Hi. My daughter is almost 5 years old and only very recently have I become aware of the term “super taster.” It describes my daughter exactly. Since birth she eats very little and is super picky mostly due to an oversensitivity to texture and smell.
I don’t think it is a healthy idea to stay away from those foods because it would really limit her intake for the future.
Is there any literature you can recommend on how to break the habits or sensitivities of a super taster?
And if you can recommend the services of a dietician or the like who specializes in dealing with this disorder I would be so grateful. I live in Fair Lawn, NJ.
Do contact the American Dietetic Association to find a dietitian near you to help with nutritional priorities. Not many dietitians work with food sensitivity. One of the joys of the internet is that we can have this conversation with me, a dietitian in Brisbane Australia, and you in Fair lawn, NJ! You could also search for Ellyn Satter an American Dietitian with a web site. She is an expert on all aspects of parent child relationships, with the possible exception of food sensitivity, eating development and supersensitivity: the three that are my areas of long experience.
My book Fussy Baby is the resource that will cover what you want. This is because I was in a unique position to work with many families with supertasters.
Other people had worked with supertasters who were adults. However they did not connect these to super-smellers and super-feelers as my work with food sensitive families allowed me to do. Food sensitive people have adverse reactions to food and get symptoms like eczema, headaches, tummy aches, attention, hyperactivity, mood, and sleep problems. Over 35 years of just seeing food sensitive families meant that I saw many kids who would rather eat nothing than some food they had an intense super sensitive reaction to.
I am pleased you found the idea of super taster so you can understand that it is real that some people have much more sensitive tastes and smells than others.
There are two important ideas to consider.
One is that gradually managing what looks like blocks to eating different foods can be managed in steps.
Gradually I realized that if we look at just where the sensitivity is, like taste, texture and smell, we could work out which foods were the next step. The resource Fussy Baby has a whole chapter about Eating Development with a questionnaire for you to fill out. It shows you that there are many parts to eating development such as those you have mentioned, and others. By filling it out you can see which of the many parts your daughter may be progressing, such as in managing foods that are warmer or colder, and see where she is up to in other eating developments. I wrote about the idea in babies as that is where the various eating developments begin, and you can see what can be done at any later age.
The other important idea is that supersentitivity can be decreased by doing diet investigation. Many supersensitive children have some of the symptoms that respond to diet investigation. By doing diet detective work they improve in their symptoms and their supersensitivity decreases. I used to be amazed that many parents reported that one of the benefits of diet investigation was that their children now ate foods, especially vegetables, that they would not touch before.
You are right. It is not a good idea to stay away from a variety of foods. If a child has difficulty with speech or coordination we say they have speech delay. Using the Eating Development ideas in Fussy Baby allows your daughter to catch up on having a variety of tastes. You will enjoy the information on seeing the supertaster idea as being like a food gourmet. Your daughter may always be a discriminating eater but may also have a future as a wine taster!
I look forward to hearing how you progress using the ideas in Fussy Baby.
Specialist Food Sensitivity Dietitian
PS Do let me know if you are happy to have this letter added to my site so other parents of supertasters can read it and realize they are not alone.