An individual with sensory sensitivity can be explained as someone who experiences a sensory input much more strongly than the average person and will often seek to avoid stimuli that are overwhelming. What may be background noise to you, could feel like being attacked or invaded by sound to someone with a sensory sensitivity.
In relation to food, being highly sensitive entails a complex sensory experience, most often with either all or some of the following:
- Sounds (chewing, swallowing, sucking, licking)
This can make it difficult to expand food variety and achieve nutritional adequacy, and as expected, having a limited range of accepted foods can lead to things like vitamin/mineral deficiencies, fatigue, and decreased likelihood of eating out comfortably.
For someone with a sensory sensitivity, new and unfamiliar experiences can be challenging, thus they prefer things to be predictable and consistent. What this means for a person experiencing this, is that foods that have unpredictable or variable textures, like vegetables/fruits are often avoided, whilst foods that are predictable and produced with the same texture/taste/appearance each time, are preferred. These most often include foods like bread, cheese, biscuits, and packaged food.
Note: Sensory sensitivity is sometimes confused with picky eating, as behaviors are often similar.
If there is avoidance of food due to sensory sensitivity, it may be that the thought of eating or trying the new food leads to physical and/or mental pain. This is more extreme than just fussy/picky eating.
How can working on this be helpful?
Whilst we understand that for someone with sensory sensitivity, food is not easy, we want to highlight some of the opportunities that can arise by working on improving your or a loved one’s relationship with food:
- Increased social opportunities [ability to eat out with friends/family and order off the menu]
- Reverse nutritional deficiencies [eating across all food groups, within your safe window]
- Increased energy / less fatigue / stronger immune system
- Increased confidence to be around food
- Increased flexibility with food
If you or a loved one feel anxious about expanding the foods beyond what feels safe to you and you would like to make food a manageable and positive experience, reach out to our team on 4362 3443 or visit the contact page.