It’s All About Presentation: Part 1
Is your child a picky eater? Do they often refuse food before they have even tried it? As a feeding therapist, I have found that sometimes the simplest changes can make a big difference in a child’s willingness to try a new food. There are many children who base their decisions about food on visual perception, or the way it looks. Here are some tips with changes that I often make in feeding therapy sessions that you can try at home!
- Sauces/Condiments: Many children do not like sauces because they look overwhelming when on top of pasta or salad. Try serving the sauce/dressing on the side so your child can dip the lettuce or pasta in the sauce. Alternatively, put the sauce on the plate first, and then put the past on top. This way it looks cleaner, but when they pick up a piece with their fork it will still have sauce on it.
- Shapes: Use cookie cutters to cut deli meat, sandwiches, pancakes, etc. into fun shapes that may appeal to the child. For example, if their sandwich is the shape of a dinosaur, they may pick it up to play with it, and that is a great start!
- Turn the plate: Sometimes the food that makes your child the most nervous will end up closest to them on the plate. This may appear as a barrier to them that blocks off all of the food on their plate. Try turning the plate so that another item is closer to them.
- Color: If your child has preferred colors, try using food coloring in their food to excite them. For example, you can paint toast with different colored cream cheeses for a fun art project they may just taste! However, some children may worry that changing the color will change the taste, so add the food coloring with them so they aren’t surprised by it, and if needed, experiment with water first so they know it doesn’t add flavor.
- Cut the food: A full size piece of meat, sandwich, vegetable, or fruit may look intimidating to your child. Try cutting them into bite size pieces so your child feels more capable of handling it.
- Separated plates: Using plates that have a separation between sections may help the plate look less visually overwhelming to your child.
- Cook with them: A mixed food item, such as a casserole, soup, sandwich, etc. can look very overwhelming because of all of the different colors and textures. If your child cooks with you and can taste the ingredients as they are used, they may feel more comfortable seeing them mixed together.
Always remember, have fun! Don’t be afraid to play with food, get messy, and take small steps. If you have any concerns about your child’s picky eating. Call T.E.A.M 4 Kids to schedule an evaluation at our Surprise or Peoria location.
Karen Adkins, MS CCC-SLP