Our daughter and the struggles around food - Finally making progress!
I wrote about this before, our daughter still refuses to eat most foods. Granted, things have improved over the past year but that doesn't mean she has a healthy diet. She has been a difficult child from her time as a baby when we introduced food next to my milk. I always thought it would pass as my oldest could make a fuzz too for a while and this got better when she was a little older. Too bad for us, this didn't change. Sometimes we had victories when she finally seemed to accept some food (like paprika) and within no time we were back to square one.
Worries and frustration
Every parent would understand that this caused us to worry as well as get frustrated because of being worried. We didn't want her to be ill constantly thanks to an unhealthy diet and yet we could not get her to eat better. At some point, she mostly wanted bread and ham for example, until at some point she totally refused bread and ham altogether for a while. I know what caused it as I offered some ham from another store that was not exactly the same and this caused her to constantly think I had the wrong ham and therefore she stopped eating it completely. No matter what I tried, the chapter was closed.
The pandemic even added more worries
Of course, she attended kindergarten at the time so we knew getting ill is not going to be prevented easily. Most kids will at some point bring home a cold or flu or ear infection, you name it. With her history of tubes in the ears and nostrils removal, we wanted her to have less chance of getting ill. Thankfully, she accepts extra vitamins but still, we worry. And yes, by now we tried every trick in the book.
A few years ago we even went to the neurologist
Mostly because of her constant strong behavior at many things without us understanding WHY she seemed to get some sort of "brain overload" and not being able to snap out of it. It was very difficult to deal with that and mostly exhausting for us all. I was quite convinced she has some form of autism and asked for a brain scan, simply because we were out of ideas on how we could improve this behavior. Of course, we were afraid she'd get ill from not having enough healthy food as well. Right before her nostril removal and tubes in her ears, they scanned her in the MRI and the neurologist said there was nothing strange. I don't know what she could have seen at that age or what she checked exactly but after that, I let it go. This was all in the summer of 2020 so now two years ago.
Trying to deal with it to our best ability
The pandemic didn't make it easy to go to a doctor if help was needed, I felt we were very lucky that she at least was helped from her ear troubles that summer because that winter she was not ill as much as the year before. She could hear a lot better as well. But it didn't take away the other problems in her behavior around food of course.
Things would go bad some weeks other times we had chill days. I slowly started to see that getting angry when refusing to eat was not the solution and we slowly started to remind each other constantly (when one got too frustrated because we worried about her health) that this would not help so why even bother it was only adding to the frustration we all three felt. Of course with her now being a few years older, she's more capable to tell us WHY she doesn't want something. I have found this very helpful to dig a little deeper for more information and try to understand her better as I feel the key to the solution lies in there. Understanding and trying to compromise so we won't have to stay worried about food intake all the time.
Certain comments made me think
She kept mentioning something was "too juicy" and "felt weird" whenever we asked her why she didn't want to try or like something. Although we did not really take that too seriously at the time, I tried to find answers by reading about children that refuse food for these reasons. To us, it was weird to like peach juice, but refuse it in the form of jam on your bread. I started to see patterns, that this was probably due to the structure of food and colors or how it feels in her mouth. With all this reading I've done over the years now, I can't conclude anything else rather than her being on the spectrum in some way.
No desire to give her a label!
Let's be very clear, I have no desire of getting her another brain scan here or getting the label autism for her by any means. I'm purely trying to figure out HOW we can cope with issues and making sure that we recognize some (to us) "off" behavior and reactions better as her way of processing things even though it's very strange to us in the first place. The more I read into it, the better I start to understand that she doesn't seem to be stubborn but truly has issues (sometimes even fear!) for certain food. I don't want to traumatize her of course, so forcing her to eat (even just some bites) is not the way to go in these situations. I see that now.
School may be challenging
Especially without her being labeled, I can foresee (depending on the teacher(s) or the way they deal with this type of behavior) that this could become an issue at school and that we will be pointed out to let a doctor check her for autism, but until then, I will focus on us trying to help her (and us) deal with the problems. Our kid is a sweet soul, very creative as well as very smart in some things, but behind in others. We will just have to practice and see how it unfolds in the next months/years.
I've started to see some improvement lately where I even managed to add a few things to our menu that she now loves. Homemade meatballs and chicken curry with rice are the ones that I made and were absolute winners. This all happened in the last 2 weeks! It makes me very hopeful that we can improve things step by step.
To be continued. thanks for reading!