Lunch Box Blues

Simple Balance, you make us Mommas happy!
Simple Balance, you make us Mommas happy!

Quiet on the blog as of late because, well, life has been a little on the wild side. So chaotic in fact, that to write a post would have to take the place of teeth-brushing. But now the time has come to share and tonight, I’m sharing some wicked ideas that my community of friends and family out there in cyberspace came up with to help solve my serious lunchbox blues.

Let me bring you up to speed: here are my sweet boys:

SO awesome. They just don't like to eat. Or sleep.
SO awesome. They just don’t like to eat. Or sleep.

My oldest little man G just started Kindie and like many kids I’ve heard, doesn’t really eat much all day long. He actually ate a baby carrot yesterday, which was awesome! But the thing is, he doesn’t really eat much EVER and that doesn’t really bode well for him and for the rest of us. He has a diagnosis of ADHD and this kiddo NEEDS to eat; it’s actually essential for him to learn and most importantly, for him to be able to attend school as a regulated kiddo. We have in the past worked with Occupational Therapists; gotten advice from Behavioural Interventionists and Psychologists; seen a Naturopath and consulted with lots of child development professionals & paediatric dieticians. He will reliably eat approximately 10 things morning, noon and night; and his younger bro is headed down the same restricted-diet path (but I can’t manage dealing with aversions in Toddlerhood so I’m just pretending they don’t exist for him right now).

They like hot chocolate. And marshmallows. But not a whole lot else.
They like hot chocolate. And marshmallows. But not a whole lot else.

I asked (okay, begged) my community of peeps for ideas, because this Momma is empty from no sleep and being preggo and working 3 SLP jobs in addition to The Momma Collective. We’ve tried lots of strategies, from starving him out to us controlling what and when, and him controlling how much; we’ve done food play therapy; had him cook and prepare. At the end of the day, I really am simply tired out from it all and just looking for some new items to add to my stale grocery list.

So, without further ado, here is the amazing list of ideas. Some cool “G’s food aversions-free recipes” (no mush, no sandwiches, etc.); detective work and advice; & some handy tools that my loving friends and family have sent my way. I am so grateful for this tribe!

Grub Ideas

  • #1 Suggestion: Smoothies: suggested ingredients included Greek yogurt, spinach, half a banana, fruit, dessert tofu, maybe a bit of honey all whirled together with a bit of milk (almond, soy, reg) or juice; avocado; protein powder; hemp hearts; flax and chia seeds; wowbutter
  • Nutella + pretzels paired with grapes; or chocolate cream cheese mixed with wow butter, spread between thin rice crackers (a.k.a. “chocolate spread” for non-cream cheese, non-wowbutter lovers.)
  • Bento ideas like these ones from my talented friend Heather at Twin Dragonfly Designs
  • Homemade granola (this one by Super Healthy Kids looks great!) chock full of add-ins like pumpkin seeds and dried fruit; sent *seperately* (to maintain required crunch-factor) with ice cold yogurt in a thermos  (so he gets all engaged and busy sprinkling it all on!)
  • Protein-packed “bread products” like these cottage cheese pancakes (Weelicious, I LOVE getting your emails!), fried crisp (to prevent soggy-ness as much as possible) and sent in thermos with jam or syrup for dipping).
  • Laughing cow cheese sent with crunchy foods (pretzels, chips, etc.)
  • Roasted chick peas; dry cereal (low-sugar, high protein); dehydrated fruit; kale chips (preferable homemade but come on now, they sell that at Costco for Pete’s sakes!)
  • Oat-based breakfast cookie (this one by MOMables even has vanilla protein powder added in!); or could be packed with seeds and pumpkin (& chocolate chips for good measure). **Great idea for a kid like mine who doesn’t love “too soft” things like muffins. (what kid doesn’t like gourmet muffins??!! <sigh> )
  • Pretty much everything and anything made by Wendy @ Simple Balance (Like these Cocoa Clouds!)
  • Delish (& secretly packed with some healthy stuff) sweets like these brownies (gluten-free and has “miracle” in the name, I am SOLD).
  • Throw in some mini bribes that the monitor/teacher can control: eat your lunch, you get the fruit gummies/mini choc chips.
  • Healthy fillers like popcorn (like our fave BOOM CHICKA POP, sold in gigantic bags at Costco) versus. sugar-loaded/empty kid’s granola bars/cookies/crackers.

