Like many babies, Anthony Koomen was inquisitively trying a wide variety of foods until he suddenly became very fearful of unfamiliar flavours and textures at 2 years of age .
Ensuring Anthony had proper nutrition became a struggle for his parents as the range of foods he would eat continued to decrease significantly as he got older.
His mother Glenda explained that her son’s anxiety around food made mealtimes increasingly difficult.
“Suddenly he stopped eating things he had previously enjoyed and absolutely wouldn’t tolerate the introduction of any new foods,” Glenda said.
“It was beyond fussy eating. He would only eat very specific foods, which made getting proper nutrition a daily battle.”
Now 20 years-old and accessing support from Therapy Focus Dietitian Maddie Todd, Anthony is pushing himself to explore new foods.
Maddie explained that, although challenging, a method called desensitisation was already helping Anthony achieve positive results.
“Desensitisation sessions involve gradually introducing a new food or texture in small steps,” Maddie said.
“For example, a person may challenge themselves to just look at a food, then touch it, put it on their plate, smell it, and hopefully progress to a stage where they feel that they can chew and swallow it.”
“In Anthony’s case, he’s now tried more than 10 new foods in our sessions and is continuing his progress independently, taking it upon himself to try new foods in between sessions.”
With eating such a central part of many social activities, Anthony is motivated to get his eating on track so that he can participate in more activities with his friends and family.
“I’ve achieved a lot through the desensitisation sessions and I try to set myself small goals to work on between my sessions with Maddie.”
“I know going out to eat with family and friends can be a lot of fun, and this is something I definitely want to be doing more as I get more comfortable with different foods.”
Pictured: Dietitian Maddie Todd working with Anthony Koomen