What is disgust reflex?
Following the insightful and very heart warming article written by Dawn, one of our reflux Ambassadors; about her son Dexter’s food aversions. [article here] I thought it might be a good idea to explore some of the challenges Dawn talks about.
The one that jumps out as quite a common issue that our refluxer babies are dealing with is the heightened disgust reflex. So what is it?
Disgust is an emotional response to something we find repulsive or offensive. It is a feeling that is primarily linked to taste (either perceived or imagined), and then to anything which causes a similar feeling by sense of smell, touch, or sight. In evolution terms, Disgust is an emotion which was designed in humans to protect from poisonous or spoiled foods. A response to offensive foods that may cause harm. For example; showing disgust to mouldy milk or contaminated meat, which could cause stomach upsets and ill-health if eaten.
So, why is it so difficult for a child to eat?
Whether you are feeding your first child with acid reflux or your second, it can still seem frustrating and confusing to figure out the best way to approach feeding. There are a multitude of reasons why eating is so difficult and can develop into a problem.
• Eating can mean pain caused by acid reflux
Eating can then create a memory of pain. The pain is gone but it left a lasting impression.
• Food allergies may be at play
• Food intolerances may also be involved.
• Sensory problems such as sensitivity to sensations in or around the mouth.
• Oral Motor Problems such as poor suck, swallow, high or low muscle tone.
Children with food aversions would like to eat and feel pleasure from the experience but their symptoms won’t allow them. As parents, It can be very frustrating watching for even a small crumb of food to be ingested. You can quite easily become obsessed about mealtimes and as a result drive up the levels anxiety around food unwittingly.
The best advise is for parents and carers to combine information about food therapy/food aversions, engage some creativity and go with your gut instincts to find a solution that works.
Remember that each child is different and your journey to feeding success may be full of twists and turns. It can take a lot of time and effort and many dead ends before finding the right path. Seek assistance when you are feeling overwhelmed and realise that feeding your child with reflux may be one of the most challenging tasks you will ever undertake.