Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Have An Idea

that's what I do. I think. I brainstorm. I think. I obsess. I think.
I am always looking for the better way g*ddammitt

I think I have an idea about this food thing.

But first, let me tell you how I reached my breaking point last Saturday night.

So, Jack and Ella came home from a day at their grandparents'.  I enjoyed a day of wonderfully timed, PMS SOLITUDE, and made a trip to Wal of Evil, saw a really cute t-shirt I liked, and realised I had left my wallet at home.

On Thursday when I drove to Wal of Evil, needing to buy groceries, I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the ignition and realised I had left my purse (with wallet in it at the time) at home.

I can't help wondering if this is a sign.


When Jack and Ella got home on Saturday, I was at my wit's end about Jack not eating anything.  I probably flipped out too much, but by the time he sat down to eat his cinnamon toast for his snack, ripped it to pieces and left 95% of it on the plate, and GAGGED when he tried to eat one piece, I freaked.

I got out a piece of paper and said that I was going to write down all the things he'd eaten that day, and all the things I'd eaten that day (and all the things Ella had eaten that day).

It looked like this:

                              Mummy                                   Jack

Breakfast        oatmeal                                        oatmeal
                       cup of coffee                                 chocolate milk

snack               peanut butter toast                        nothing

lunch                1/2 salmon sandwich                    1/6  peanut butter
                         apple                                             sandwich

snack                handful of baked potato chips       little bit of chocolate

dinner               bowl of tomato soup                        banana
                         cheddar cheese

snack                 nothing                                       1 tiny bite of
                                                                             cinnamon toast

I pointed out to Jack that I had eaten 7 things, Ella had eaten 10 things, and he had eaten THREE THINGS.  Does that sound like enough food, I asked him?  He said "no."

Then I asked him; if he were me, and I were him, what would he do?  He claimed he would make me eat a peanut butter sandwich.

yeah, that looks about right, but you'd better damn well
cut those crusts off...oh, and that's waaaay too much jam.
You run a great risk of running into JAM BLOBS.  Nice work on
not touching the edges of the bread though...

"But," I reasoned, "I tried that, and you screamed at me."


So then I got out a new piece of paper.  I asked him to tell me some foods, think of some foods, come up with some foods that HE would be willing to eat. He actually came up with a half decent list, and sounded like  he looked forward to eating hot dogs with ketchup on Sunday.

Then I decided to BACK OFF from trying to get him to eat ANYTHING for the rest of Saturday.  If he were extra, extra, RIDICULOUSLY hungry come Sunday, it could only work in my favour...I hoped.

And so, after a day of fighting, and carrying on, and much freaking out and melting down on both sides, as I was walking him up to bed I said that we'd "try again" tomorrow, and have a better day, because he's so important to me.  Then I burst into tears, and Jack put his hand on my arm and said;

"It's OKAY, Mom.  Don't cry."

Because, it's not just that the kid barely eats anything ONE DAY and I lose my shit. It's that he's always walking around looking a little run down, with a pasty face and dark circles under his eyes.  It's because he's the kid who gets a cold or some other bug and when he finally feels better and is desperately hungry, he literally can't think of anything to eat if he's still a little revolted by food.  It's a kid who has to leave the room when I'm baking homemade mac and cheese because the smell is killing him.

THAT, partnered with several days of melt-downs is what BREAKS ME.

And because things always seem to improve after I've been BROKEN, the kid ate 3 hotdogs for lunch, a whole banana at his afternoon snack, and two more hot dogs for dinner.  You should have seen him after his lunch: all hepped up on REAL ENERGY thanks to food!  He turned into an INSTANT PEST, and even though his sister was none too pleased, his dad and I were snickering in the kitchen.

And this is my idea:  we are going to do "FOOD SCIENCE" every day.  I tried it tonight.  I had a Ritz cracker with peanut butter on it I was hoping he'd eat, but I decided we'd use it for discussion purposes instead.

