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Ask The Allergy Chef: Food Fear in Children

Ask The Allergy Chef: Help a 6 year old with possible food fear?

    Hi. I’ve seen you talk on Instagram about food anxiety and food fear. I think my 6 year old might have some food fear? I’m not quite sure where to start on helping him through this.

    First, good for you for recognizing it, and wanting to jump on it. Helping him through this now will save him so much stress etc. in the future.

    Food fear is essentially the fear of food. It’s not quite the same as food anxiety or food hate. Those with food fear can be afraid to try new foods without feeling any anxiety in the moment.

    When a child is afraid of food, there’s usually a few root causes: fear of the unknown, negative food talk, and past food-based trauma such as anaphylaxis. If you happen to know what’s driving the fear, correcting it becomes easier.

    Food fear is treated in a similar way that we treat extreme picky eating. Food is never forced on a child. There’s no one-bite rule, etc.

    Instead, food is offered in a non-threatening way. Food play is at the forefront of it all. The first big goal is just getting them to not be afraid of being in the same room as the food (in really severe cases). From there, we just want them to touch the food. If you get the child to a point where they feel safe touching the food, do a VICTORY dance. You win. That’s the goal.

    Now, we get them to interact more and more and hope that eventually, they take a bite, all on their own. I’m not going to sugar coat this: it’s a long and hard road. It can take years to fully correct. Done right though, in a calm and loving way, you can get your son to a better place.

    This article talks more about food fear. Our membership website, RAISE, also has an awesome guide on Food Fear Activities. It steps you through how to interact with food in a playful way with your kids to help reduce food fear.

    Wishing you all the best on this!!
    ~The Allergy Chef

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