How to make sensory food aversions your friend

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For a lot of kiddos who I work with the decision to eat or not to eat a food is often just as much about the food’s appearance and texture as it is about its taste.

That means that the way a food is cut or cooked can make or break the decision to eat for a child with sensory challenges.

There are things you can do to work with instead of against your child’s texture preferences.

 

The Best Foods for Autistic Picky Eaters with Sensory Processing Disorder

Crunchy Foods

  • Fresh veggie sticks like carrots, celery or whole veggies like sugar snap peas and cauliflower florets

  • Foods that are toasted or baked until crispy

  • Thinly sliced veggies baked in the oven

  • A crunchy topping with new foods

  • Croutons in salad

  • Crunchy taco shells with favorite fillings

 

Soft Foods

  • Steamed well cooked veggies including untraditional options like broccoli stems

  • Well pureed smoothies loaded with fruits and vegetables

  • Ground meat (loose like taco meat, or cooked together like meatballs or meatloaf)

  • Soft pasta bakes with sauce like lasagna

  • Diced veggies cooked in sauce

  • Soft cooked scrambled eggs

  • Baked beans

 

Smooth Foods

  • Well-cooked pureed veggies

  • Softly cooked veggies with a uniform texture like carrots and potatoes

  • Soft fruits with a uniform texture like bananas and mango or canned fruit like peaches

  • Hummus with pita dippers

  • Sweet potato fries cooked in a low oven

  • Pureed soups


    (If you find yourself doing a lot of pureeing at home I highly suggest you invest in an immersion blender which has been a life-changing tool for me and one I recommend to everyone. It saves you the messy step of transferring liquids and is much easier to use than a large blender. I have used this one for years and it was some of the best money I have spent.)

 

High Sensory Foods

  • Frozen fruits and veggies like peas and berries (keep them frozen!)

  • Trail mix

  • Texturally diverse foods like raw broccoli

  • Loaded yogurt parfaits with nuts, granola, and fruit

  • Nut butter filled celery topped with dried fruit (ants on a log)

  • Dried fruit

  • Edamame in the shell


To recap

Texture and appearance can be just as important as if not more so than taste for children on the spectrum when they consider whether to eat a food.

Homework

Ask your older child what characteristics he likes about the foods he chooses to eat ( use your own sleuthing skills for a younger or non-verbal child). Select a new food that share your child’s favorite characteristics from the lists above to offer.

PS:

I’ve got more snack ideas for kids with sensory food aversions here.


And, for even more snacks and sensory categories for kids with autism, SPD, and texture preferences check out my Sensory Snack Guides.

The Sensory Snack Guides for picky eaters have kid-approved snacks for kids’ most common sensory food preferences:

  • crunchy snacks

  • soft snacks

  • smooth snacks

  • salty snacks

  • sweet snacks

  • warm snacks

  • cold snacks

  • high sensory snacks (big texture or flavor for sensory seekers)


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* Do you have your FREE Picky Eating Guide yet? *


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