Do you feel frustrated by how few foods your picky eater will eat? Does dinnertime feel more like a battle ground then a peaceful end to your long day? Have you tried a million different things to help your picky eater try new foods and feel like you’re banging your head on the wall?
We can help.
Food is sensory.
Food is complicated: each bite of food has a smell, a look, texture (or heaven help us, more than one texture), a temperature, and more.
And for children who have not developed enough connections in their brain, this combination of sensory information from new foods feels really overwhelming.
Grilled chicken with a new flavor, a mixture of textures and an unfamiliar package from the grocery store? Cue the nightly dinner meltdown.
Picture yourself having a meal next to a stinky trash can, sitting next to the blaring speaker at a rock concert. No amount of 5-star cooking would change the fact that your eating environment is really overwhelming.
That is how your child might be feeling as they’re trying foods that have a lot of sensory input. They’re not trying to be bad or break the rules: they’re simply overwhelmed by sensory information overload. And so, this brings on the very familiar meltdown you’ve experienced at the dinner table, again and again.
Predictability is why your picky eater loves their few favorite foods. What I hear from families, again and again, is that their kid’s favorite foods are bland, they don’t have complicated flavors and only have one single texture. These kid foods are easy for their child to chew and swallow. Parents walk me through their child’s favorite foods and the list usually includes chicken nuggets, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, french fries, applesauce, milk, yogurt and plain noodles with not a drop of sauce. And nary a vegetable to be seen.
Does that sound like your child?
Picky eating starts in the brain.
During normal development, children want to explore their environment, including their food. For babies, there isn’t much pressure for them to actually eat anything.
Parents tend to feel more relaxed as their bundle of joy gently explores new food. They’re squishing peas between tiny fingers, smelling new herbs and spices, listening to the crunch of crackers and squealing with delight as the family dog gobbles bites that have gone rogue from the high chair tray. Exploring foods feels fun.
As your child cruises through their toddler years, it is completely normal for them to be resistant to foods that they used to love. But parents are expecting it. And while frustrating, it doesn’t feel like the end of the world.
But what happens when your child is refusing most foods when they’re six years old? Eight years old? Or even older? Aren’t they supposed to just outgrow this? You may be wondering why this isn’t getting better on its own, and the answer to your child’s picky eating lies in their brain.
You need to help your child to build connectivity in their brain and strengthen these connections to improve how the brain communicates with other areas of the body. By increasing connectivity in their brain you can help them be able to process the sensory information that they experience from their meals and snacks.
And by building these connections, you address the root causes of their picky eating, rather than just trying the same old stuff you’ve already tried, again and again, with no real change (other than your frustration level).
And as they build the connections in their brain they might evoke the curiosity that they felt as a toddler. This is a chance for you and your child to have fun around food again.