First of all...sorry that I've been M.I.A for (GASP!) almost 4 months. I've been busier than I intended to be. I am hoping to be back on a regular schedule with blogging VERY soon. I have so much to tell you all.
Today, I had an AMAZING "picky" eater session. I've been working with this friend for almost 3 months. We have steadily been progressing and learning about foods as well as how to make better choices. Well today, we had some major FUN and we took some excellent steps forward.
While our recipe was baking in the oven (cereal coated chicken tenders) I had my friend select foods for his plate. He needed to select something he enjoyed (hopefully that included a protein/carb), something that he's eaten and he thinks is "ok" but that he doesn't eat often and finally something that he isn't wild about at all but that he would tolerate on his plate to "explore" or just to have there. Here are my friends choices: p.b.j uncrustable (mom helped select this one), banana and string cheese. I was surprised at the string cheese selection and we had a little discussion about it because he has eaten string cheese with me and liked it! Here is the thing though...picky eaters don't think about food like we do. For him he thinks "I tried that, it was ok and then proceeds to go back to his core foods. I'm working on this VERY thing with many of my pickys...how to get them to stop thinking about their new foods as "new foods" and more like food that is a "core food."
While I begin eating my yogurt, I remind my friend that he doesn't have to do anything with the string cheese if he chooses not to. Surprisingly, he opens it and takes a bite...yucky face. I ask "why the yucky face?" He replies "tastes stinky cheesy." LOL. I remind him, he doesn't have to eat it. We sit for a bit and he then asks me to open it more for him (he has a broken arm and is in a cast) and he proceeds to then pull pieces off (YES! We want them to explore the food even IF it doesn't go in the mouth). Next thing I know, he asks if he can "try a recipe he thought of." By this time, I can hardly contain myself!! So, we get out the pizza sauce and he tells me what to do (remember he has one good arm). I spread the sauce on a thicker piece of string cheese and , as instructed, place another thicker piece of string cheese on the top. Off to the microwave we go for 10 seconds and out pops somewhat gooey, cheesy pizza like creation. He digs in and proclaims "it tastes just like Barnaby's pizza (a local pizza place)! SCORE! We now have an idea for a more nutritious, easy to make snack. Something MUCH better than the sugary, processed items he prefers. We also have, what I like to call, a blank canvas food to which we can add different flavors (think pizza toppings added to this recipe he has created).
Before we know it, our chicken is done. He tries it, but doesn't like it. LOL. Oh well, we explore/learn that we aren't meant to like everything and that is ok. WAIT though..there is more. Mom made some chicken tenders with an Italian bread crumb mixture while we made our cereal coated chicken. i encourage (gently) my friend to try his recipe ON TOP of the lightly breaded and baked chicken tender(we nuke it slightly to melt the cheese a bit). He does, he tried a bite and HE LIKES IT! This my friends is flavor masking at it's best. We take a flavor they already like and try to combine it with something we would like them to eat. We now, also, have something mom can make for dinner for the entire family (Chicken Parmigiana) WITH my friend so he can remember that he likes each and every item in the dish. :)
Flavor masking is more detailed than I've explained here and you don't want to just jump in without guidance or you risk having foods "drop out" if you don't do it correctly BUT this example illustrates how to, gently, take a picky eater who is beginning to TRUST food...to the next level but still in a "safe" environment.
Awesome session. I'm sure I have typos up there and I'm sure this is a bit "rambly" but I wanted to get this out to you as soon as I could.
Happy eating, friends!