Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Thousands of us, maybe even yourself, are fussy eaters.
Here’s a refresher on ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’ eating… A fussy eater is someone who is reluctant, frightened or overwhelmed by certain foods and tries to avoid consuming these foods. There can be a magnitude of reasons for this avoidance. Commonly, some children (and adults) may be sensitive to certain sensory inputs (e.g. the smell, the sight, the feel or taste of a food) which is why they become defensive and try to avoid it or may become overwhelmed by being in the mere presence of it. Individuals with anxiety are also more likely to experience food aversions as anxiety during feeding situations may elicit physiological changes such as ‘feeling sick’, which in turn may limit their diet options or balance. Children also learn by watching others, therefore family food habits can also contribute to a child being a fussy eater.
So what do you do? How can you bring more food into your child’s diet? Try talking to your child’s Occupational Therapist who can give you some great ideas to try at home and who can incorporate food therapy into sessions. The aim of food-based therapy is to make food and the experience of eating/touching/smelling food less threatening for your child. This can result in your child broadening their food intake and even enjoying some of those ‘avoided’ foods. This process can take a long time; the key is to be patient and celebrate the little achievements along the way.
Try these ‘Food Play’ tips to try with your fussy eater: