As a developmental specialist, I was at first wary when I got to your mention of using food as a distraction. But you knew just what to do. More than a distraction, think about it as something that makes her feel at ease and comfortable - whatever that is, use it to bridge the big step, then phase it out. What worked with my niece was letting her bring her blankie in with her, which was really hard to do from my adult perspective because, you know, "It will get wet!", which is pretty much the worst thing. It is really difficult to solve a fear problem with a 1 year old. Your toddler knows that you care about her and respect her feelings, and she can trust you to keep her safe. Awesome.
Early Childhood Parent/Teacher Trainer Toolbox for Teaching, Washington State