How to say goodbye to picky eating without the fight!
Note: The method we used may not be appropriate for children with oral aversions or who may require feeding therapy.
If your kiddo is anything like mine was meal time can be- challenging. There is nothing worse than trying to put a stop to picky eating and convince a kiddo to eat real, healthy food.
Before Chase regressed into autism, he ate all organic food. Lots of fruits and vegetables, fresh pressed juice, grass fed meats, the works.
After his regression, the kid lived off of chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries. All those lovely foods that sound good at the end of an alcohol filled night. But don’t sound so good when you’re trying to help a body heal.
We all know that what we put into our bodies is directly related to our health. Especially in the autism community, gluten and casein (dairy) are huge offenders. So I knew I needed to start his diet change with removing those two categories of food. But if the goal is complete recovery, that isn’t enough.
Let’s get started.
So how was I going to get my picky eater to eat what he needed to heal? Well, I started with the pre packaged, processed gluten free, casein free (GFCF) crap that they sell at your local grocery store. I know, I just said that wasn’t good enough… Stick with me here.
Assuming your kiddo is as picky as mine was and you don’t want each meal time to turn into WWIII, you have got to start slow. Using the foods that they are familiar with, but removing gluten and casein is going to start reducing some inflammation in the body. It will also reduce the opiate reaction that we notice with kids. This opiate reaction is literally addicting, so if you notice your kiddo eats a lot carbs or dairy, it’s probably time to eliminate them. For some ASD kiddos, this change alone might be enough to notice some dramatic behavioral difference. But at my house, it did nothing. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t, just press on. Even if you do notice big changes, we want our children to be healthy right? This pre packaged processed food isn’t healthy. It has gross additives, hidden MSG, and all the enzymes, phytonutrients and all the good stuff in fresh food has all been destroyed by the food processing.
Okay, you’re getting there.
Moving forward, once you have settled into your new GFCF lifestyle, it’s time to start moving towards some real food. For us, that meant home made organic GFCF chicken nuggets. I thought this would be easier than it was. But he KNEW, he knew it didn’t come from a box. Anything mom cooks must be laced with poison, right? We pressed on and used some ABA techniques, no luck. So, I went to Mcdonald’s (!!!) and bought some chicken nuggets. I then promptly threw them in the trash. I put my home made version in the chicken nuggets box and left it on the counter. Chase sure thought he was being sneaky when he snagged the box and gobbled up my home made organic GFCF nuggets. Now sure, we got some gluten cross contamination but it was worth it for him eating my home made food. After that, he recognized the look of the nuggets and we no longer had to spend money on chicken nuggets for an empty box. Your child may not need to be tricked (lucky you!) but if they do, this works. Chase liked this recipe.
Alright, it’s veggie time!
Now comes the tough part, adding in vegetables, BLECH! Our first vegetable was spaghetti squash. I mixed some in with his regular spaghetti and I realized we were onto something. He didn’t notice at all. After that I started adding in raw vegetables chopped teeny tiny to the sauce.. Still okay.
After that, I realized that it was going to be all about hiding vegetables for a while (remember, we’re avoiding WWIII). Some of my go to meals during this time were:
- Sweet Potato/Squash/Banana pancakes
- Sweet Potato/Squash “oatmeal”
- Cauliflower rice
- GF Macaroni & “Cheese”
- Spaghetti squash
- Vegan Pizza with chicken crust
- Home made chips/crackers
- Scrambled eggs
We probably spent 6 months at this phase and it was great. Meal times were easy, my kid was eating pretty healthy, I was happy.
Are you ready for raw?
So we took the next step. Eating raw vegetables (GASP!) Get ready to kiss picky eating goodbye.
I thought this would be harder, but after sneaking vegetables into his food for so long (and gradually making the pieces bigger) he was actually pretty open. The process started with letting him try some hummus and peanut butter and using ABA techniques to have him eat them with raw veggies. I used tiny pieces of veggies with a huge amount of dip on them. It only took about 2 days for him to just need a small amount of dip. Now I can put raw vegetables on a plate and he gobbles them right up! It took about 9 months total to get to this point.
Here is a sample menu of before and after doing this.
Breakfast – Frozen waffles or toast
Snack – Toast or dry cereal
Lunch – Chicken nuggets
Dinner – Pizza
Breakfast – Organic scrambled eggs with chopped mushrooms, 1/2 avocado, dark leafy greens
Snack – Organic fruit
Lunch – Chopped raw veggies and a ground beef patty with raw yucca chips
Dinner – Baked chicken, cauliflower rice and chopped veggies.
Have a question about your child’s diet? Need some additional advice on ridding your house of picky eating? Comment below or contact me! Also, don’t forget to follow me on instagram for some easy kids snack ideas!