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Kids Say the Darndest Things About New Foods

Sep 13, 2022

In this blog, I’m offering my readers a peek into the sensory and emotional perspectives of kids when they are exploring new foods. For quite some time, I have been collecting quotes from the kids and parents that I work with during feeding therapy. I’m constantly amazed and humbled by kids' ability to communicate their experiences when learning about new foods. Many of their responses are fear-based, often they are very unique from what our perception of the food might be, and sometimes they are just plain hilarious! Clearly the food experience for these little-humans is widely varied. 

Quotes from Kids with Feeding Challenges

Age 4: (Diagnosed with Autism*) - Working on learning to chew foods instead of eating purees...

  • Age 5: Kissing bread for the first time – “It feels like a dolphin.”

  • Age 7: Smelling Cheese – “It smells like I what I think pineapple might taste like.”

  • Age 14: Became very tearful when we just talked about the idea of food chaining from apples to pears - I don’t like pears. Not because of the taste/texture, but because of the childhood experience of being forced to sit at the table and eat one."

Age 6: While licking blueberries...

  • Age 5: (Diagnosed with Autism) - Squeezed a pea which led to tears – “It popped and scared me.”

  • Age 9: Squishing berries – “The inside of a blueberry looks like snot.”

Age 17: (Diagnosed with ARFID**)...

  • Age 17: Talking about her challenges with trying new foods - "If you asked me to put a rubber band or penny in my mouth and chew, I could do that with no issue. But I absolutely can't do it with a piece of new food."

  •  Age 16: “I looked at a piece of broccoli and I thought ‘I don’t even know how to eat that. Do you start at the top or the bottom?’”

Age 10: On why she can't eat bananas...

  • Age 14: “Celery smells sterile.”

  • Age 9: (Diagnosed with Autism with fear of choking on most foods) - “My throat tightens up and the food won't go down. I have to spit it out."

Age 16: (Diagnosed with ARFID)...

  • Age 8: Peaches are the butt of fruit.” (Lol. Love this one!) 😂🍑

  • Age 17: Updating me about her food homework - “Raspberries made me cry my eyes out. Because they are hairy with a big hole in the middle, which is probably full of bugs.”

  • Age 10: “Carrot smells like a brand-new pillow.”

Age 11: (Diagnosed with GERD***) - Smelling broccoli...

  • Age 8: “Strawberries smell like dentist toothpaste.”

  • Age 17: (Diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and ARFID) - "Sometimes I can hardly stand the feeling of my own tongue inside my mouth.”

  • Age 12: Putting bite marks in celery – “The taste erupted in my mouth.”

Age 3: (Diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder****) - Chewing broccoli...

  • Age 3: “I tasted that vinegar and my whole body said “ZOINK!!!”

  • Age 12: "I'm getting better at food exploring now. I'm not so scared of foods anymore. I don't like many of them, but at least I can taste them without being too scared."

I am a lifelong learner around these amazing kids. I gain new insight from their beautiful, creative minds every day. I share these amazing quotes because I feel it’s important to recognize that we don’t all experience the world of food in the same way or through the same lens. Presenting a child with a food that might be safe and familiar to most of us, might be scary and overwhelming for a child with oral-motor challenges, sensory processing differences, or negative memories of an experience with the food. We might find it impossible to understand how blueberries can feel like grain or a carrot can smell like a brand-new pillow, but it’s important that we listen to these strong little voices.

And let’s not forget the voices of the parents on this journey…

Quotes From Parents of Kids with Feeding Challenges

On stressful family mealtimes:

  • “There’s a lot of yelling at dinnertime. It’s pretty emotional for everyone.”

  • “My 10-year-old goes to eat in his room alone now because there is so much fighting and stress about my 5-year-old’s picky eating."

On parents' fear of the nutritional and social impact of picky eating:

  • “My husband just won’t come to the table anymore.”

  • “Mealtimes are better now. We don’t stress as much anymore. We don’t talk about the food as much. We talk about other things. It’s still hard, but it’s better.”

  • “My husband and I are foodies. We love food. Why does she hate food?”

  • “I blame myself. I must have done something wrong when she was little.”

  • “He tried a tiny bite of strawberry this week! I was bursting!”

  • “Everyone judges us about her eating, so we feed her before we go to anyone’s house.”

  • “I used to want a nice car and lots of money, now all I want is for her to eat.”

I hear you. 

My best, Nicola


*Autism - The estimated prevalence of feeding problems in children with autism has been reported to be as high as 90% (), with close to 70% of children described as selective eaters (). Click here for link to Autism Speaks article offering mealtime tips.

**ARFID is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: ARFID is described as substantial restrictions or challenges with food intake, associated with weight loss or lack of expected weight gain in the context of significant physiological and/or psychosocial distress. Click here for link to SickKids article about ARFID.

***GERD is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Research supports that a significant number of children have feeding difficulty related to GI dysfunction. Click here to learn more in Pediatric Feeding News.

**** Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Click here to learn more about SPD.  Click here to read more about Sensory Processing Disorder and Picky Eating.

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