When our son hit his fourth birthday, I realized that his eating habits were not improving. He was still small in stature, and he was a super picky. He wasn’t eating much more than cereal, peanut butter, milk, and water. This wasn’t good in my eyes.
I had read books about picky eating, nutrition, etc. I could not find a pediatric occupational therapist near us that specialized in feeding. I found one, but she was about an hour away. That would not work for us as I was a part time working mom. I didn’t want to drag my four year old and his brother then seven years old across town for weekly appointments that far away. Plus, I wasn’t confident in that OT. She would not even provide me with literature or research to read. I was open…she was not.
So, enter in the four year old well check. I asked the pediatrician for a referral to a nutritionist. I wanted to know what a professional thought about our son’s diet. How could we help him? We received that referral, and I made an appointment at the main hospital in central Florida. I was asked to keep a week long food diary. Then, I sat down with the nutritionist one morning to review it. She was an adult nutritionist primarily, but she was really good. She sat with me for an hour puzzling over our son’s case. She had “never seen a diet quite like this.” Yeah, me either.
The end result was a recommendation to see a pediatric occupational therapist. I saw that coming. We were also instructed to up his diet to include more calories. She recommended us to include milk shakes, more chocolate, more peanut butter, and a return to whole milk. Basically her best offer was to: “Let him eat whatever he wants.” Bryan needed more fat and calories in his diet. I really appreciated her recommendations, time, and the ability to say, “it is ok to let this kid eat whatever he wants…he needs the calories.” It is a relief to have that freedom to try new foods, but know it is okay to let him have those high fat and calorie items to improve his caloric intake…we need energy to burn!
So we adopted that stance: offer good foods and high calorie foods. And, we still do that two years later. Our Bryan, now age (almost) six years old, is allowed to eat pretty much whatever he wants. We know he needs the calories, and sometimes the food battles are just not worth it. We always offer him healthy options alternated with treaty options. He fusses, but we endure.
We did finally find a pediatric occupational therapist within a 20 minute drive, and we started those services. More on that next time. That is another chapter of this feeding disorder journey. Thank you for reading, and remember when you see a mom or dad offer up foods that may seem wild and crazy…it may just be a time when those parents have chosen to “let him eat whatever he/she wants!”