cure a picky eater overnight, but it may help change things up so the monotony of eating familiar (or not-so-familiar) foods every day is less of a battle.

What ideas would you add?  Add your thoughts to the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “Managing Food Allergies and Eating Problems: The Picky Eater

  1. Great ideas! Our next meal may be a picnic too.

    I’ve also heard about serving small bits of different foods in an ice cube tray – tons of options and small portions are not so overwhelming. There are also a few charts you can find online about ‘eating a rainbow’ – finding foods in all colours. I’ve yet to try these out, but it may work for some.

  2. My son is picky too and he always has been but a few early battles and I mean crying it out battles (him crying) means he eats everything I give him. I always say he is allergic to so much that what he can eat, he better eat! He still won’t eat yogurt but it’s not something we really eat anyway so I sneak it into smoothies and I marinate chicken and porkchops in it. I also tell him that he has to try a new food at least 3 times before he can say he doesn’t like it. He usually likes it since I don’t feed him anything like liver! He always has a choice to go to bed if he doesn’t want to eat dinner. He never does choose his room since he is hungry. He’s still picky but he’s much better than he was and we have a lot less “tough love”.

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