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Monday, 20 August 2012 honey loop at a time

Having a child with eating problems can be demoralising and miserable. Mealtimes stop being a source of sustenance and start becoming an emotional battleground.

Lori is 5, and she eats very, very slowly, when she eats at all. Today, she didn't get to play with her friends at lunchtime because she spent the whole time eating her packed lunch, which she didn't even finish. This morning, she started breakfast at 07:10, and still wasn't finished by 08:25.

It's not that she doesn't like food, or she's being naughty, and it's therefore hard to either find her food she does like, or discipline her. Basically, the problem has come because, for some reason, she's started to get very worried about having too much food in her mouth. And, if she gets too much food in her mouth, she starts to panic and won't swallow it. Getting angry, or sending her to her room, simply makes her panic more.

It takes a long time to consume a bowl of honey loops when you only eat one at a time. The annoying thing is is that it's completely unpredictable. I only bought the stupid loops because last week she happened to eat a bowl quickly, and I thought I was on to a breakfast winner. I should have stuck with healthy porridge. Lasagne has been a reliable favourite for months, until last Tuesday when she had a minor panic attack eating one. Dairylea cheese triangles are adored, but last night she ran round the living room screaming with her mouth open after something (who knows what) made her feel her mouth was too full...of squishy and completely swallowable cheese. Andrew had to talk her down like he was negotiating with a particularly trigger-happy bank robber.

This has been going on for months, and we started off by being pretty unconcerned, "it'll pass", "it's a phase", "remember when Josie was like this?" but when packed lunch after packed lunch came home from school uneaten or barely touched, or when school dinners were "cleared away before I could eat because I had to go to the toilet" it started to get a bit worrying, especially because she's a skinny little monkey to begin with.

It's hard to know what to do, but I've got some ideas to try out tomorrow:

1. Yoghurt - how hard can it be to take small bites of that?
2. Toast - so if she's not finished by the time we need to leave she can take it along the road with her.
3. Cut the pepper and cucumber into smaller bites in her packed lunch.
4. Make sure she goes to the toilet before the meal to try to reduce the use of toilet trips as a get-out-of-eating card.

Sorry for the serious post! Normal service to resume later, I have archery trips and iPad apps to discuss!


  1. Does she drink things like smoothies OK? If she's drinking milk and smoothies, I know it's a bit babyish, but she'll get a lot of the vitamins she needs, at least?

    1. Something else to maybe try (at home) is giving her a puff or two of her reliever inhaler. Partly, because if her airways are a little restricted, that may well account for her seemingly inexplicable panic. Also, once she starts having a panic attack, it's only going to get worse.

    2. She doesn't like milk at all, but she does drink smoothies. I might move away from the sugar-free juice to smoothies and fruit juices. Good thinking, Andy!

    3. I hadn't even considered the inhaler; it's been ages since she used it. I wonder if there is an element of allergy going on here, and causing her mouth to swell a bit. Sometimes she complains it's sore when she eats, and I can't work out why that would be (we had put it down to sensitive teeth from grinding her teeth at night. However, she was allergic to eggs and a number of other things, and I've found that my allergies give me a slightly sore throat and puffy feeling in my mouth.

    4. Could well be. Worth trying antihistamine and be inhaler- the ventolin won't do any harm, even if she's not having an attack, and it may help.