Noshing & Chewing - One O.I. Perspective

For those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was a holiday wondrously spent with family and friends! Coming back from Thanksgiving break, what better way to ease us back into the routine than a post about eating?

"Sandy, try the chicken wing!" Our entire family was over and we were celebrating the fourth of July holiday outside. The grill was going and my mom had grilled chicken wings, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes. I looked at the piece of chicken on the bone and groaned to myself,
No. My jaws don't feel like a work out today. Today my teeth don't feel like putting in the effort. 
"No, I want corn. Dad take the corn off the cob for me!" I demanded. 
"Just bite it off the cob like everyone else!" 
"But I caaaan't" I whined. Soon enough, as usual, I won the meal-time battle and got my kernels of corn in a bowl with butter along with a hot dog slathered in ketchup. 

I was and always will be a picky eater. From the time I was about four till I was about ten, everything had to have ketchup on it. (Ketchup and white rice was a regular meal for me). And if it required more than three chews to digest, I was absolutely not going to have anything to do with it. It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I figured out how to sever the endless gooey cheese that came out of mozzarella sticks; until that point, I lived in fear of choking to death on them. 
Like many other kids I hated broccoli and cauliflower. It wasn't that they didn't taste good to me, the tops of the miniature trees in my mouth felt overwhelming. In my mind I would panic each time my mother forced me to eat broccoli. When I popped one in my mouth I imagined all the trillion little bristles that my jaws had to chomp through, it seemed like no matter how many times I chewed they never backed down, never became small enough for me to swallow. This was what it was like for me to eat most food. Needless to say I began to despise meal times and often times I pick at my food, or I end up leaving most of it still on the plate. Though it has gotten better over the years, especially since I have more control over what I eat (and when!) I have never been one to jump enthusiastically for meal time. 
When I was younger this became a problem that concerned my pediatric doctor. She worried that I wasn't getting enough nutrients, that I wasn't gaining weight appropriately to my height (despite having O.I.), and was afraid I'd be weaker because of my unwilling appetite. Around the time I began elementary school was around the time I was put on Ensure. And, unsurprisingly, I hated this too. I was instructed to drink an entire can a day, and no matter what flavors they ordered or how it was mixed into other 'regular' milk - I hated it. To this day, whenever someone pops open a can my nose will pick up the thick whiff of Ensure and the back corners of my jaws will pinch with disgust. Stacks and cases of Ensure are still sent to my house but I never touch the stuff, instead my grandparents and occasionally my brother will drink it for me. To spite the Ensure prescription that I was put on, I used to 'rebel' and drink three glasses of milk instead for dinner. After awhile my parents just grew exhausted from having to fight with me during meal times and let me have my way. (Capt'n Crunch cereal with milk for dinner.. anyone??) They probably thought as long as she's eating something...

Thankfully, my family is not big on steak, beef, chicken and other meats. We primarily eat fish and a lot of other seafood - so as I've gotten older it's been easy for me to adapt to being a pescaterian. For me, chewing on any piece of meat can feel like my jaws are running on a never-ending treadmill. But as I've gotten older I've developed a better tolerance for food. These days I don't mind chicken but still prefer not to have anything that involves lots of chewing. I squirm at the sight of slimy chunks of tomatoes. But I love carrots, corn, potatoes, spinach, spaghetti..But if I could have my way, honestly, I would live off of rice (or pho), chicken soup, and loads of sriracha sauce all mixed into a bowl. Try it - trust me, it's glorious and always hits the spot! 

Tips for Picky (O.I.) Eaters:
  • Let them choose their own portions. Small eaters will be overwhelmed when everyone else chooses how much they should eat!
  • Introduce new foods/textures slowly. Having the new ingredient be the main meal can intimidate any appetite
  • Pairing things with favorites - though it may seem weird and unorthodox, can actually get picky eaters to broaden their palates 
  • Warn or describe what a new food may taste or feel like before it goes in the mouth
  • Depending on jaw/teeth strength, try to steer away from food that requires a lot of gnawing off a bone
  • As someone who wasn't a fan of a lot of vegetables, I did love juice and my parents discovered V8!
  • With that in mind, putting things in soups can often soften textures
  • Some folks with O.I. may be lactose intolerant - be sure to ask your doctor about other sources of calcium that you may be able to benefit from
  • Get started on multi-vitamins! (I may be addicted to Gummy-Vites..) 

Posted in , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.