Creative Detective Work & Great Advice

  • Change in presentation: Meat & cheese on kebab sticks versus a sandwich; cookie cutters; cool food picks and notes/stickers
  • Division of Responsibility“: here is the Ellyn Satter’s Institute informative website
  • Get him involved: have him pick 2 things, Mom picks 2 things; have him pack it himself
  • Less is More: giving him the fridge can cause overwhelm. Send just a bit so he feels successful.
  • Check out possible environmental causes– doesn’t like the lunch room or who possibly who he sits next to/gets distracted
  • Ask what his friends have in their lunches and what he thinks of those foods to try.
  • Just keep on, keeping’ on: keep offering healthy lunches and have a snack after school.
  • Make what you are going to eat that day, whether the child likes it or not. Let the child learn that it is his own responsibility to prevent hunger if food is provided for him.
  • Have teacher/lunch monitors use a reinforcement schedule (a.k.a. sticker chart) for eating his lunch. The lunch monitor gives him a sticker if he eats his lunch, then if he gets 3 out of 5 days where he actually sat and ate everything he will get a prize at the end of the week… when he gets that consistently bump it up to 4/5 days..
  • After-school snacks: when he is in after school care, pack some extra snacks so that when he comes home at 5pm, he is not hangry (like greek yogurt, cheese strings, crunchy snacks like Snap peas).
  • Get someone to sit (Lunch Buddy) with him so he can be reminded to eat and focus; or he’ll have to eat in the office.
  • Too squirmy to eat? Expel some energy first (thank goodness they have recess 1st).
  • Try a weighted blanket on his lap to help him to sit.
  • Avoid food that is messy or crumbly or sticky or drippy or slimy (or stinky, or time-consuming; or hard-to-open).
  • Think: the foods that he is refusing does he eat them at home? If not, then you can’t expect him to eat them at school either. If you want him to start eating new foods you have to introduce them at home first in a controlled (calm) environment.
  • Send (successfully eaten) leftovers.
  • YOU NEED YOUR SANITY. If you aren’t in the right mindset, and are exhausted and completely frustrated, then you won’t be able to handle anything so cut yourself some slack and if the kid needs to eat toast that does NOT mean you’re a bad mom, it just means this is what you need to do right now for your entire family to be healthy.
  • Author’s Ideas: don’t send pizza money. Non-eaters will save the toonie for “a Playmobil Police Station”;  threaten that Santa is watching him…

Cool Products & Services to Try

  • Zipzicle Ice Pop Molds (for smoothies, yogurt, fruit purees, etc.):
  • Board game Lunch plates (this one looks sooooo cool!) and if he eats all the game squares he gets a prize at home
  • Cookie cutters to make EVERYTHING look fun
  • Actual intervention targeting to feeding, especially for kiddos with serious sensory aversions to smell and taste and texture like my dude.
  • Awesome lunch boxes (like PlanetBox) that allow food to stay seperate; you to send in lots of choices (& little amounts of each); and that are indestructible (and I’m guessing have great re-sale value given their retail price).

And finally,

“Come to the resolution that I am doing all I can and he will be ok because of that.” <3

Lovely shot for Instagram account showing "getting him involved in the kitchen". The dog ate half of the tray before being cooked and ended up barfing all over the house all night. It was okay though, because since the boys don't sleep, I was wide awake and totally capable of cleaning it up before everyone stepped in it. Oh, and neither boy would eat the ones that managed to make it into the oven. #fail
Lovely shot for Instagram account showing “getting him involved in the kitchen”. The dog ate half of the tray before being cooked and ended up barfing all over the house all night. It was okay though, because since the boys don’t sleep, I was wide awake and totally capable of cleaning it up before everyone stepped in it. Oh, and neither boy would eat the ones that managed to make it into the oven. #fail

Good luck, y’all!

<3 Sarah

 

 

 

 

About Sarah Dhooge

Sarah Dhooge is a Momma, Speech-Language Pathologist, and is proud to be a part of The Momma Collective, supporting Mom Powered Pursuits across Canada.