41 answers

Lunch I Pack for School Is "Absolutely Disgusting." Help!

My son just started first grade. Kindergarten was half-day, so this is the first time he's had lunch at school. He picked a super cool insulated lunch box and stainless steel water bottle to haul his food in, and was very excited about taking lunch to school. He helped me choose what to pack for the first day, but could only eat half of his admittedly large sandwich. His juice also came back untouched. But that was just the beginning of our lunch troubles.

The entire first week, he always ate the fruit and pudding, but probably ate a total of 2 sandwiches. He drank about 1 1/2 bottles of juice over that time, as well. He tells me that he doesn't eat his sandwiches and drink his juice because they're "absolutely disgusting." He even came up with the theory that "bacteria have affected the taste." Meaning he thinks it tastes like it's rotting. Eew!

We're talking apple juice, his favorite for ages. And he told me that he didn't like the jam I'd used on his PB&J, so I bought the kind he wanted, but he ate even less of that "custom" sandwich than ever, and said it was horrible. This is the food he's eaten regularly for the past 6 years (meaning his whole life!) He says I don't pack enough food, but when he brings half of it home untouched, why would I pack more? Also, he comes home starving every day.

I don't want him living on applesauce and pudding cups, nor pigging out when he gets home, which ruins his appetite for dinner. I also don't want to make dinner at 4:15, which is when he gets home ravenous.

One theory my friend and I came up with involves his highly likely but as of yet untested giftedness. This friend's daughter's psychologist says that she copes with the stress of trying to fit in with the class and behave, even though she's bored stiff, by freaking out about the textures of things. She can't handle certain fabrics touching her, etc. She can't control most of her life, but she CAN control what things touch her. I'd never heard that explanation of a sensory processing disorder, but it makes sense to me. My friend and I started wondering if my son's problems with eating lunch have a similar root, that after an entire morning of trying to behave despite his intense boredom, he sort of "freaks out" at lunch.

I've done some online research about this problem, but only found suggestions about kids not having enough time to eat, or that they're too talkative to eat. The kids always explain that they like the food, but the packages are too hard to open, or they wanted to go out to recess so they skipped lunch. Never that they complain that their food is disgusting.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you have any suggestions? Since I don't know if it's related to giftedness or not, I'd appreciate any advice I can get, whether it takes his brains into account or not.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all, thank you so much for your ideas. I think I'll try sending just a sandwich and no treats for a while. I know it's only been 2 weeks of school, but I have tried a lot of your suggestions already. He doesn't want to help with packing because he wants it to be a surprise. He hates soup and ice cold drinks, and has eaten food out of baggies regularly. I'll ask him if he thinks his food tastes like plastic.

I think it's funny that someone mentioned ham and cheese quesadillas, because once my dad was visiting and stuck some ham in his quesadilla, and DS said it was so nasty that he has refused to eat a quesadilla ever since!

I was looking into buying a thermos-type thing to keep food hot, but I'm going to shop around a bit before I shell out $12 for a Spiderman one that he won't like in 2 years.

#2 This goes for all posts on just about any forum I've ever been on. Please read the question carefully before you reply! I never said that I think he has a sensory issue. And he wants more food--I'm not packing too much. He also has no problem with packages, that was what another mom said that doesn't apply to my situation.

#3 (this is off-topic)
I am so tired of hearing people tell me that my kid probably isn't gifted! The whole "they'll even out by 3rd grade" argument is a bunch of bull, because by third grade, most gifted kids have learned that being smart is something they should hide so they can fit in, and that school's boring and they can't do anything to change it. That's exactly what I did. I was in the gifted program, his dad was in the gifted program. He's reading 6th grade books and taught himself to multiply when he was 4. He knows all about viruses and bacteria and how vaccines work, can describe how things decay, and designs his own science experiments. His teachers are all blown away by him and totally confounded. His kindergarten teacher was considering suggesting that he go to 3rd grade for some subjects. His pediatrician has fun asking all my boys all sorts of things. It's a game to him to see just how smart they really are.

And of course, since I live with this constantly, his smarts come first to my mind when I'm worried about a problem he's having. It's the first thing everyone notices about him, and the dominant character trait that causes problems for him and us.

Featured Answers

I would start off by cutting back on what you send to where it's just a main item and a tiny snack. That way, he really has to focus on that main item.

Think of new ways of presenting the food. For instance, instead of a sandwich, how about the peanut butter and jelly on saltine crackers, making up a bunch of mini sandwiches. That way, no warm bread. Or send him with a polar insulated cup filled with a cold Instant Breakfast drink or a Thermos with soup.

I suspect another boy made up something about bacteria and it stuck with him. Boys constantly try to gross out each other and I bet that's what started all of this.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

My son kept claiming he did not have time to eat his sandwich, until I stopped packing the "goodies", and sent only an apple and that sandwich, than all of a sudden he had time to eat. Now he knows that if he does not eat the good part of his lunch, I do not pack a dessert. It sounds to me like this "disgusting" thing is simply an excuse not to eat.

