Monday, February 4, 2008

Food aversion story

Food aversion therapy is by no means an easy thing to do. Children don't want to eat the foods they don't like (go figure!). So, we trick them, soothe them, cajole them, reward them and somehow many of them try and then eat heartily foods that wouldn't touch previously.

Here is a recent success. Three mornings a week, I do food therapy during snacktime with two 8-9 year old boys in the school attached to our clinic. Billy eats very few fruits, but he likes crunchy foods. So every day, I bring in an apple or pear cut 2 slices and then deliberately crunch on one slice while I put the other near his mouth. He can't resist. He still grimaces at the apple, so I don't make him eat it, just crunch on it. He loves to do that. And once in a while, he will chew and swallow a bite (with surprise).

A month ago, I brought in tangerines. I put a slice on my tray and had the boys practice cutting the orange. To my surprise, Billy started mashing the orange with his finger playfully. I did so, too. We made a mess and giggled. Then I encouraged him to lick his finger. We played with oranges a few times that week and then went back to apples.

Last week, Billy's mom caught me in the hallway, "I just have to tell you what happened! I was on the phone in the kitchen, when Billy came in. He took an orange from a bowl of fruit, peeled it and then ate the whole thing! THEN, he went back, got another one and ate part of that, too."

Success with oranges is very sweet!

10 comments:

NrthShore said...

I came across your blog by googling. I have an 8 year old who has major aversions to food. I feel like dinnertime is a constant battle & he winds up in tears over it.

He will only eat a few foods & it seems to be getting worse. I'm concerned because he is on Adderall - which curbs his appetite & he is very, very thin to begin with.

Do you have any insight into how I can find a therapist in my area or start doing things on my own to help him.

Teresa said...

We want to avoid a battle at dinner.

The general rule is to have him sit through dinner, eat whatever he is willing to eat, clean up the plates after 20-30 minutes and then no more food until the next meal or snack. This should help him come to the table a little hungrier. If he is anxious, he may eat less.

I would continue with this for a few days. You control the foods, he controls how much he eats. Make sure that he is not sneaking into the kitchen for junk food. See if he regulates a bit. If not, it may be time to see your doctor again.

There is a lot to say, and since I don't know the situation, I'll stop with that. I recommend the book Food Chaining. I also recommend the workshop of the same title, as well as the authors (where do you live? they are in Illinois) as possible therapists. I am in Michigan ...

Take care,
Teresa

Becky said...

My son is 9 and he does the same things. He only eats like 5 or 6 particular foods everyday. He wants to eat and even helps makes decisions to get different things but just can't seem to eat it. He has an appointment with a group at our local Children's Hospital called the "Feeding Team". Its really hard because most people just don't get it and the usual questions follow with "does he eat pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets?" I just want to scream NO and it would take me a lot less time to tell you what he does eat. Other kids don't get it and honestly my son doesn't even know himself why he doesn't like food. All I know is that its a real issue and finally we may have a way to get him some help. Most pediatricians don't even get it. Its also hard when other caregivers such as grandparents who were raised to eat what was placed in front of them to understand. The first thing we did was take him to a pediatric gastroenterologist at our local Children's Hospital and I can't tell you how relived even my son was to know that he is not the only kid who doesn't like to eat any different foods. Basically the team includes OT, GI and maybe psychologist. He says that just seeing a psyschologist alone or a GI alone or an OT alone would not help because it involves food and behaviors. So thus the Team approach each. And the first time we meet will be in a kitchen not in a doctors office. The doctor did say that we are doing a great job of not letting him ever lose weight or look or act unhealthy (like low energy). And the other great news is my son is a great kid and does well in school.

Beth said...

I recently came across this website http://childrenandbabiesnoteating.com/index.html that had a lot of information on kids who won't eat and different treatment options. I thought it was so useful and wanted to pass it on.

KMH said...

My 7 y.o. has senor food aversion and seems to have a heightened sense of taste and smell. The best I can do to get him to eat fruit is if it's fruit leather or some dehydrated fruits. Occasionally I can get him to eat one spoonful of peas - no onther veggies. We have him on supplements but are concerned about his nutrition. He'll eat pasta w/ butter; cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, pretzels, potato chips and occasionally some cashews or pastichios. Even sweets have to be just so - no chunks or nuts in icecream or cookies. Any chance things can chance for the better?

Teresa said...

Yes. If it's smells, you might try having a strong scent like cinnamon in the room to help dampen the smells of the food. Tastes (and smells) can be desensitized over time if you try not to go too fast. Put little bits of an unliked food in other foods and very slowly increase the quantity. I believe in telling the child rather than hiding it. But that is your call. Another method is food chaining, which I wrote about on May 1 2009. Teresa

T Lee said...

i NEED a good therapist!! Can you help us?? or refer someone to help us?? We live in Lilburn. My 6 year old son will not eat food that is "regular" food except for some fruits, mcdonalds fries , fruit loops and trix cereal, and danonino yogurts and snack stuff. He gets his meats, vegetables and grains from stage 2 food baby food. he rejected stage 3 foods at 8 months old and all "regular" foods. He never had any interest in wanting to try it...ever. still doesn't and the eating issue has just gotten worse and worse. I NEED HELP!!! Please help. I have huge anxiety every night now worrying over him.

T Lee said...

if anyone knows of a great therapist for food sensory/food aversion please email me @leetambar@yahoo.com. Thanks in advance!! I SO need help.

Teresa said...

Your son may have sensory issues with food. This is a serious issue, but you are fortunate that he gets nutrients from baby foods.

Resources in your community could include a pediatric OT clinic, a pediatric speech therapist who does sensory-based feeding or the outpatient clinic of your local hospital. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

What would you recommend for an adult with aspergers and severe aversion to fruits and vegetables, without any access to local food aversion therapies?