Issues around food are common for children with a history of neglect and trauma. Not knowing where or when the next meal will come can leave lasting effects on children. Also children that have experienced abuse and neglect can have a need for control, its common for this control to be orientated around food.
My girls all have food related issues of some description. Big girl finds some textures of foods difficult to cope with and also has a tendency to over eat and eat very fast, some of this is due to her being Autistic, sadly some is not.
Middle girls seems to have a few chewing issues, sometimes its as though she’s sucking her food rather than chewing it and holding and using her knife and fork correctly is also difficult for her, being fed milk in a bottle for longer than usual and not being weaned properly could be the cause of this.
Baby girl, well where do I start, baby girls world revolves around food.
When baby girl first came to us, she understandably had a need for control, so much had happened to her that had been out of her control that she grasped every opportunity to control that she could, she still does. Meal times were very difficult with baby girl, she would refuse to eat, play with her food, provoke for a reaction in anyway she could, in order to be in control. I hated meal times, I’d get indigestion because I was trying so hard not to react. I often failed. When baby girl started school full time, I was relieved, but only because it meant one less meal time to contend with.
Baby girl has a very good appetite and can eat a healthy sized meal for a child her age. She likes a wide range of foods and will generally try most things. She can be fussy with vegetables but will eat them, she loves fruit and salad type vegetables such as tomato, peppers and cucumber. All of this is only applicable if she’s in a good mood, if she’s not, she will refuse even cake!
Nowadays things are much easier, not because baby girl no longer controls, because she does, but because we’ve taken steps to change how we do things as a family. We rarely sit down to eat a meal as a family at home, the girls all sit at the table together to eat and we eat once they’re in bed. When baby girl is eating I stay out of sight, I usually busy myself in the kitchen. She has a set time to eat her meal and then her plate is removed from the table and so is she. She still refuses food when the mood takes her. But I no longer react.
Baby girl still completely obsesses about what’s for dinner and I’ve found that the more she knows about what’s coming, the more time she has to decide if she’s going to refuse it. Surprise meals work best for her as they leave her little time to decide if she’s going to eat it or not! Baby girl will always try and find an excuse to come in to the kitchen and ask me a question, whilst peering over my shoulder for clues about her meal. So the kitchen is now off limits when dinner is being prepared, baby girls still learning this one. She’s also now learning that she doesn’t always need to come in to the kitchen to uncover the secrets it holds. I often hear her describing what she can smell in an attempt to find out what’s cooking!
If we make plans to go somewhere, baby girls first questions are ‘will we have dinner there’ ‘what dinner will there be’. Party invitations excite her, but not because of the party, but because she knows there’s party food there. Trips to a park mean ‘picnic’ in baby girls head. If I fill a bag with drinks for the day she always assumes there’s a snack too and try’s to find out what it is. Trips to visit family and friends are always met with the same questions ‘will we have dinner there’. If I collect baby girl from school early or send her in late for any reason, her only concern is missing snack time. She hears food cupboards open, she recognises the sounds of packets, tins, the freezer and of course she knows the sound of, food hub central, the fridge!
Baby girls food obsessions don’t stop with her food either, she’s completely distracted by other people eating, drinking or even talking about food. For example, if I’ve indulged in a light snack (a sneaky piece of chocolate maybe) or had a cup of coffee and then I go and speak to baby girl, she doesn’t hear a word I say. She’s too busy smelling my breath and trying to work out what I’ve just eaten, or drank.
It does have its uses though, if I need baby girl, I can be sure she’ll appear if I open the fridge or rustle a packet!
This post was written for The Weekly Adoption Shout Out (#WASO), this weeks topic is ‘Food’.