Ally keeps refusing different foods. She has a very small list of things she will eat now and most arent' incredibly healthy (sausage, chicken nuggets). She will eat some fruits, NO vegetables, and very few meats.
I'm not sure how to handle this or if I should do anything. If I do the eat-or-go-hungry thing she WILL go hungry. I've tried. I don't know if this is a taste things or a control thing. Is anyone else having this issue? I'm worried about her nutrition and how this bodes for her future dietary habits!
We have definitely had this issue to some degree but there are still lots of things he eats. It really is hard to figure out how much is chemo, steroids, or just being a little kid. Steroid weeks and the week after are the worst. Just do your best. I know one of the most common lingering effects of treatment for ALL survivors is obesity so it does seem that somehow treatment does condition the kids to eat differently and less healthy then the general population.
A social worker once explained it partially as follows: the kids have lost control of so much of their lives, have to do so many things that they don't want to do -- hell, that anyone would not want to do -- that what they eat is one of the few things that is in their control, and that they have learned is in their control because of the frequent nausea. Exercising control over what they eat may give them some feeling of control over their lives.
Dont know if that is accurate for your situation or not.
In our case, we got him to eat what he would eat, when we could get him to eat it. If he had a steroid craving for a double crunch burrito from Taco Bell, I got it for him. But our son had nausea so frequently thoughout treatment, in LTM also, that the docs emphasized that if he would eat it, we should get him to eat it.
Our son started LTM in August and is getting pickier, it started a bit before Thanksgiving - he eats mostly a few carbs, melted cheese, fruits and sweets - No veggies, no beans or peanut butter, not much meat (Though he's eaten salmon the past couple days?!?!? WooHoo!) He is hungry often. We're not sure if it's taste or tummy or control.
I talked about it at clinic last week - the NP brought up the obesity concern as a talking point with my husband. He has gained 3.5 pounds in the last 5 months, catching up, I'm sure, and he's now in the 55th percentile. Anyway, we will continue to offer "new" foods in the hopes he surprises us, like he did with the salmon (it is steroid week, though). I recently read a study that sticker charts and excited praise really helped encourage kids to try bites of new foods (vs. praise alone). Worth a shot.
And keep in mind, the 4 year old picky eating is not uncommon regardless of health status - Nicholas is 4, Abby is 4 or 5, right? ~Theresa
I can't remember how old your daughter is, but I think it could be a combination of several things: age, control, and chemo. Rett (4) is my kid who has always eaten and tried everything and he has become pickier as the months have gone on...he was diagnosed January 2011. I definitely think the chemo has affected how things taste to him. When he is fighting a cold or something else, I tend to give him Zofran to see if that helps him eat. He does not struggle with nausea too much, but I think he tends to have nausea from the chemo when he has something else going on like a cold or an ear infection. The Zofran tends to help him eat. He seems to give up foods for a period and then start to eat them again. He didn't drink a drop of milk for at least two months for no reason at all and now he loves it again. Hmmm.
As an aside, my non-CK is an extremely picky eater and always has been. The advice I have been given is this: feed him what he will eat, don't make food an issue and offer other options. He lives on peanut butter and nutella sandwiches, bell peppers and apples - I am not kidding. A few more foods and that's it...but he is always offered whatever the rest of us are eating. Hang in there!
