What is Food’s Social and Emotional Impact?
Therapists assess a child and family in feeding therapy and address their fundamental needs. The first few weeks of therapy focus on educating the family and collaboratively agreeing on a plan that will lead to success and eventually discharge from services.
Basic SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory developed by Dr. Kay Toomey) feeding protocol is a 12-week program. Most kiddos fly right through not always needing the full 12 weeks. Then there are what I call my curve ball kids. The kids who are not necessary text book cases and end up teaching me just as much as I have taught them. I love these kids, they are so brave.
There are many more components to feeding than just oral motor and sensory. That brings me to the basic things that I was taught as a student. When looking at feeding you look at 3 things.
1. Functional (are they physically able to do it?)
2. Sensory (what aversions are they responding to or avoiding?)
3. Behavioral ( what are the behaviors associated?)
I’d like to add a 4th aspect of feeding to review
Social and Emotional Relationship with food
This 4th aspect of feeding impacts all of us, beginning to form as young as 6 months of age. This is the age when feeding becomes a LEARNED BEHAVIOR. I capped and bolded for all you parents who are picky eaters yourselves; for all the parents who like things neat and tidy and wipe their babies hands and mouths as soon as they get messy. Also, for all the parents who overreact (guilty of this myself) to protective mechanisms such as, gagging and coughing that happens (and you want it to in order to know these protective mechanisms are present and functioning ) when babies are learning to eat solid foods and different textures and consistencies. It is a deeply rooted thing that includes healthy eating, emotional eating, binge eating, poor self-images, traditions, cultural and economical differences.
Developing a positive relationship with food means acknowledging all the factors detailed above. We addressed the language piece, be hyper-aware of what you are saying and what others are saying about food in the presence of your children. Observation includes your child watching you willingly trying new foods. Buck up ma and pa, take a bite and keep a smile on your face, it’s called good parenting.
Environment is your pantry, your refrigerator, and your local eateries. Try to provide fresh and healthy choices and keep the snacks you don’t want them to have out of the house. They’ll get ample opportunity to snack when they’re out and about. Home is the place where they are developing their palate the majority of the time. When they are surrounded by fresh and healthy food, their palate develops a preference for those bountiful flavors. Synthetic carbohydrates become blah or overly sweet to their palate. It’s like tasting the notably marked difference between Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and fresh tapped Vermont Maple Syrup.
Experience is everything in terms of forming relationships, keep them positive. Acknowledge Developmental Food Play Skills, they’re messy and an integral piece to forming a positive relationship with food. Include your kid’s input, thoughts, and ideas regarding what everyone should eat as a family. When kids are included in the planning aspect for meals, it provides them with the control they need to feel safe with new foods. Kids love to be in “control”, allowing them to assume the control role in the initial stages prevents them from asserting their control at the final stage (eating) by saying, “no, I don’t like that“.