Time to stop taking the easy way out……

by Karla Barnett on January 4, 2012

Yes, I said it, I am guilty of taking the easy way out when it comes to my picky eating son! His limited food choices consist of crackers (wheat Ritz only), yogurt, pretzels (occasionally), nutri-grain bars and milk. Jonathan has oral sensory defensiveness which means he has a limited food repertoire and avoids certain food textures and flavors. I often wondered how he feels when presented with certain foods and a therapist indicated it’s similar to you or I eating a roach.

So how do we fix oral defensiveness? I currently take him to weekly feeding sessions with speech therapist. The sessions consist of presenting him with new food choices. When I first observed the process she goes through, I thought, “You have got to be kidding me!” The goal of the feeding session is to make him comfortable enough to touch, kiss, lick and eat the food. I’m thinking meal time will take hours. I was literally relying on the therapist to resolve the issue and not utilizing the techniques at home, but it doesn’t work that way. I had to realize he is with the therapist 50 minutes a week. Not enough time to make a dent in his progress. She provides the tools to eliminate oral defensiveness and it’s up to the parents to effectively implement the process at each feeding.

My hubby and I had a long discussion relative to Jonathan’s eating last night and decided we need to stop taking the easy way out. That means introducing new foods daily versus giving him his favorite staple, Ritz crackers, for every meal and snack.
The process make take days, weeks, months or even years but I have to start it now. So, I am mentally prepared myself for the challenge of eliminating crackers from his diet and introducing healthy food choices. Today was the beginning of my quest to conquer picky eating and this was clearly one of the worse days of my life. For breakfast we started with French toast, eggs and turkey sausage. Keep in mind, the three items may not be on the same plate and I’m using the process indicated above. As I attempted to feed him, there was crying, screaming and consistent request for crackers. I fought back my tears and tried to comfort him with hugs, kisses and words of encouragement. None of which seemed to matter. There has been a pit in my stomach all day and I’m trying to remain strong for my little guy. I have been through many trials in my life but this is proving to be the most difficult. It seems cruel to deny him of his favorite food but I have to realize the short term pain we are both experiencing will benefit him for life.

Will this be a simple task? No

Will the long term benefits be worth the battles, tears and frustration? Yes

Stay tuned for the good, the bad and the ugly!

Do you have a picky eater? Feel free to share your tips with me!

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari January 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

You can do it Karla! U are so strong and I have never seen u take the easy way out. Let me know if u need help with your baby girl during this time. Your strength will inspire so many parents.

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Leona Majesky January 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I am right there with you-taking the easy way out! It isn’t easy to try to work with them. My 3 yr-old just started special education pre-k, so I’m hoping watching other children eat will help him to try new things. Good luck and many hugs!

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Revan August 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm

The specialist that I would love to have an optptrunioy to work with is a Neonatologist. I think that it would be a blessing and a miracle to be able to work with little ones that have to rely on you during their first few weeks of life. Some infants may require extra attention and treatment for various reasons. Being able to show empathy and give support to the families during the process is essential. My daughter was six weeks premature and required extra treatment, so I can understand the feeling that parents have when they can’t leave the hospital with their little miracle. Being able to now be the one to give that support to the families and making them feel as comfortable as they can be knowing that their child is receiving the best care possible is really important to me. New parents may feel overwhelmed and may not know how to do certain things, so being able to assist in showing them how to care for their little one would be an amazing experience.The specialists that I would least want to work with would be an Emergency physician and a Proctologist. Working with an emergency physician, you would never know what you can encounter any given day. I feel that I can handle a lot with respect to blood or anything that could make a person queasy, but I don’t know how I would react if a patient came in with a severed limb or just anything that is extreme and out of the ordinary. As with a Proctologist, I don’t have an interest working with a specialist that deals with disorders of the colon, rectum, and anus. With both of these specialties, it may be because neither are areas that I would explore. I’m sure with proper training you will be more knowledgeable and see the importance and necessity of having a specialist that can provide care for patients that depend on them to make them feel better.At the end of the day though, you have to love what you do no matter which area of interest you choose.

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Karla Barnett January 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Thanks Shari, I really appreciate your support! Unfortunately, I have been taking the easy way out but I’m moving forward. Looking for to posting his positive progress.

