Children and adults who have difficulty with their sensory systems such as with taste or texture in foods may need help regulating their body to try new foods. Feeding therapy is not always an option considered because we all want to learn how to eat and eat naturally and peacefully so that the act of eating is a positive experience.
There are many reasons sensory wise, that a person may have issues eating. It is not always a picky eater or a poor appetite. There are some people who have problems even feeling that they are hungry. It doesn’t always have to do with whether they have forgotten. This is a sense called interoception. Here is a nice article on Wikipedia.
It may be the food texture. Might perfectly well be that it could taste good to the person experiencing this difference, but they can’t get past the texture.
It could be the smell. Might smell stronger or the person might smell parts of the foods that most people would not notice or notice all at the same time which could be overwhelming.
It could be the taste. Might just be the person doesn’t like it, right? But might also be because they are overly sensitive to certain types of tastes more so than others.
Visually it might be the color. Or maybe the fact the green beans are touching the mashed potatoes.
It might be a way that a person eats that is ritual. One food group at a time which lends itself to routine, or no mixing of different types of food which falls under texture and the tactile sense.
It could be a combination of all of these things or some of these things. But regardless, it can be managed if you know where the complication of not being able to eat new foods comes from. Especially if you need the nutritional value or you would like to try new things. With children it is different because they don’t always want to eat what is good for them though we all have preferences. We can’t live on pop tarts though. So the idea is to make trying new foods fun or to take the pressure off the senses while diverting the attention to something fun while processing the new food experience.
SOS Feeding Therapy can be a great way to introduce new foods to your kiddo. It is a slow process of accepting a new food (without forcing it) through experiencing it through the senses. You see the food on the place…..moving towards touching it…..smelling it…..tasting it……and eventually biting it….even if you have to spit it out you experienced it. It’s okay not to like a food. But this way the kiddo gets to experience the food and decide why they do not like it.
There are similar ways to make trying new foods fun. My personal favorite is wearing your food. As an example: If you have a child who dislikes mashed foods because of the texture but would like to try something like mashed potatoes. You paint your face with mashed potatoes. You do it in front of a mirror so that both your child and yourself can see one another. This leads to laughter. And if the child touches your face while you are doing so they are experiencing the texture that bothers them and desensitizing themselves to it in a positive way. So there are no negative feelings attached to the experience….only laughter. From there you move on to the childs face and painting them where they are then smelling the food and experiencing the texture. If they are not comfortable with you painting them because of unexpected touch then let them paint themselves. This gives them the opportunity to experience the food before tasting it. More than likely some will end up in their mouths anyway and that might give them the opportunity to see if they like it.
The idea is not to distract. But to allow them time enough to relax to discover if they like a certain thing…..long enough to break away from the things that shapes their likes and dislikes to experience something new. I think we could all use that.