Food recommendations for kid with expander?

fourkids4usOctober 9, 2012

My 9 y/o just had an expander placed in the roof of his mouth yesterday as the beginning of some orthodontic work. Poor kid has a run of unpleasant things happening lately, and I'm feeling a bit badly for him. He was very uncomfortable yesterday, and the fact that the expander is causing him to have difficulty speaking, is only making him more self conscious. He had trouble eating last night (yogurt, applesauce and string cheese) and afterward was complaining about being hungry. It doesn't help that he is picky, so I'm trying to come up with ideas for him for things he can take for lunch and eat for dinner until he becomes accustomed to the expander (we have to "expand" it for the next 3 weeks which will cause the discomfort, but after that it stays in for nearly a year as part of the apparatus necessary for the work being done).

So far, the only things I can think of are yogurt, applesauce, strawberries, kiwi, bananas, edamame, pasta, macaroni and cheese (he loves my homemade mac so making a batch for him), and chicken nuggets (I never buy these but figure they are soft and I bought them at Trader Joe's so no preservatives or fillers). He doesn't like soup. Mashed potatoes are "okay" but he doesn't like them that much. I made pumpkin bread for breakfast (he usually has cereal or bagels but can't do crunchy or chewy), and just made a batch of pumpkin choc chip cookies as they are very soft. I tried a fruit smoothie last night as I can add protein powder to that, but for some reason, he's not a big fan of them.

I'm sure there are plenty of foods out there would work, but I'm drawing a blank. I'm trying to keep his diet reasonably healthy, but I'm also worried that he'll end up losing weight that he can't afford to lose (he's very thin already). He's the pickiest of my kids, so having to deal with this with him is probably the hardest out of all my kids!

I feel bad for the kid - he won't have a very enjoyable Halloween this year as most of the candy is off limits. And wouldn't you know that despite the fact that he likes chocolate (and it's one of the few candies he can eat), he is sensitive to it and can't eat too much of it. So if you have any ideas for candy/treats that aren't sticky, chewy or gooey, please let me know so that I can get him some of his own candy so he's not feeling too left out on Halloween!

Any recommendations or BTDT experience? Thanks!

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I feel for your son. My boys have had orthodontics and my 14 year old currently has a bite plate. He spoke differently for a day or two, then he got used to it. He also lost weight in the beginning. I felt so badly for him but wanted him to cope well, so while I acknowledged his feelings and situation, I tried to move on in conversations with him about what he CAN eat, and how great he will look when it is all over with. It sounds like you're doing a great job trying to find things he can eat. It will get easier and he will figure out a way to get some of his favorite things down at some point. Even if you have to go to TV dinners (uugghh), anything really to get him to eat is worth it. My son loves COCOA wheats for breakfast. Maybe try some soft varieties of what he loves such as pizza casserole instead of pizza. In fact, he should be able to eat any kind of pasta. And chocolate is soft and will melt in his mouth.
So many kids wear braces these days that most of them think nothing of it. I hope he gets used to it all very soon.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:10PM
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We did pudding and Jello in the beginning along with a lot of milk. I hate Jello and the only time it was allowed in the house was dental work - expander, braces on, braces off. Maybe a soft bread with American cheese sandwich - something like a whole wheat Wonder Bread texture.

I don't remember the whole time with the expander being as painful as the beginning. I think he was able to eat candy fairly soon so your son might be okay for Halloween.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:29PM
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TJMB,they did say that it would only hurt during the expansion phase which is the first three weeks. But he's not supposed to eat anything sticky or gooey at all the entire time it's in so definitely Halloween is out!

I thought about grilled cheese (he wouldn't eat a regular cheese sandwich) but I think the gooey cheese would then stick and be hard to get off the expander. I forgot about jello - I'll have to make some of that for him.

