Sensory Food Aversion
Sensory Food Aversion refers the refusal to eat certain foods because of taste, texture, smell or appearance. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a vital part of life, thus it can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting when your child refuses to eat the food that you have mad available for them. Parents often feel guilty about being unable to ensure that their child is receiving the correct nutrition that optimizes both physical and mental development.
Indications of Sensory Food Aversion
The way a child reacts to certain foods will indicate whether or not they have Sensory Food Aversion. If your child displays the following negative behaviors regularly, it may be time to get support:
Consistent refusal to eat a particular food
Generalizing food types- food groups, even food brands- eating only limited foods
Become upset if the “offending” food touches other foods on plate
Implications of Sensory Food Aversion
Sensory Food Aversion in children can have an impact on general well-being as it may severely affect interpersonal relationships, behavior, development, self-esteem, socialization and cognitive ability. Professional intervention is recommended as soon as the food aversion is becoming entrenched in your child’s daily life and is affecting their behavior and development negatively.
A child suffering from severe Sensory Food Aversion may refuse to eat foods from an entire food group essential for a healthy diet of a growing child. Children refusing to eat vegetables, dairy or meats will lack the vital minerals, vitamins and proteins they need to develop good health. There are also implications for oral motor development if children refuse to eat foods that require significant chewing. This can eventually lead to problems with articulation and speech development.
Sensory food aversion, food refusal and food selectivity in extreme forms require professional treatment as these issues also have a negative impact on the child’s behavior and this can cause a lot of stress within the family. The child’s problem with eating can become all-encompassing; therefore, successful treatment programs will include strategies for the whole family to incorporate.
There are also social implications of Sensory Food Aversion; children may feel very uncomfortable during lunchtimes at school, birthday parties, play dates, visits to family, etc, as they will not want others to notice their issues with eating and food.
All of the above implications make it starkly evident that this can be a serious condition that requires immediate attention and intervention by parents and/or health professionals.
Control remains a key component of many eating disorders; and it is this control that these children are reluctant to relinquish to their parents or to professionals involved in treatment. Gifted children in particular, can be highly willful. When challenged to change negative behaviours, they are likely to become even more resistant. In treating gifted children that have problems with eating, it is advisable to follow a holistic approach and understand that this type of child has complex cognitive, social, emotional and disciplinary needs.
Food aversions have been classified into four types of foods that are rejected because they are:
Helpful strategies to reduce Sensory Food Aversion:
Meals Without Tears: How to get Your Child to Eat Healthily and Happily, by Dr. Rana Conway
￼Just Two More Bites! Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food, by Linda Piette
© National Association for Gifted Children 2010 - 2012 Charity No: 313182 www.nagcbritain.org.uk