I bet as the parent of an SPD/ASD kid you are NOT at all surprised by that -- right? I'm not.
So, when I saw one of my reader's blog, Healthy, Green and Frugal (three things I am not) I thought -- hey, who better to help me shed a little light on eating issues than this nutritionally savvy mom of two boys with sensory issues? And let's be honest, advice from someone who truly gets your life is the best -- right?
So, grab your fork and get ready to wet your appetite -- and hopefully your kids' too!
Hi! My name is Rebecca. First of all, I must say that I’m a big fan of Hartley’s blog. It has provided me with much-needed information, encouragement, and humor. Needless to say, I was flattered when she asked me to write a guest post about how to get our sensationally picky eaters the healthy nourishment they need. Given that my blog is called Healthy, Green and Frugal, you can imagine that instilling healthy eating habits in my two young boys is one of my top priorities. Unfortunately, their sensory issues sometimes make this a bit of a challenge.
I’ve always had a vision of my children sitting happily together at the dinner table each night eager to partake of the nutritious meals I lovingly prepared for them. Wrong. The reality is that I’m lucky to get either of my children to sit at the table for any length of time, and I often make two (sometimes three) meals each night - one for me and my husband and one for my children.
The one thing I cannot let go is my vision to get as much healthy, nutritious food into my children as possible. No child deserves anything less. Certainly not one who is already stressed by sensory issues and needs all the help he can get to run at peak physical capacity. No matter how picky my children can be, I stand firm in my core guidelines regarding food - a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables with minimal amounts of processed foods, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial additives.
I relentlessly present new and healthy foods to my children, no matter how many times I get rejected. I am hopeful that one day my persistence will pay off. In the meantime, I’ve amassed a bag of tricks I use when I just need to get the food in their bodies. I hope it’s helpful to you. I’d love to hear about the ways you get your picky kids to eat.
Deceptively Nutritious. When all else fails, I can always manage to sneak in good nutrition under the radar. Here are some of my favorite methods:
• Smoothies. I add spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, yogurt, and all kinds of fruit.
• Popsicles. I pour my left over smoothies into popsicle molds to make frozen treats that are way more nutritious than what you can buy at the store. Plus, popsicles are a feast of sensory input!
• Purees. I freeze vegetable puree in ice cube trays and add them to all sorts of things, including pancake batter, french toast, smoothies, spaghetti sauce and vegetable soup. I get the best results from sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
• Ovaltine. Perhaps it’s not the pinnacle of good nutrition, but if the kids are going to have chocolate milk, it’s certainly better than the alternative in the sense that it’s enriched with vitamins and minerals.
Make Their Favorites as Nutritious as Possible. Once you’ve identified at least one or two foods that you know your child will eat, do everything you can to make it as healthy as possible. Use the highest-quality nutrient-dense ingredients you can find. Enrich it with vegetable purees if you can. Here are my mainstays:
• Peanut Butter Sandwich. Since my kids eat this nearly every day, I’ve tried my best to make sure the components are as nutritious as possible. I use peanut butter without hydrogenated oil and whole grain bread or high-fiber, whole grain crisp bread (like Wasa or Ryvita).
• Sweet Potato. My kids will almost always eat this, so I make it often.
Raccoon Feed. More than a year ago, my oldest requested we call him “raccoon”. It was such a fitting nickname for both boys (picture raccoons digging through our pantry) that it stuck and our longstanding imaginative play related to raccoons was born. One part of this play is “raccoon feed”, which is basically a trail mix made of whatever I happen to have on hand (dry cereal, nuts, goldfish, raisins, dried bananas). We often serve it in a little metal bowl just like they do at the zoo. There are days when one of my children has eaten scarcely a thing all day. Then, as soon as we settle down for bed, he realizes he is hungry.....enter raccoon feed.
really big straws (only $1 a pack at the local Chinese market). A good on-the-go option is the pouches of organic fruit puree made by Happy Baby that have a little sucking device built right in.
Hidden Treasure. My kids have a little plastic treasure chest that goes with their pirate ship play set. They will eat most anything if I put it in the treasure chest and hide it somewhere. Good thing it’s washable!
A super big thank you to Rebecca for taking the time to give us a little help with our picky eaters. I sure needed it!
If you have questions about how she does what she does, check out the 'Kid Section' of her blog here.
I've got to grab my vitamix now and make a smoothie!
Photos: Aren't those boys just ADORABLE? Gosh they're cute!