#33 - Is it Just Picky Eating, or Something More?

Jul 16, 2023
#33 - Is it Just Picky Eating, or Something More?

Welcome back to episode #33 of the Food Explorers Podcast. I really hope you enjoyed last week’s episode with Malia about homeschooling, and the power of using play for learning.


This week, I want to shift back into the eating realm with one of the most common questions that plagues parents: “is it just picky eating…or could it be something more?”


As a parent, you might find yourself comparing your experience to others and wondering if you're overreacting. Your spouse might think there's no issue, as your child eats fine with them, or your family may suggest that more discipline is the solution. Yet, when it's mealtime with you, it feels draining and exhausting, leading you to believe that something more might be at play.


In this episode, we'll shed light on these concerns and help you understand the differences between picky eating and what I call "something more"  (aka a problem feeder). Let me clarify that I personally don't love the terms "picky eater" or "problem feeder" because they imply that the child is the problem. In reality, there's almost always a reason why a child struggles with eating, and it's not merely to be difficult.


This is especially true for Children with conditions like Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), autism, and other diagnoses. So, throughout this episode, I'll use be using these terms as they have specific meanings in the feeding industry, but rest assured that I don't believe any child is choosing to be difficult at mealtime.


Now, let's explore these two categories we often use to assess the intensity of feeding challenges:

According to the SOS Approach to Feeding we have: 


#1: Picky Eaters

  • Typically eats more than 30 foods
  • May tolerate new foods on their plate and may even touch or taste them
  • Eats at least one food from each food group
  • Might get bored of certain foods, but can reintroduce them after a couple of weeks
  • May eat different foods than the family, but can usually eat meals with them
  • Feeding problems usually have been going on for less than 2 years

#2: Problem Feeders

  • Eats less than 20 foods
  • Struggles significantly when new foods are introduced
  • Eliminates entire food groups from their diet
  • Often eats different foods than the family and avoids eating with them
  • Feeding problems usually persist for more than 2 years, but some children may fall into this category even if it's been less than 2 years

Another question that arises is whether it's picky eating or related to sensory issues.

From my perspective, it's not an either-or scenario. As I mentioned, in my experience, there's often a reason behind the eating challenges, and sensory processing is just one of those factors.


As are: oral motor challenges, allergies, GI-related concerns, and other medical diagnoses. To pinpoint exactly what's affecting your child's eating, I highly suggest consulting with your medical team and a feeding specialist. By doing so, you can identify any underlying medical conditions and cater to your child's specific needs.


For example, if allergies, oral motor issues, or GI concerns are present, it's crucial not to push foods that make your child feel uncomfortable or are causing them pain. By ruling out these concerns, you'll have a better understanding of how to move forward. For instance, the approach would drastically differ if the cause is allergy-related vs sensory-related.


I do want to emphasize here that just because a child falls under that picky eater category doesn't mean you shouldn't seek help.


If mealtimes are consistently miserable, if your child is struggling to try new foods, and if their diet lacks variety, you and them might very well benefit from some support.


Sometimes, parents may hesitate to seek assistance because they think their child's picky eating is just a phase or that they will eventually outgrow it. While that can be the case for some children, for others, it may require additional guidance and support to overcome these challenges. Remember, seeking help and education is not a sign of failure or incompetence as a parent. It's an act of love and care for your child's well-being.


Now of course, I am not a medical doctor, so I can’t speak to how medical related concerns would be handled.

But, as an occupational therapist at heart and by training sensory is my truly my jam. Of course, everything I chat about on here is general info and not meant to be medical advice. My programs are meant to be a support to your medical team.


When it comes to sensory processing, my goal is usually to create a safe and supportive sensory environment at the table. This can involve making changes to the mealtime environment, presenting foods in different textures, or helping children learn about and make progress with foods in a way that aligns with their sensory needs.


If you've been struggling to help your child overcome their sensory-related eating challenges, I want you to know that my programs are here to support you. And if you're ready to take action and start introducing new foods without the fight, now is the perfect time. Before I tell you why…


Let me tell you a bit more about the membership and an exciting bonus I've recently added.


The Food Explorers Membership is my exclusive community for parents of children with sensory-related eating challenges. Each month, we focus on introducing one new food together in fun and non-pressure ways, so you can bring the joy back into mealtime.


When you join the membership, you'll gain access to:

  • Monthly bite-sized private podcast trainings about the featured food of the month.
  • Food activities specifically designed to help you introduce and explore the new food.
  • Access to our food library, which contains all past activities for reference.
  • A comprehensive training library with recorded sessions on mealtime structure, choosing the right foods for your child, and more.
  • AND here's the exciting NEW bonus: You'll now receive unlimited access to all my futured digital products as long as you remain an active member.
  • Additionally, our Mealtime Handbook is coming soon, providing answers to your latest mealtime struggles and questions.


And…you get all this for only $19.99 a month. Honestly, I think that’s a no brainer.



BUT to sweeten this even more, because you know I love me some sprinkles. I'm excited to announce that I'm currently offering a special discount of 25% off your first month in the Food Explorers Membership. This means that when you use to code SPRINKLES at checkout, you'll pay just $14.99 for your first month.



Don’t miss out on this opportunity, as it is a limited-time offer! Go to www.drsamgoldman.com/food-explorers-membership and  take the first step to making introducing new foods fun and exciting.


  1. ***This post/podcast is not sponsored. The opinions and content of this blog/podcast are unique to the writer unless otherwise stated. No compensation is received for the links shared. All contents of this episode are based on our personal opinions and experiences.

    Disclaimers: The information provided by SAMANTHA N. GOLDMAN, LLC (“we,” “us” or “our”) on theot4me.com, http://drsamgoldman.com , and http://samantha-goldman.mykajabi.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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