New Food Fun

“What do you say to an Avocado who’s done a good job? BRAVOCADO!

“What did the pecan say to the walnut? I’m so glad we’re friends because we’re both nuts!

“Why was the cucumber confused? Because it was in a pickle!

“What do you call blueberries playing the guitar? A jam session!

“As a child, I don’t recall much fun being had around food. I also remember hearing the following statements about eating and mealtimes. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

‘Sit still and eat your dinner’

‘Stop playing with your food’

‘It’s time to eat, not to be silly’

‘Please chew with your mouth closed’

‘Don’t eat until everyone else is seated’

‘You can’t leave the table until everyone else has finished’

“And probably the one that terrified me the most as a child was…

‘If you don’t eat it… I’ll force it down your throat’

“If you are now a parent, you may also have found yourself saying, or even just thinking some of these statements around your children at mealtimes. When we have a child with Autism, it’s common for them to be selective and controlling about what they eat and how they eat. If we want to encourage our children to try a variety of new foods and enjoy those foods, a wonderful place to begin is with our attitude around food. Can we be easy? Relaxed? Flexible? and fun?… yes… EVEN FUN, around all things to do with eating, mealtimes, and especially when we are encouraging new and delicious, nutritious foods?

“Here are 3 reasons why we want to incorporate fun into encouraging new foods:
• When we are having fun we are more relaxed and more inviting to our children and we are more likely to find creative ways to introduce those foods.
• When we are having fun, we are less likely to be pushy around food. When we push, we become controlling, our children back away and they are less responsive to our attempts at encouraging the new food.
• The first goal is for our children to be relaxed, and enjoy being around the new foods. If they have a positive association with food, they’ll be more likely to explore the new foods you offer. Touching, smelling, taking a nibble, or even feeding us (or their favorite characters,) is also a wonderful step towards eating more.

Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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