#16 - Sensory 303 for Parents: The Senses & Eating

Mar 24, 2023
#16 - Sensory 303 for Parents: The Senses & Eating

Welcome to Sensory 303 for Parents, part three of our sensory series.

So far, you have learned: 

  • What sensory processing is
  • The 8 senses
  • All about our sensory thermometer 
  • All about self-regulation
  • The 3 types of sensory processing difficulties


If you are joining us for the first time, and haven’t listened to Sensory 101 and Sensory 202 for parents, episodes 14 & 15 of the Food Explorers podcast, I really suggest you go back and start there before listening to this episode (or reading this post).


Today we are going even deeper into the sensory system, to talk specifically about the senses and how they affect eating.

I mentioned this many times in the past couple episodes, but eating is one of two - only two, things we do in life that require all 8 of our senses to work together. 


Think about that for a second, every single sensory system is used for the task of eating. And our brain needs to take in all that information at one, understand it, and respond accordingly.


That’s a lot of work for our brain to do. For those of us without sensory processing challenges, our brain does this relatively easily, and our eating isn’t impacted. But for children, teens, and adults with sensory processing challenges, their brain can feel like it is being FLOODED with sensory information, OR even though they SHOULD be getting information from all 8 senses - they’re not, or they aren't interpreting that information well enough.


Now if that’s happening, it’s really hard to use this information to happily eat, and sit at the table.


When it comes to sensory processing and eating, there’s three big components I like to consider:

  • Your child’s personal sensory system, and how it’s working: for example, are there certain textures they avoid, is the sound of crunching hard for them, etc.
  • The sensory characteristics of the food you are eating: for example an apple is green, crunchy, and slightly wet
  • And the sensory characteristics of the environment you are eating in: for example, it it bright, is it loud, etc

Eating can be influenced by all three of these components, and so they are necessary to consider when talking about mealtime, and your child’s eating habits. In my Making Sense of Eating program, I focus a lot on these three components and give you tips for each as we go through the modules.

I know that sensory challenges at the table can be SO frustrating for parents. Because what you see is that you are trying to feed your child nutritious food for their body. And you spent a lot of time making it, and you JUST want them to eat and be healthy.

But when a child is having SENSORY challenges at the table, it is a biological response of your child’s body, and is most often out of their control.


Something most parents don’t realize is that the main job of the sensory system is to protect us.


It alerts us when we feel a spider crawling up our leg, a car is coming our direction, or when we step on something sharp. Only AFTER our senses determine we are safe, can it focus on interacting and enjoying the world.

Often, you’re child’s sensory system may be interpreting that piece of meat or broccoli as threatening to your body. Although you or I, or even you child may know that logically that piece of food should not harm them, their sensory system isn’t recognizing it the same way.

And so it sends the message to their body to avoid that food.

Now, many parents feel frustrated when it comes to eating, And you’ve confided in me that you just want to tell your child to "JUST EAT THE FOOD, THEY WILL BE FINE."


BUT, when you try to ignore the message from the sensory system and just push past it, their fight or flight response kicks in to protect them.


And you either see them scream yell, hit and throw - as in fight. Or cry, shut down, or run away from the table as in flight. And that my friends, is a very big part of mealtime battles.

Sure, you’ve probably met people who’ve told you - I just tell my kid they need to have one or two bites, or they can’t get up from the table until they eat their veggies, or you’re the parent you tell them what to do.


***My disclaimer before I tell you the next part is to say that if you are worried about the amount of nutrition or food your child is getting make sure to talk to a doctor or dietician. Many children will need additional medical support to make sure they are getting what they need.


Ok, back to it. In my personal experience, forcing doesn’t work well with SENSEsational children. Because their sensory system is kicking in to protect them - and they will fight you, refuse to eat, gag, throw up, etc - essentially their fight or flight response will kick in EVEN more and mealtime will become EVEN more unpleasant.


So instead, I personally believe in WORKING WITH the sensory system at the table, instead of against it. Finding out exactly what makes your child’s body tick, and making small changes from their to support their body, and help them thrive instead of cry at the table.

And that’s why I created the Making Sense of Eating program, to help you FINALLY understand your child’s sensory challenges, and their personal sensory system. So YOU can create a strategy of how to WORK with their sensory system, and finally end those mealtime battles for good.

And during the month of March, I am giving you an extra bonus. When you sign up TODAY, using the code SENSORY (all caps) you will get an ADDITIONAL $100 off the program PLUS you will also get two live Q&A sessions with me to ask all of your pressing questions.

I know you are exhausted, I know you are tired, but this entire course is only a total of about 5 hours, so you could complete it in one day if you wanted to. And I really believe that when you take the leap, and get to know your child’s sensory system, you will be SO happy you did because you will finally understand what’s going on, and how you can connect with your child again at the table.

So go to www.drsamgoldman.com/makingsenseofeating (all lowercase) and don’t forget to use the code SENSORY to join us today. I will see you inside!



***This post/podcast is not sponsored. The opinions and content of this blog are unique to the writer unless otherwise stated. No compensation is received for the links shared.

Disclaimers: The information provided by OT 4 ME (“we,” “us” or “our”) on theot4me.com (the “Site”) is for general informational purposes only. The Site cannot and does not contain medical advice. Any medical information is provided as my/our personal experiences is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical advice.



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