Everyone needs food, so everyone loves eating, right? Wrong! As a parent, you may be all too familiar with sounds and phrases such as ‘Ick’, ‘No, not vegetables!’, and ‘I’m not eating that!’ These phrases may be uttered secondary to behavior issues, or perhaps because your child has an oral texture aversion. There are many terms regarding aversions floating around, and they are all slightly different. First; what is an oral aversion? An oral aversion is reluctance, avoidance, or fear of eating, drinking, or accepting sensation in or around the mouth. An oral texture aversion is specific to reluctance or fear associated with textures of food, while a texture aversion is a more general term that refers to reluctance or fear when touching food, different fabrics, arts and craft supplies, or substances like water.
Oral texture aversion can present itself in many different ways, including:
- Acceptance of a small variety of texture
- Becoming upset when new foods are presented
- Refusing entire groups of food textures
- Long feeding times
Mealtime should be stress-free and enjoyable. In a family with a child that has oral texture aversion, this can be difficult to accomplish. The million dollar question is: How can you achieve a peaceful mealtime? Read the few tips below to help guide your mealtime.
Tips to Achieve a Peaceful Mealtime:
Eliminate distractions, grazing, and long mealtimes
Eat together as a family around the table, rather than around the TV! Additionally, keep meal time to 30 minutes or less. The longer a mealtime becomes, the less pleasant mealtime may be. Consume solids first and liquids last, since liquids are more filling. Discourage snacking and grazing throughout the day, because this can lead to decreased appetite at meal times.
Serve a variety of food consistencies and tastes
This ensures that your child has exposure to multiple tastes, textures, and temperatures of food. Involve your child in grocery shopping and in meal preparation. The more a child understands about food and is an active participant in making food and mealtime happenings, the less surprising a new food is likely to be.
Start an Exploration Plate
This may help decrease anxiety caused by unfamiliar or nonpreferred foods. The Exploration Plate can be a designated plate with the unfamiliar or nonpreferred food on it, which should be encouraged to be explored during meal time. Do this by talking about and describing the food, smelling it, touching it, or even trying a bite of it. However, do not place pressure on your child to do these things. Always model the behavior that you want your child to display.
Play with food
Mealtime should be a pleasurable experience, and playing with food will help achieve that. Smell, touch, lick, and bite foods to explore them. Don’t worry about making a mess!