Hi - not sure if it will help, but you can always try the "hiding the veggies" approach, there is a cookbook for it -- where you actually puree things like spinach or sweet potatoes, and put into other foods. It sounds gross, but if you do it right, they'll never know the difference, and you can get a few in there -- I think the book was called Deceptively Delicious -- or something like that. My daughter is 13 and is not picky at all...but when she was little, I used that cookbook concept quite a bit, so maybe it helped expand her taste in the long run. Also, this may sound odd if it's not your thing, but my kids love plain tofu ...firm or extra firm - no flavor, so it doesn't make her nauseous, but lots of good stuff in it ....then if your child likes it - you can graduate the taste to add teriyaki flavor, or whatever they like - start by just cutting a few small squares and putting it on the plate. Don't push it, just leave it there-- your child may find it interesting after seeing it a few times, and may try it ...hope it helps ... b
We are lucky that Elsa is a pretty good eater - for a two year old. When she is feeling pickier (especially for the few days after chemo), I make her smoothies with fruits I know she likes, but I sneak in a bunch of vegetables. She loves them and they actually taste fruity - I drink them too and you honestly can't taste the vegetables! In the smoothie, we put: whole milk yogurt (for the fat), coconut milk (also for the fat), carrot juice, pureed frozen spinach + whatever fruits she likes. When she is really not eating well, I add a little packet of organic kids nutritional supplement powder I found at Whole Foods. I checked with the Onc and he said they are OK because they DONT have high doses of folic acid, just 10% of the recommended daily value and they do not have mega doses of Vitamin C either. Sorry I can't think of the name, but they are little purple, fruity tasting powder packets with tons of different vitamins, but not in mega doses. Generally, if I can get her to drink a smoothie or two a day, I can feel better about the fact that some days, she ONLY eats hot dogs and cheddar bunnies.
Also, can't remember how old your daughter is, but Elsa is just at the right age that she gets a kick out of "helping" me make the smoothie. I think it gets her more in the mood to drink it when she can help me press the "blend' button Same goes with general cooking around the house - it is hard to find ways to include her in the preparation process, but she really likes to "help" cook and I think that it enourages her to eat whatever we are making.
The brand is called "Amazing Grass" and the particular powder we use is the: Kidz Super Food, Wild Berry Flavor. 10% Folic Acid and 15% Vitamin C. I can't remember why I cared about the Vitamin C content . . . was it that it counteracts the 6-MP? Anyone remember what the issue is with Vitamin C? Perhaps I made it up . . . though I know that too much Folic Acid stimulate leukemic cell production. . .
Here are links to the product: Kidz Super Food and if you click on the product itself, you can find the Nutritional Values tab. We've had good luck hiding it in juices/smoothies so far; doesn't have too much of that awful supplement taste.
You may want to supplement her diet with "Boost" or "Carnation" for days she doesn't eat well.
When our son's appetite is down, we would put less food on the plate. When you are not hungry, a plate full of food probably does not look too appetizing. Alternatively, we would start with a full plate, but removing food from it in front of him to let him "negotiate" the amount down ;-)
Wow, thanks for the responses everyone!!
For those who asked, Allyson just turned 5 on December 22nd. She is showing signs of trying to take control in other areas as well. Clinic visits (which are weekly for her) are a nightmare now. She'll refuse to have her ears and throat checked or she'll refuse to get weighed, etc. So maybe this is a control thing as well or maybe she's just being a stubborn one! She's always been headstrong. Always.
Luckily Allyson hasn't had to deal with a lot of nausea. She had trouble during the first phases of treatment, but it was pretty short lived and she's done incredibly well with continuation therapy (60 weeks in!!).
I hide veggies where I can because I've had to do that with her and her brother for a long time. But a lot of her preferred foods are not good for disguising them! For now we're just going to keep the fridge stocked with Pediasure Sidekicks I suppose. I'm going to keep making the foods I wish she would eat as a side for whatever I know she will eat and maybe one day she will give in *fingers crossed*.
The rule for my CK is that if you don't want to eat what is served than you MUST drink a pediasure and side (I.e. yogurt, fruit, cheese). We have always been a little "tough love" at our house, so once the law was laid down, it wasn't questioned!:).
The other thing is, after his nightly 6MP, even if it's late, he gets to come down and eat if he wants to. I figure if that's when he's hungry, then so be it! However, he is a night owl, so that might not work for a child who actually goes to sleep when put in bed!:)
But I have to say, I try not to worry if he wants to eat some unhealthy foods right now- I'm choosing my battles! If he wants to live on summer sausage for 3 days straight, ok! It's one of the few small perks of having cancer, none of his siblings get so much freedom with their food choices.
I also try to stay ahead of nausea, for instance he takes his oral MTX on Friday nights, and we keep him on the zofran through Monday morning. We realized early on that it made a difference in his appetite.
Good Luck! I hope you find some reasonable solutions soon!