3 S.R. Johannes: I admit: My son is processed

Friday, October 01, 2010

I admit: My son is processed

Now that things have slowed down. I promise to get back to my regular blogging schedule next week. A Marketing post on Monday's and the Round Up on Fridays. And a whole lot of crazy in between. I know you all are not coping with out them so never fear. :)

Today, I'm going to regress and talk about something personal.

My freaky eater.

My processed son.

(And don't let this picture fool you. He's a little devil:)

Now, I had no idea what a picky eater was until I birthed one. I used to watch SuperNanny and Nanny 911, laughing evilly at the parents who could not get their kids to eat. Mwwwhhhhaaaaaaa.

Then my son came. Wow! I had no idea how stressful it was. I don't care who you are when your kid doesn't eat, and is a little bony, and his Dr. is on your case to get him to gain weight - its' stressful.

My first child, my daughter is an amazing eater! I guess I did everything right. By the book. Introduced veggies before fruit. Let her try one at a time. Gradually added in stuff. No juice until she was 2. No eating in front o f the TV. Now, (thank goodness) she will eat anything, better than me. She will try anything once and she loves fruits and veggies.

Then there is my son - the Freaky Eater.

Now, first I have a disclaimer. I don't know if you've watched the new show on TLC called Freaky Eaters. If you have a bad eater, watch it. It will make you feel so much better about your own. I started watching it thinking "Great, other people are freaky eaters too. Maybe I can learn something from them."

Well, I was wrong.

Those people eat paper, raw meat, or out of date dairy all day every day. One person only eats beans - glad I didn't marry him! (am I right girls! :) Oh, come on what's a blog post without at least one fart joke!)

So knowing my son is not a goat or a t-rex, makes me feel a little better. Though I think a goat would at least not complain or might mow the grass. (note to self - get a goat!)

So my son is after all NOT a FREAKY Eater. Though I'm pretty positive he's 100% processed.


WARNING: If you do not believe in processed food or think it is the devil or even only serve organic foods, the rest of this post may give you a total heart attack!

That's all my son eats (and I don't want any comments about what I'm feeding him!!!! I'll be forced to delete it out of sheer guilt and embarrassment.) There are problems that led us here.

First - his weight was low, worse - his BMI. (Yeah, I barely knew what that was too until my son was processed) He's been at 90% height and 20% weight almost his whole freaky eater life, which also puts him in the bottom 3% for a low BMI.

To add to it - in the beginning, he had really bad reflux. That didn't help. Then he had tonsils the size of Mount Everest. Seriously like he used to choke on them when he ate. It was horrible. Problem was - Drs would not take them out b/c he was so underweight so he had to gain weight first. Then, we were told to do what it took to get him to eat. That's when the TV and the "what do you want to eat" policy was put in place. To top it off, my son also has a "sensitivity" (which means there is nothing we can do until he grows out of it) to wheat and dairy so we have to limit those things everyday. Of course - what do you think are the 2 things he loves most? You git it - cheese and bread. By minimizing dairy or bread - he gets hardly any fat unless its crap food. Hence low BMI.

Sigh - you see where I'm going?

That - my friends - was the beginning of the end for my son and his relationship to anything anything grown that is green, yellow, red or orange. (See this cookie is blue. Than again,don't be fooled. He's not eating the cookie, he's only picking off the sprinkles.)

His favorite food and lifeline seems to be crap. Not REAL Crap - of course or he would be on TLC. But crap food. (Hm, I wonder if they pay? Note to self - check into sublimenting income by exploiting sons bad eating habits)

So over the last 2 years, my son has lived off of chicken fingers, fish stix, meatballs, string cheese, snacks, and breakfast food. Makes it hard to figure out lunch and dinner.

Let me say here that when it comes down to forcing your kid to eat healthy or getting him to get on the weight curve. You do what it takes and hope you don't cause massive brain damage or watch him take the form of a large donut.

After ruling out anything mental or physical - we are told. He's just a picky eater.

