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!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Planting the Seed

A LOT has gone on in the last several months, hence my very long delay in posting! My family and I have moved from Asheville to Mount Pleasant, SC near Charleston. It will take some time to adjust to our new surroundings and distance from friends and our Asheville nest. Before jumping right back into work I am hoping to volunteer some time and advice to families here in my new community as I am quickly realizing how many families experience feeding difficulties and how little help is readily available in a convenient location for those families.

I love to observe and people watch and through doing that I see that we are all so very much alike--we all want the best for our children and we all strive for a happy, functional life. I am thankful for the many experiences I have had with children and feeding complications over the last 8 years because those experiences have helped me so much with my own daughter! I do feel that we, as parents, put a lot of pressure on our children to follow through with all of our expectations. We can plan for the scheduled meals and snacks with plenty of opportunity for hunger to try new foods or eat what is 'on the menu' , but when it comes right down to it, we tend to forget all of the other factors. For instance--if you have been thinking of PF Changs hot and sour soup and honey chicken all day long and your husband brings home take out BBQ--doesn't it take you a while to adjust to the idea of bbq sauce over soy sauce? We only wish we were 3 years old so we could shout "But I don't Want BBQ for dinner!!!!!!" Or if the pollen has taken over your ability to breathe and sinus drainage takes all of the enjoyment out of any food that doesn't meet your specific requirements at that given moment. We don't always need or want to explain why we want a sleeve of saltines and a REAL coke versus pink lemonade and cottage cheese. We just know that the pink lemonade and cottage cheese would make us vomit and send us running. I am not saying that every situation is like that with your selective eater. What I am saying is that we need to constantly evaluate and learn from our own preferences.

There is a lot to be said about mental preparation and planting the seed. Lets say you want to cook pork chops one night. My daughter loves chicken but she has never had pork chops, so pork chops would be a similar meat in appearance, taste and texture and a good choice for a family meal. I would go ahead and tell her that we are having pork chops "the other white meat" for dinner one night this week. I remind her again that day and I choose some small jobs in the kitchen during dinner prep. If I just threw the pork chops on her plate for dinner she might not be as receptive to actually tasting the pork chops. Take a child with a history of feeding difficulty or selective eating and you can almost guarantee refusal of the pork chops being within sight or smell.

So I challenge you this week to approach new food and new ideas in a new way...and start by planting the seed today for what might happen tomorrow or the next day. Enjoy the journey!