I took that cracker and compared it to the spice snaps cookies he likes.  We compared texture, smell, which one felt harder when we broke it.  I compared the peanut butter cracker to a plain cracker.  Which one smelled more appealing?  When he licked the cracker, what did it taste like?  What did it taste like when he licked the cookie?

Jack is unaccustomed to salt, so I put 4 tiny grains of salt in his hand and let him lick it.  How did it taste?  Then in the other hand I put 4 tiny grains of sugar in his hand.  How did IT taste?  Which did he like better?  If I put some salt on the cracker, could we actually smell the salt?  Does salt have a smell?

What I'm going to do is become his own food therapist.  We're going to do lots of sessions with getting to know food before we move to the next step which is actually biting food.

Tomorrow I'm thinking of comparing a piece of chocolate with a piece of cheese.  Or maybe I'll do mashed avocado versus butter.

I get very tired hoping for services that either have endless waiting lists, or don't exist.  In my desperation the other day I emailed our local chapter of Autism Ontario (there's not even a location in MY city) to see if they know a food therapist.  I doubt they'll find one when I hear back from them.  I would be pleasantly shocked.  Oh, and it's a week later and NOBODY has contacted me.  Big surprise.

I have no idea what Jack's going to eat to fill the hole left by cinnamon toast just yet, but I'm hoping my idea won't be completely crazy.

Always hoping.

a shit lunch to you--a MIRACLE to me.
If he actually ate the bun, I'd pass out :) 

** Hey everyone, some of you might not know the difference between a picky kid on the Spectrum, and your super picky kid, so you're wondering, "what the hell is HER damage?"   Here is my favourite post I've come across about kids on the Spectrum with restrictive eating.  Sunday really hits that nail on the head:

Your kid is picky, my kid is Stalin.


  1. you are going to outsmart him with the food at least a little bit with this science experiment business. maybe if he can interact with the food in his own ways without pressure to eat it, he'll come to see it as less disgusting. does reverse psychology work on him? if you tell him that he's only allowed to touch or smell it, but dare not to eat it because it's not for him, only for you or ella, would that make him inclined to try it out of rebelliousness? that works on brooke frequently. not with food but with other things.

    1. well, what's interesting, Sherilinnie, is that he's INTERESTED in food science. The other night, I forgot and said; "okay, time for bed," and Jack asked; "but what about food science?" So that's a good thing. And no, reverse psychology does not work for him. If someone tells him he doesn't have to do something, he holds onto that FOREVER, as though it's written in stone.

    2. i guess you probably shouldn't tell him he's not allowed to eat it then. sounds like he's eating the hot dogs like he's been starving! and in a way, i guess he has been since he's so severely limited himself in what he can stand. i know it must be terribly exhausting for you.

    3. that's exactly it, Sherilin: like he's been starving. I hate that part of it. OH well, that was one nice day of hot dogs, and no more have passed his lips since. Ah well.

  2. Karen I just want to tell you I think you are a great mom. You are not giving up, you just keep trying different ways around the food problem. I have to say I thing the idea of how you are going about it this time. I am sorry that you have to go through the breakdowns to get such a response. You are right, we who have just picky eaters can not totally relate. I was wondering, does he have this same problem when he is away from your home at the grandparents? Good luck!

    1. Alaina, he's actually WORSE at his grandparents' now, because Nana bought the NAME brand of chocolate syrup (heaven forbid!). We only buy the no-name brand. So, then he became totally afraid of drinking milk there. Plus, Nana toasted the bread more than we did, so he became afraid to eat cinnamon toast there.

      We had to lay the law down, and say "if you're not going to eat ANYTHING at Nana's, you can't visit there anymore. He LOVES going there, but he was not eating anything all day except a handful of chocolate.

      Thanks for the luck!

  3. OH I get this. My child has been eating the same things forever, it seems. Now that he is an adult there are a few times that he will try new things IF he can relate the ingredients to things that he has liked before.

