One of our goals with homeschooling is to change my Daughter's diet. As a toddler she would eat anything I gave her. As she gets older and we notice more sensory issues, we have also noticed her becoming a picky eater. Now, that wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that every day an item on the like list (that she asked to have on the menu) was receiving "I don't like that" when it was put in front of her.
There are many ideas floating around about SPD kids use food as a method of control and also that the tastes and textures of the food might be too much for them to handle. I think it might be a bit of both with my daughter. I have also noticed that the better she eats, the better she acts, and the more she's willing to try. On the other hand, the more junk she eats, the less she wants to eat period.
The first thing we are doing is eliminating food coloring, soy and maple (I am allergic to these so chances are she will be). There was very little soy/maple in our house to start. The food coloring was a major issue. I gave her a week's warning and last night we dumped out all her candy and ice pops. We made an agreement: no food coloring for a month and then we will talk about how it affected her and us.
The second thing was an idea I picked up from Growing Up Homeschooled, which was a taste test. Now, I didn't think this would work with my daughter. Part of the problem with having an only child is not being able to use peer pressure or competition. This being said, I was game for anything, so we went to the store and she picked out 5 apples.
I let her be in control of the types and the number. I also picked a fruit she will sometimes eat. Next step: to make it look like something mom did not come up with. I did a search online and found this form.
I cheated a bit and took the stickers off the apples to label the columns with. First we touched, smelled and tapped on the apples to fill out the first three rows. After that I cut a couple slices off of eat apple and made the rest disappear into the fridge. She then proceeded to taste and smell (again) each apple. This gave her practice in being descriptive as well as working on eating habits.
After she was done filling out her chart and labeling her favorites from 1-5, I gave her some peanut butter and she almost cleaned out the bowls.
That night at dinner she also tried a tomato. This caused a very horrible face, but when I suggested she eat some more salad to wash it down with, she did and avoided the tears that where threatening.
Now, the reason for this working with my daughter? I can not be sure if it was her mood, the fact that afternoon snack is always when she is the most hungry, the lack of pressure to eat anything, or if it was just fun. Either way it worked! She has been asking for apples ever since. You can be sure we are doing more of these soon.