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Topic: My son has anxiety related to eating

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. WorriedMum22
    WorriedMum22 avatar
    2 posts
    20 July 2021


    I am new here and after some advice. My nine year old son has developed anxiety around eating food thinking that he will choke. He is now only having liquid food and is really stressed out. He went through something similar 3 years ago when some popcorn got stuck in his throat. It cleared and was not an emergency situation but he got a fear of eating as a res. We were able to get him into a child psychologist and it was a long and slow process to get him eating again.

    I took him to our GP on Monday who did a referral to see a child psychologist again. The one he saw 3 years ago no longer works there and I got told the waiting list was over 6 months. I’ve tried several others and all waiting times are over 6 months. My son needs help now. What am I supposed to do? This is extremely stressful. How can I get him the help he needs?

  2. Aaronsis
    Champion Alumni
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    Aaronsis avatar
    2463 posts
    20 July 2021 in reply to WorriedMum22

    Hi WorriedMum22

    I am so pleased you have reached out and what you are going through sounds nothing short of horrific.

    I am putting my mum hat on here and trying to think what I would do in this situation as all you can manage is how you respond and how you support him. I know that the system is so overwhelmed and that appointments are just so hard to get, that support from professionals is such a wait and that is damn hard but I think a real sign of how hard times are atm.

    Liquid while not ideal can be ok, you could make up some nutritious food for him and still get him the nutrients that he needs via soups and smoothies etc, I am sure that you know this so I am sorry if it comes off as a silly comment but I am thinking if you can maybe show him that "it is ok" and "we have got this" that might help him too. Maybe some things like hearty chicken soups with veggies and blend them up, I hope he is ok with soups as there are lots of options there. I get that this might be a nightmare to cook lots of things but I am sure that you are at the point of doing anything to ensure he is eating and nourished.

    I am also thinking that it will be hard but maybe just taking some of the focus on "meal time" and "eating" and just having things around that he might be tempted by, meals that are his favorite things to eat but also at the same time not making a huge deal about meal times and food, if all that makes sense. I think if you can show him some calm that may help too. It might lessen the anxiety for him about "here comes meal time soon" that might help him, just an idea.

    I hope that the psychologist will have you on a wait list so that if any cancellations come up that you could be considered, that would be helpful for you to know too, I hope that they will do that for you.

    I am so sorry this is happening to you and to him, as a mum this must be terrifying. We are here to chat through this with you and I am not sure if any of this is helpful to you, I hope so.

    Also there is Kids Helpline, I am not sure how you feel about getting him to call or even use the web based counselling service that they provide. They are so very wonderful and it might be some support in the meantime for him. I will put the link here for you:

    Hope to chat some more to you and huge hugs from me.


  3. Guest9337
    Guest9337 avatar
    1001 posts
    21 July 2021 in reply to WorriedMum22

    G'day WorriedMum22.

    Welcome to the forums that I party hard on! BB is a good place to chat about parenting.

    I've put on my problem solving hat, so please excuse me if I become pedantic, I'm just trying to help in my own way. thanks in advance.

    issue : popcorn incident likely cause of eating issue. 9 year old boy. Anxiety, stress. Psychologist appointment long way away. need help now.

    ok, we can work with all that. these are your options, feel free to consider and/or reject please.

    Sounds to me that Son has lost power over his eating. Let's get that back. I presume the popcorn incident happened because he either was talking whilst eating, was startled whilst eating, or didn't chew enough, or maybe had too many popcorn pieces in his mouth. Which of those, or other is the conclusion you come up with?

    And, we'll aim to reduce all of them, to really make eating as fun and comfy as possible for Son.

    What is/was his favourite food? a couple of options be good here.

    What is/was his favourite drink currently? and How are the smoothies going for now?

    MAYBE: So what we do for fun! We are going to buy some popcorn place it all in a see through bag and take a hammer to it! We are going to show Son that the more the food is hammered the more it becomes smaller, mushier and less able to be chocked by.

    You may need to show some of the current food/smoothies inside the bag too, letting Him feel and experience the mushiness. Say things like "Do you feel how smooth this is, that's all runny and slippery, it slides on down without needing to be chewed."

    Say things like "See how this popcorn gets smashed by the hammer. That's like when you chew really had and lots and it breaks up all small and becomes really easy to swallow."

    Say things like "And if this popcorn is too dry and crispy, we only take one piece of it before we hammer it all up, then we have a little drink to wash it down."

    Does any of this sound useful for today WorriedMum22?

  4. Guest9337
    Guest9337 avatar
    1001 posts
    21 July 2021 in reply to WorriedMum22


    I kept at these lines of thinking for you WorriedMum22, because we may need to try many different things before Son’s anxiety around food decreases. We may get lucky and one decreases stress/anxiety straight away - who knows?

    Is he stressed/afraid of the noises creating by making popcorn in the microwave? Those POP pOPs?

    Does he show stress/fear when you two are together at the shops buying food? Or popcorn?

    Has your son seen one of the big commercial popcorn makers cinemas often have? Smelt one? How does he react to those popcorn makers in cinemas?

    Maybe "The popcorn is quite safe it's warm behind the glass, how does it smell, do you want to throw it all on the ground and jump and down on it, squashing it? or do you want to ignore or eat it?"

    Just gently guiding him, giving him fair options that might be fun for him. Never pushing too hard on exposure, being peaceful and calm ourselves.

    Those are all just options for trial and error type problem solving.

  5. Guest9337
    Guest9337 avatar
    1001 posts
    23 July 2021 in reply to WorriedMum22
    Hi WorriedMum22, How's today going, I'm hoping you found something useful for your son recently. love dng.
  6. WorriedMum22
    WorriedMum22 avatar
    2 posts
    28 July 2021 in reply to Guest9337

    Hi dng,

    Thanks for your concern and suggestions you have given us. We have been on a rollercoaster of emotions this last week.

    In terms of the eating my son tells me he just feels stressed out and worried all the time and that leads to him feeling like he can’t swallow food. He was already a picky eater before this happened. He is mostly having chocolate milk drinks, squeezie yoghurts and bananas. We did have a break through 2 days ago where he was able to eat some toast! It took a long time but he got there with it so that’s a promising sign with his food.

    He is still not sleeping well and sometimes is awake from 4am and will sit up and read in bed because he feels like he can’t breathe properly lying down. So a combined lack of sleep and food equals not much energy.

    He has been very emotional, quick to tears and struggling to contain them. He also gets mad easily. He is now not wanting to go to school as he says he doesn’t want to be away from me so school drop offs have become as issue. We have chatted with his teacher so she is aware he is going through a tough time.

    He keeps begging me to get him more help so that he can feel better. I showed him the kids helpline stuff online but he isn’t willing to do that but he keeps saying I should take him to the hospital so they can help him get better. I have another appointment with our GP but that’s not until next week so I’m not sure where to go from here.

  7. Guest9337
    Guest9337 avatar
    1001 posts
    29 July 2021 in reply to WorriedMum22

    No worries mate.

    How did the suggestions turn out for Son + you? I'd like to know if the food in the bag tricked was fun for Him.


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