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Sensory Food Aversion - What Is It And How To Help

Food aversion is when a child refuses to eat specific food types presented to them. The limited food repertoire impacts their nutrition. It is very difficult trying to get a child with food aversion to try new foods.

The main reason I see a child suffer from food aversion is because they have sensory sensitivities towards textures, smells, and tastes of food. Children with food aversions will gag, vomit or display behavioral issues when presented with new foods or are being forced to try to eat the new food.

The reason the child reacts this way is because their brain is not interpreting the sensory input appropriately. They are overprocessing the sensations causing a negative experience towards that food. Children with Sensory Processing Issues as well as children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders have demonstrated food aversions.

Another population I have worked with is children who are medically fragile. These children have been diagnosed with medical conditions that can cause them to choke on their food also causing them to have food aversions. That is because they have had trauma with eating. They have developed anxiety and fear even if it occurred when they were infants. As a result, they will avoid various food intake.

For whatever reason, it is important to seek advice and help if your child has food aversion. There is a variety of strategies to help your child develop healthy eating such as feeding therapy, sensory desensitization programs, food play, and more. There are feeding specialists such as Occupational and Speech Pathologists who specialize in feeding therapy. Some insurance companies will cover visits to these specialists. To start seeking help, speak to your pediatrician.

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