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Being a mum is a tough job but with fussy eaters, and sensory processing disorder or sensory related issues, the pressure of getting the balance right between a healthy diet and mealtime battles can be a real challenge, for everyone involved. The co-ordination, chewing, and swallowing of food uses approximately 26 muscles as well as a lot of physical effort, energy and often emotions. So it can REALLY make for a very tiring, unpleasant experience and one that can leave everyone feeling drained. This is a real struggle for busy mums trying to deal with so many other issues that make up the daily routine and can be particularly tough at this time of year when everyone is cranking it up after the Christmas break and trying to settle back in to the normal routine of school, homework and activities etc.
So whether it’s a child who never feels hungry or one who has no full button it means you’re constantly planning and thinking outside of the box about FOOD!
First of all it’s good to know that you are not alone! There are lots of mums (including me) in the same situation as you. And as no two kids are alike, it is not a one fits all solution – most of it is a combination of a number of factors – good humour, the right utensils, trial and error, picking your battles, remembering that it’s important to take time out when the going gets tough, patience, creativity, etc. Oh and a few rewards & treats for everyone along the way. I know I have spent many a day tearing my hair out trying to get one son to eat while padlocking the press on the other. This can result in everyone feeling the strain but here’s some sound advice that I received which has helped me enormously along the way!
Having two sons who both “need” my support more than peers of their own age, means there’s always different challenges. Eating, and food related issues is one that’s a constant and in talking to my sons about their food likes/dislikes and why, gave them the chance to explain it to me. The result for me means I have to tune in more, listen & offer alternative suggestions!! I hadn’t thought about the” why’s”, I was just so focused on getting the food eaten that when I finally asked some questions it helped me understand why my youngest son didn’t like “green trees” (broccoli)- he just couldn’t bear to look at them. Or why my eldest hates tomatoes, they made such a mess on his plate and so I stopped battling started talking more and listening. We had a chart on the kitchen noticeboard which instead focused and worked together on visually moving things from the dislike column to the like and little by little it became less about the meal and more about increasing the variety of food choices we had. As a result I began to relax more around food and it became less of an issue. Now Rome wasn’t built in a day so I soon realised that this will always be a part of our lives but I need to devalue the importance I placed on winning the battle, ease up and compromise. And in introducing this thinking for us, I’ve opened up to asking more about other children’s lunchboxes and their likes & dislikes. At the same time, I started chatting with other parents for their own stories which has helped me when my creative juices are running dry!
by Catherine Whelan
If you have any healthy eating tips for child with dyspraxia, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.