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« Skills | Main | The power of hope... and of losing hope »

June 10, 2008



I come from a family of compulsive overeaters and the experts tell me that the approach to stopping that cycle is the same...no pressure, lots of food, let them eat what they want.

But, as you have expressed here, the abstract understanding that this is the best way to behave is not always so easy to implement.

I thank you for posting that this approach does work for you and your picky/sensitive eater (a different issue obviously...but perhaps related in some underlying sense?). I think I'll need to hear it over and over as I also try to make this plan a reality in my house.


One of the hard things for me is that I do have a slightly (okay, sometimes significantly) skewed relationship with food. Not compulsive overeating, but more like compulsive speed eating.

Shifting out of that, I struggled for a while (still do), to be mindful. BUT, one of the nice things with Ellyn Satter's book is that she talks about normal covering the entire range. Normal is not JUST the absolutely perfect healthy diet mindfully consumed. It is also eating the entire plate of cookies because they taste SO yummy when they're fresh, sometimes. And sometimes eating too much. And sometimes stopping too soon. And sometimes saving a few of the cookies for later. And sometimes eating for comfort, and sometimes eating when stressed or sad, and sometimes eating socially, and sometimes eating alone. It's every variation being okay, rather than always being the same all the time. The disordered eating she sees is disordered not because it EVER does it 'non-perfectly' but because it always does it only ONE way. Compulsively perfect eating is also disordered eating, essentially.

Giving myself permission to sometimes indulge in a little stress eating, and other times eat when I 'know better' but also being aware that I change how I eat all the time, shifting and flowing between one behavior and another... and so, also, will my kids... that's really powerful.


I have a six year old son who is down to about 10 things he'll eat (for all three meals). I have twin daughters and one of them is kind of a clone of her brother in many ways.

I have recently done some reading on sensory processing issues and while I was thinking it defined that twin, my partner thought it really described N too. We think he's absolutely a supertaster. The twins have their third check up later this month and I'm going to bring it up to their pediatrician.

Do you think I can tackle the eating issues (I just ordered the book you suggested today) without starting with any of the other sensory issues. I feel a little like, "Heck, he's six, probably a bit late to do the sensory stuff now..." (and he wasn't so bad that we were ever forced to deal with his symptoms: hates his hands being messy, not overly kissy as a child, is a bit of a thrill seeker, etc.)

What are/were your favorite resources for the sensory processing issues?




A speech language pathologist who deals with feeding issues was my best resource. To start with, anyway.

The sensory stuff that we did was largely desensitizing activities - tongue brushing, using a Stimudent to stroke his tongue, cheeks (inside), and tap on his teeth (at least once a day), plus mouth massage (firm stroking and pressure) - basically rewiring his neural reactions. His responses were 'if it isn't between 98% and 100% positive, it is 100% AWFUL'. Even tickle felt like pain. So he avoided anything not positive, and didn't have enough stimulation of the nerves to develop anything in the 'shades of gray' realm. We provided that instead, by doing things that were somewhere between perfect and sorta-unpleasant, over and over.

He was five when we started at the clinic. The word we got from the clinic was that by six, the emotional processes in neophobia (fear of new foods, basically) are pretty ingrained, so it is hard to get past them - if they're not really being worked on by six, there's not much they can affect. That said, I'm *not* sure they're right - more that given their METHODS they were right. For example, I know that sensory processing training and a lot of the stuff we can do at home to 'feed' their sensory process also helps ME (also sensory sensitive), and I'm sure a lot past six! I recommend 'Raising a Sensory Smart Child' (which I don't have but have chatted with the authors), 'Sensational Kids' (really in-depth, lots of ideas and insight, not a 'light' book but a realistic, interesting, engaging one). You could also talk to an OT - get an evaluation and a home sensory diet - a list of activities that will help your child's exact sensory profile.

I do think you can tackle the feeding separately, but the progress will be SLOW - just expect that. Doing even a little sensory work around the mouth (we only did a few months - 4 or 5, I think) will do a lot. We did all that work ourselves - they taught us, we did it. It's been over four years, and I would say that the major portion of progress has been in the last year and a bit, since I gave up 'hope' and started trying to find a new way.

Good luck!


I don't think it's ever too late to do sensory work. My daughter is in OT for feeding issues, and even though she has not received a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Dysfunction, doing different sensory activities before we sit down with food helps her find balance. That balance opens her mind to the food work.

the book I liked best (myself): http://www.out-of-sync-child.com/

the one I'm reading now:


Hmm, modifying that last bit - there was a big jump in function with the sensory work, and also with reflux meds (he also had reflux), both of which taught him that he really WAS listening to his body, and his body was saying 'DON'T EAT THAT!' and 'EAT LESS!' (he was actually reducing the amount he was eating steadily as he went, too). Taking care of the reflux was a HUGE deal. He had silent reflux, which has no typical symptoms. His were a tendency to sinus congestion, night sweating/poor sleep/active sleep, and the feeding issues, pretty much. Never a pukey/spitty kid or baby, either. If there's a physical reason under there, handling that part IS important - checking for reflux, getting that taken care of, that was big. And doing the initial sensory processing work, also big.

After that, no progress and a lot more no progress until I let go.


@Amy, I also have the out-of-synch child, and the highly sensitive child. I definitely like Sensational Kids best of the lot, but they're all good books.

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