    1. Hi laughingmom! I haven't been on the net much this week, except briefly, so I didn't get the chance to welcome you or check our your blog yet, but I wanted to thank you for reading.

      You know, even if I know that in adulthood Jack will try new things, that is still encouraging to me.

  4. Picky kids. Tough.

    Now that I think back as a kid I hated eating breakfast because the school bus exhaust fumes made me nauseous for several hours, and I do believe it did impede my adolescent education.

    I'm sorry about your struggles..but that's it, I have to get on the phone sue somebody, now.

    1. Yes! Sue someone Bennet! That would be awesome.

      Interesting about the bus fumes though. I bet you got brushed off on that one.

  5. You could truly teach the rest of us a thing or 25 about patience.

    1. all that patience works in my favour in the end most of the time, dbs. It's tiring though.

  6. That must be hard to deal with, but I DO really like your science experiment idea!
    How old is Jack if I may ask?
    My son has Aspergers, but he has never really had eating issues. In fact now that he is hitting those early teen years he eats more than hubby and I together.

    p.s I know all about those meltdowns..

    1. Hi Sprite--I so enjoyed your photos the other day. Still thinking of them.
      Anyhoo, Jack is 7, soon to be 8. He probably leans closer to Aspergers than anything else, but I just haven't bothered getting a more "specific" diagnosis, since for all intents and purposes, it's a high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.

      That's good that your son doesn't have those eating issues. Mothers obsess over what/how much their kids eat from the moment those kids POP OUT.

      Do you still have meltdown issues? I just went through a doozy yesterday when I insisted Jack come outside with me for fresh air.

      Huge one.

  7. My brother's daughter went through a non-eating period in high school. My brother is self-employed, so he picked her up for lunch every day at school and took her to a drive-in called Sonic. It was the only thing she could eat. She eventually made it through that time. I keep meaning to tell the Sonic Corporation how grateful I am.

    1. Hey Fred, I'm in tourist town and we have a Sonic here. I have never checked it out though. Perhaps I should now, out of curiosity.

      Kids and food can be funny. I never had a picky problem--just thought broccoli and cauliflower were disgusting. And whattaya know--they still are (but I eat them).

  8. I don't have any advice to offer. I do, however, have some words of comfort. My oldest is about to turn ten. This year, he has slowly started adding some new foods to his menu. It has not happened overnight. He had to do it on his own terms. We've been through not eating anything, only eating certain things, and now--slowly, he's beginning to meat! We tried pediasure when he was little...and he hated it, but maybe your little man might drink it? Hang in there.

    1. Tessa, stories such as this are so, so encouraging! That's what I hope: that as Jack gets older and older, he becomes more self-aware and reasonable, and tries things on his own terms!

      We do, from time to time, get him those protein shakes. Looks like we're coming up to buying them again.

  9. Oh what a great idea, Karen!!! I've got a friend with two kids that have touch and senstivity issues. Food, for them and Jack, just feels intense. I think this is a great idea that gives everyone their 'power' back. Well done! And good luck!

    1. thanks Leanne! I'm trying to make it fun, and peak the natural curiosity a child is supposed to have, or something like that...

  10. Hang in there, Karen. I am so impressed that you are able to come up with creative ways to approach the issue, let us know how it goes.
    I'm sure it's a behavioural/control thing, but I think I saw/read something about some people having particular sensitivity to taste (extra alert tastebuds or something... Sorry, never good on the detail) so maybe that compounds the situation. I know a couple of my friends' kids are very picky, but also very sharp in their awareness of taste and texture, identifying differences between brands, etc.
    Not that that helps at all. Just adding to the debate.
    Hope the meltdowns ease off. And that you get some support and advice from the services out there - can really sympathise with you on that one... xxxxx

    1. Thanks Curtise, you always have something uplifting to say :) Oh it's all about texture, smell, taste, appearance--Jack is MR SENSORY, so this is no surprise. What kills me is he USED to eat all kinds of things but then gradually got worse.

      Well, we'll see how this goes!

