RevKT

Food For Kids With Texture Issues (Sensory Processing Disorder)

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I posted this in the kids lunch thread, but think maybe it should be its own topic. Sorry for the repeat, moderators feel free to remove the other post. Thanks!

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I find my son just won't eat most of the ideas for Paleo kids foods. He has texture issues so there are many things he literally can't eat due to how they feel in his mouth. He won't eat eggs, avocado, celery, almond or other nut butters, jerky is too hard and chewy, deli meat is too slimy, etc... He would eat homemade turkey sausage and apples for every meal if he could. And he is one of those kids who won't eat, all day or more, if it is food that grosses him out. He always tries what we give him but often just can't get it down and swallow it.

Even non-Paleo he would not eat many typical kid foods like sandwiches and such.

Anyone else with kids like this? His doctor says they have found this texture problem is Sensory Processing Disorder and you need to work around it but in a paleo diet there are far fewer options.

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I think you should read Robin's response to my question about my picky non-protein eating son. It was just what I needed to hear! I basically focused on getting as many fruits, vegetables and fats (smoothies are great for this. Not truly Whole30, but for kids, I'm willing to bend the rules. He'll also eat most of them in their whole form, so I'm not worried about starting bad habits) into him as I could and totally made the meat a non-issue. Well amazingly, he has started eating the meat and eggs without a fight (I always have to have mustard on the table). I actually have a theory that something he was eating before (wheat? dairy?) was throwing his gut off-balance and made it hard to digest the proteins and that's why he wasn't wanting to eat them often. But now that he's off that stuff, I'm seeing big changes in his eating.

I guess what I'm trying to say is give him what he likes, but just make sure he's getting the other important stuff too! And good luck! I know how difficult it can be to have a child with eating issues.

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So I have a few questions: How old is he? Is he under weight? What does he like?

I really like getting kids involved in the shopping, making and growing of the foods. I had a son who was really picky, but we found a Montessori catalog online that had all sorts of kid-sized/safe cooking implements. We got him an apron, a chefs hat and a stool to stand on. After several weeks of mess he started to really participate and make a big to-do about the food **HE** made. He even went around the table and ground pepper for those at dinner. From that moment on he ate everthing he (we) made.

Don't quit on introducing him to stuff. Even for adults it takes several times to try something for someone to like it. In addition, there is a theory that children's taste buds are more sensitive than adults and therefore get offended easily. I'm not sure I buy that, I know kids who eat asparagus and broccoli like it's going out of style.

Keep trying and keep it up, you are doing great!!

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Hi Wendy,

Thanks for your help!

He's 8 and no longer sees cooking together as fun :-(

Paleo wise his favorites are homemade sausage (pork or turkey) and carrots, and apples. He would eat that at every meal. He also likes salmon. He will eat a little broccoli.

Non paleo, he loves ketchup (hates Paleo ketchup), Mac and cheese, pizza, ice cream, peanut butter (does not like almond or cashew butter).

He is 50lbs., so skinny for his age but no one has said underweight. Although, a size six fits his waist but are too short to actually wear.

I just really wish there were more veggie options for him and a bit more variety overall.

Maybe his tatebuds are more sensitive? I know that during my PMS week certain foods literally make me gag. Foods I love like eggs and sausage. The smell and texture make me sick and I can't eat them. Maybe he is just overly sensitive but that really limits his options :-(

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The nutritionist we are working with for my wife's health issues has also given us some advice for our son, who also has sensory challenges. She says that we need to let him choose one food that he will try and have him try it every single day for at least two straight weeks. Trying could be as little as licking a piece, but hopefully will progress to bigger tastes and a willingness to eat it over time. The daily try is mandatory but beyond that, he can eat or refuse anything we are serving. We should try to serve at least one thing we know he will eat, but not cater to his choices beyond that, and we shouldn't force, cajole, or bribe him about the "trying food" or any other foods.

Hope that helps!

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The nutritionist we are working with for my wife's health issues has also given us some advice for our son, who also has sensory challenges. She says that we need to let him choose one food that he will try and have him try it every single day for at least two straight weeks. Trying could be as little as licking a piece, but hopefully will progress to bigger tastes and a willingness to eat it over time. The daily try is mandatory but beyond that, he can eat or refuse anything we are serving. We should try to serve at least one thing we know he will eat, but not cater to his choices beyond that, and we shouldn't force, cajole, or bribe him about the "trying food" or any other foods.

Hope that helps!

This sounds like a great thing to try, thank you!

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RevKT -

While I was never diagnosed with SPD, I had some sensory issues as a child (mainly focused on auditory and visual overstimulation, but that manifested in food texture issues, too). I very much remember what it was like to "need" to spit out a food simply because of how it felt. As an adult, I've forced myself to get used to eating foods like scrambled eggs cooked in a pan (I used to eat them microwaved and as dry as possible), yogurt and avocado. I still struggle with deli meat, though the higher quality meats are not near as slimy.

My suggestions to you would be to:

a) let him eat what he can and will eat.

Let him help you make a list of foods he likes from each "group" - 2 or 3 meats, a vegetable in each color grouping, some fruits, etc. Then, you can better work to incorporate the foods he likes into your family meals (without making him the focus of the meal).

B) help him help himself overcome some of the issues.

