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Food inspiration for an "eats nothing" child

(88 Posts)
HurdyGurdy Sat 07-Dec-19 18:20:46

There is a lot of background to this, which is too much to detail here, although I'm happy to answer any questions if asked.

My grandson has been staying with us this week, and is going home again tomorrow. He turned 8 this week. He wears age 4-5 clothes, 5-6 at a push. He's a real tiny tot.

He lives with his mum, 200 miles away from us. His dad, my son, lives with us. Due to the distance, we only see him for a week at at time, four times a year, because that's all the annual leave my son gets.

It is believed that he has an autism diagnosis. He is practically non verbal, and what speech he does have, is difficult to understand.

His diet is nothing short of tragic. He eats

French fries
Garlic bread
The breadcrumb/batter coating to chicken nuggets or fish fingers - and sometimes he will accidentally have a minute piece of the meat attached to the batter

He will not entertain fruit or vegetables or any other foods.

I think it's all down to texture - he seems to go for dry/crunchy type foods.

So can you suggest any ways we can try to achieve the same texture when trying to encourage him to eat other, healthier, foods.

I was quite encouraged this week when he had half a tiny pot of fromage frais. He's never even tried it before, so we were over the moon with this small progress! I don't know how much of it was down to the Peppa Pig character on the pot, but whatever - at least it went in. He also had a bite of a banana, but quickly spat it out again.

Any ideas are welcome. Our hands are a bit tied, as we only see him for bursts of time, quite spread out, but if we can at least send him home to mum with one new food he has tried with us that she can continue trying, it will be a boost.

HurdyGurdy Sat 07-Dec-19 18:21:29

p.s. he does have vitamin drops in his drinks

MissAdventure Sat 07-Dec-19 18:30:09

You can get crisps which are made out of vegetables rather than just potatoes.

How about raw carrots or baby sweetcorn? Nuts?

Iam64 Sat 07-Dec-19 18:33:30

Hurdy Gurdy, as someone who has a now adult grandson, who was diagnosed as ASD aged about 8, I empathise. For what it's worth, I'd say offer what you're all eating, ask if there is anything he'd like to try but otherwise, I'd give him exactly what he wants to eat.
This is partly because he is making his choices well known and pressing him to deviate is likely to cause stress, the other reason is you don't see him regularly so it's likely to be easier all round if he's relaxed and happy. a limited diet doesn't matter that much. My grandson couldn't have any food that touched each other, he couldn't eat things like cottage pie but would eat chips, chicken nuggets and peas, providing these ingredients never touched each other.
Enjoy his visits x

Grammaretto Sat 07-Dec-19 18:37:46

breakfast cereal, ( sugar free) with fresh fruit ?
crunchy Peanut butter on toast?

Mine are such good eaters although some of them are a bit quirky. DGS aged 12 never has ice cream. He hates it but loves a cornet and chocolate flake!

I do remember a child when I was young who lived on nothing but chips (and tomato ketchup) for a year. He became a maths teacher.

Grammaretto Sat 07-Dec-19 18:40:56

My eldest DS was like your DGS Iam64. He wouldn't eat mixtures as he called them, from an early age. He grew up fine.

Iam64 Sat 07-Dec-19 18:48:52

Thanks grameretto, I should have added my grandson is in his twenties, loves food and no longer worries about ‘mixtures’, he eats a varied diet very happily

Septimia Sat 07-Dec-19 18:50:15

When, during teacher training many years ago, I was first told about autism, it concerned a girl who would only eat 'pink pudding'.

I believe many autistic children (and others) have problems with food textures and it's far better that they eat something even if it isn't the healthiest or most nutritious food. My GD is reluctant to try new things and we've found it better to give her the opportunity to taste them but not to push it. She suddenly developed a liking for sausage toad-in-the-hole after I gave it to her. I knew she liked sausages and said she didn't have to eat the batter, but she did!

So I agree that it's best not to force things but to offer a choice that includes foods that your GS likes as well as new ones to try.

If he eats 'french fries' will he try sweet potato chips? Sweet potato is a totally different vegetable.

M0nica Sat 07-Dec-19 19:09:23

Have you involved him in choosing and cooking food?

Any root veg can be cooked as a chip. carrot, parsnip, celeriac turnip.

Farmor15 Sat 07-Dec-19 22:42:03

Chickpea flour (gram flour) is much higher in protein than wheat flour and can be made into batter to coat veg and fried, or just fried as crispy bits. Sounds like he needs more protein in diet, but also more calories. What about those nuts with crunchy coating?

HillyN Sat 07-Dec-19 23:00:28

How about cheese straws, as he likes breadsticks, or maybe other cheesy biscuits like Mini Cheddars? You can also get packs with a few breadsticks and a cheesy dip.
Garlic bread could be 'adapted' by using a garlic cream cheese instead of butter or maybe he would like a pea fritter.

Callistemon Sat 07-Dec-19 23:03:55

I tried to suggest some things earlier but it would not post.

I was suggesting getting him involved in preparing and cooking food that he might like and and tried to post some pictures of food which looked like a picture, eg sausage, beans and mash looking like a face etc, or sweetcorn and other veg arranged as a picture and let him pick it up with his fingers.
Does he like tomato sauce - a big sugary but you could use it as a dip with crudités

No cajoling, no encouraging, just let him eat what he wants, no 'just try a bit' as it can turn into a power struggle.

No eating between meals either.

It could be difficult but don't let him sense your anxiety.

GrannyLaine Sat 07-Dec-19 23:20:10

Slightly different perspective but as you see him infrequently, might it be better to just go along with the quirky food choices? Any kind of pressure to try things is going to make him feel anxious, especially if he is on the autistic spectrum. Realistically, in the short time you have him, you are not going to make much impact on the overall nutritional content of his diet.

