Fall is the season that brings out my favorite treats, and many are enjoyed during my family’s Thanksgiving feast. While I enjoy most of the choices at Thanksgiving, there are definitely some that I avoid; whether it is the texture, the taste, the mechanics of eating it, there is a reason it is not for me. I wonder if this sounds familiar to you or your children: are foods avoided due to texture making them inedible or the taste-making them gag? What about when it comes time to make a grocery list to prepare for the Thanksgiving feast, are you able to find a pen that is not chewed on? If you or your child are a picky eater, pens are consistently being chewed, you feel lost without a pack of gum with you, or your child wants to place everything in their mouth, then this blog may bring some clarity into your world.
Like many of our sensory systems, our gustatory (taste) sensory system helps keep our body safe by alerting us to dangerous tastes, and temperatures and informing us of our preferred textures. In some individuals, this system can be naturally over or under-responsive. An over-responsivity to gustatory input means the taste, texture, or temperature of the food or object in their mouth is too much for their system (i.e. they gag when eating a mushy banana, sometimes just even thinking about it does this too). An individual with an under-responsivity to gustatory experiences, the taste, texture, or temperature is not enough, they crave more of it (i.e. they often order a spice level of 5 at a Thai restaurant or have a hard time knowing when milk tastes sour)! Without the ability to discriminate we can find ourselves feeling rather sick.
One way to identify some sensory preferences you have, or your child has, in relation to your sense of taste is by thinking about the following questions:
What types of tastes do you like? Not like?