Our son was almost three and had very specific tastes. He liked everything actually, except the stuff he didn't like. One of his therapists told me she’d been specially trained in Systematic Desensitization, a type of behavioral therapy used to help children or adults become more accepting of different textures and foods. I was skeptical, but willing to give it a try.
The first day she brought out a bottle of Ranch dressing and ceremoniously set it down on the kitchen table. Now, since I’m not a big Ranch fan, my little guy had never even seen a bottle, yet his “Jedi sensors” were up, and he was not going to take that move lying down. The sight of the bottle sent him into a blood-curdling scream. As time went on, he became more accepting of the bottle. Soon, she was able to put a little on his plate, then a little on a carrot stick, then we moved to singing a little tune while walking the ranch covered carrot up his arm. Eventually, over the course of a couple of weeks, we got him to put the veggie in his mouth, but this fish wasn’t biting. Instead, he hesitantly licked the manufactured garlic-infused goo from the carrot stick. I braced myself for a noisy protest that never came. Instead, his eyes got a faraway look. Then, his face broke out into a huge grin. It seemed my kid was in love… with Ranch.
His romance with salad dressing double-dated with Cheerios, peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. The therapist urged me not to give up. She promised me this was just the beginning, and that since he liked the Ranch, soon we’d be able to get him to try other foods with Ranch as the catalyst.
For months, I followed the program, but caseloads of Hidden Valley’s finest later, it was clear, we needed to try something else. I then spent the next six months trying to work Ranch out of our lives. It wasn’t easy. There were times I thought maybe Ranch dressing was his destiny. I was ready to phone up the executives of Hidden Valley – Hey! Have I got a new spokesperson for you! There had to be a silver-lining to all of this, but at the moment I couldn’t see it…I couldn’t even smell it over the garlic that seemed to have perforated my senses.
To read more adventures with Noah's food sensitivities click "In a Kitchen Far, Far Away"