This is a picture of my son's lunch that I packed this morning. He is currently in the third grade. This is what I've been packing every day for the past 3 years. Most days, it comes back with some of it uneaten or only a few sips out of the bottle of Pediasure. As you can see, it is all crackers and cereal and a Pediasure. Thank God for Pediasure. They changed their label this past year and I thought that would be the end of it, but somehow we survived!
The sad thing is not only that this is my son's lunch every day, but that he had this for breakfast and will also have it for dinner. If we are lucky, we will be able to sneak some supplements into his Pediasure drink. For more on how we supplement, read our WHAT WE'VE TRIED page.
My son will have to go hungry at snack time today and every day going forward. At his school, children are only allowed to bring in a healthy, whole food based, non-food allergy snack for snack time. Although this makes me happy as a nutrition coach, this makes life hard as a parent of a child with feeding issues. I was told that my son could go and sit in the nurse's office to have his snack each day, and I appreciate that, but my son doesn't want to appear "different" to his classmates, so he skips it.
I'll never forget when he started first grade. I was terrified of what lunch time would be like for him. I didn't know if he would be able to manage on his own (since I've always been so involved in every meal) and I thought that I would have to go in and help him at school lunch every day. Those fears passed quickly as he learned to be in charge of his own lunch, but other fears presented. I began to worry what other kids would say to him regarding what was in his lunch box. Would he be teased? Being teased is part of growing up, but if he were to be teased about his Pediasure - that would make life very difficult.
After 3 years of eating lunch at school, I am pleased that there has been little teasing. For one week, my son wanted me to keep the Pediasure at home and I figured that some one had commented on it. But after some talks with him about how important it was for him to grow, he allowed it back in his lunch box. As he gets older, it will be harder for his choice of foods not to be noticed by other kids.
I drop in every once in awhile and join my son for lunch. I get to sit at the table with all of the other kids. It helps me feel empowered to be there and show my support to him. Although one day, as I was having lunch with him, I noticed a cafeteria worker look over at what he was eating with disapproval. I might look with disapproval too, I suppose, if it were a kid that ate regular foods. But, she doesn't know that this food is his sustenance. It's hard to watch your child get a disapproving look when they have no choice. I have had to learn to "not care" about what other people think. It's been hard to let go of, but it has also taught me to show the same compassion to others that I hope they would show to my son.
I end this blog remembering what is in my control - my love for my son and a quick prayer for his health and happiness!
I am an ARFID Mom. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). I have become the "expert" on my son's feeding issues. I am here to share what I've learned.