The worst thing you can do if you have a texture-averse eater is avoid offensive textures. Instead, you need to teach your child to overcome her aversion.
It’s counterintruitive, but avoidance locks in the problem. Exposure, on the other hand, helps eliminate it.
I’m not about to advocate that you plop a pile of texture on your child’s plate and settle in for a control struggle. That would be crazy. And counterproductive.
However, rather than go out of your way to keep offending foods at bay…start teaching! Here’s my five-point plan.
1) Talking is the first step in teaching.
Don’t worry that acknowledging the problem will make it worse. It won’t. Especially if you commiserate.
- Letting your child know that you understand how hard it is to eat in a world with difficult textures will make your child feel heard, understood and accepted.
- It will also help you build more trust and give your child a sense that you are teammates. Read Are You and Your Kids on the Same Team? (Or Are You Adversaries?)
2) State your goal clearly: I want to help you get used to eating foods with different textures.
Your child can’t get onboard if he doesn’t know where you’re going. Being upfront with your feeding goals won’t harden your child’s resolve to resist you—and if it does, commiserate some more.
3) Teach about textures.
Talk about how different foods have different textures. And how foods change texture when you cook, soak, and chew them.
4) Start exploring different textures.
This is a sensory exercise so get all your child’s senses involved. What do different textures look like? Smell like? Feel like, both to the touch and to the mouth?
5) Introduce foods with small textural changes.
Take baby steps. And celebrate each small sucess.
I discuss all these ideas in It’s Not About the Broccoli.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~