Fun with Food!

Welcome to Fun with Food! This site was designed to help parents and caregivers find, share and ask about fun foods for your selective toddler!

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, I encounter many children who have experienced negative associations surrounding food. These children often have accompanying oral motor feeding difficulties and sensory processing difficulties--making eating a very stressful experience instead of an enjoyable one.

This website will hopefully serve as an "idea place" for meals as well as questions and support from other parents and caregivers. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Problem Eaters...A parent's struggle

In an attempt to bring some real life stories to this blog I wanted to share a few blog posts from both the mother and father of child who have had an ongoing mealtime struggle with their son. This family's story is so very similar to many children I have seen before who do not fit the mold of "They will eat when they are hungry"...would rather go without eating than try something in different packaging or something unfamiliar to them. I feel it is important to hear these families, put yourself in the shoes of this child, and meet them where they are....forcing, bribing, threats simply do not work! Please take some time to read the following posts! and

Thank you Marble family for sharing your story and showing others that they are not alone. I pray that you find the right treatment program for your son and continue in your efforts!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Positive Peer Pressure!

The circumstances do not always allow for your picky or 'problem eater' child to be in a lunch or snack setting where they can observe and interact with children around their own age; however, if you can arrange for this set up it is ideal! Children have a way with each other, even if it is just by being themselves and being silly with their food or talking about their likes/dislikes, examining the food properties, etc. I wanted to share a great site with many links to a son helping his mother in the kitchen. One reason I so love these natural and realistic video posts is because here are Real Life examples of how you can be a role model for your child! Here is a link to Roni's GreenLiteBites in which she and her son are making a healthier version of a chicken nugget. I encourage you to watch some of these videos with your child! I'd consider this a baby step toward having your own child become more comfortable with meal time preparation, smelling and touching are all steps toward the bigger picture, which is Eating!

If you are reading this post and thinking "my child would never do this" or "he would never eat this"...remember that you can adapt most anything and create your own recipes! Pairing favorite foods with something like chicken is a great idea as mentioned in a previous post re: coating chicken in a favorite chip or crunchy coating. The exposure of being around or in the kitchen while you are cooking is very therapeutic for a child who has many food aversions. I encourage you to pay attention to his/her cues and if you think he is getting overwhelmed or overstimulated, simply take a step or two back and try again later!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Muffin Tin Mondays

I have been meaning to link to this post and just kept forgetting! So here it is--Muffin Tin Mondays from Sycamore Stirrings. What a wonderful idea! I have adapted this idea in therapies and used mini muffin tins (the kind from my old Easy Bake Oven days) and kept tiny portions, limited to one or two and dips in every other space. If you have a link to other 'muffin tin' pictures or would like to share on this site, please feel free!

Sycamore Stirrings has a flicker group in which you can share your ideas and images:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Heightened anxiety and Sensory based feeding aversions

Many of the children I see for feeding therapy have increased anxiety surrounding new foods and many will "shut down" so to speak at the very sight or mention of a new or undesired food. When working with families I ask them to list their child's favorite foods and then I examine the various properties and help plan which foods to introduce based on the similarities. Pairing desired foods with new or undesired foods has been helpful with many do not want to be 'sneaky', but rather discuss the similarities and provide opportunities for exposure and for your child to build trust and familiarity with the new foods.

It is not uncommon to see a child with a limited diet Love foods that are crunchy, sweet, salty, even spicy. What is the common factor in those type of foods? They all have an increased sensory value and give more feedback! A child who loves barbeque chips for example, may love the idea of having chicken tenderloins coated and baked in her favorite bbq chips. This is a way you can expand on a food. Children who prefer these types of foods often Overstuff foods, usually the foods that are a little softer. Here is a great article by Suzanne Evans Morris regarding overstuffing: Mouth Stuffing.

Yesterday I discovered a great blog written by the co-authors of Food Chaining. I did not realize that the treatment approach I use with many children is similar to the concepts and plan in Food Chaining. Please check out the site, it is a great resource and lists many others! I plan to order the book and incorporate some of the examples in my own therapies! I spoke with a very sweet, very concerned mother of a 5 year old son who has a diet limited to 4-5 'staple' foods. Her story is like many others--she knows her sons anxiety and panic surrounding new foods is not typical of other children his age but she is having trouble seeking treatment. A speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist specializing in pediatric feeding disorders is sometimes difficult to come by but we are out there! I hope to continue adding to this site and eventually have a list of treatment centers and speech and occupational therapists working in the field of pediatric dysphagia; so if you happen to be reading this and are a professional in the field or have a recommendation for other families, please leave a comment below! Most Children's hospitals have a feeding/swallowing program and will offer outpatient treatment. You can also check with any company that offers speech or occupational therapist and ask if there is a therapist/therapists who works in the area of feeding.

Below is an example of introducing a new food, discussing its properties, presenting it in a new form (puree for dipping) and pairing it with a like colored desired foods.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Savory Veggie Waffles

Here we go again with the broccoli! We had so much fun making these and loved the added crisp when made in the waffle iron! A great twist on this recipe is using potato pancake mix, adding some cheese, onion and rosemary, mmm!

Steam 1/4-1/2 cup broccoli (I use steamer bags)
Place in food processor along with seasonings of your choice (I used parmesan cheese, 1/2 american cheese slice and garlic salt)
Add to waffle mix according to box directions (I have Fiber 1 and Quaker Oatmeal pancake mix)
As an egg replacer I use ground flaxseed and very hot water.
To replace one egg:
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3 tablespoons water (or other liquid)

Once again, my daughter enjoys dipping these into light ranch dressing! (It's a southern thing I think!)

Crunchy munchy peppers for dipping

My daughter has had so much fun with a spray water bottle lately so I thought I'd let her spray her own bell pepper strips with some tangy Italian spray dressing. Although she resorted to trying the peppers in good ol' Ranch dressing--I thought this was a good idea for a fun hands on food activity!