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5 Things I Don't Want to Hear About My Child's Sensory Eating Disorder

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There are 5 things I don’t want to hear about my child’s sensory eating disorder:

1. It’s just “picky eating.”

Wrong. It’s so much more. My child has a real physical response to some foods. She will have meltdowns, I’ve seen her vomit uncontrollably at the mere sight of certain foods. Don’t diminish what she’s going through by saying things like, “back in my day we ate what we were given” or “Don’t give her a choice.” Not only is it super insulting — it’s not helpful.

2. She’ll eat if she’s hungry.

Nope, she won’t. She’s already skinny, I have the paediatrician telling me if she loses much more weight she’ll be diagnosed with “failure to thrive” or malnutrition. I dread her weigh ins. She has gone to bed many times with no dinner because she’s refused everything I’ve put in front of her and not cared, nor has she been any hungrier at breakfast time. Then I just have to try to make up calories that she’s lost.

3. I got her to eat it, you’re just not trying hard enough.

Congratulations, it means precisely nothing. At home, she loves carrot and capsicum sticks, but if I pack them for her lunch at school, she refuses, every time. What works in some situations, doesn’t work in others. What she will eat one day, can make her gag the next. And I encourage, I sing songs, I make up names for food and games for eating. Sometimes, it just won’t work.  It doesn’t make me (or any other parent) lazy.

4. Just hide veggies in her other food.

You think we don’t do that? We make “rainbow pancakes” with corn and carrot. Every week I make a big batch of spaghetti bologna with spinach, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, and peas in it. Sometimes it works, other times the dog gets a good meal and she gets chicken nuggets or mac and cheese.

5. Have you tried … ?

It doesn’t matter how that sentence ends, the answer is most likely yes. Yes, we’ve tried sending her to bed without dinner. Yes, we’ve tried not arguing. Yes, we’ve tried making her sit there. Yes, we’ve tried hiding veggies. Yes, we’ve tried choices. Yes, we’ve tried all eating together. Yes, we’ve tried TV off. Yes, we’ve tried distractions… the list goes on. Get the picture? We’ve tried and will continue to try everything.

Ella does eat a reasonably balanced diet, we don’t get fast food, we limit sugar as much as we can, but we keep track by the week, so don’t judge based on one day (or even two).

If you have a child with sensory eating disorder or food aversions — or you know someone who does — I can guarantee they’ve heard these things and more so many times!

Originally published: April 3, 2019
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