Tuesday 29 August 2017

Taking our zoo out to dinner

Lion licking lips

The hilarity of our mealtimes is something to behold, reminiscent of feeding time at the zoo. My kids eating habits are so different that I seem to be required to concoct at least three meals at most dinner sittings. It's not all the kids faults that they are fussy eaters, but there is little denying their differences and it's pretty obvious when we go out to dinner.

But, I am pleased to say we've recently, with a bit of preparation, managed to start going out to suggested restaurants for dinner again and we've found that Italian eating seems best for our roaring little animals.

Anthony, is our resident lion, though only at the dinner table.  Unlike the lions who lounge around all day, Anthony has spent it more like a gazelle on the run.  He literally is jumping around the room when he comes to eat his dinner.  Then despite all the movement he converts to lion... he eats... a lot! He can easily clear adult size portions, with his favourite food being Italian - preferably Pizza or Lasagne.

Though true there are few cows around the prairie, I think he would be fine with a wildebeest or buffalo version of the meal as long as there was lots of it smothered in a tomato based sauce.  And like a lion, it takes him an age to eat it. This is all good as far as I'm concerned. Anthony has long had a relatively restricted diet due to not liking certain flavours or textures which is pretty common for many autistic kids.   He's also on medication for his ADHD which put him at risk of loosing weight.   So we're more than pleased to order Anthony an adult lasagne or pizza when we are out - no kiddie's menu required here! And as he takes him an age to eat this gives him something to try and focus on too.

fussy looking penguin

Jane prefers different food. One could consider her our penguin.  Penguins are apparently the most popular zoo animals (who knew though as I used to fancy being a marine biologist as a child maybe I'm not really surprised).  And this is Jane because she must think she is the favourite to get away with the misery she creates when she decides she doesn't like something. Sweet cute little face looks up and says, "I don't like that mumma", and I haven't the will left to fight her on it...plus, she's the only one of our kids who will allow fish or calamari on her plate and then gobble them up too.

Panda eating

And that brings us to our most rare of species... our panda impressionist David. Panda's diet is made up of 99% of bamboo plants.  David's sometimes feels like it's 99% Tesco chicken nuggets.  He's  always had a restricted diet.  It's just part of his difficulty with sensory processing, routine and the busy time that is our evening meal. There's clanging plates and talking, lights, cooking smells etc etc, it's all a bit #TMI - too much information for his autistic body.

As he still doesn't really talk at six old, it's difficult to tell exactly what he doesn't like about various foods - but it's pretty obvious he's not interested in eating them.  He'll slouch down and take a lazy seated position, but if it's not to his liking he'll go hungry.  He's too just fussy, he literally can't eat it. Dinners consist of one key item - mostly bread or chicken nuggets (yes, I know, it's awful).

In the last few months or so though, David has been able to cope with all the chaos in a restaurant if he can move around a bit or watch his iPad.  Although he chooses not have more than a side of bread he copes well.  He'll often wait to nearly the end of the meal before he reaches for his food, but I'm just glad we are getting out and it's not causing him stress and anxiety.  And every time we do and it's not a disaster is one more time he's coped and this activity can slowly become more normal for us. Even if we are the only family in the restaurant with a zoo in tow.

Are your kids or are you 'fussy' with good? What are mealtimes like in your home, do you manage to go out for dinner with children? See how we prepared for eating out with our kids here

This post supports The Makaton Charity #wetalkmakaton sign of the week 'Zoo'


  1. Haha. This is so sweet! It's silly, but you know and love your children so well. :-)
    My little brother's diet was probably 99% PB&J as a kid.
    I am the oldest of 5, so we had a handful of restaurants that we would repeat because we could all agree on them. :-)

  2. Love this! We tried a cafe today but had to leave before even making it to a table with the small one. Zoo life!

  3. Eating out always seems like a good idea at the time but very rarely does it turn out to be.

    Chloe is a Italian food lover too and can quite happily eat a pizza as well as try a bit if everyone else's..


  4. Love this post! Going to try and compare my family to zoo inhabitants now!

  5. I feel like we are like a whirlwind when we go out to eat. No surface of the table can be seen. We also stick to Italian places as our son can eat pasta but then our daughter doesn't like it. Yes food times are really interesting but I'm so glad you have been able to make this progress. It really isn't easy.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements


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