The child who has difficulty eating certain foods such as meat, fruit and vegetables, having a diet very selective, eating always the same, you may have a psychological disorder and need treatment supervised by a psychologist.
It is normal for the child to have a decreased appetite around 2 years of age, however, certain children may exhibit eating disorders by choosing to eat only porridge, soup, mashed, or rice with beans and shredded beef, for example, not accepting any other type of meal. It is of concern when it remains in childhood, and present the same to the 3, 4, 5, 6… years. And, in this case, parents should seek professional help.
When you go to the doctor
In the cases where it is evident the signs and symptoms of any eating disorder, the ideal is to seek medical help that is evaluated, and very likely, you should seek other professionals such as the psychologist to perform a cognitive behavioral therapy that offers the tools for the child to work on their thoughts and actions.
This behavioral therapy is called systematic desensitization, where if you ask the child to write down how is your daily diet, and asks for a list of foods that you would like to taste some day, and when she can taste some new food, it is rewarded. For children who suffer from anxiety is taught to relax when they’re in front of a new food, creating tales and stories before you eat them so that they can imagine eating the food, relaxed way.
In addition, it may also be necessary to look for an occupational therapist to apply a therapy called Protocol Wilbarger in the mouth, where it performs an integration of the sensory with the use of techniques that may include the use of a toothbrush, for example.
It is also indicated a consultation with a nutritionist, because of the restriction of foods that can cause a bad nutrition, and develop a nutritional plan individualized, with the possibility of using supplements with formulas to offer the calories your body needs.
What eating disorders can exist in childhood
Although not very common, there are some eating disorders that can make the child eat only a particular type of food, such as gruel or porridge, in a certain specific temperature. They are:
1. Disturbance of the power-restrictive or selective
This is a type of eating disorder that usually emerges in childhood or adolescence, but can also arise or persist in adult life. In this disorder the child limits the amount of food or avoiding your consumption based on your experience, color, aroma, taste, texture and presentation.
The main signs and symptoms of this disorder are:
- Weight loss important or difficult to get to the ideal weight according to their age;
- Only eat certain textures of food;
- Restriction of type and quantity of the food ingested;
- Lack of appetite and disinterest in food;
- Food selection very restrictive, which can go worse with the time;
- There is no change of body image or fear of increase in weight as occurs in anorexia;
- Fear of eating after an episode of vomiting or hesitation;
- The presence of gastrointestinal symptoms such as upset stomach, constipation or abdominal pain.
These children tend to have problems in the relationship with other people due to their eating problems, and may have nutritional deficiencies are significant and affect its growth and development, as well as their performance in school.
2. Disorder processing sensory
This disorder is a neurological condition where the brain has trouble receiving and responding appropriately to information that comes from the senses such as touch, taste, smell or vision. The child may be affected in only one or several senses, and for this reason a person with this disorder may respond excessively to a stimulus, being unbearable the sound, the clothing, physical contact, light, and even the food.
When the palate is affection the child can present:
- Hypersensitivity oral
In this case the child has preferences of extreme food, with a variation of food is very small, can be demanding with the brands, resists to taste new foods at restaurants and can’t eat in other people’s houses, and avoiding foods with spicy, sweets or salads.
It is possible that only eat foods that are consistency soft, mashed or liquid, after 2 years of age, and surprising foods with other textures. May also have difficulty sucking, chewing or swallowing for fear of choking. And may resist or refuse to go to the dentist, complaining of the use of tooth paste and enxaguante of the mouth.
- Hiposensibilidade oral
In this situation the child may prefer foods with intense flavor as the too-spicy, sweet, sour or salad, feeling even that the food has no seasoning enough. And you can say that all the food has the ‘same taste’.
It is also possible that chew, taste, or lick objects that are not edible, eating the hair often, the shirt or the fingers. Contrary to the hypersensitive oral, you might like electric toothbrushes, like to go to the dentist and drool excessively.
What to do for your child to eat everything
Some practical advice to make your child eat a wider variety of foods or in larger amounts, are:
- Offer new foods preferably when the child is hungry, because they will be better accepted;
- For the child to accept new foods you should try that she eat this food, do not give up before you try to about 8 to 10 times, on different days;
- Combine favorite foods with the least accepted;
- The child normally eats better if you choose some of the foods in the meal, at least 2;
- To avoid that the child drink plenty of fluids immediately before meals;
- The time to eat must not be less than 20 minutes and greater than 30 minutes, enough time for the child to recognize the sensation of satiation to your body;
- If the child does not want to eat, you should not put the punishment, because it reinforces the negative conduct, you should remove the dish and he can leave the table, but at the next meal should be a nutritious diet;
- It is important that the child and the family are sitting at the table, quietly, and it is important to have fixed times for meals;
- Take the child to buy food in the market and help in the choice and preparation of the meals and how it is served;
- Read tales and stories about food.
In cases where there is evidence of a disorder it is possible that the process to regulate the power to take weeks, months and sometimes years of treatment before your child may love food so ‘normal’, have the power to appropriate and adapt, making it very important to seek the help of health professionals, such as pediatrician and psychologist, for these situations.