My daughter is 13years old she has always had a very limited diet but recently she has decided she doesn’t like some things she has eaten for years she doesn’t eat any fruit or veg as she previously only ate pink lady apples and raw carrot sticks but now she won’t eat them at all I am concerned about her nutrition she cannot bring herself to try new things and suffers with terrifying panic attacks when asked to try new food I admit we pander to her a lot but we would prefer a happy healthy child than a child that conforms to “the norm” however now I am concerned the amount of foods she eats is getting less and less I refuse to force her or hide food as she will not eat rather than eat food she doesn’t like. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I can't offer much advice, except to say that I think my food aversions became a lot worse in my teenage years. In my early 20s, however, like many adults I found that I enjoyed a much wider range of foods.
That might seem like a long time to wait, but our bodies are surprisingly resilient and unlikely to suffer in the meantime. If I were you, I would keep trying new foods and flavours but not worry too much. And make sure you're trying a variety of textures, as well as a variety of foods.
No point battling with panic attacks at mealtimes, though. If you were terrified of dogs and someone bought a large dog in to jump all over you every time you climbed into your bed, I doubt you'd eventually get used to the dog as a result. More likely, you'd stop using your bed.
My suggestions may be overly simplistic, and if so please don't take offence as I have no experience of eating disorders and am coming at the problem only from my experiences of having had teenage daughters, but perhaps taking her shopping with you and allowing her a small budget to buy whatever (foods) she wants would be helpful - even if it is only apples!
If she knows that she is in control of her own food choices like this, she may make choices different from those you might have considered. Obviously these choices may not always be the healthiest but if it's a choice between her not eating at all versus choosing £20 worth of apples and crisps that she WILL eat, then at least she's eating something.
Great ideas Endymion and Teagansmum, you are right, it is better that your child is happy and not simply ‘compliant’.
I had blood tests taken recently, and after more than a year of barely eating and when I did eat, it wasn’t great, my blood results were great. Even my vitamin D levels were higher than the doctor had ever seen and I have barely been out of the house in over a year. There is far more to being healthy than what we put in our bodies. Of course it’s a good idea to keep trying different ways to introduce a wider variety and more healthy foods, but trust yourself, you’re right in what you say and you know your daughter, you will know if she’s becoming unwell. A more relaxed approach will always have more chance of being successful and I have known children overcome barriers to eating a healthy diet.
Teenage years are difficult for any teenager, and teenagers often use food as a way of exercising some control over their lives. Maybe look at ways of reducing stress in other areas of her life and empowering her in different ways so she feels she’s more in control and her eating would naturally improve if she is using food as a way of coping. It is a worry but worrying won’t help and can close us down to possible solutions etc. Good quality meal replacement drinks can sometimes be a good option, smoothies made in her favourite flavour can be a good way of getting greens and fruit into the diet.
I was forced to eat food as a child and it never did me any good. I used to gulp it down without chewing and I still have a fear of food today, especially if I lose my flow with eating. Best wishes to you both.
You may like to have a look at our eating page on our website which has some useful information:
Also, you may like to contact our Autism Helpline team. They can provide you with information and advice on your issue. You can call them on 0808 800 4104 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 9am to 3pm).Please note that the Helpline is experiencing a high volume of calls and it may take a couple of attempts before you get through to speak to an advisor.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for you reply it is great to get encouragement from people who have walked in shoes somewhat like my daughters although I know no two aspies are the same. My main concern is she becomes weak she has been sent home a few times from school for almost passing out. She has been given chewable multi vitamins by the doctor but as suspected when he was giving the prescription she can’t take them due to the powdery texture they make in her mouth. Although we had a breakthrough the other evening she tried a little bit of gammon and then wolfed down a small plate of gammon mash and beans so there is another meal added to the deminishing list of food she will eat so that’s a bonus. As for letting her come to the shops with her own budget for food although a truly brilliant idea I wish I could action going to the supermarket with her is a whole other drama. Thank you all again for your responses.
Yes, my friend’s little boy would only eat mashed up baby food for several years, but slowly over time, he began eating solid food, starting with bananas. It was his grandma that helped with this transition and it took a while, but he now eats all his food in solid form.
Now that I’m eating better (not perfect in my food choices) but at least I’m eating so now I’ve noticed I have way less headaches and I don’t feel as weak or exhausted but it’s taken time, encouragement and acceptance on my part to build it up to where I am now.
I don’t like going to supermarkets so I’m working on making a food storage area so I can buy food in bulk so I don’t have to shop as often and I’ll have all the foods on hand that I like to eat, which will make life easier.
Sorry, I hadn't considered the difficulties of the shopping trip itself, but perhaps a way around that would be for her to choose some things from the supermarket's website / magazine or even TV advert that she likes the sound / look of?
My daughter wouldn't eat fish or seafood but surprised me one day by asking for a branded fish-in-a-bag she had seen advertised on TV - I think the unusual cooking method appealed to her more than anything really, but she was excited to see it cooking and did eat it!
I remember when she was much younger she would go through phases of only eating certain colours - and nothing on her plate was allowed to touch anything else! We got through several colours without too much difficulty, just a couple of odd meals, until she decided only Blue would do! I thought I was being very smart by deciding to dye mashed potato blue and serve it as 'Bangers 'n' Mash' to the whole family - it didn't end well. My daughter loved it and ate it all but none of the rest of us could face Blue Potato - it looked disgusting! Trial and error, indeed.
Funny we were talking about blue mash potatoes the other day lol. We also have the problem of things touching on the plate we end up with little pots and bowls with each item in or sectioned plates.
Yes, I think just about every parent goes through at least some of these things and it doesn't only apply to little kids either. It's funny to look back at some of those phases now but I remember they certainly were NOT funny at the time!
We went through a 'Tray Dinners' phase - sort of personalised, self-chosen picnics but with weird combinations of food. Whatever works!
I also invested in a ridiculous amount of ramekins which were used for anything from peanut butter or honey, to baked beans or 'squirty' cream. We still made family meals about half of the time, the rest of the time I just let her take the trays up to her room and hoped for the best I'm afraid. (That makes me sound nice and calm, or very laid back, but I can admit now that there were more than a few screaming matches in our house over the years unfortunately.)
Some of the family meals were 'buffet-style' too, which helped. I gradually learned to keep an eye on what she chose but not to comment or make a big deal about her choices - even if they were just enough to feed a sparrow at times.
All in all, I have no idea what worked and what didn't because we tried so many things over the years. I guess the main change was probably that I 'backed-off' but I think that was more from exhaustion than anything else!