I will take you up on your offer!

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Karla Barnett January 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Leona,

Keep me posted on your daughters progress. I have a 23 month old and my son often watches her eat and shows interest but refuses to try new foods. Today was tough but I know his eating will improve over time. He turns for in a few weeks and my wish for him by his birthday is to add at least 5 new food choices to his diet.

What does your daughter currently eat?

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Leona Majesky January 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Karla,
I have a little boy, Christopher. He prefers hard/crunchy food-pretzels, granola bars, steak. The steak does come back out after he chews on it. He will eat chicken nuggets and sometimes pizza. He does not tolerate mixed texture foods-yogurt with pieces of fruit in it. His gastroenterologist feels he will outgrow it especially when in school with other children. I’m hoping with him in school, giving me some time off of lunch duty during the week will help me be more creative and have more patience during other meal times. Can’t wait to hear about your progress, good luck with it!

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Karla Barnett January 5, 2012 at 11:44 am

Leona,

Good luck with Christopher. Is he currently seeing an occupational or speech therapist for feeding?
Keep me posted on his progress. Remember, I’m available if you want to chat!!! You can also post on my fb page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dynamic-Mom/143394655702454

Have a great day!

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Gayathri January 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Keep faith Karla. I know this is tough, I have been through something similar with my daughter too. She had her favorite foods many of which we had to let go due to the diet. She is learning to eat new foods, but it is an ongoing battle. All this will pay off one day

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Karla Barnett January 5, 2012 at 11:41 am

Gayathri, I realize in the long run, it will pay off but it is hard to deny him of his favorite food. My ideal day will be when he is eating fruits, veggies, and healthy meats. Just another journey within the journey.

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Dan Harris January 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Your courage and strength inspires and amazes me!

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Karla Barnett January 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

Thanks Daniel…

My strength and courage comes from God!!!!!!

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Jen Reetz January 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Good for you Karla!! My son is 8 and is very picky as well! It seems that many of these extremely picky eaters eat the same thing. He will not eat any vegetables and the only thing that is fruit related that he will eat is Strawberry Applesauce (only a certain brand because some are too “thick”) and fruit snacks (which we all know have more sugar than fruit!!). He will eat almost any type of plain cracker – Ritz, Town House, etc. and loves Goldfish and pretzels. He won’t eat any meat, except some chicken nuggets from McD’s (no other ones). He eats lots of peanut butter and Nutella on bread or buns. He loves pizza, cheese and yogurt, but that is about it (besides dessert type foods). We have tried the bribery and making him try things, but nothing seems to work. If this works for you, I want to know your trick!!! How old is your son??

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Karla Barnett January 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Jen, this is a big step for my husband and I. I was so afraid that he would starve if I didn’t give him his favorite foods but if my therapist can get him to try applesauce and turkey then why can I? Yesterday we went cold turkey and removed crackers from his food repertoire and tried introducing new foods using the therapist process……BRUTAL. He asked for crackers 1 million times. Today was better, he only requested crackers 100,000 times and bit a strawberry and he kissed a grilled cheese sandwich and baked fries. I consider that progress. I pray tomorrow is even better. I honestly believe crackers had become a habit or comfort food for him.

I’m doing something new on the site this year! I will be interviewing therapist and doctors to provide tips on a variety of issues we face. My first interview will be conducted next week with Jonathan’s speech/feeding therapist. I will have her go through the process which I highly recommend. It’s works…A LOT of work but it’s worth it. She is amazing, smart, energetic and stern which my son needs because if your wimpy he will run you over. If you have any questions you would like me to address, please email me or you respond on the dynamicmom fb page as I plan to post this tonight.

My son will be 4 in two weeks and I would love it if he would taste his birthday cake. :-)

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Karla Barnett January 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Jen Reetz January 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Karla, that is awesome!! So glad you have had some success so far!! That is great. Here is my other problem. My son is also ADHD. He is on meds and eats very little throughout the day. In the year he has been on meds, he has lost quite a bit of weight. He is super skinny now, and I worry that he is too skinny. I fall into giving him what he wants, so that he actually gets some food!!! :) Also, there is the problem that if he doesn’t eat when on his meds, he gets headaches and nauseaus. I know….I sound like I make a lot of excuses, but I just worry!! I can’t wait to see that interview. I would love to know more!! Thanks!

