F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Curious how others approach variety.

We are a year in a half into this painful journey and are trying to transition to phase 2 of FBT. (We have been in this transitional phase for over a year now. Body physically healthy, brain lagging behind.)

I know it is important to have variety in the diet. But really how varied is necessary? My D's lunches and dinners have been pretty varied. Dinner I tend to prepare a combination of probably 15 different meals and lunches probably revolve around 7 or 8 different things.

Breakfast and snacks have been hard. For the vast majority of the mornings, my D has been drinking the same shake and her snacks had also been very much the same. (Mostly bars.) We are really trying to break away from this routine and have been successful in snacks but I find it difficult to come up with variety.

Also I am hitting a wall with breakfasts. It has become easy to make the same shake every morning. She stopped asking what's in it and just drinks it and I know she is getting a great start to her day. So I am struggling with finding breakfasts that are "enough" that don't seem "too big". How many different breakfast varieties are enough? Is rotating through 3-4 enough of variety? I know my breakfasts and my other kids breakfasts don't vary greatly from day to day.

Really struggling with this one...

Thanks for your input,
We aren't far enough along to give any real help. But I hear as long as you are in the fight- give it all you've got. Variety- volume- fear foods. I think it depends on if variety gives her trouble. I.e.: could you eat at someone else's house and eat what is served? If not then she may need more variety than a normal kid. For us in stg 2- I pretty much let her stick to the same breakfast routine, but throw a surprise in there once a week and assess. If it's hard- I up the variety, if it's easy- we rest in routine a little more.
Good points, kgard.  Eventually, she needs to be able to eat all the foods she ate before becoming ill. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Hi hopefulyetscared,

In our case we are working on increasing variety so that my D can't count calories and try to control her intake.  For a short while I let her eat almost the same thing every day.  The food was going in without resistance and I was happy with that.  But then it was too obvious to her when any little change was made to her food.  UGH!  That backfired.

So we've increased variety again and continue to do so.  The hardest change to make is to her daily evening smoothie.  Like you describe, our D seems to enjoy it and it is easy to change the ingredients/nutrition in it as needed.  But - it is very hard to replicate the smoothie when we are away from home.  And it is really difficult to add variety to her evening snack when it would require a big "footprint" of other food to do so.  So we are slowly adding more nutrition to her other meals/snacks and reducing the nutrition in the smoothie.  

It sounds like you have a lot of variety (15 different dinners; 7-8 different lunches; 3-4 breakfasts; etc).  Does your D have any "fear foods" that need to be tackled?  Butter? Dessert? cheese?   Anything that makes it difficult to be away from home/to travel?
DD diagnosed with anorexia at 14; FBT at home with the help of psychologist and medical dr; 3+ years later and doing well (knock on wood)
Hello,we are at about the same stage as you.We have been battling this illness since August last year,my d is weight restored with a small buffer and we are at stage 2 now for about 6 months.I find sometimes playing it by ear works best.We sometimes push hard particularly when her mental health seems better.She is eating a good variety of food now but still has a few fear foods to conquer,I know she is not considered in recovery until she can eat all food as she did before,I actually have a list of foods we need to cover.I am not rushing stage two.I know Christmas break is coming up, for us here in Australia that means 6 weeks off school.A great time for me to offer challenges and be able to monitor the fallout.She has the same breakfast and morning tea most days as she goes off to school after eating and I can not watch her there.I tend to mix up her afternoon tea,dinner and snack more often as she is at home and I can make sure she doesn't do anything silly.ie vomit or excercise. SUCH A PROCESS.I have become a logistics expert.☺

Hi Hopefulyetscared

Variety is important and I grappled with the same questions. But it sounds like you are doing well in getting your daughter to eat!

What I did was to create a "recipe binder" I bought a 3 ring binder and divided it up into bkfst, lunch, dinner and every time d. liked something we had, I put it in the binder. So I had a kind of library of things to choose from that I knew had enough calories/nutrition and that she liked. 

Breakfasts can look like this:

Oatmeal with raisins, almonds, brown sugar, bananas or other fruit, cream and chocolate milk

Banana bread with hot chocolate

Cheerios and smoothie or chocolate milk and banana

Pancakes with maple syrup and juice

Eggs and home fried potatoes with juice (can be scrambled with cheese added or an omelette)

A Naked protein smoothie (420 calories) and a granola bar for an on the go quick breakfast when she needs to leave the house quickly in the morning.

Croissant with cheddar cheese + fruit + smoothie

Granola/yoghurt parfait with fruit and juice

I also keep a tin of chocolate chip biscotti around that she can have with coffee.

It took awhile to build up to this but I think it is a pretty normal breakfast range. I would like to add Muffins or a whole bagel with cream cheese or french toast to the list but I have not had success reintroducing them yet...

For snacks: 
Veggie sticks from Trader Joes
Chips and Salsa
Pirates Booty
Chai Latte from Trader Joes

In general Trader Joes has lots of snackie things with have a decent amount of calories if there is one near you.


Thank you for all your replies.

We were so stick in a routine and very slow mental progress for so long. After reading and learning more I decided that the only way for her to move forward is for us to keep challenging her and not let her be comfortable in a routine.  So I thank you for all your suggestions.

It's hard since she really doesn't have that specific fear food. It's "fat" in general, mostly at snack time. So we are trying to have some more variety of snacks with more than 5/6 grams of fat which is her "comfort zone". Although she won't admit this.

As much as I don't want her to read labels, she does. So I almost think it is better for her to see the snacks with "more" than she is comfortable with and insist that she eats it rather than "hide" labels. I don't know... In the early days I would do my best for her not to read labels. But now I think she needs to know things have fat, that's okay to eat it, it's more than okay, her body needs it.

Thanks again!