3 moms found this helpful

Don't give him applesauce & pudding in his lunch. Just give him a sandwich and a drink for a few days. See what happens.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I'm sure your little boy is smart ;-) but I'll betcha what is going on was the same thing with my equally smart :-) son last year in first grade. He was yakkety yakking too much to eat his food. (We started packing b/c I discovered that when he "bought" every day, he had about 5 mins to eat by the time he got through the line!) He always found time to eat his treat--but not his main course. So I just started packing a main item and a drink. Guess what? It was gone when he came home....hmmmmm....
Once he consistently started eating his main course, I started adding a SMALL treat--one cookie, cut up fruit, or a tiny candy. All gone!
He's eating wthout your supervision and figures he can pick and choose, and what kid wouldn't choose pudding over a "disgusting" sandwich?! lol
Recently my son has been requesting Chciken Cool Wraps from Chik Fil A and I give him one half per day. He loves them! (But my kid basically eats anything which made the phantom sandwich reappearances all the more mysterious!) Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful

My son kept claiming he did not have time to eat his sandwich, until I stopped packing the "goodies", and sent only an apple and that sandwich, than all of a sudden he had time to eat. Now he knows that if he does not eat the good part of his lunch, I do not pack a dessert. It sounds to me like this "disgusting" thing is simply an excuse not to eat.

3 moms found this helpful

I would start off by cutting back on what you send to where it's just a main item and a tiny snack. That way, he really has to focus on that main item.

Think of new ways of presenting the food. For instance, instead of a sandwich, how about the peanut butter and jelly on saltine crackers, making up a bunch of mini sandwiches. That way, no warm bread. Or send him with a polar insulated cup filled with a cold Instant Breakfast drink or a Thermos with soup.

I suspect another boy made up something about bacteria and it stuck with him. Boys constantly try to gross out each other and I bet that's what started all of this.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

1. You're overthinking this.
2. He's *just now* getting used to the whole lunchbox idea. Give him some time to warm up to it.
3. Have HIM help you pack what he's going to eat. He picks it, his choice, done.

My DD will sometimes eat a sandwich, sometimes not. Sometimes it's yogurt, sometimes it's cheese and crackers, other times it's celery with PB in it.

GL.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't give him applesauce & pudding in his lunch. Just give him a sandwich and a drink for a few days. See what happens.

2 moms found this helpful

Sensory disorders are different from emotional problems. Sensory disorders are from an immature nervous system. So I wouldn't call your friend's daughter's problem a sensory disorder. It's an emotional problem masking as a sensory disorder.

Don't overthink this idea with your own son. Put smaller things in his box. If you put sandwiches in there, cut off the edges, and cut the rest of the sandwich in 4 squares. No more peanut butter and jelly - he's "against it" now. Put apple slices with lemon on them to keep them from turning brown and grapes in plastic baggies.

A big hit with my boys was ham and cheese quesadillas. We cooked a plate full at a time, cut them into fours, and sent 4 of them at a time instead of sandwiches when they got tired of sandwiches.

When the weather gets cold, you can send soup in the thermos. I would give him milk money instead of sending juice. Juice is sweet, and that's what he wants.

Keep experimenting, BUT, tell your son you are tired of him saying your food is disgusting and that you don't want to hear it anymore. Tell him that if he doesn't start eating the food you send, he'll have to eat the school's lunch. Don't send junk, S.. Call his bluff - he's trying to get the sweet stuff he wants by not eating food he has historically liked. You see, he is looking at other kids' snack type foods and is working you to get what they have.

You'll get him to eat what you send eventually if you don't let him manipulate you.

All my best,
D.

2 moms found this helpful

Greetings! As a teacher this does not sound like an intelligence or sensory issue to me. No matter how smart or "gifted" your son is peer pressure plays a major role in every child's life starting as early as 3! My guess would be one of 2 things:
1. Another child made a comment about something he was packing for lunch (like it was gross or "only babies eat that," etc.) Therefore making it less appealing to your son so he doesn't eat it to fit in with others.
2. Most of his friends eat the school lunch and he doesn't like being "different"

The only other thing I can think of is, some of the other posts are right some brands of sandwhich bags leave a plastic taste on the food. Talk to him about what goes on at lunch time. Ask him what his friends eat (buy or pack lunch?); does he have enough time to eat;or whatever else you can think of to get to the root of the problem. It is most likely something simple; I wouldn't jump to conclusions about a sensory disorder before really focusing on the problem.

2 moms found this helpful

I went through this as a child. I HATE sandwiches that have been sitting in a lunch box all morning. They taste different. The juice also tastes different when its been sitting in a lunchbox then if it comes straight from the fridge.
Try sending little cups of peanut butter and jelly separately from the bread and pack a plastic knife. (the little lidded cups that they use for sauces at restaurants, you can buy them at Sam's). I would only send enough for half a sandwich. Also try putting an ice cube (they make long reusable ones made for putting in a water bottle) in his bottle of juice to help it keep extra cold and yummy until lunch.
If that doesn't work then start sending stuff other than sandwhiches. Crackers, cheese, sliced meat, etc. in individual baggies. Food is different after its been sitting for a while. I doubt its a sensory thing.

2 moms found this helpful

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