Now in the last few months, all of this has really started to take a toll on me. I dreaded dinner, dreaded picking him up and emptying his lunch box, dreaded the nights where he cried about being hungry but wouldn't eat. Dinner is a war and trust me - I am NOT even WINNING a battle. I've become so guilt-ridden that I dream about him eating. Seriously, then I wake up and stay up researching. I would cry, beat myself up,and stress out anytime food was within his reach. Hiding behind corners, watching, praying he eats. Then I'd get mad at him, yell. Make him take a bite. Nothing was working. I'm positive Super nanny is going to come pounding on my door and tape me yelling at my kid over food or shoving it down his throat. Then, everyone in the world will see me and think - "man, she's crazy."

Just to give you a taste, here is a snippet of a conversation that seems to occur very frequently.

Him: "I dont want to eat."
ME: "Okay."
HIM: "But I want to eat."
ME: "Okay what do you want? chicken fingers?"
HIM: "No, I dont like chicken fingers!"
ME:"You love those."
HIM:"I want meatballs please."
MOM makes meatballs and serves them on a fun tommy the train plate. Because who doesnt want to eat more with thomas?
HIM:"Buuuuuut, I wanted chicken fingers."
ME (pulls hair out): "How about a donut?"
Him:"But i dont like donuts."
Daughter: I'll take a donut."
ME: No honey, you eat healthy. You don't need a donut. You and Gray have to eat different things.
Her: That's not fair.
ME: Tell me about it.
Him: No! Sissy doesn't get a donut. I get a donut.
ME: You said you didn't want a donut.
MOM hands him a donut.
HIM: I want an apple
EVERYONE in family looks at each other and scrambles around to find an apple, whispering about breakthroughs and miracles.
ME (in tears) - I'M out of apples. :(

So now - I cook something and that's it. If he doesn't eat it - he goes to bed hungry. Which is harder than it sounds esp. if he wakes up in middle of night hungry and crying. I know it's probably just a control thing. I know that intellectually. But emotionally, I see a kid who has an issue with food that I'm hoping he outgrows when he leaves the toddler phase.

And yes before you ask - I have tried every fruit veggie, fruit juice, veggie juice, and possible snack known to man. So no need to even suggest any. Trust me, we've tried...everything.

Now, just to be clear. I am not saying my son is just a regular picky eater who will only eat junk food, yogurt, chicken fingers, fries, and bagels.

I'm talking even worse - the kid who is a RANDOM SPORADIC PICKY EATER. Which means I can't depend on ONE food to make him happy. It changes with the wind, with the time, with the hour. So that means, NO DAY is good unless we get lucky even if I give him what I know he will eat. Because we never know.

My son is the one who loves chicken fingers one week - hates them the next. One who will eat waffles only if cream cheese is on it. One who REFUSES to eat donuts unless they are white. (Seriously who refuses a DONUT!) This picture? Him complains about ice cream! I know....crazy. Definitely MY kid!

I know - don't ask.

I've gotten every advice possible, read every book. I'm doing it all with very little progress.

Now this may surprise you, but I actually wasn't here today to talk about my picky eater. This post is actually a tribute (stay with me) to Traders Joes.


Because now I can get somewhat-healthy processed or canned food and not feel 100% guilty. (only 50%) Spaghettio's - check! all natural, low sodium. Chicken nuggets? Check! white meat with no hormones. YOU want meatballs? Check! Cheese crackers, check check check!

I still have the problem of "Will he eat it?" But at least if he does, it's healthier.

Not to mention, Traders Joe's is cheap. So thank goodness, I'm not spending much more money than I was on my cheap Kroger card brands (which BTW have so much high fructose corn syrup, it should be illegal. See I do know what's healthy).

Now, I don't stress out as much. I just pop in some natural multi -vitamins and some healthy processed food in - for my son (NOT) to eat. I also found a special apple juice with no sugar (he loves apple juice) that is combined with Carrot juice. He still drinks it. (SSSSShhhhhhhhhhhh don't' tell him or I will have to kill you.)

To all you moms who are horrified at the fact that my son's weekly intake of fruit and veggies consists of spinach pretzels at Barnes and Noble and yogurt raisins (no he won't eat the chocolate or plain ones). I'm so sorry. I am completely horrified too.

Thanks Trader Joes for having affordable healthy processed and canned food that does not cost me an extra house payment. (Don't get me wrong I love whole foods but I can only afford one apple there a week ).

TJ - Thanks for allowing a mom to find a healthIER option for my processed son.

Who yes, was born in a bag and stored in the freezer section.

