Secrets of Expanding the 5 Food SPD Diet

SecretsAndy went through a phase when he was about 3 or 4 years old where he was a picky eater. He had the typical preschooler diet of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, cereal and peanut butter and jelly. We started trying to expand his pallette at dinner time and fought the “refusing to eat” battle for about a week. It didn’t take him long to come around and learn to eat his food or he would go to bed hungry. Now, at almost 10 years old, he happily eats just about anything you put in front of him. There are still favorites, but he will try just about anything once.

Katie is a whole different animal.

She is 5 years old now and will happily eat cheese sticks, oranges, Cheerios, fish crackers, and certain brands of chicken nuggets (don’t even try Tyson, it immediately goes in the trash!). We have been fighting this battle with her for a good 2 years, almost 3. We have tried bribery (coke or a sweet treat), going to bed hungry, sending her straight to bed from the dinner table and even (gasp!) just giving her something we know she will eat just so we can have a peaceful dinner. Nothing. Has. Worked! I almost fell off my seat a week ago when Dan and I were eating steak and sweet potatoes and she wanted to try some. She ate several bites of steak and about 3 or 4 bites of sweet potatoes.

One thing we have noticed over the last few months is her affinity to dip things into sauces. Another is that she tends to like spicy foods. We have discovered that, while Kate hates hamburgers, she will practically inhale tacos. One night she ate 3 tacos plus the taco meat mixture Andy left on his plate! I think she may also have a thing for rough textures because she will eat toast, but not soft bread. She also has begun to love bacon and eggs (a girl after my own heart).  I read an article on Oral Sensitivities recently that said “children with hyposensitivities . . . love and crave intense flavors, i.e., sweet, sour, salty, spicy and usually become ‘condiment kids’.”  That along with other symptoms listed leads me to believe Katie has oral hyposensitivity.  Some other suggestions from Ark Therapeutic Services mention treatments including gum massages and chew tools.  I think I will explore that some more after we get established with an OT or speech therapist.

We still have a long road to travel on this road to eating more. While the doctors aren’t concerned that she is malnourished, it seems to take forever for her to gain weight. She was at 26 pounds for over a year before she finally started gaining weight. It has taken her 2.5 years just to get to her current weight of 34 pounds. We are looking into getting her into feeding therapy soon. But in the meantime, we keep trying and keep offering new foods in hopes that something will appeal to her taste buds. What have you tried with your kids with SPD? Has anybody tried feeding therapy?

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About Christy

Christy Vacchio is a former teacher and now Science Instructional Coach in Cincinnati. She is an avid reader and researcher. While she has her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, she plans to get her PhD in Neuroscience in the future. She hopes to participate in research on Neonatal Diabetes and Developmental Delays one day.

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