As I’ve said before, one of my children has ARFID. This is avoidance refusal food intake disorder. He really is only interested in bland, texture less colourless foods. I’ve been to many specialists for help over the 7 years that this has been going on and found that none of them could give me a solution. They have tended to focus on behaviour and I’ve come to realise that it’s actually a physical reaction he has to food, its taste, its smell and what it looks like, all of these things form his opinion on whether it will be an acceptable food to him. As he’s gotten older he’s able to describe what’s going on when I offer him new foods. He says his body wants to eat it but his brain won’t let him.
I feel as though I’m making progress recently. Our daily smoothie has become a vehicle I use to introduce new flavours to his palate, without overwhelming him with an added texture. Recent research suggests that the palate is set for flavours during childhood, so I’ve been keen to introduce as much variety as I can whilst dealing with this difficult disorder.
I started with quite bland, white coloured, vanilla smoothies, or chocolate smoothies using cacao. The great thing was that the base for these was cashew or almond milk, so at least he was having nuts, a food group he has never eaten. I added flax seeds to these or chia seeds to get some omega 3 into him and I had to blend this really well so that the seeds weren’t discovered! After a few weeks I started to add fruit, a banana, some kiwi fruit, a few dates instead of maple syrup. This was accepted because the colour didn’t change much and I added things little by little.
A few weeks later I started to add a tablespoon of spinach, a quarter of an avocado and a pinch of spirulina. It’s all been trial and error.
I feel great when I see him accept a smoothie full of spinach and avocado like this one I made today. It does taste like vegetables and he’s accepted it happily. This is only step one, he gags if I ask him to eat those things, but we are working on it. At least his palate is being educated.