Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yet Another Post About My Kid Who Won't Eat...

I only have 9 minutes to write this as my baby food finishes steaming on the stove...

I am at a loss with The Boy again. Our issues with food with him seem to come and go. He never has a full appetite and, as I have written here before, it is my daily struggle to get him to eat enough food to sustain his own weight.

My reactions vary. Sometimes I get so worried I am literally up nights trying to brain storm in my head how I can possibly get him to eat more. Other times I am so damn sick of worrying about it I just think, "He'll eat when he gets hungry enough...I can't possibly spend one more minute of my life worrying about this." Most of the time I am somewhere in the middle. I give it my best to try and get two good meals out of him (we have given up on breakfast and instead he drinks two Pediasures). And I struggle to make that happen. Somewhere near the end of dinner time I putter out and just say, "Okay, if you're done, then you're done."

And for the most part, we live okay this way.

Except for when he gets sick.

When he gets sick, the very first thing he does is stop eating. He has absolutely no desire and will not, for pretty much anything, eat. Thank God he will still drink Pediasure (before he would drink this is when we got ourselves in that evil "failure to thrive/feeding tube" situations) so he doesn't dehydrate and gets some calories. But man cannot survive on Pediasure alone. Fast forward to today, a great example.

He is feeling better but is still not 100%. He had his two Pediasures this morning and was fine. Right around noon he started to "hit the wall." (This means he becomes really whiny and annoying and pitiful and usually once he hits this place he will not come near any food). I asked him if I could make him a sandwich, an apple, etc... All he wanted to eat was "popcorn" which is really the Pirates Boo.ty stuff. So I gave him a bowl of it thinking something was better than nothing. He ate two bowls. (And in case you're wondering why I ask him what he wants to eat rather than just putting something in front of him it is because the amount of food I have thrown out due to his refusal could literally feed a small army. I have found that it is better to have him agree to something first and therefore not waste all of the groceries in my kitchen).

Then we left for the grocery store. It was before 1:00pm. He complained that he was tired and fell asleep in the car. When I woke him up to sit in the cart at the store he was literally so lethargic he seemed drugged. His head would fall backwards and his eyes would shut while he "fell asleep." While sitting in the cart. Yes, he is tired, but what has happened is that his body has NO fuel on which to run. He needs to feed his body in order to make it function. And he didn't. So he stopped functioning. He spent the entire shopping trip like that, slept in the car on the way home and I transferred him to bed when we got here. He is still asleep now.

So as of 3:15pm he has eaten two bowls of Pirates Boo.ty and two pediasures. That is it. When he wakes up he will cry because he wants another "milky" (Pediasure). I won't give him one because if I do he will literally not eat anything for the rest of the night. I will fight with him and make him have some sort of FOOD as a snack and then give him dinner. Once he eats dinner I guarantee you he will get a "second wind" and start running around the house like a crazy (read: normal/healthy) 3 year old boy. I understand what is happening. I just don't know how to fix it.

He won't eat ice cream or anything cold so that rules out smoothies or shakes or even ice cream. Sometimes, if he isn't sick, he will eat a normal lunch, but when he is sick he wants no part of it. But his body can't fight off his sickness when it has no fuel. But when he is sick he won't give his body fuel. It is a sick circle we are in and we can't break out of it. I know for a fact that when he goes in for his next weight check he will be down. He can't afford to be down. The kid is almost 4 years old and hasn't yet broken 30 pounds. It kills me...

Okay I am out of time. My butternut squash/apple concoction is ready to be pureed. Anyone have any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

try creamed corn or creamed spinach casserole. I'm not a spinach fan at all, but that stuff is great (call it "green casserole"). maybe you can even relate it to Popeye getting big and strong
both are very kid friendly

Calliope said...

oh honey. I can only imagine how frustrating this is. This may be a weird question- but are there any safe meds out there that would increase his appetite? I also wonder if you could thicken his regular milky with a calorie supplement? I mean it is sort of hard to think what would be ok for a three year old to eat. Have you heard of MCT oil? We used that with my Grandmother at one point.

W also had squash & apples tonight (& two saltines that he helped himself too) wooo!

Anonymous said...

oh also, mashed sweet potatoes or candied sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows)

I'm sure you've thought of these before but just in case

Also if he doesn't like pasta or other slippery foods, try couscous or quinoa grain (very high in protein).

Jenny said...

I really am so at a loss for ideas on how to manage this situation. Most everything I have read is of the "just keep offering what everyone else is eating, and when they get hungry enough, they will eat it" school. While I think that's excellent advice for 99.9% of children, who WILL get hungry and who WILL eat eventually, I think in your case your son's hunger cues clearly are just not working the way they do for most people (kids and grownups alike).

I do think offering food with cool appealing names can help. Spiderman seems to be an interst - try to name dishes after those?

I've read some studies that suggest that kids eat more of new unfamiliar foods they'd usually turn down when they are themselves are involved in the making/selection/preparation of those meals. I don't suppose you want to add a veggie garden to the list of things you're juggling, but perhaps let him choose veggies from a farmer's market (where there's not anything else to distract). I think kids are usually fascinated by farms and farming so if you can channel interest in learning where the food comes from, it can help them try new things.

Or, just more generally let him help make decisions about what you will all have for dinner that night, provided it has a veggie and a protein and a carb, and then let him help you make the meal. He may be more willing to eat it if he's helped prepare it.

Last one: can you do smoothies but make them room temperature? I mean, I personally think smoothies are more delicious when cold, but if he doesn't do cold foods, then there's nothing that says that you can't serve your concoction at room temp just like the Pediasure. You'd just have to get the ingredients you're using out of the fridge in advance (milk, yogurt, whatever). If he's okay with drinking calorie replacement drinks, perhaps branching out into your own lukewarm smoothies, which could include things like protein powder (often come in flavors that might make it more pediasure like?), nut butters, and leafy green veggies like kale along with the usual fruit. That could be a good way to add some diversity to his diet, if drinking seems to be less a struggle than eating for him.