Saturday, September 15, 2012

Decreasing Food (Taste / Texture) Sensitivity Through Graduated Exposure

Song:  I'll Try

Artists:  Calikokat (piano) - Yayamimine (vocal)

One of our favorite Indian (Far East) restaurants.
They play Bollywood movies on two plasma screens.
How is that for ambiance?  :)

Alex has been getting much better at tolerating new foods.
By design...we keep trying new restaurants or new dishes at our favorite restaurants...
to stimulate Alex's desire to try new well as it being an adventure for us.

We just ask Alex to try a little of something new once in a while.

I won't try to fool does not always work.
Sometimes he will simply not try something on a particular day.
Often times, if the appearance is not "pure" 
(small objects in it like seeds or such)... he won't want to touch it. 
 If it has a strange color...
he will want to know the actual ingredient before trying it.

I am grimacing because I know Alex will not particularly like this.
However, he tried it.

Alex tried this even though it had small seeds in it. 
He would not have done that a few years ago.

Although Alex has valid hypersensitivity to tastes and textures...
he also knows that he cannot limit himself from exploration
due to discomfort.  

Alex loves Naan and Tandoori Chicken.
A few years ago...Alex would not have even tried it because
of the orange-reddish color.  Now he loves it...
because he tried it.

Vegetable Samosa...
one of our favorite appetizers.
Alex can eat this without the sauce.

Chicken Masala is a favorite of mine...
however, it is too spicy and saucy for Alex's tastes.

My wife likes vegetable dishes.

While Alex loves vegetables...
if it has sauce on them...he won't eat them.

Alex has come so far in his tastes.

He will now eat a variety of not spicy ethnic foods.

It has been years in the process of desensitization through
graduated exposure...but with each new place we go...
comes the possibility that he will like something new.

Don't get me wrong...
Alex's diet is a healthful one.

He loves mostly fish...
however, exploring new tastes is part of an adventure I want him to 
be able to experience.

Each country has something great to offer by way of taste.

I want Alex to be able to experience things in life without hinderance.
If, after trying, he decides he doesn't like something...ok.

We expose Alex to the appearance and smell of the new dishes my wife...
and I, order for ourselves.  

After a while...
we can usually get Alex to try at least try one.

Often times...
Alex finds out that he likes it...
and we then have a new dish to add to Alex's food likes.

What I won't do... is demand that Alex try something new each time.
This would cause discomfort to him every time we go out to eat.

By getting him used to the appearance and smells first...
then by having him just take a small taste later
(so long as it is not spicy)
we can usually get Alex to like something new.

The key is not forcing the issue...
but rather through a graduated introduction and a stimulation of his natural curiosity 
(although we are way beyond the exaggerated vocal and facial expressions
that parents do with their toddlers...I can sometimes get away with it
if I am dramatic enough while making it appear to be spontaneous and not
directed at Alex :)

I wish Alex to not do something in life...
because he simply wishes not to...
rather than because he feels he cannot do so.

A person may change almost anything about himself...
if the increments are small enough...
and done for long enough.

We may enjoy the whole process by constantly exploring new restaurants...
and through them, an adventure awaits us in...
new smells, textures, and tastes to explore...
step... by small, graduated, and delicious... step.


  1. When my son was younger, he ate only a few different foods. My wife was extremely frustrated for a long time, as he would rarely try anything she made for him other than the same old things he was comfortable with. But, over time, we have been able to expand his food repertoire. And now he sometimes is very willing to try new things. Like Alex, Kai does not like spicy foods, or foods with sauce. But it is nice to see the progress, which he made through small steps like you describe. I am looking forward to continuing to expose him to new foods.

  2. Alex has come such a long way from nothing but Cheerios and Goldfish crackers when he was very young :) It is such fun we may go to so many different restaurants. Actually...tonight...Alex is eating Chicken Pho. There are two basic Vietnamese restaurants we frequent. Alex has favorite dishes in both...and he tastes new ones every so often in these.


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