The Sensory Diet

By Tess Thompson

Most of the diets that we hear about these days are diets that help us to lose weight, as the preoccupation with slimness has reached abominable heights. However, we do know that there are specific diets that are available for specific body conditions like diabetes, angina and other such lifestyle-related ailments.

It is interesting to know that experts are now also developing diets that aim at a better development of the human body. One such diet is the Sensory Diet, named by OT Patricia Wilbarger. The program is a combination of certain activities and a diet plan that is customized for each individual based on personality and specific needs.

More precisely, the Sensory Diet program aims at providing sensory input to excite or relax the nervous system of an individual. It can easily be assumed that the diet is more beneficial for children and teenagers, since they are still in the developmental stages of their lives.

The Sensory Diet program has two aspects – activities that provide inputs for the various sensory points, and a diet that can accentuate or reduce the sensitivity of a sensory point.

The various sensory points that are covered under the Sensory Diet activity planner are:

  • Proprioception – This sensory point refers to the sensations received from muscles, joints and connective tissues. Activities that involve pulling, pushing, jumping and carrying heavy objects can provide stimulus to these senses.
  • Vestibular – This is the sense that enables coordinated movement and balance. The sense is located in the inner ear of the human body. Running in circles, roller coaster rides, cart wheeling and dancing are good inputs to activate this sense.
  • Tactile – The sense of touch can be heightened or stimulated by touching various objects to understand texture, pressure, temperature and other touch-related feelings. Exposure to various surfaces, bubbles, foam, eating frozen, warm and fizzy foods and activities like carpentry, sewing and sculpting can provide the required stimulation.
  • Auditory – This sense is connected with the vestibular sense since both reside in the ear. Listening to various kinds of music (instrumental, jazz, rock etc) and paying attention to nature’s sounds, like the sound of the waves against the rocks on the beach and birds twittering, are some ways in which this sense can be activated.
  • Visual – There is a fair amount of stimulation that already exists in the environment with regards to this sense. However, adding bright colors to the surroundings can help.
  • Auditory – Stimulating this sense can have other benefits, too. You can use certain smells and fragrances to achieve a calmer feeling. This can be done by using safe herbal fragrances that can make you feel at peace.
  • Taste – Interestingly linked with smell, this sense can be stimulated by experimenting with various flavors and different foods. This sense will also interact with the tactile sense, when different flavors are tried on foods that have varying textures.

As mentioned before, it is fairly obvious that the various stimuli that can be used with this diet can be extremely beneficial for a child. To augment the benefits that are to be gained from such an activity chart for the child, a Sensory Diet has also been developed. This diet needs to be modified based on the specific requirements of a child. It includes a variety of flavors, textures, and smells that the child experiences throughout the day. The diet program is actually interspersed with the various activities that are recommended.

Parents who are looking to start their children on the Sensory Diet need not worry about weight loss for their kids. The diet plan is based on the age of the child and takes the activity levels of the child into consideration. There are no weight loss supplements that are advised, since the diet plan ensures the right level of nutrients for the child.


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