Yesterday evening, I made home-made turkey burgers for dinner. I got the sesame seed buns out, and oven baked some chips. The lettuce was sliced up ready, the cheese & condiments out on the table for whoever wanted them (J & H normally dive in to the ketchup face first given half a chance).
Then, I asked L what he wanted for dinner.
Up until recently, L would eat a pepperoni pizza for dinner. Then the supermarket changed something in the recipe which he noticed immediately and refused to eat that brand any more. So we switched to a different one, which was fine for a while, but then he decided that no, he didn’t like that one any more either. He would then eat only buttered toast, or a garlic baguette.
Some will read this and think, “Just make him eat“. Please do not think for one second that I have not tried waiting him out. Bribing him. Blackmailing him. BEGGING him. When he was younger I was told “a child will not starve themselves“. Well that is incorrect, because L would. He simply cannot tolerate strong flavours or textures, he likes and will eat a certain few things and that is it.
We asked his paediatrician to refer us to a dietician for some advice, and help. We kept a food diary of everything he had to eat and drink (basically the same every single day) and handed it over. She weighed and measured him, carefully scrutinised the food diary we had kept and to our utter amazement she told us he is a healthy weight for his height, and that he has managed to select a diet that meets his needs almost exactly (which, she told us, a lot of her patients with Autism manage to do). She reassured us that we are doing the right things, and that he is healthy.
So we went away and carried on what we were doing. He is offered to try things every day, he almost always declines. For several months now, he has not tried anything new in terms of his dinner. Trying often means he puts it on his tongue, and then will spit it back out immediately, but if we can at least get him to put new food in his mouth, then that is progress. He is more keen to try snack-like things (particularly if he thinks they are sweet) so I don’t count them, but for actual meals it is always the same things.
This evening, I asked him what he wanted for dinner. He asked what we were having, I told him turkey burgers. He came over and watched me as I mixed the ingredients and starting forming the patties. He said “I will try one. But if I don’t like it, I would like my buttered toast“.
When they were cooked, I put a burger in a bun for him and set out his plate. He came and sat down and looked at it, opening the bun and peering inside. He took a bite. And then he carried on eating.
He carried on until it was all gone. And then he asked for another.
I popped another burger in to another bun and put it on his plate, watching with wide eyes as he sat and positively wolfed that second one down. He asked for a drink, and when he was done he asked for his buttered toast.
I gave him his buttered toast, but could feel my chest almost bursting with pride that he had willingly eaten two burgers, home-made ones at that, before he asked for toast.
Baby steps, but steps nonetheless, and I am SO proud of my boy.
[Picture Credit: Flickr/Ahmadnawawi/]