Joanie, the problem I have with my kids is that once I allow them to have things that aren't good for them, on a regular basis, then they don't want to go back to the healthy stuff. For instance, whole wheat products. They don't really care for them, but they eat them. But if we go off them for too long and they get a taste for white bread products, then they complain when I switch back (things like bagels, breads, etc.). Cereal is one of those things. I rarely buy sugary cereals - they each get their favorite box on Christmas and then occasionally on vacation I'll buy a couple of boxes. But then when I start buying the non-sugar stuff, they complain and won't eat it until they realize that's all they are getting! :) And since this son is already so picky, I don't want him to think he's going to get all this unhealthy stuff while he's suffering b/c I'll have a hard time transitioning back! My other kids are already complaining about the "treats" he's getting. LOL My husband said he'd be happy to take them down to get expanders in their own mouths if they wanted to keep complaining!

This same son sees a reading tutor and an OT each once a week, then just had a battery of tests done by a language therapist for a possible learning disability, after having a similar battery of tests done this summer. He's been such a trooper through it all. My other kids don't have any of these "extra" issues going on in their lives so it irks me when I hear them complain when he gets a special treat that they don't get!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:39PM
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My DD's favorite candies are all the sticky, chewy ones. She has a space-keeper orthodontic device in her mouth so she can't have any of that stuff any more. It's been well over a year now so she's used to it, but she still occasionally pines for a gummy bear or Sour Patch Kid! She is generally a healthy eater and we don't buy candy unless it's for something like Halloween, so the candy question isn't too much of an issue in our house except when she empties her Halloween bag to find mostly chewy stuff.

Anyway, my kids have had various times when they've had to have soft foods (teeth pulled, orthodontia, etc) and since it's always for a limited time, I just let them eat what they want. Ice cream, yogurt, pudding, muffins, etc. You can probably look up recipes for healthy muffins and breads, and maybe if you try some different smoothies you'll find one he likes. My kids all love smoothies. You can also maybe jazz up plain oatmeal with various toppings that he might like.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Oranges, really ripe pears, grapes. Baked apples.

Pancakes or waffles (you can use whole wheat flour). Let him have breakfast for dinner, if it means he gets enough to eat. Pour a lot of milk on cereal and let the cereal soak up the milk until it is soggy. Scrambled eggs, soft-boiled eggs. Deviled eggs.

Any casserole with ground beef/turkey and rice or pasta. Chili. He may not like soup, but what about something like beef stew? or chowder? Ramen noodles.

Baked potatoes. Top with cheese.

Most cooked vegetables. Maybe cook his serving just a little bit longer to make the veggies a little tiny bit mushy.

You can try peanut butter sandwiches. The bread might keep the peanut butter from sticking to the expander and if it hurts to bite, he can pull off bits with his fingers.

You can also try adding the protein powder to yogurt and applesauce and pudding.

For candy, any basic sugar candy, like sour balls, he can just hold in his mouth until it melts. He doesn't have to chew them. Smarties are good and don't trigger many allergies. I would, based on personal experience with an expander, advise strongly against popcorn or popcorn balls.

He'll probably figure out how to talk normally in a few days.

I still have memories of all my teeth hurting so much during orthodontics that I would put a Wheat Thin in my mouth and just wait until it got soft enough that I could chew it once or twice and then swallow. Not a high point in my life, let me tell you.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:23PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I do not have any experience with orthodontic devices, but how about sweet potato fries, french fries, avocado?

What I do have a lot of experience with is kids complaining about the others getting treats. I have an 8-year-old on the autism spectrum and my 11-year-old has diabetes so sometimes the needs are that just one kid gets a special treat. Sometimes, I try to make a point of the whole family getting the special treat, as we are all in this thing called life together. This has worked both ways in our house to, when my autistic son started eating mushrooms and kale, I was allowing no excuses to any kids after that, because if he could eat leaves, then his little brother could too!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Old fashioned banana pudding, made with instant pudding.