Maybe even grew up in a cereal box.

Now, if he only came a prize.


Yamile said...

I feel for you. My oldest (almost 10 YO now, so he survived toddlerhood) didn't eat anything when he was little either. What did I do? I'd let him drink all the pediasure he wanted. End result? So many cavities, he now has a phobia to the dentist.
I can offer no advise, just commiserate with you. If it's a control issue, I have experience with that too. My son wouldn't pee. His belly would be bulging, I'd sit him on the bathtub with running water, and he still wouldn't pee. He did at night, in his bed, every night. He didn't have physiological problem, just a strong will and a desire to assert himself. At the age of two.
I'm a picky eater too. But my problem is that I don't like anything. I eat because I'm hungry, and if my mom cooks. Let's not analyze that, OK?
Good luck and hang in there! I'm sure someone has already told you, "when he's really hungry, he'll eat."

Anonymous said...

Kids definitely have a mind of their own :) I can't imagine turning down ice cream of donuts when I was kid :p

Have you ever seen the book "Just take a bite?"


We use it all the time where I work ... good luck with your picky eater!

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I feel for you too!

My picky eater is moody too. She finds something new she likes. It goes on sale. I stock up. Then, nope, she doesn't like that anymore. Grrr.

Julie Hedlund said...

Oh Shelli, I so feel for you! Feeding our kids is such a huge part of our maternal instincts. I can't even imagine how hard it's been.

I just wanted to say that while reading this, I thought, "What an amazingly dedicated mom." Sure, he's not eating the healthiest food right now, but you're leaving no stone unturned to tackle the issue - even if it means leaving it alone for a while.

The only thing I could suggest, other than surrounding yourself with supportive people, is to take a look at The Sneaky Chef cookbook if you haven't already. You can "sneak" pureed fruits and veggies into spaghettios, mac 'n cheese, cookies, etc.


Stasia said...

I've got four sons. Youngest (age four) says he "doesn't like food" and is super fickle. Eldest was also a horrendous eater (25th% height, 5th weight), but is now a taller-than-me teen and will try eating anything (even stuff I wouldn't). Boy #3 (age 10, also too thin) could never sit through a meal and still occaionally looks woefully at his plate as if it's telling him bad news. I've concluded that some kids are just more interested in exploring their world than sitting at a table in front of a plate. But I'm pretty interested in not having meals be tear-inducing (for me) epics with multiple entrees and way-too-much conversation about likes/dislikes. So, I put very small portions of whatever I'm serving on #4's plate (along with some apple slices or another reasonably sure bet) and ask him to clear his place at the same time as everyone else. Sometimes he eats. Sometimes, he cries and complains. Believe me, I don't think I would have had the emotional strength to use this strategy on anyone by my fourth and NO JUDGEMENT HERE but, for what it's worth, there's my story. Hang in there :)

Casey McCormick said...

Ohh, I can relate.

My daughter is very picky and fickle. She has a short list of things she likes and constantly changes her mind about what she wants. We go back and forth trying to agree on something for her to eat at nearly every meal, make it, and then she doesn't want it and starts whining that she's, hungry (with the plate of food in front of her!). It's a constant battle.


Sherrie Petersen said...

Omigosh, Shelli, not laughing at you, laughing WITH you! I totally sympathize and I love Trader Joe's too. In fact, I went there after having coffee with Casey last week :)
My daughter stopped eating chicken because chickens are cute. Apparently cows are ugly so they're still on the menu. Kids will drive you crazy with their likes and dislikes!

Melissa Gill said...

My nephew is almost eight. He eats about three things. Smoothies that his mom makes using greek yogurt, honey, fresh fruit, so good. The other two things are Skittles and Goldfish (usually mixed together, God love him.) Oh and I forgot about McDonalds. The kid is obsessed with McDonalds. He fantasizes about chicken nuggets.

As for the whole, no processed food thing, I've been trying to eat "clean" for a month. No diet coke, no processed anything. I don't feel a bit different, have not lost any weight, and I'm quite b++chy from lack of chocotate. So I think this non-processed stuff is a bunch of hokum.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yea for Traders Joe! I think it's great you put your foot down that he eat what you cook. Even if he's picky as long as you cook something he likes, that should be enough.

