It can be difficult to maintain a balanced diet for your child if they have sensory needs. They may be more averse to certain types of food with particular tastes, textures, temperatures and smells. This tends to be common for individuals diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The texture and consistency of the food are one of the most cited factors in whether or not an individual will consume the foods presented to them. If food is rejected by refusing to take a bite or spitting it out, they may be experiencing a sensory issue with the food.
This can later escalate to the sight or smell of the food inducing gagging or even vomiting. This needs to be avoided where possible as it can lead to a fear of foods that look or smell similar to it. Once a food has been rejected it should be kept away from the individual so as not to induce a fear of the specific food.
There has been minimal research done about eating behaviour that occurs in some people who have sensory needs. This means that there is no definitive reason as to why this may occur. However, according to the National Autistic Society, it is likely a result of a sensory input overload. But there are different ways in which you can work with this issue to ensure your child still has a balanced diet
Modifying The Food
One of the most simple methods of working with your child’s sensory needs is to modify the food to make it more suitable for your child. One of the easiest ways to do this is to puree the food. This will instantly change the texture and consistency which will hopefully make it more palatable. Your child may also seek hard, crunchy food such as carrots, peppers or crackers. Try freezing fruit and vegetables for the extra crunch.
However, it is important to remember that you must reintroduce this food slowly. Despite modifying the food, your child may still have a bad reaction so you should reintroduce it slowly and not apply any pressure on the child to eat it.
Try New Foods In Stages
Trying new foods can be an overwhelming experience altogether for many children with sensory needs. By breaking the process down into more manageable stages it may be easier and more comfortable for the child.
These stages can include simple things, such as touching or smelling the new food. Do not be disheartened if the process ends with the child spitting the food out. No one enjoys every food and it is more about making them comfortable with trying new things. Make sure you remain encouraging and celebrate at the end, even if the food doesn’t get eaten.
Bright Futures Care
At Bright Futures Care, we understand that maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can be a challenge. That is why our fantastic team works hard to make trying new things an enjoyable experience, so even if one food doesn’t work out, the child is willing to try again with different foods.
Find out more about us and how we can support your child’s needs and growth, get in contact with us today.