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Food Issues with Teen

I received this call for advice last evening: Our high energy middle school aged son only eats foods which have a specific consistency and texture.  He is resistant to trying new foods which aren’t on his very short-list of acceptable ones. While we’re familiar with picky eaters amongst children, his patterns seem to go above and beyond being picky about food.  We are concerned that he isn’t getting adequate nutrition or calorie needs to keep up with his body’s needs. On Thanksgiving day, when there were ten different dishes to choose from (including mashed potatoes, which we thought he might like), he ate nothing. We have tried a number of responses, including letting him choose the foods he’d like to try; involving him in the cooking and preparation of food; working with taste and touch and texture of food through occupational therapy as a young child; holding him while he is eating.  When he started school this year he said he wanted to try new foods, but then dissolved into tears when he couldn’t eat the food he had chosen to try–a piece of chicken, a pancake or a piece of pizza.  We are very concerned that he has an eating disorder which may have long term effects on his physical, emotional and social well-being.  Generally, we give him the kinds of foods he wants as often as we can.  But there are many instances where this is not feasible, e.g. visiting friends at their houses, and other social contexts.  It limits him in different areas of his life, which he has acknowledged. We think that he might need some additional professional help with this, and we could use some as well. We’ve run out of creative or responsive ideas which might help him along the way.  However, since he feels a great deal of shame about the issue, we suspect it won’t be an easy road to get this needed help.  He was adopted at age 8 months, and spent that time in an orphanage where “feeding” was accomplished by putting balancing a bottle against a pillow for the babies in the orphanage.  There was no physical contact.  He refused to touch or play with food from a very early age, and would become enraged when he was given something new or different.  Check out my facebook page:  Challenging Children for my reply to this family.

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