Most kids have some issues with food. In fact, I think its safe to say that many of them are downright picky eaters. I know that my kids are. Its a constant battle to get my children to try new foods and/or to have a rotating list of food that moves past peanut butter crackers. And most kids have a few quirky medical things about them, too. Some more debilitating than others.
My Grace has always had issues with food. It all started when she was just a baby and could not nurse. She would become frantic and scream – so I decided that I would use my breast pump exclusively to get her milk. I pumped for a year. Later on – when she started solids, she became choosy about which ones she liked. We realized that she was staying away from the ones that had a certain ‘texture’ to them, or were grainy, or had a strong taste.
As she grew, Grace became more set in her ways and only wanted certain foods. I always carried food with me and I always had the same 4-5 choices. I knew that if she did not eat, there would be a terrible tantrum right around the corner. Little did I know how much worse it could get.
Somewhere around the time Grace was 5, we really started to notice a problem with her eating patterns. She would get incredibly upset, or have a tantrum, act out with friends or cry for no reason. We knew that if we did not get enough good nutrients into her every couple hours, she would become very pale and very sick within an hour. Because we knew the cycle of this, I would often panic and try to get her to immediately eat, which then started a ritual of what we call, “Do I look sick -Do I look pale?”, where Grace would incessantly ask how she looked and was so distraught that she would not eat. She would ask us this question as many as 20-30 times per hour. As you can imagine, the ritual was difficult to break and what ensued was a painful daily battle of OCD and anxiety for Grace. It was often a secret battle – one we did not fully discuss with friends and family. We wanted desperately for our child to feel well and thrive like her friends. Something was just not right.
Ultimately, we found solutions for Grace. I researched the best practices and medicines to help with her anxiety and 4 years later, she has a team of doctors and therapists whom I highly value. We were told to stop responding to the questions she would ask on looking sick and pale. It was a hard, long journey but there are several resources I would like to share on what worked for us.
First and foremost, I always took my child to the pediatrician – from anything like pink eye and ear infections to deeper issues like food and anxiety. From there, we were referred to a child psychiatrist for medication and a child psychologist for ‘talk and play’ therapy – both of which have been a Godsend for Grace. And because Grace is hypersensitive to changes in her body, her food, or her environment, we began to monitor her bloodsugar daily for couple months - to let her know that she was okay. We began to see patterns of when her sugar would drop and we started working around that and sticking to a set schedule of meals. We try to give Grace lots of advance notice of things, too: events, changes in schedule(s), food choices, doctors – basically anything and everything. We know she is anxious and we want her to be able to relax and enjoy life. We also explain – that life is a mystery, so sometimes, she will just have to “roll with it.” Ultimately, God is in control.
Eventually, Grace started to worry less frequently, she learned to listen to her body and started to ask us less and less “Do I look sick? Do I look Pale?” Its rare that we hear it now. Its because Grace learned to talk back to her OCD and her anxiety and start to control the monster that was FEAR in her little life. Our all-time favorite book – and one we could not have ever lived without is Scaredy Squirrel, and I highly recommend you head out today and get your anxious kid a copy. Cutest darn book I ever read on OCD!
Its important that you always listen fully to your child. Watch their little bodies for clues, talk to their educators, watch them at play and with friends and at rest. Trust your parental instincts and just plain trust your gut. Then pull together a team of professionals who can help you and your kiddo. Some of my favorite resources are listed below. I hope they help you as much as they have helped us.
University of Minnesota – Children’s Feeding Clinic - for Sensory/Feeding Issues
Kingdom Kids Nutrition - Healthy Eating for Healthy Kids with ADHD and other disorders
Just Enjoy Food - Website by a chiropractor on food allergies, healthy eating and lifestyle
Talking Back to OCD - Book on how to help break the debilitating cycle of OCD in children and adults.
What to do when you worry too much - Last but not least – one of Gracie’s favorite books which includes blank pages where your child can journal and draw pictures to help them work through anxiety and fears.
Feel free to contact me for further resources and books on how to help your child overcome daily anxiety, food issues, OCD and behavior difficulties. And remember…..I am new to this blogging stuff. So if my links are all broken – just know that eventually they will get fixed. I could sit around and worry about all my typos, too. But that would just be my OCD talking.
[ Do Not Worry ] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …