Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Mysterious Feeding Habits of Eight Year Olds

Ben doesn't eat.

When he was but a wee babe and I, an impressionable new mother bombarded by advertisements on BabyCenter, I ordered his complete astrological chart over the internet. What can I say? I was curious and apparently in possession of much more discretionary income than I have now.

I have never believed in astrology. That is to say, I think it's fun and interesting in a coincidental, "Ha! That is so you (and also me and her and sixteen other people that I know)!", sort of way. Just like Taro Cards but not as creepy. In retrospect, Ben's 20-something page astrological work up is uncannily accurate. Yes. I kept the damn thing. I paid like $20 for it in 2000. I put it in his baby book and ran across it a year or so ago.

What really sticks in my mind, besides the general right-onness of the whole thing, is the prediction that "food will not be a motivating factor in his life." Truer words were never spoke, er, written.

Ben is far and away, the pickiest eater I have ever seen. He loves chicken nuggets. From McDonalds. Not the ones from Burger King. They are too spicy. But he won't eat plain old chicken in any other form without a continuous barage of threats from all adult-types in the near vacinity. Ditto with fries of the french variety. Loves them. But just try to get him to eat tater tots. Tater tots, for God's sake! I lived for those when I was a kid. He barely does pizza and he won't touch a hamburger. Pasta must be sause-free with butter and, shudder, canned parmesan cheese only. He will eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese but no other incantation of the stuff. On the other hand, he's happy to eat vegetables with the exceptions of broccoli and asparagus.

I just don't get it. If it weren't for peanut butter and jelly I'm pretty sure he'd waste away to nothing.

Once we started him on ADHD meds things just got worse. At that point we could no longer count on the old "when he gets hungry enough, he'll eat" adage. He was simply never hungry.

Until bedtime.

His medication wears off just about an hour before bedtime these days. That last hour can be trying, to say the least. Ben's behavior can get extremely aggressive and confrontational. And he's got a whole day's worth of hunger built up inside.

The problem: How do you teach an eight year old boy to eat at mealtime, even if he isn't that hungry? Because eating at bedtime just is not appropriate. Don't get me wrong. We let him have apples and bananas, an probably way more dessert than he ought to have at that point in the evening. But he's still hungry. It becomes impossible to tell what is true hunger and what is typical bedtime stalling tactics.

Ben's solution: The other day I was straightening up Ben's bed and I noticed two empty cookie packages and a full cheese it package under his covers. He is getting up in the middle of the night and sneaking food. He admitted as much when confronted. This is not the first time he has done this. We told him his punishment would be no sweets at all, nothing but fruit, for a week.

The next day I found frosting in his bed from the cinnamon twists we'd ordered with our pizza. Again, middle of the night snacking. I added two days to his punishment.

Yesterday Daddy-O found a bannana peel in his bed. OK. He's at least eating better in the middle of the night but still.

Anyone have any bright ideas? We're kind of at a loss here.


Kathy from Washington said...

Ask about adjusting his med schedule. I am 57 and (I say quietly) on ADD meds. I loved the long acting ones but after not wanting to eat all day I would pig out in the evening when they wore off. I have switched back to the 4 hour meds and time them so I get hungry around dinner time.

Anonymous said...

If you can't switch his meds or change the dosing schedule -- You might want to try giving him oatmeal prior to bed. You can buy the instant and microwave it (if that is something your interested in trying).

You can sleep many hours on a bowl of oatmeal.

My thyroid medicine makes me ravenous (seriously I could chew my own arm off) and this is what I eat prior to bed. It works for me.

Good Luck!!


sarah said...

my how I love the stories of your little ones. :-)

Maybe you could just start packing him dinner to go in tupperware, and stashing it under his pillow. So it's right there when he wants it (I kid.)

Seriously, you got me. But I'm laughing!

Imstell said...

Kathy, So wish I could count on someone to be responsible enough to give him meds in 4 hour increments. Even I am not that good.

Anonymous, Add oatmeal to the list of Will Not Eats. But many Kudos for the suggestion. Perhaps I will try a peanut butter spoon and glass of milk before bed instead of fruit. It's bound to stick with him longer.

Sarah, You're a funny one. I must admit the idea has merit, though. At least I'd know what he was eating & I wouldn't have to worry about locking up the groceries...