My daughter & I are vegetarians. For awhile after we got back from China she was starved and ate anything. Then she got picky. Once she got to be about 8 or 9 we started insisting she each more vegetables, fruit, and different foods. It's gotten a lot better, so maybe when your son is older and more mature, you'll be able to work on this too.

Hardygirl said...

I so, so wish we had a Trader Joe's close by.

And, I'm a firm believer in "whatever gets you through the day". That's my child-rearing philosophy. No judgment here.


Sara B. Larson said...

Picky eaters are SO hard to deal wtih. It sounds like you've been beating yourself to a pulp over it. I say, just do the best you can and as long as he's healthy and growing, don't stress so much. Both of my sons end up in the 80-90%+ for height, and usually go from 70-80% for weight when they're 6 months old to 5-15% when they're 18 months old. They just get tall and skinny. My older son eats awesome, my younger son eats like a pig one day and won't touch anything except String cheese, apples and maybe a banana or two the next day. But my dr. doesn't seem nearly as concerned as yours sounds, as long as they're healthy and growing. Which they are. I'm sure it'll work out. Hugs!!

Mim said...

I totally understand where you are coming from. Both of my boys are completely off the charts for height and weight, plus their BMI is off, so their short and way too skinny. We finally figured out it's most likely genetic. But they burn off what they do eat super fast. I've had several years of dr's appts, weigh ins, and talks about how to feed my kids. At one point we were adding a 1/2 cup of cream to their whole milk--and that's what finally got them to gain weight.

My doctor told me that kids that age won't let themselves starve to death and a few skipped meals won't kill them. It's tough I know, but it will get better.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

I sooooooooooooooo know what you're talking about. my 4 year old daughter only eats Sunbutter/ Jelly sammies, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, or Wendy's cheeseburgers! And occasionally some strawberries and oranges. But that's it! She does drink that Apple Juice with the carrot blended in also. (Shhhhhhhh, your secrets safe with me)

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh my goodness...you poor thing. I don't really have any advice, but maybe a story that will make you feel better. My cousin has a pretty severe developmental disability (so it's not really like your son but bear with me) and she was constantly underweight as a kid. But she had a similar problem. She HAD to gain weight because not only was she underweight but she had to take lots of medication and have surgeries and so on. But she was a seriously picky eater. Her mother (also my cousin) was going nuts trying to figure out what to feed the poor kid because she wouldn't stick to one thing and all she would eat was macdonalds french fries, chips and salsa, or onion dip (though it changed every week) Finally she found a doctor who said it was fine to just feed her what she wanted, even if it was junk and she would grow out of it. Which sounds kind of crazy and radical but that's exactly what happened. She had macdonalds and chips and dip for a really long time. Now she's 16 and healthy and a perfect eater, vegetables and salads and no worries. So I have faith your son will grow out of it too! Good luck!

Lisa Schroeder said...

There is a yahoo group for adults who are extremely picky eaters. There are also parents (like me) of extremely picky eaters.

The mail can get really high, so I just check the group every once in awhile on yahoo, instead of getting their e-mails, but it makes me feel better. These people, adults (some are 50) who only eat french fries, grilled cheese and plain hamburgers will tell you up, down and sideways they were BORN this way. And there is nothing anyone can do to change them. They would rather go hungry than eat an orange (or whatever). To ask them to eat an orange is, they tell me, like someone asking me to eat dirt.

Now, the random pickiness is something else, and you may have to hold strong with that and make him something you know he usually eats and stick to it, like you've been doing .

Anyway - here's the loop if you want to check it out, so you can feel better with me. One of them is going to be on the Dr. Phil show soon, I think!! That ought to be interesting!!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Oops - did the group url not come though?


Shelli (srjohannes) said...

thanks everyone. I feel much better! :)

Kelly Polark said...

That is tough, Shelli! Here I was feeling bad because my youngest wouldn't eat meat (except the occasional McD's cheeseburger, go figure)! (We just started making him eat one bite of meat a meal.)
You are a great mom! Moms do what they have to do. I've never been to Trader Joe's. Will have to check it out. Good luck!

Gail said...

My oldest nephew (now 18) refused to eat any vegetable except potatoes, and it had to be french fries until age11 !! Seriously. He only ate cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets with catsup. He was very thin. Past 3 years he has eaten them out of house and home. And he eats vegetables!
Hang in there!!!

storyqueen said...