Brainstorm with him about different ways you can change the textures of foods. For example, I hated deli meat but I found that I could eat it if we fried it in a skillet for a few minutes. That got rid of the slime and gave it a nice warm texture, like cooked meat. Veggies have very different textures dependent on the cooking time and method. Maybe he'll like half cooked broccoli, since it still has some crunch. By thinking of ways to work with food to overcome his aversions you'll be making your life a little easier and teaching him how to cope with his issues when he is on his own.

c) be gentle and loving, but not enabling.

I love the idea of choosing new foods to try, but I also agree that you can't cater to his (probably ever changing) restrictions. No one else in his life will, and if these issues continue he will have to learn how to function with them in a non-accomodating society.

Congratulations to you, by the way, on being a perceptive and supportive mom. Kids with sensory issues often get overlooked as either shy or difficult. By making these changes in your house, you are setting your son up for success with his food choices and teaching him that he is in control of his body through what he puts in it. Bravo!

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There are also feeding teams that can provide suggestions. Most of those will be seen at a Major Hospital. Any place that has some behavioral counseling might also be helpful. I am completely sympathetic, until I became an adult (which I don't think I am yet!!) I have not been able to eat slimy foods. Robin, I hear you. Guacamole - no way until about 8 months ago and even then it can't be the totally mashed up stuff it has to have texture. Cream of wheat - never, not even now. And me and eggs go waaaay back. It was the only food problem I had when I was pregnant. I know they were good for my pregnancy, but I couldn't do it. Its taken years for me and eggs to be on talking terms again, and even then it has to be a hard fried egg - I don't want to see any of that moving yellow!! - BLEH!!

I would still try to get him to engage in the making of food somehow. Either by cooking or growing. Not only from an education point of view but as a life skill. Everyone needs to know how to cook and it would be nice if he too got to engage in the process. Maybe make cookies (meringue – no gluten, but definitely sugar), or putting raw veggies on a plate… something to get him to participate so he doesn't feel subjected to which might cause him to fight more. Or at a minimum have him sit next to you in a chair next to the counter while you are cooking so he can at least see what is going on and he can hand you stuff. Again a feeding team will have tons of ideas.

I love the try it every day for 2 weeks idea. Even if he licks it, it's a start. But it might become a battle, so tread cautiously.

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Building on what Robin said, try to find out what specifically he doesn't like. Last night at dinner, my son and I figured out that he doesn't like the way broccoli florets feel in his mouth, but he likes the taste. So we gave him all stems, and he ate more broccoli than he had in ages!

Dips have also been helpful for us. If he likes ketchup and PB, can you use them to help him try new things? My son will dip ANYTHING in lemon juice and that has helped him to eat some things he otherwise wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. It's not a miracle - even with lemon there's lots he won't eat, but sometimes it works. And my kids will put PB on just about anything and eat it. Maybe if you get his food repertoire broadened, at some point you can start blending the PB with almond butter and slowly alter the proportions until he's willing to eat pure almond butter?

Keep on truckin'!

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Great ideas jrustdc, just be sure he swishes with some water after the lemon juice, lemons can be not so nice to teeth enamel.

Any dip would be good, even the non-whole9/paleo type for now - catsup, juices, humus, PB, cheese, yogurt, butter, meat drippings, salad dressing, fruit puree, real whipped cream - anything he is interested in, offer whole foods as often as possible. Or look in the spice areas for herb/spice blends. I picked up some Japanese rice shakes - Furikate - that my kids like on stuff. I'm sure there is soy in it, but it makes the asparagus go down... so for now it's OK.

When you are figuring out what he likes ask him what about X does he like - is it the saltiness, the sour, sweet, the way it feels in his mouth, the taste. If he doesn't like it, empty out the dips and what not from the fridge and spices from the spice cabinet onto the kitchen table and let him pick something to try. Maybe make him his own “spice†mixture that he can sprinkle on everything…

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Hmm, I will keep that in mind about the lemon. I hadn't thought of that.

Also, anything you can do to make meals fun help. We have had science nights, where the kids tried experiments (different combinations of food, new foods, or foods + different dips) and we wrote down their "findings". That was hugely popular and they tried SO many things they wouldn't have otherwise (and boy, will my son try bizarre combinations of stuff!). We have also had a tasting lottery - I put names of different foods in a hat and each child chose one. They then had to try both foods. At least two of the slips in the hat are fun things (chocolate, a liked fruit, etc). They love the excitement of picking. Their willingness to try stuff has varied on different times we've done this.

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You've gotten some great suggestions to consider, and one thing I wanted to mention is that texture issues can most certainly be very noxious to kids. Meaning, that it can feel so irritating that it borders on feeling painful for his senses. I am an Occupational Therapist that has worked with kids for many years (although not specifically with sensory processing), and have taken some feeding courses. If you can find an OT that has experience with feeding issues then they can really provide some more insight and figure out together ways to help the situation. Another option may be to check with your son's school system. Many of the school-based OT's have experience with sensory processing. Although my first recommendation would be a medical setting, a school OT still may be able to help out.

Best of luck!

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My advise is find a common texture or taste thread and build on it. For me its smooth and creamy Im Autism spectrum disorder with sensitivity issues.  I only like smooth and cream so fruit is usually eaten as a milk shake ( their is a few other ways Ill eat fruit but this is my prefered way) , if I eat speghetti I add ranch dressing so its creamy as spaghetti sauce is too acidy. I eat ground meat and processed meats only..... Your child will have a common texture or taste choose foods that are simular.

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