How can I cure a picky eater?

Food, for me, is one of life’s joys. I’ve never understood pickiness, it’s all marvellous to me. A decade or so ago, I fully anticipated family meals of the future where my children happily tucked in to whatever tasty treat I’d rustled up, turning their noses up at breadcrumbed pap in favour of sophisticated flavours.

However, one aspect of Boy One’s Asperger’s has been a typically autistic eating pattern. He can’t do sloppy stuff, mixed stuff, colourful stuff and weird stuff. Over the years, we’ve had phases where he couldn’t do broken or bashed stuff and, at one point, he couldn’t even be in the same room as other people eating any stuff. Consequently, notions of mini gourmands quickly went out of the window, replaced by the need to meet some nutritional needs. Indeed, a few years ago, I was advised by a dietitian that if he wouldn’t eat anything else, milk chocolate for breakfast was fine, it did, at least contain calcium.

Then along came Boy Two, he ended up eating pretty much the same as his brother. For a while, he learned to copy the AS behaviour patterns like cutting off the ends of his chips. My goalposts had shifted so far I didn’t care as long as he was eating and we got through a meal without anyone crying or vomiting.

Now, though Boy One gamely has a go at most things – as long as they aren’t sloppy or colourful – but Boy Two is entrenched with the fish fingers, nuggets and ketchup of toddler tables.

He was at his pal’s house for Easter Sunday lunch this weekend and when they came back, I asked about the meal. His mate, a shocked Little G, said: “Boy Two says he’s never had a roast dinner before.”

Oh. Well I don’t suppose he has, either. Not a proper one. But this is going to change, and soon.

Later, we discussed it and he agreed it wasn’t the best that he didn’t feel comfortable at someone else’s table getting flummoxed by Yorkshire puddings.

So, Real Food Week has arrived. And not just any real food… We visited M&S and I let the Boys pick the tempting and tasty-looking treats for our culinary adventure.

On the way home, discussing what my favourite tea was at their age (Mum’s sweet and sour chicken, since you ask) Boy Two, with a tone of horror, said: “Wasn’t pizza invented then, mum?”

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  1. says

    Great idea to let them choose something.
    Did boy 1 'grow out' of his faddyness or did you do anything specific to 'help' him out of it? Nipper (ASD, SPD) is a nightmare with food and is getting worse. Our paediatrician said not to bother about his eating (after all there's so much else to be worrying about!!) as he was covering the food groups by eating shreddies, plain pasta, white bread, yoghurt, cheese, baked beans, mashed potato, sausages and turkey dinosaurs. But that's all he will eat (and he's recently dropped a couple of items from his 'allowed' foods list) and no matter what I try I can't get him to eat anything else. Mealtimes are a bit of a nightmare and I'm trying not to make a big deal out of this but I really would like him to at least try new things but he won't entertain even a lick of something!

  2. says

    Tilly, How old's Nipper?
    Boy One did grow out of beinhg seriously phobic. His food list was very like yours and things did keep dropping off it. At one point it was chocolate donuts and milk. I had to totally change gear in my head and not stress about it which was really hard.
    I'd put food down and then walk away trying not to care if he ate it or not. It was also helpful to remind myself that AS people don't have the same 'stuff' around food as we do, it's not part of social gatherings and it doesn't have the same emotional meaning. I also let him eat alone and away from the table which lowered the stress levels too. At school he was allowed to eat only hotdog sausages with grated cheese and have them standing at the serving hatch instead of sitting with the others.
    I can't remember exactly what got Boy One eating more widely again, it was a gradual process and it had to come from him.

  3. Jo says

    As you know, we have the same with (non-AS) daughter. I have been ignoring it up until now, but just lately I've decided to encourage her to eat a more varied diet. The first time she chose a new kind of ice-lolly to eat (had to grit my teeth a this, because at least she was trying something new). Tilly, like your son, she covers most food groups, apart from vegetables. She used to like carrots and tomatoes but has gone off them.

    I'm not sure whether to pay for a school dinner when she starts in the hope that peer pressure will mean she opens her mind a bit. It is definitely a control issue with her as she used to eat anything, and still will if I am not around. Gggrrrr.

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