For many of us parents making sure our children have enough to eat to grow strong and healthy is a main part of being a parent. From the very first time they are breast fed or have a bottle until they are older enough and equipped with the skills to feed them selves children, eating and stress go hand in hand.
So what’s it’s like when you have a child with ADHD and they are on medication to help them but a main common side effect is loss of appetite and weight loss? What’s it like to try to coax a mini me into trying to eat while making sure they get all the vitamins and protein they need to grow while keeping anxiety and tears to a minimum?
It’s hell on earth as am sure other parents can relate. The won’t eat, can’t eat is an apt phrase in our house. Get rid of the medication I hear you say…. but what if the medication is what gives your child a shot at a “normal ” life where they can try and fit the social norm? Bugger that I give my daughter that tablet every morning because it helps to settle her mind, it helps to curb the impulsiveness that could ultimately put her life in danger. That medication allows her to learn to communicate with us and the world around her and it gives her the gift of learning. Isn’t that what we all want for our children.
But it’s a well documented fact when you start looking that eating habits while on any of the 5 drugs used to treat ADHD are affected. If this is the case then why is there not more support out there for parents? Why do we have to watch our children get thinner and thinner before they are given help and advice? I don’t know the answer to that question but as a parent here’s what I have learnt over the last 4 years.
Little and often
With most of the medications once they start to work lunchtimes are the worst affected meal of the day. They just do not feel hungry and there is no point making up huge lunches and hoping they will eat them. I have tried all her favourite foods, bad foods, pack lunches and hot dinners. If she’s not hungry she won’t eat. What is working is
- One portion of fruit snack
- Soreen lunch bars – small malt loaf bars full of yummyness (her words not mine)
- Small portions of things she likes like cold pizza, cold pasta with cheese and ham, yoghurts
- Wraps instead of sandwiches work as bread seems to clog in the mouth and puts her off
Breakfast is the best meal to get a good meal into them. We have scrambled eggs easy to make and full of protein also bacon sarnies, yoghurts and cereals. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Here’s some more of what I use but it’s really hard especially when you have other children so don’t always give in at tea times and only make what your Child with ADHD will eat. Mix it up and get them to help. Also maybe make tea a little later so the medication wears of Oh and be prepared for midnight snacking!!!!! Left overs in the fridge never last long in my house.
- Milkshakes with whole milk
- Cheese ( if no dairy intolerance ) on anything and everything chicken and cheese with chips or mash is a favourite.
- Home baked goodies – I have found recently that when I bake she eats non stop banana loaf and gold digger buns from a children’s cook book are the best. She says she likes mummies food better and for some reason she will eat it.
- Avoid chocolate and sweets – this is hard if you have a child who loves chocolate and yes they are full of calories but they are empty ones and don’t last long. Puddings like Apple crumble and custard, jelly, chocolate raisins are a good compromise and more calories.
- Snack box – my daughter had one at school she can use discreetly and one in her bedroom. Full of raisins, digestive biscuits and dried fruit and nuts.
- My daughter won’t eat mash potato so a jacket potato works better than boiled spuds and you can put anything with it
- If you can offer a mix of different things for tea and put in separate bowels for your family and child to choose from. I find this helps to increase confidence and she is more likely to eat more as she is given a little more choice but I control what is cooked.
We recently saw a dietitian as my daughters weight has fallen to the 20th percentile and I am scared out of my mind as she is not growing properly. It’s only when you sit down and list everything they eat that you see how much you are doing your best. Also I realised that although my daughter wasn’t eating a lot in the day boy was she packing the calories in at night. The dietitian said this was fine and that midnight feasts are a way of the body saying it needs more calories/food and energy.
This blog may not help you at all but if it does anything I hope it shows that in your fears and worries your not alone. Something so basic as feeding your children can when on medication become a battle ground and so so stressful. There’s times when I cry and fret because food it’s such a natural thing to do to eat. But for our children that choice is less simple and harder how can you ask someone to eat if they are not hungry…..you can’t you just have to find ways to work around it while keeping stress to a minimum. Sneak snacks in when gaming, leave fruit, biscuits laying around. A snack box in their bedroom with yummy bits in you’ll be surprised by how much of a great job your actually doinh. Your a mum, a Dad and your doing great
X leanne x