Shelli-This is my favorite post of the week!! It was so funny, yet so TRUE. (I think you ought to send it to a magazine or something)

Yes, Trader Joe's saves my life on a regular basis.

(And it is always good to know your son is not a T-Rex or a goat.)


Christina Farley said...

Oh my goodness. You poor thing. I can't even think about going through all of that. But I loved your little conversations. So cute.

cleemckenzie said...

We have one in our family. Her diet consists of ice cream and rice. Yep. And this among a group of fresh veggie, seasonal only, Slow Foodies! Imagine having dinner with that mix of food preferences.

Good luck.

Jemi Fraser said...

We were lucky - but I have a nephew who we never thought would eat a vegetable or actual meat. Now he's a teen and eats it all - loves salad & even broccoli. There is hope!

Carol Riggs said...

Good for you for keepin' on keepin' on, poor girl. I think it's sorta like potty training--if you make toooo big of a deal about it, it becomes a much bigger deal (and, like you mentioned, it might become all about Control). Sounds like you're working through it, though, and yay for Trader Joes! Also, maybe you know this, but sometimes you can puree veggies and sneak 'em into spaghetti sauces and stuff.
Hang in there! He may outgrow it. ;o)

Jackee said...

Yep. Going through similar (but not as bad) things with my toddler boy too. Sorry that he has wheat and dairy sensitivities though, that makes things so much harder!

With my oldest, food is a control thing but she's growing out it... even if she's as skinny as rail still! :o)

Hang in there, Shelli!

Heidi Willis said...

Kids are going to be the death of us, are they not??

What a dilemma you face... I think you're doing a great job trying to balance needs and wants.

I had a friend who, well into middle school, would not eat a red food. No tomato (or tomato sauce), no strawberries or apples, no spaghetti or pizza (tomato thing). She outgrew it eventually. Your son will too. :)

Katie Anderson said...

What fabulous friends and advice. Oh how I love the interwebz :))

Claire Dawn said...

When you first said "My son is a picky eater," I thought well that's not the end of the world.
But I guess you really don't realise how hard something is til you take a sec and really think about it.

Yay for small victories though. Thank you Trader Joes.

Heather Kelly said...

I feel your pain. I have a 6 yr old son who is so underweight that it keeps me up at night. He also has a sensory disorder which makes him constantly crave sensory input and movement, and makes it so that PROCESSED FOOD and DYED FOOD set him off--to the point where he bounces of the wall. Those foods make him jittery and impossible to control.

I too say THANK GOD FOR TRADER JOE'S, so I don't have to read every label--BECAUSE EGGO WAFFLES HAVE YELLOW FOOD DYE IN IT. C'mon, big food conglomerates, can't you help us out A LITTLE???

Feed your son what he will eat, and don't stress out when he won't eat anything at all. No guilt.

And come over to my house for coffee. You're a great mom, and in good company. And stay away from all those other judgy-judgy moms. Who made them the be all and end all of parenting wisdom?!


Anonymous said...

This makes me glad I only have cats! Hang in there. My little sister was picky, too, and she grew up just fine.

Kerri Cuev said...

I think every mom has gone through this. Hang in there and pray it will pass. Or you could resort to down and dirty tricks :)

Carnation instant breakfast is your best friend.

Add butter to foods he will eat for weight gain

If he likes pasta you are golden. Puree vegtables and add it to the sauce. He will never know.

My kids Dr. told me I should write a manual on how to get kids to eat. I didn't have a picky eater now LOL!

He's a cutie!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, I feel for you. My younger son is picky, but not nearly that picky.

I used to work with Autistic kids, and one of the boys I worked with was incredibly picky, as well as being gluten and dairy intolerant. He ate 9 foods total - his three meals were exactly the same every day. His mother had a lot to deal with.

My own children are both gluten- and dairy-free, as well as being allergic to eggs, so finding foods that they like is a challenge for me, as well.

Hang in there. At least he can outgrow it!

(And as an aside, are the doctors certain that they have ruled out anything physical or psychological? Just wondering.)

(And as another aside, I've given you an award - check it out at www.ishtamercurio.blogspot.com)