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Karla Barnett January 8, 2012 at 12:27 am

Jen,

I’m right there with you. I fed my little guy an endless supply of crackers because I thought he would starve. I will have Ana address our fears in her interview. I am quite pleased with the steps we have taken. Going much better than I thought. He is touching and kissing all kinds of foods. I’m sure this sounds weird but in our world, it’s major progress.

Have you taken your son to an occupational or speech therapist?

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Anja Cangemi January 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Karla,

I am in a similar situation and reading your blog has helped me realize that I’m not the only person experiencing this issue. My son Edwin is going to be 2 in March and is currently going through speech and occupational therapy as well as being diagnosed with a mild case of Sensory Processing Disorder. Meal time is ALWAYS a battle and my husband and I have been taking the easy way out and giving into to his demands of jelly toast, pb & j sandwiches, and all the fruit he can consume. However, upon my initial research into SPD I discovered that a well balanced diet is a MUST for a growing child. So starting tomorrow I will work on incorporating healthy choices into his diet with hopes that I won’t back down or break down and give into his demands no more how cute he is! Thank you!

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Karla Barnett January 8, 2012 at 12:34 am

Anja,

It’s so easy to give in and avoid the fight. I have been giving in for years. Your way ahead of the game as he is still young. The request for Jonathan’s favorite foods is dwindling by the day. No crackers for four days.

What process is your therapist using with Edwin?

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Anja Cangemi January 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Karla,

We have yet to start a specific process. Edwin just started therapy last week and there are a lot of different factors that I would like to incorporated. Edwin doesn’t only have issues with eating, but also rarely plays with toys, gets extremely irritable with things if they don’t go his way, still doesn’t sleep through the night most nights, etc… I am starting a journal to track his progress and also doing a lot of research including reading “The Out-of-Sync Child.” Do you have any suggestions? I’m at a loss as to what to do and where exactly to begin.

Thanks,
Anja

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Chima December 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Working for an obstetrician would be a very inseterting job. I currently work doing admissions and dispositions as well in my job and one thing I do, is take down all the information on the babies being born. Its amazing how many babies are born in just one month at the hospital, I do a minimum of 20 babies a month, and sometime the unfortunate part of documentation on babies who do not make it. Its a stressful field as well and you really have to practice empathy for those parents who have to deal with things going wrong.

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Karla Barnett January 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Anja,

I can only tell it will get better!!! Jonathan was the same way. He was constantly moving and did not always play with toys based on the intent. I initially thought he had ADHD but later discovered he was sensory seeking. When the therapist diagnosed him with vestibular, tactile and oral sensory issues I could not grasp the concept. I would take him to therapy and twice a week and do the bare minimum when we were home. I could not understand how the techniques would help. I also read the Out-of-Sync Child which is an excellent source. Once I started integrating the therapy techniques into our daily routine, I began to see improvement. He use to trip a lot, hated swinging or sliding, had issues transitioning from grass to concrete or hard wood floors to carpet. He became a new kid and the frustration and irritability deminished. My advice is to make therapy apart of his daily routine but it has to be fun. We can chat via phone if you like. I can give you some additional lessons I learned to make life easier for you and Edwin. Or we can schedule a time to instant message on FB. Email me at karlabarnett@gmail.com. I would love to share with you!!!

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Anja Cangemi February 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Sorry I haven’t replied! I will send you an email ASAP. I’m always looking for additional ways to help out Edwin!

Thanks again!

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Kim January 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Karla,
We had the same issue with my son. We had a year that he basically lived off white rice! His tongue could detect anything I tried to hide in the rice! I kept trying and trying to get him to taste anything. If I managed to force it in his mouth, he would push it back out with his tongue. On Mothers Day last year, while at a friends house, he picked up a grilled sausage and started eating it! After that he grabbed broccoli and cauliflower and just started munching on it! I was floored! He still wont eat most meats like beef or chicken if they are not ground up or in “hot dog” form, but we have come a long way. Hang in there moms. It gets better!