It's very filling and somewhat healthy. You can make it the fast way with layering vanilla wafers, bananas and pudding. The wafers will soften.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I just wanted to mention a few things that were actually dangerous for my girls when the were wearing expanders.
Stringy things like spaghetti/ramen and shredded lettuce were a real choking hazard. Peanut butter was also a problem.
I can't think of many soft foods that haven't been mentioned except refried beans and potato salad.
Good luck to him. The expanding was not at all painful for either of my girls so hopefully the first few adjustment days will be the end of his suffering during the expansion stage.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

Cozy, funny you mention the choking hazards from noodles. Two years ago, the 10 y/o daughter of a friend of mine choked on a piece of spaghetti (she did not have any orthodontics, just choked). After getting the strand out of her throat, she still felt like something was down her throat and got so worked up about it. She was terrified to eat and ended up with an eating disorder. It was awful. She had to go to a therapist and learn to eat again. Thankfully, she is fine now, at age 12, but it was really scary to see what my friend was dealing with simply from a minor choking on spaghetti!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Deviled eggs?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:10PM
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I made barbecued pork sandwiches for dinner tonight on soft buns. I ate mine with a fork. I thought of your son. It would be something he could eat.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:03PM
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Deviled eggs would be great for protein!

Does he like Oatmeal? If he's picky, there's the little packets of flavored instant oatmeal. You can always add a bit of milk to it if you think it's too sticky.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:52AM
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Definitely can emphathize with your situation. My DD has always had difficulty with any crunchy-type foods, not due to dental work, but another health problem. Fortunately, DD likes homemade soups that are pureed, like butternut squash, split pea, etc. Also, I agree with allowing your DS to have anything he feels he can handle without too much worry over how "healthy" it may NOT be (within reason, of course) since it seems that this dental work won't last too too long.

Thinning foods down is a great idea. Our go to was/is great tasting protein shakes with chopped frozen fruit and yogurt added to the protein powder of your choice. Blend till smooth and you get a pretty healthy product. Ensure was once recommended for DD, but after reading the ingredient list on the label on that type of product, I really didn't feel comfortable putting that product into her body. Mostly made up of oil, it really isn't nutritionally beneficial.

I think that not being able to eat all of the Halloween candy is really a blessing. Make some cupcakes with orange frosting and he will have his own special treat! Hope he is feeling better very soon!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Reece's peanut butter cups basically melt in the mouth. Would that be too much chocolate?

Three Musketeers has a fluffy, soft center.

I need some candy. :)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Thank you for all your suggestions! Unfortunately, with him being a picky eater (I think he has some minor sensory issues b/c much of his picky eating is a textural thing), there are so many things he won't eat that would be perfect!

Joanie, I never thought about bbq pork! He loves that. I don't make deviled eggs (funny, I was just asking for a recipe on FB for egg salad b/c it skeeves me out but my dd has been begging for it). I'm not sure he would eat deviled eggs but he does like hard boiled eggs (only eats the egg white, not the yolk, which is why he probably wouldn't eat deviled eggs). I also forgot that he likes tuna.

Oakley, he can eat chocolate, but only one or two pieces. For instance, when he has chocolate ice cream, he throws up. So I try to limit the amount of chocolate he eats. For Halloween treats, there is so much he can't eat, that I was looking for an alternative to chocolate. He can eat the chocolate, but wanted to find something else in addition.

Work in progress - I totally understand about not being able to eat the candy is a blessing. The only problem is that my other kids will all have candy and I feel badly that he'll see what they have and he can't eat most of it. Last year, I had them all go through their candy (they had a TON!) and fill one ziploc bag each with their favorites. The rest dh brought into his office. I suppose I should do the same thing again this year, and just try to find something for my son as a substitute.

he's being such a good sport but I just have this soft spot for him b/c of all the crap he has to deal with that his siblings do not. It's been like this since he was 3 when he had a staph infection in his foot and had to be hospitalized. He's gotten the short end of the stick ever since! He's such a sweet kid despite everything on his plate.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:25PM
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