Food Selectivity Overview

Picky eating affects the whole family! No one looks forward to mealtimes. Parents may worry about nutrition and their children may worry about the sights, smells and textures of the meal. To manage the overall stress, children can become highly “selective” eating a very specific diet. Parents may provide that same diet day after day to maintain mealtime peace, all the while worrying about balanced nutrition.

Nourish would like to support families trying to feed their very selective eater. What is a highly selective eater? We are not just talking about the typical stage of toddler pickiness. We are talking about a rigidity of mealtime behaviors. Mealtime change is difficult! These children often limit their diet to very few and very particular foods. They often prefer their favorite foods to be served in the original container or in a certain bowl. They may require certain brands. They may want their sandwiches always cut in a certain way. They may only drink their nutrition, or prefer food of only one texture. Perhaps they only eat certain colored foods or one or two food groups.

Some of these children have diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders. Others have anxiety issues over mealtimes. Others have sensory challenges limiting their comfort with textures, smells or food flavor changes.

Parents worry about providing a balanced diet. It may make it difficult to eat as a family when the smells and sights of family foods cause the child to become upset. Often parents feed these selective eaters separately. It makes eating out at restaurants, and play dates and preschool mealtime interactions difficult. Well meaning friends and family members, and even the occasional pediatrician suggests “just make them hungry” but that has not worked for you! You may have gotten in a rut of offering the same foods in the same way and are frustrated. Nourish offers a Food Selectivity Parent Support Group. This group is for you! It is free.

View the Nourish Food Selectivity Rack Card

Food Selectivity Helpful Links

Arizona Autism Coalition


Arizona Center for Disability Law


Autism Chat and Share


Autism Society of America


Autism Society of Greater Tucson (ASGT)


Autism Speaks


AZEIP Arizona Early Intervention Program


CTV News Interview with Marsha Dunn Klein

CTV News Interview with Marsha Dunn Klein


Division of Developmental Disabilities


Kozie Clothes

Kozie Clothes produces special clothing for special children increasing the sense of ease for caretakers and offering comfort and adorable styles for children. The clothing is designed specifically to promote dignity and independence for children with special needs…


Mealtime Connections, LLC

Mealtime Connections, LLC brings together a group of therapy professionals who are passionate about understanding and treating infants and young chidren with developmental delays and feeding difficulties. We specialize in working with families and children with complicated medical and feeding concerns which may be related to diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, autism, prematurity, genetic disorders, Down syndrome, and general developmental delays. We also provide comprehensive treatment for medically based challenges such as oral aversion, reflux, food allergies, poor weight gain, swallowing difficulties, gastrointestinal concerns, and G-tube transitions. We are located in Tucson, Arizona.


Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center


Tucson Alliance for Autism

Recommended Articles

How to Help a Selective Eater
How to Help a Selective Eater


Mealtime Challenges and the Autism Spectrum

Not all children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders have challenges with mealtimes,
but those who do can affect the mealtime for the entire family…
by Marsha Dunn Klein, MEd.OTR/L
Mealtime Challenges and the Autism Spectrum