Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Frog of Discriminating Taste

Our little frog has been a picky eater from the start. He was a great nurser (probably as much for the sensory experience as for the sustenance), but once the semi-solid foods came along, he had a narrow and discriminating palate. Around this time, Diva frog went from an adventurous eater to the toddler half-dozen. This left me playing the role of the short order cook for several years.

"one moo juice, one city juice - hold the hail", "burn one
high and dry with an order of frog sticks", "one GAC and an
order of cackle fruit - wrek'em".

Diva frog is coming back around and I can almost get away with fixing a family dinner.

Little frog's limited diet has always puzzled me. He mouths everything he comes in contact with unless it is presented to him on a plate. When introducing new foods, he will start gagging when he sees the plate approaching from across the room. We have consulted with our GP, OT and nutritionists and applied various techniques and suggestions from books and friends. We've limited food, we've given access to new foods, we've tried various diets and tested for food allergies and sensitivities common in autism with elimination procedures. We've tried disguising foods and giving supplements. None of this has changed little frog's preferences or eating habits. He wants sweet or salty, crunchy, simple carbs and dairy.

We've been most successful with 1. Sibling rivalry - he seems to think things on Diva Frog's plate taste better than things on his plate - and 2. Having a conversation with him about protein and the role it plays in good nutrition. Over the last few weeks he has, on his own, - tried Diva frog's hamburger, eaten chicken nuggets instead of french fries when both were offered and picked turkey and cheese over crackers and a cookie. We are still waiting on fruits and vegetables - but he did sneak a carrot off the counter when he thought I wasn't looking.

He does share my passion for cookies. While a store bought cookie will do in a pinch, he knows a "good" cookie when he sees one. This has been great motivation for communication. He has gone out of his way to come up with non-verbal communication strategies to tell me he doesn't want just any cookie - he wants me to make him a cookie. As a long time amateur baker - I love the compliment! He will bring me baking sheets from the cupboard. He will insist we open the pantry where he selects the shortening container with the picture of the cookie. He climbs on the counter to look in the cookie jar. He brings me frozen cookie dough from the freezer. So far, I haven't been able to get him to help me make the cookies (watching the dry ingredients being poured into the bowl makes him gag), but he did come in to sample the cookie dough yesterday (a new texture).

I was watching Food Network's cookie challenge the other day. Five amateur bakers competing for a $10,000 prize. One mom told the story of how her son suffered significant hearing loss as a baby. When the problem was corrected, she used baking as part of his speech therapy regime. I hope that someday, little frog and I will have a similar story to tell and our own cookie creation to go with it.

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Mamaroo said...

That is so wonderful that Frog is eating the protein that you are offering him now. One step at a time. I am sure he has realized how he needs it and will keep eating it.

Roo loves me to bake also. He will drag me by the hand into the kitchen and put my hand on the oven door to let me know he wants me to bake.

Mamaroo said...

I just thought of something as I was making the boys breakfast. The nutritionist we took Roo to a while ago suggested I put an extra egg in my ingredients to give him more protein. Like this morning I added an extra egg to his waffles. Also, since you mentioned Frog like crunchy food, I was wondering if he likes bacon. I buy Applegate Farm because it is nitrate free. Roo loves bacon. Brother-roo (my typical child) is the picky eater here.

Frogs' mom said...

When I first started worrying about little frog's diet, the professionals told me not to worry, he'd grow out of it and his diet wasn't all that bad. Not all that bad?! He would only eat eggo blueberry waffles (his only fruit by the way), PBJ sandwiches, Kraft mac-n-cheese, sliced black olives (his only vegtable,) occasionally some yogurt and cookies, chips, candy and ice-cream.

He is doing better today, but we are still working on the fruits and vegtables. The additional protein has been a nice change. We have tried bacon, fried ham and jerky since he likes things that are dry, crunchy and salty, but so far we have not found a winner. I try adding more eggs too. Judith pointed out that the protein structure in eggs is changed and not as good for you if the yolk and white get mixed up prior to being cooked. So now I seperate the eggs, whisk the yolk, beat the whites into soft peaks and fold them back into the yolks - makes wonderful scrambled eggs! This was also my grandfather's secret to his waffles and pancakes. Little frog is not impressed - too fluffy, not like an eggo!

Thanks for the ideas - we will keep trying :0)

Ian Parker said...

"Little frog's limited diet has always puzzled me. He mouths everything he comes in contact with unless it is presented to him on a plate."

I had to laugh at that one. The Bear is now getting much better at picking up food off a plate or out of a bowl, and the spoon thing seems to be working out a bit more. But for the longest time, any food had to be administered by others and on a spoon (hand administered = spit out). Yet anything non-edible was fair game. At least she would eat anything off of a spoon. We never had to work hard to disguise supplements (even CLO), and protein was never an issue.

It is great to see that feeding little frog is getting a bit easier, and the homemade cookies sound like a great motivator (Mmm, cookie!)