Issues Around Feeding

Oliver is an extremely picky eater. He almost always refuses vegetables, meats, and is mostly interested in fruits and carbs. I give him vegetables via juicing, smoothies, and purees. I give him protein via protein powder, dairy alternatives, peanut butter, and in other foods. When drinking plain water, he spits it out onto the floor, his shirt, and his hands to play with. Although, if an ounce or two of flavored coconut water is added, he will drink it without playing. He gags and, sometimes throws up, if he eats a piece of food bigger than a thumb nail. This has been happening for a year now and hasn’t gotten all that much better. In addition to the difficulties surrounding feeding, his allergic to/sensitive to list includes the following: all dairy products, all goat milk products, soy milk, hemp milk, egg, edamame beans, pineapple, gluten products, corn.

Here is all I can get him to eat:

GFDF bread, chips, crackers, cereal, tortillas.
Coconut milk
Coconut milk yogurt
Almond cheese
Odwallla Superfood Smoothie
Homemade smoothie: spinach, kale, protein powder, berries, and almond milk
Earth Balance Butter
Brown Rice
Spaghetti Sauce
Rice Crisps
Olives
Peanut Butter
Homemade Jam
French Fries
TONS of fruit (way too much fruit)

I want him on a limited sugar diet, but all he will eat is carbs and sugar. I need to find a way to feed him vegetables and meat outside of smoothies. I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’ve been offering him meat and vegetables practically every meal for over a year and there seems to be no hope. His pediatrician has started him on a new multivitamin, upped his other supplements, and has instructed me to add 4 scoops of protein powder to his smoothies a day. Those 4 scoops give him the protein he needs each day, since he won’t eat any protein rich foods other than peanut butter.

Yesterday, we finally had a feeding therapy appointment with Oliver’s Occupational Therapist via video. She observed him eating a preferred food (pears) and then watched his reaction when I introduced a non-preferred food (green beans and carrots). She asked me many questions around his sensory and feeding issues and gave me the following suggestions:

– Eat the same foods as him, in front of him, while he tries new foods.

– Describe each food item to him, instead of just saying “mmm” and “yummy!” (ex: salty, sweet, warm, cold, tangy, slippery, etc.).

– Slowly, every 3 days, put slightly (unnoticeable) less and less coconut water in his bottles.

– Offer 6 feedings a day with multiple foods, from each food group, at each meal time.

– Give him one bite or food item at a time and wait until he swallows, because she noticed that he pockets his food into his cheeks and that is why he gags most of the time. He has poor body awareness and needs to have a lot of food in his mouth to feel that he will be able to chew, but at that point his mouth is so full that it activates his gag reflex and he loses his food.

Oliver starts his autism program tomorrow and will be working with her once or twice a week, so I’m very hopeful that feeding will become easier in the near future. Does your child have any of these issues? What helped/is helping?

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