  11. Hi Karen - I imagine this is not a very original suggestion, but have you looked into literature on working with anorexia? Because that's what this is.

    The other thing is, what you came up with, the scientific approach, takes some of the deep psychology (neuroticism) out of his attitude, so it fosters detachment. I think it might help him to get an understanding of how food is just fuel, and what kinds are good fuel and why. Again, this is an approach that pulls intellect into it - and he seems to be a smart kid.

    1. Actually Jeanne, those are all excellent suggestions. I have worked on the food as fuel angle, and at this point he does NOT give a crap--or, his PHOBIA of food is bigger..whatever.

      That is an excellent idea about anorexia literature. I'll look at that. Thanks!

  12. OH boy Karen I was totally exhausted just reading about you having to do this science thing with him. My hats off to must be so hard. I am constantly fretting about whether Sam has eaten enough vegs or fruits etc etc. I don't know how you do it.
    Wal of Evil...that's funny!

    1. yeah Pam--because moms are OBSESSED about how much how little what their kids eat!!!


  13. Oh Karen, I can't imagine how frustrated you must be. Bless his little heart, and yours too. But you know what? You are always thinking outside the box, and it sounds like food science is going okay so far. Good luck!

    1. Yeah--it's not too bad! One day soon, Jack and I are going to bake our own cinnamon bread together, and tonight I think I'll cook up various different kinds of pasta for comparison.

      Oh yeah, thinking outside the box--I'm forced to all the time, damn it!

  14. OK lady---how's it going now??? Can I just tell you that using the very thing that sometimes brings me to the brink of insanity---our kids logic---to your advantage is cracking me up right now. They can't fight it when you present a logical (rather Vulcan) solution to a problem. My kid can't fight it. He may not like it but he can't fight it. I bow down to your smartness.

    And hugs. I know this sucks at an all time high.

    1. Lizbeth! I was just going to come a -hunting for you today! What a coincidence. Yeah! It's funny you should mention using our kids' quirks against them; I used to be able to do that with YOGURT. By using the same key phrase when I'd serve it to Jack, I'd do him in with his own adherence to routine. Hee hee...that is evil isn't it.

      It sucks, but he's been enjoying food science lately, so I'm hoping it'll work somehow in the long run.

      We looked at pasta tonight! Hooray!

  15. Hi Karen, Yes he occasionally has a meltdown but not as severe as it was. We take him to see an excellent specialist (who is a close friend). We DID have to medicate him but he isn't on anything too drastic. I guess since we had the diagnosis, we have all learnt how to deal with certain situations and avoid any unnecessary triggers. It's a constant leaning experience for all of us. BTW my Husband has Aspergers as well, although he is not diagnosed. Yeah... Try living with TWO of "em!

    1. thanks Sprite, that is all very interesting! Who knew we had so much in common? I have all kinds of questions, but I guess those will come in time. Is your son still on medication? Is the medication for anxiety or for aggressive behaviour? Okay, stop asking so many questions, karen...

  16. NO no! Ask as many questions as you want.. I really don't mind. Yes he is still on Meds. He takes both. one in the morning and the other at night. It's been a trial and error but we finally got the right mix for him. When his specialist suggested putting him on medication, we were at first reluctant, but she assured us that the ones he is taking don't do any permanent damage, nor do they stifle his creativity.

    1. yeah, I understand the hesitancy. Does your son draw as well? Jack draws ALL THE TIME. The only time he's not drawing is when he's listening to music or eating, or maybe watching the odd documentary style dvd.

  17. hmm.. not as much as he used to, but I have noticed that his drawings have become way more detailed and creative. He is extremely good a building things with lego. He loves his computer time, and his ipod. We like to balance inside and outside time. Having a pool and beach handy is a blessing. One thing we found was his co-ordination was way off, he literally has to have someone move him into the position for him to get it, like with learning to swim and Karate. But he is very smart and takes in everything like a sponge, and has a phenomenal memory.


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