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Retained Primitive Reflexes Causing Picky Eating, Sugar Cravings and Compulsive Eating |

Retained Primitive Reflexes Causing Picky Eating, Sugar Cravings and Compulsive Eating

This article provides information about retained Primitive Reflexes and how it impacts picky eating and oral sensory issues. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

If you are a parent or a therapist who has a picky eater, it’s not uncommon. Many people say, “Oh, they will grow out of their picky eating when they get older.” But, will they?

Some kids do, but are there other signs telling you that may not be the case? The signs can tell if you if there is more happening to your child than just picky eating.

Do you have students or kiddos who…

Are picky eaters and only eat 10 foods or less?

Struggle with chewing, swallowing and gagging?

Experience major sugar cravings (maybe eats only sugar cubes and catsup)?

Don’t know when they are full and continue to eat?

Have oral sensory issues (prefers strong flavors, needs to chew on objects, etc.)?

Believe it or not, your child and students are going through something that is causing these types of issues. And, without some intervention, it most likely won’t get better as they grow older.

Yes, picky eaters can definitely have oral sensory issues to foods, textures, flavors and even smells of food. But, there may be more behind the child’s oral sensory sensitivities causing picky eating.

Retained Reflexes Causing Picky Eating

If you are not familiar with retained Primitive Reflexes, there are a number of them that can cause a whole slew of developmental issues in many children. Here, we will discuss the retained reflexes that are most likely to cause issues with picky eating, sugar cravings and compulsive eating.

A child with certain retained Reflexes may have an unhealthy relationship with food. When eating a variety of foods, the child may experience a few of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Allergies
  • Fussiness
  • Biting and chewing problems
  • Hoarding food
  • Extreme sugar cravings
  • Repetitive Diet
  • Sucking and swallowing trouble

These are just a few of the signs you may notice in your child or students when it comes to eating. To find out what type of “picky eater” your child or students are, take the quiz here.

Fear Paralysis Reflex

If a child has retained the Fear Paralysis Reflex, the child may experience a number of eating and sleeping disorders. With the Fear Paralysis Reflex, kids often feel in danger and have fight or flight responses. The sensory sensitivities that come with this retained reflex may trigger an oversensitive system. The child may then be overwhelmed by strong smells, tastes or textures.

Because the sensory system is overactivated when the Fear Paralysis reflex is retained, it may prevent kids from trying new foods and they may even become fearful or intimidated during mealtime. As a result, kids will stick to a restricted diet.

Moro Reflex

A child with a retained Moro reflex craves sweets, which may be linked to high cortisol production. These types of kids often crave foods like catsup and sugar cubes. In addition, they may also gravitate to foods with lots of carbohydrates and highly processed foods like chips, chicken nuggets, white bread, pasta and rice. Kids with a retained Moro reflex are more likely to snack throughout the day rather than eat a whole meal.

Because the Moro reflex is also closely tied to the sensory system, the child may have trouble with taste, texture and smells as they do with the Fear Paralysis reflex. The child typically hates smooth or chewy foods and continues to eat repetitive foods in their comfort zone.

A retained Moro reflex may also cause leaky gut, food intolerances and hormonal disturbances.

Babkin Reflex

Infants who had trouble nursing may struggle with a retained Babkin reflex because it plays a role in developing mouth movements for eating. This may cause kids to have difficulty swallowing, biting or chewing as they grow older.

One of the biggest signs of a retained Babkin is when a child experiences habitual hunger or food allergies. You may notice these kids have trouble moving the hands and mouth together and are messy eaters, which is why they may feel the need to eat compulsively. The child may also develop habits of smoking or nail biting because it fulfills the need to bring the hand to the mouth.

Root and Suck Reflex

The Rooting and Sucking Reflexes are the retained reflexes that may play the greatest part in a child’s picky eating habits. The Suck reflex is connected to the Babkin reflex, which is why it also causes issues with sucking, swallowing and chewing. Kids with one or both of these retained reflexes may bite their cheeks or tongue while eating because they haven’t developed control of the muscles in the mouth. Like the Babkin reflex, kids with a retained Root or Suck reflex, constantly need something in the mouth. Items like chewing sweets or gum allow them to keep something in their mouth constantly so they can function better.

If the child continues to have an unintegrated Root or Suck reflex, you may notice some of the following signs:

  • Hypersensitivity around lips and mouth
  • The tongue may remain too far forward in the mouth and the child may dribble
  • Trouble chewing certain foods
  • Lack of mature swallowing movements
  • Speech and articulation problems
  • Poor manual dexterity

If you have a child or student that may have trouble with picky eating, you can register for the free “3 Keys to finally turn your picky eater around” workshop by Occupational Therapist, Alisha Grogan. She has some great ideas that may help kids expand their pallet and calm some of those oral sensory sensitivities.

For more information on retained Primitive Reflexes, download a copy of the Primitive Reflexes roadmap below. The roadmap is a helpful resource that can give you more direction toward reflex integration.

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs

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