Sunday, May 17, 2009

Re-Vamping Gabe's VERY limited diet.....

From as far back as I can remember since Gabe has been eating solid foods, he has been a very picky eater. At first he would try new things (around age 1). As soon as he tried mac n cheese, that seemed to be all he wanted for every meal. We were still giving him baby foods to get his fruits and veggies daily, and sometimes he would try cookies and pastas. From mac n cheese, he went to pizza, bread sticks, breads, PBJ's, etc. Basically all gluten filled foods! We wouldn't make that connection until MUCH later though....
About every 6 months Gabe would get sick of eating the same foods and go on what they call "food jags" in the autism world. FOr those who aren't familiar (lucky people!) that is where you eat the same food over and over and eventually get so sick of it that the mere thought of that food makes you ill. Most people get this normally after eating McDonald's three days in a row. They will go a week or two without eating it, and then return to McDonald's for more. With kids who have ASD (Autism) they will "usually" never return to that food after having a "food jag" on it. It's almost like they will look at you like, "Mom, how could you think I would ever actually eat that pizza?" Even if they had just eaten it the night before!! Kind of makes you feel crazy at times. lol
So anyways, Mike has been trying to talk me into putting Gabe on the GFCF diet for years now. I always knew I wasn't ready to commit to it, and I don't like to do anything half-ass, so to speak. Plus, at the time that we spoke about the diet (after reading Jenny McCarthy's book, LOUDER THAN WORDS) Gabe's diet was so poor that he had eliminated all but three or four foods that he would actually eat. They were: sun chips, cookies, and Burger King original chicken sandwiches. That was IT! We were so miserable wondering if Gabe was eating enough to keep him healthy....of course we knew that he wasn't healthy. Who could possibly be healthy eating only those three things once or twice a day?? It was always so stressful, I think even more so for me.
We had started seeing a "feeding therapist" at Riley Children's Hospital in September of 2008 who told us that if we forced him to eat something that he didn't like or want, then we would cause him to regress and stop eating completely from the trauma. That, of course, would freak any parent out to hear. You don't want to be the reason that your baby has to be admitted to a hospital with a feeding tube because you wanted him to try a piece of steak, you know? So, we went home after about the third or fourth visit to her and talked it over. Mike ended up saying something that I will never forget. He asked me one question, " Jade, what is so much better about him eating one or two foods than zero?" "Isn't it worth a shot to see if she's wrong?" I went to see his behavioral therapist who he has been seeing since his DX at age 2 and asked her opinion. She said that she would have to agree with Mike and said to try forcing him and just see what happens. So we did. For the first three or four days, we had to literally force food in his mouth and make him chew it. He would kick and scream and try to spit it out. Every time he would spit it out I would just put a new piece in. He eventually figured out that I wasn't backing down and so he just started chewing. We would go through that every day for the first few, then he started to realize that these new foods weren't so terrible after all and eventually started picking up bites on his own. After a month he was trying all kinds of new things every time we asked him to. We could tell that *most* of his eating issues were behavioral, not sensory. We could tell this because when he would eat something like chicken, which he liked in some forms, he would "pretend gag" and when he actually had an issue with the food sensory wise, he would actually gag or even vomit it right back up. It was such a hard thing to have to make him do, and I hated every moment of it.
BUT............It was by far THE BEST thing I've done for him yet.

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