Nutritional Advice for People with Sensory Processing Disorder
The chances are that if you are living with sensory processing disorder, you will already know the impact that it can have on your life.
Sensory processing disorder is when someone finds it hard to process the information taken from one of their senses. This can come from the touch, movement, smell, vision, hearing and taste. They may not understand the information they receive and how they should react, with many children over-reacting or under-reacting to certain stimuli.
How sensory processing disorder can impact diet
When it comes to taste and how things feel, those with sensory processing disorders will often find it hard to try new foods. They will react to not only how the food tastes but also how it smells too.
They may even find it hard to react to how food sounds as they eat it. All of these things can come together to make mealtimes a time of anxiety, leaving the child or adult feeling overwhelmed and those closest to them frustrated and unsure of what to do next.
How to improve the diet of someone with sensory processing disorder.
It can be challenging for someone who has sensory processing disorder to eat a balanced diet. They will often have one food or a small group of foods that they prefer to eat. Even if these were healthy choices, this would lead to an increased risk of a variety of issues developing over time.
The first thing you can do is encourage the person or child to become more exposed to new foods. There needs to be no expectation that any food needs to be eaten. This is more about exposing yourself or the other person to the foods they find hard to swallow.
A great way to do this is to encourage them to participate in any food prep. They can discuss what the foods look like, what they smell like and what they feel like. You could also ask them to think about how it might taste, although make sure that it is clear that right now, they don’t need to try and eat anything.
Exposing them to these new foods and getting them to feel comfortable around them can help with their future food choices and make them feel happier and more relaxed when the time comes for them to try those new foods.
Another thing that you can try to do is find a way to serve healthy foods in a way that meets what they prefer. If they like crunchy foods over soft foods, then serve them raw rather than cooked (so long as it is safe). Those who prefer soft textures can enjoy their food pureed or mashed rather than served up another way.
Sneaking new foods into their chosen foods is a great way to try and introduce new foods into their diet. However, this can be hard to do.
Smoothies are a great way to do this, as the mixture of foods can be easier for them to eat and ensures that they get all the nutrients they will need in their diet.
The main thing to remember when it comes to nutritional needs and someone with sensory processing disorder is that it will take time. There is no quick fix. However, the time and effort that it takes to introduce those new foods will be worth it in the end.