Feeding Therapy & Mealtime Success

Many factors can cause a young child to become a picky eater, including food aversions, texture sensitivity, and oral motor delays in sucking, swallowing, or chewing. These underlying challenges can be improved through feeding therapy sessions. Using various methodologies, including the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach, treatment considers a child’s physical, psychological, and emotional development, along with his/her nutritional deficits. Over the course of therapy, the child is aided to gradually become desensitized to food aversions, improve tolerance, and expand his/her individual food repertoire. The overarching goal of the program is to transform the home environment and facilitate a positive mealtime experience. Parent education and participation are integral components.

Mealtime is an intricate experience involving the family as a unit. When children have difficulties with feeding, the inherent, pleasant nature of mealtime disappears only to be replaced by stress and anguish. Fostering a nurturing environment is of upmost importance while giving parents the tools and confidence to execute foundational strategies. When I work with families around mealtime, therapy is tailored to meet each child's needs. We explore through play, find creative ways to peak the child's interest, and create an environment that’s joyful and meaningful. As a speech-language pathologist and nutrition counselor, I offer a dynamic approach through awareness and education.

 
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Through continued exposure and play based techniques, children not only learn to enjoy a variety of foods but incorporate novel vocabulary and ask for veggies by name.


Nutrition Counseling & Education

The role of a nutrition educator is multifaceted, spanning from counseling on an individual basis to teaching school-based lessons and altering mealtime settings on a corporate level. Goals include the design of strategies that seamlessly transfer into daily activities and enhancement of self-efficacy skills through increased awareness. 

Individuals & Families

Given my fervor and passion in fostering foundational skills at a young age, my expertise in feeding therapy have melded with knowledge of nutritional necessities through the lifecycle. Using aspects of motivational interviewing and models of learning, behavior, and health beliefs, our therapeutic relationship is intuitively formed. We explore prior experiences and present perceptions to determine how these influences have affected your relationship with food. Families are nurtured as a unit and children take an active role in learning the importance of a well-balanced lifestyle through novel habits.

Schools & Educational Facilities

Nutrition education in the school setting has steadily shown improvements. From the removal of vending machines and competitive foods from cafeterias to regulations surrounding physical activity, programs have provided educational materials through policy revisions. Snacks have also undergone a transformation, shifting from energy to - nutrient-dense products. Unfortunately, childhood obesity rates persist, and the national average is 18.5% (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2018). Data from The State of Obesity indicates escalating statistics from early childhood to adolescence.

Evidently, simply prohibiting food sales or replacing items does not equate to students developing healthier eating practices. Rather than categorizing foods into “healthy” versus “unhealthy,” we are implored to change the student-food relationship. Lessons on the nutritional environment can be embedded into the school day in major academic subjects, including science, reading and mathematics. How empowering would our society be if students and teachers enhanced their knowledge of overall wellbeing while working cooperatively in a fun, engaging atmosphere. Nutrition education modules are thus designed for all grade and developmental levels to peak students’ inherent inquisitive nature, while demonstrating how small changes in routines can create lasting change.

 
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Nothing beats using simple ingredients, figuring out the sequence of steps, and enjoying warm homemade cookies. Children learn to work cooperatively and identify what goes into their foods, as well as how to eat intuitively and listen to their bodies. It’s all about balance!


Research Projects

The following projects demonstrate array of research and professional interests, along with collaborative efforts in designing nutrition education programs and initiatives. Please contact me for details regarding speaking engagements for your facility.

PICKY Eater Case Study

This case study follows a young child’s development, highlighting the intricacies involved in feeding and mealtime behaviors.

Role of Neurotransmitters in Weight Regulation

Have you ever wondered how the brain knows whether you are hungry or full? This brief 3-minute video explores the nervous system and its involvement in energy regulation.

Red Light, Green Light

Take the next 4 minutes to learn about go, slow, and whoa foods. This video explains how products can be categorized to teach children the ways in which food items affect their bodies abilities to move and learn.

Changing the School Environment: A Multi-Strategy Intervention

This 3-minute presentation explains how constructs of the social cognitive theory can be used to identify social norms, promote positive role models, and enhance implementation of schoolwide strategies.