Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Veggin' Out

Not counting baby food (because really...they open, and you just shove in whatever it is you want them to have), Jaysen has never- and I mean never- eaten a fruit or vegetable. His pediatrician tried to reassure me that he is following the typical age-appropriate diet of pizza, chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, and the occasional hot dog, and I shouldn't worry.

He's five now. He needs to be eating better foods, and following a better dietary routine. Yes, I am aware that quite a bit of this is my own fault, but I'm still figuring out this sensory stuff too.

So, we tried a sticker chart. Jaysen would get a coveted video tape if he ate 5 bites of a fruit or vegetable (he chose it to be apple- I made a mental note to next time write fruit and vegetable). I explained that he could take as long or as many days as he wanted, but he wouldn't get the video until all 5 squares had a sticker in them.

Day one: A successful bite of apple with much apprehension and a little gagging.
Day two: Another successful bite of apple, less apprehension, still gagging.
Day three: Yet another success. I decided to up the ante and make the "bite" a "piece".
Day four: One slice of apple eaten in about 10 minutes. Lots of complaining.
Day five: One slice of apple eaten in about 1 minute. Big smiles and "I did it"!

(It's extremely difficult watching your child having such a hard time with eating certain foods. He was trying so hard- giving such a valiant effort, yet he truly cannot handle the textures. His choking and gagging is not drama. It's for real. As a mom, I have to think about what's right for my son. Yes, he needs to eat good foods, but am I torturing him by putting him through this? Is this even helping him become more tolerant of different textures? Is there a better way? Because right now, I feel like the "Meanest Mom in America" for putting him through this. I offered him baby food, but he won't eat it because "it's for babies". He likes to juice things in the juicer, but won't drink it because it doesn't "look right".)

The next chart had 6 squares for fruits and vegetables. He choked down 2 pieces of apple and 3 grapes. I extolled him, and told him that all he had to do was eat one vegetable and the tape was his. He said, "*groan* maybe tomorrow". That was fine with me- I didn't want to push him. He did eat a small carrot the next night.

The day after that, Jaysen decided he wanted to do another sticker chart for another video. This time the deal was: Three fruits, one milk, and a vegetable.

The result?

The whole chart was completed that night. Hmm...this kid has got some serious motivation. He complained, gagged, and choked, but he didn't want to give up. He wanted that video. And he got it. Now my dilemma is- how can I get him to add these offending foods to his daily diet. He's willing to do it for incentives, but he wants to knock 'em all out of the way at once. If I could just get him to spread it out throughout the course of a day...it will take some planning, but I'll figure something out.

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