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Session 3

Selective Eating vs ARFID

Session 3


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Food traffic light

This is a helpful tool to help you plan which foods you are willing to try and those you don’t feel prepared for.

Foods my parents/other people would like me to try…

Food chaining

Food chaining is a way of taking a food that you like and slowly adding subtle variations to this food until you can tolerate new ones.

This can be done in different ways and step by step.

It is important that you think about food that might be similar or get help if needed.

Some examples are in the next slide...

Food chaining

Fries to carrots

Learning to eat a new colour

French fries

Sweet potato fries - new colour

Butternut squash fries - same shape and colour

Steamed carrots - new texture

Roasted carrots - same shape and colour

Roasted butternut squash - new shape

Food chaining involves gradually and systematically diversifying the foods a person will eat.

For example:
You begin with a food that is currently accepted. You then consider what can be tolerated in relation to change i.e. colour, brand, texture or shape. You then identify a new food to try based on what can be tolerated. This new food is then introduced. This then restarts the process.

Potato chips to banana

Learning to enjoy fruit

Potato chips

Plantain chips

Banana chips


Frozen banana


Bread to pizza

Ways to support children in working towards goals they would like to achieve.

For example:
If you have a child who would like to eat pizza but cannot tolerate this at the moment, food chaining can support breaking this down into manageable steps.


Chicken to fish

Learning to enjoy more protein

Favourite nuggets

Fish nuggets

Fish sticks

Baked white fish

Fried white fish

Fish patty

6 steps to eating



What does it look like?

- What colour is it?

- What size is it?

- What shape is it?



What does it feel like?

- Is it wet or dry?

- Does it feel cold or hot?

- Does it feel bumpy or rough?



What does it smell like?

- Is it a weak or strong smell?

- Is it a nice smell?



What does it taste like?

- Does it have a strong taste?

- Is it sweet or salty?

- Is it spicy?



What is the texture like?
What sound does it make
in your mouth?

- Does it feel loud when you chew it?

- Is it crunchy?

- Does it get soft quickly?
*Not expected to eat, it is ok to spit it out.



Any other sensation?

- Any other sensation?

*Small mouthful is ok and gradually increase quantity.

Exposure isn’t expected to work straight away, it takes time and repeated experiences.
Start with the foods that cause less anxiety (so at the bottom of the hierarchy/ladder).
Remember, avoidance just causes more anxiety, where as exposure reduces anxiety over time.

Exposure ladder

Food exposure

Anxiety (100%)








Other strategies

Remember change can take time! There is no right/wrong way OR specific steps to get 'there'. New foods should not be expected to be eaten straight away, sometimes it is just about exposure.

Fade in

Start with a high
proportion of preferred

Gradually add in
novel food.

Gradually reduce the
amount of preferred
food and increase the novel.

Change it up

If you don't succeed at first, change it up! Try:




Adding in preferred spices, sauces and condiments can be a great way of introducing novel foods. For example:


Sensation exposure

Increased tolerance to full sensations can help you to eat enough.

Spinning on a chair
Gulping water

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References or Creators Credit


My Notes

Supporting Videos

The Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?

Mindful Eating