Celebrating Another Milestone with My Oldest Daughter

December 6, 2012 in Categories: by

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Many of you will recall from various posts in the past that my oldest daughter doesn’t like to eat meat (see Challenge #2: My Kids, Why I Cater To My Kids, Challenge #2 Update: My Still Spirited but Much Healthier Kids).  Through a series of events (sensory issues, severe reflux, undiagnosed gluten intolerance, being on doctor’s orders to fatten her up because she was so dangerously thin at 1-year old, catering to her desire for soft foods just to get her to eat), my daughter never really developed the jaw strength or muscle coordination to chew meat properly.  We’ve been working on this slowly over the last year of eating paleo in our home.

We changed our strategy in the early part of this year (see Towing a Harder Line with My Kids).  We went from completely catering to my daughter’s food preferences to feeding her a meal that was much closer to what the rest of the family was eating (I always make sure to have fruit and vegetables on her plate that she likes).  And, we started making it a rule that she had to eat a reasonable amount of meat at every meal (well, eggs at breakfast and something like 1-2oz of meat at other meals).

I go to great efforts to make delicious food, to keep my daughter’s flavor preferences in mind, to remember that chewing is hard for her, that food texture can be overwhelming for her.  Even still, we have generally found that most meals were a battle, the intensity of which varied depending on the meal, how tired my daughter was, how stressed my husband I were, and whether or not we had any bribery power on that specific day.  We have seen slow (S-L-O-W) improvement though.  My daughter went from only eating Paleo Chicken Fingers and maybe some types of fish with minimal harassing (it still would take her an hour to slowly pick at it before she had eaten it all) to the huge milestone we hit just this week.  My daughter announced that she likes steak!

Yesterday was leftover night in our home.  I asked my daughter if she would prefer leftover Paleo Chicken Fingers or leftover Simple Broiled Pork ChopsShe chose pork chop!   It still takes her a long time to eat and she still needs some gentle reminders to take another bite (and another and another), but  we haven’t had a battle over dinner in over a week.  A whole week!  Best of all, she is finally getting at least some enjoyment out of foods that require chewing!

Getting my daughter to eat quality proteins has helped in many other ways too.  She is stronger, has more energy, sleeps better, behaves better (this all may be related to getting gluten and most dairy out of her diet as well, although we successfully went gluten free a couple of months before implementing the “meat-eating plan”).  I often lament not knowing any better when she was born, when we started her on rice cereal and she became chronically constipated, when I didn’t look at my diet when she was extremely colicky (for a whole year!) and would projectile spit-up (and continued to spit-up until she was over 3-years old!), when she didn’t start sleeping through the night until she was 3.5-years old and when she started having tantrums at 9 months old.  I don’t know how much might have been different if I had had a better diet through pregnancy and nursing and fed her better foods in those early years.  Mommy guilt is tough to get over, but I do try not to think about that too much.  Instead, I try to appreciate just how far we’ve come and be thankful that I did figure it out when I did.  Vive la paleo!


oh my! My oldest daughter sounds JUST like yours!! Exact same situation, too. Mine turns 5 in 3 weeks. I’ve never thought about her jaw muscles being weak, always more about the textures of food. Mine also doesn’t like crunchy foods, like nuts, because they are “too noisy” and hurt her ears. Complete sensory over load for her. Congrats on the milestone! Yahoo!

That’s great that she has made such good progress! I know what you mean about mommy guilt….it’s tough to overcome! But honestly you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. My friend has a daughter whose symptoms are so similar to your daughter’s issues — the vomiting, not wanting to eat meat, etc.

My 5-year-old daughter is refusing meat too (she is allergic to eggs, so that’s an easy protein off our list, sigh…). A friend of mine just recently pointed out to me that she noticed my daughter doesn’t chew her food well. I am now thinking this could be related to why she will not eat meat. I get so tired of hearing myself repeat, “Eat some protein already!” It is good that you have made progress-it gives me hope!
My younger daughter (10 months), likes meat, but she’s totally constipated! She poops about twice a week, another sigh. Really, feeding ourselves and our kids should not be so complicated.

My daughter is now 17, still has issues with meat. If it looks like an animal she just can’t eat it, and she has always had extreme texture problems, but……she has made the connection between feeling stronger, not feeling as anxious (carbs send her spiraling) and not being as tired when she has adequate protein intake. Finally! She has started asking that any meat that we have is sliced thinly, it’s easier to chew, and she doesn’t get weirded out by texture that way.

My nephew did not eat much for the first 9 years of his life. After a while his parents found out that his tonsils were causing his nasal passages etc to be 75% blocked. The poir thing could not taste or smell food. After he had the operation to clear his nasal passages, grommits and remove his tonsils, he had something to eat and said how it tasted so delicious. This was when they finally realised that he could not taste much for all these years. Same thing happened to a friend’s daughters. I would have it all checked.

Congrats on the changes, and, Oh, Please, stop the mommy guilt! Expend your energy on the great improvements you are making for her and your family. Remember, when we know better, we do better.

congrats! but still not sure how you managed this. you just started giving her meat at every meal? my son will literally not eat, for a day maybe 2 if there isn’t something “he already likes (pizza, pasta, bread, cookies, etc)… then he will vomit and be so low energy. i’ve tried giving him protein of all kinds and he will literally just starve himself. any further advice?

I know a previous commenter mentioned tonsils being an issue, and my suggestion is along the same line in a way. My younger son was born with a condition known as Pierre Robin Sequence with a bilateral cleft palate. He had reflux, breathing issues, jaw issues, texture issues, sensory issues and more all surrounding his head, neck, jaw and palate. What we found was cranial sacral therapy was a lifesaver as his jaw was out of alignment (a chiropractor would work as well) but some of what you are saying could be an indication of a submucous cleft, which can go undiagnosed for decades. I’m not huge on doctors, and try to avoid them unless absolutely necessary, but it might be helpful to have an ent check her out just in case. Also, some of the issues you describe my older son also deals with, and although none of his mineral/nutrient levels are “low” per say, he does have issues absorbing minerals which along with a paleo/WAPF diet we give him 1/2 tsp of food grade diatomaceous earth daily and have seen a massive improvement as well.

Perhaps flower remedies could help. Find a practitioner (ie chiropractor, naturopath) who can muscle test which flowers to use.

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