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Lauren January 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I took the easy way out for many years. I figured that my son wasn’t going to starve himself to death, and I was weary from the daily struggle (in addition to a multitude of other struggles) to get him to eat a variety of healthy foods. On the one hand, I was right. He didn’t starve. On the other hand, he developed some bad eating habits. As a young adult, he is now overweight, and I have to take some of the blame for that.

I looked at it as a trade off. To get my son to eat a healthy, sensible diet would have taken a considerable amount of time, effort and battling. With so many other daily battles and struggles, I just didn’t have the energy to fight about his seemingly quirky food choices. I reasoned that he would try new tastes and textures when he was ready for them. The up side was a little more peace and harmony. The downside was not giving my child the best, healthiest start in life I could have.

Needless to say, hindsight is always 20-20, so whichever direction your pendulum swings, you should go easy on yourself. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, and as parents we all make a ton of mistakes. I guess if I had it to do over again, I would take the middle road – offer new foods every day, but not fight or obsess about his diet unless he was failing to thrive.

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Karla Barnett January 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Thanks Kim, I’m looking forward to the day when my little guy eats healthy foods. I know it will happen…..just not over night!!!!

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Karla Barnett January 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for the insight Lauren. I spend a vast amount of my day stressing about my little guys eating. I know in time, we will get there!

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Jennifer Fuller James January 11, 2012 at 8:53 am

As a special education teacher who has worked on feeding issues, alongside speech therapists and occupational therapists I completely understand your frustrations and your fears about your child starving. The sooner you start working on it at home, the better. It will be brutal, as you mentioned, but as you start to expand his food choices it will make a huge difference in his life and in yours. Keep at it and know that you are doing it because you love him, even though he is acting as if you are torturing him.

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Xochitl Wichterman January 12, 2012 at 6:02 am

Great post!

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Karla Barnett January 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Thank you!!1

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Rafly August 1, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Are you kidding me with this shoot!!!They are goeruogs, you captured their spirit beautifully, and did I mention I like to look at them, because of their beauty. Your shoots speak to me and that is hard to find sometimes. K

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software programs January 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Awesome writing style!

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Karla Barnett January 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Thank you….just writing from the heart or emotion of the day!

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scottsdale arizona concierge doctor January 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

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Karla Barnett January 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Thanks!

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Karla Barnett January 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Just sent you an email. Look forward to speaking with you!

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Jessica February 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Karla,

I know it’s almost the end of February, but i JUST came across your blog tonight! I’m so, so glad I did! My 4.5 year old daughter has sensory issues and eating is one of our biggest challenges. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like a failure because I couldn’t get her to eat. I was going against everything our doctor said about how we shouldn’t make her separate meals just to avoid the 30 min. long tantrums to try a single grain of rice or one kernel of corn! The gagging to this day breaks my heart. I finally went against everything everyone told me and sought help from an OT. She recommended SOS Feeding therapy (which sounds a lot like what your doing). It’s been almost a year (March of this year), and while progress has been painstakingly slow…we are seeing changes. She’s finally asking US to try certain foods! She handles her fear w/ food much better (depending on the food of course).Texture, physical appearance, and smell is still incredibly difficult for her. Until we can manage those few things…this will continue to be a day-by-day process. I’d love to chat with you some more about sensory issues and especially the eating issues. I know so few moms who are dealing with this. Because of that, I actually started my own blog just to help others w/ what we were dealing with on a regular basis. *Hugs* I know how challenging the parent homework can be, but I also know the end result will be well worth it :) So excited to have found your site!!!

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Karla Barnett February 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Hi Jessica….I will send you my phone number so we can chat. I have NEVER experienced anything as difficult as my sons feeding issue. We had a set back for a few weeks due to a cold but he asked for applesauce today which is huge for him. It’s hard work and it breaks your heart but it will pay. Just think, we will be experts and can help many others! So glad you found my sight and I look forward to talking with you!!!

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Mario August 2, 2015 at 3:55 pm

I am un the same book group as Braden, and me and my mom just finished the first chtpear.It was so good that we’ve decided to read it again tonight!Just the beginning of the book makes me think Wow, I cant wait to read more! I mean, in the first chtpear the pilot it struck down with a surprising heart attack, so I can tell that this is going to be a great book!

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Marko December 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm

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