Callistemon Sat 07-Dec-19 23:23:27

What he likes this week with you he may decide he doesn't like when he gets home anyway!

Missfoodlove Sun 08-Dec-19 00:02:07

A “ goody plate” did it for my children.
Prawns, carrot, apple, bread. You get the idea, tiny portions of lots of textures and taste.
I placed it down with no comment and it was well received.
Once the pressure of sitting down and eating a meal was removed the appetite increased.

BradfordLass72 Sun 08-Dec-19 07:27:39

Look here and see if this would work: crispy fruits grin

If he accidentally eats chicken, then maybe tiny, tiny slivers of it, fried crisp or in a tempura batter could be offered.

Tempura is great for crisping a lot of things but if the texture of the food inside offends him, you may have to choose things which don't stay soft when fried.

This is not a 'picky eater' who has to be tempted but a child who reacts to food in a way which shows he is upset or even disgusted or sickened by it.
Autism is a complicated issue.

Try some experiments when he's not with you and see what you can crisp up, with or without batter.
When I was a school cook, some of the children loved fried luncheon meat ! This was cut into strips, shallow fried to a crisp and eaten with their fingers. grin

I hope the freeze dried stuff is helpful. smile

stillaspringchicken Sun 08-Dec-19 10:06:26

If he's on the autistic spectrum, then being in a relatively unfamiliar environment will be causing him considerable discomfort already - as the parent of two autistic kids, I'd recommend feeding him what he's used to and what he likes. He's only with you for a few weeks each year, and you don't want him to associate these times with being stressed out by food. I'd recommend getting a children's cookbook and asking if he'd like to help you make something out of it, to show that food can be fun, rather than forcing change upon him.

timetogo2016 Sun 08-Dec-19 10:10:38

I would be very worried tbh.
It`s no surprise he`s small.
I think I would have him take a blood test to make sure he isn`t deficient in vitamins etc.

BusterTank Sun 08-Dec-19 10:17:39

My daughter went through a stage were she would eat nothing but yogurts . I never pushed the issue of eating anything else . I would always say would you like a bit of what I'm eating . I would add a few extra options on his plate and let him make the decision . Also offer him different snacks between meals but don't make an issue out the food thing because it will make matters worse . Good luck .

Solonge Sun 08-Dec-19 10:18:38

A limited diet that is absent in Protein, vitamins and minerals has a huge impact. Whilst your grandson may not be starving he sounds very malnourished. The body depends on proteins to build cells. He will be small for his age without protein. He is at risk of rickets and scurvy and many other conditions from lack of vitamins. Your son is the child’s father and could take his son to your gp as a temporary patient. Frankly the diet is tantamount to child abuse. How many of us would have happily floated along feeding our child crap their entire life? Maybe your son could move nearer to his son and have greater input.

notanan2 Sun 08-Dec-19 10:22:52

If you try to trick or hide other food in his food he wont trust anything you give him and may stop eating all together!

Put a little bit of everything you're eating on his plate. WITH something he will eat. Use tapas style dishes if its runny. So its there. Offer dont force. Dont make a big deal of it. Just put it there so that if one day he decides to try it theres no big circus around it

basicallygrace12 Sun 08-Dec-19 10:23:56

my son , now 22, is exactly the same, and autistic. He eats fubes, yoghurts in tubes, but only strawberry ones. As he has gotten older his diet has only improved very little, he will now eat iceberg lettuce! one thing, he can now vocalise is he really doesn't like sharing plates or cutlery , he now has his own cupboard space with everything seperate, his own milk, he drinks straight from bottle, milk is good, try individual cartons with straws, mine will only drink fresh semi skimmed! he eats ketchup on anything, but only heinz, at least a bit of veg even if with sugar. i always say he really only eats beige food! my daughter is also autistic and her diet is different but still very restrictive. Its a long process, and you sometimes think you have conquered a favourite and the manufactor makes a slight change, which i can't notice and they don't eat. By way microwave snacks, where he can cook him self, burgers/pizzas etc always mean he eats as no one else handles. He will sometimes eat an apple, but only if he can use an apple slicer and do it himself, and then only a green one. you could take him shopping and let him look at all fruit and veg etc, but i would try that in middle of night at an empty 24 hour supermarket!
Other things to look out for, toothpaste, and cleaning teeth, my son doesn't! sound, i never knew until they were adults and could vocalise, things like TV always had to be on a set volume number for them to tolerate sound. Touch, flannel sheets and bedding, my kids love electric throws, i think the weight of them helps reassurance, you can get weighted blankets. sock seams! mine wear inside out! and my son ALWAYS has electric fan on, comfort from feel of flow and white noise. And make sure you use same washing powder as mum, the smell and feel may be enough to throw child off balance!
I know i have strayed from food, but if you can make surroundings more comfortable, sometimes that means the child is more relaxed and will then be happier trying new stuff.

notanan2 Sun 08-Dec-19 10:24:32

Involve him in the grocery shopping too

TrendyNannie6 Sun 08-Dec-19 10:26:45

I took my one of my children to our drs because he was refusing so many foods that I considered good foods, dr wasn’t a bit concerned I always gave him vitamins, she said it was a phase that he would grow out of, he did, he went on to be 6ft 4 and healthy hasn’t been to the drs for years. I will say this happened when he was very young 5/6 years old

trisher Sun 08-Dec-19 10:28:25

As you see him so infrequently I wouldn't try to change too much. You could try offering a litte something new with his usual food. Can you toast different sorts of bread? Does he have something on his toast and crumpets?-try peanut butter or cream cheese (or chocolate spread). Maybe some popcorn and the veg crisps. Rice cakes or crisp breads?
My friend's son ate very few foods had the same packed lunch every day and almost the same tea. He grew up fine!