Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorder Can Make Eating A Nightmare

Dear Tazi:

I am very particular about what I eat. While I eat a variety of foods and flavors, I have to like the texture of the food, too; if I don’t like the way something feels in my mouth – too crunchy, too mushy – I will not eat it. My preferences used to drive my Mom crazy, but eventually she gave up and gave in to what she called my “peculiarities about food” after the pediatrician told her not to make a big deal out of it so long as I was eating a nutritious, well balanced diet.

I recently moved in with my girlfriend and I am hoping this step will lead to marriage, but it seems that my peculiarities about food are a sticking point in our relationship. “Betty” thinks if I do not eat what she has cooked it is a direct insult to her. I have tried to explain what she has always known about me – that I am particular about how food feels in my mouth; if something doesn't feel right I actually get a gag reflex. Telling her this made things worse; she accused me of saying her cooking makes me gag. I told Betty that was not the case and she knew it, and that if she would like I would do all the cooking. I thought this would please her, but it only made things go further downhill and much faster.

We have only been living together a month but already Betty is saying that she cannot wait until our lease is up so she can move out and find a place of her own. I can’t believe that she wants to break up with me because she thinks I don’t like her cooking! Are there other people out there like me, Tazi? If there are, do you think they can explain to Betty that I am not making things up just to avoid eating her cooking?

Twisted Taste Buds

Dear Twisted Taste Buds:
There are plenty of people out there like you; they are called “texture eaters” and many of them suffer from a condition called sensory processing disorder, or SPD for short (it is considered to be on the Autism spectrum, and a lot of people with Autism have it). Depending on how mild or severe a person’s super sensory perception is, they may be able to hear things others cannot, see better than most, or have a super sense of touch and feeling or sense of smell.

Kind of like a dog hearing his special whistle!

Some with SPD experience all of these, others one or two super heightened senses. Texture eaters generally have a super-heightened sense of touch, which is why some foods do not “feel good” in their mouths while others taste better because of their more enjoyable texture. Fear not, you are perfectly normal. In fact, you are in very good company – many cats, including yours truly, are texture eaters. I will only eat crunchy cat cereal; you can feed that moist stuff to the dogs!

The fact that Betty was aware of your “peculiarities about food” before you moved in together tells me that she is using it as an excuse to back off your relationship. It is possible that she was not ready to move in together after all, and is only just discovering this fact now that the two of you have merged every aspect of your lives. I suggest you find the time to talk to Sally about this possibility (calmly and rationally) and see if it gets you anywhere. It could be that Betty is afraid to broach this subject and is picking a fight over her cooking as a way to find an out of your living situation. You should work on resolving this before it ruins your relationship altogether.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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