What’s IN that? Don’t worry. You’ll love it. *sigh*

Autistics and new foods. We sniff. We scan. We ask “What’s IN that?” We may even poke it with a fork or touch it first. I’m more than certain our inability to hide our emotions makes for some great faces during all of this sniffing, prodding, and inspecting.

CalvinHobbes2

I want to start this blog by sharing something that my wonderful friend (and fellow Aspie) Aletheia Knights shared with me.  After sharing this comical (but TRUE) link about “picky eaters” on her Facebook, she described the Autistic struggle with food better than I ever could.

Please check out the link and then read on.  For those who don’t know me personally, #16 is a spot-on impersonation of me.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/terrible-moments-in-the-life-of-a-picky-eater

 

 

Did you really read the link above?. ^^

 

 

 

You did?   Ok, read on.
My friend Aletheia says:  “This is all so true. Like many people on the autism spectrum or with other sensory issues, I am a resistant eater – a term some medical professionals use to distinguish our issues from ‘picky’ eating. Most picky eaters can learn to broaden their tastes, and may feel comfortable trying a new food after having been exposed to it a few times. For resistant eaters, this is almost impossible. Trying anything outside our culinary comfort zone, whatever that may be, is almost unthinkable – it’s as if it doesn’t even quite register in the mind as falling into the category ‘food’ – and can be a tremendous source of anxiety. For many people, trying something new is a fun adventure; for me, it’s an actual accomplishment. If you tell me to eat what’s served or go to bed hungry, I won’t even have to think about it – I’m just tremendously relieved I have an option other than ‘eat it.'”

Amen buddy.

In the past, I have tried to describe the tremendous anxiety I feel at the thought of trying new food, but Aletheia nailed it.  It is an anxiety I have carried with me my whole life. Even as a child, if a friend invited me to stay the night, I had to know what was for dinner first.  Casserole – with all the foods mixed together? Without even asking my mom, I would say “Sorry. My mom says no.”   Fried chicken and mashed potatoes? “Let me ask my mom!” 🙂

As I have gotten older, I realize that fear is irrational yet it is still there. Always there. The same way others fear teeny little mice (irrational too!), I fear new foods. The only difference is that it is acceptable to go running out of the room at the thought of a six ounce mouse. It is not acceptable to run out of the room at the thought of a six ounce dish of calamari. Calawhat?  No thank you. Give me the mouse any day.

If it were just the food, I think I might be able to tackle it, but it’s the social pressure that comes with it. People EXPECT you to try new foods. They EXPECT you to want to eat your food mixed together and *gasp* touching.  There is almost zero sympathy for those with food anxiety – regardless of your age. Children are mocked and belittled and told their feelings don’t matter “Just TRY it. Here…. open your mouth! What are you? A baby?”  The mocking doesn’t stop when childhood ends. The social pressure ADULTS place on each other to try new foods (especially gourmet food) is as bad as the social pressure teenagers put on each other for sex or drugs or drinking. “Come on? Seriously?  You won’t try it? One little bite isn’t gonna hurt you. You’d like it if you just tried it. Come on.  You know you want it.”    No. Actually, I know I do NOT want it. Thank you very much. My  personal favorite is when they know you have an aversion to a certain food (mushrooms… *shudder*) and they tell you “But you can’t TASTE the mushrooms.”  Yes. I guarantee you I can.  When you find a certain flavor repulsive, it is even more distinguishable.

Whether someone is on the spectrum or not, please be considerate of their tastes.  If they don’t want to try a new food, let it be. More for you, right?  It doesn’t matter if they’re 8 or 98.  It isn’t right to belittle or pressure someone into doing ANYTHING they don’t want to do.  Just because it’s easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for me.  Are you ready to carry a jumping spider in your palm? A long-tailed rat on your shoulder?   A glorious smooth green snake around your neck?  What about snuggling with a bat? Come on. Just try it. You know you want it.

I mean.. I would.   🙂  Who wouldn’t love a face like this:

 

 

Jumping_Spider

 

A note to my readers (if you survived that gorgeous jumping spider).  I just want to tell you that I continue to be amazed by you.  All of you. I love when you connect with me on twitter and facebook. The letters you write me are so treasured. Your tweets and posts on facebook make me smile. I love when I see one that makes me say “I knew I wasn’t the only person that thought that!”  I am just so blessed to have this opportunity to ‘meet’ all of you and so, so grateful for social media that has allowed us to connect.  ❤   There is a whole *universe* of people like me out there. People just like you.  My heart is just so full ❤

 

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14 thoughts on “What’s IN that? Don’t worry. You’ll love it. *sigh*

  1. This is a bit unrelated, but Calvin and Hobbes was my absolute favorite comic <3. I would have been totally fine with a talking tiger as my only friend.
    As far as food goes, along with being allergic to some foods, I have discovered that many of the additives and preservatives in foods I am offered affect me quite negatively. "What's in that?" goes through my mind every time I eat something made by someone other than myself, but for a different reason. 🙂

  2. Um, yes you can taste the mushrooms. That’s why they are added to the dish. Same with olives (yuck). With the hundreds-if not thousands-of nutritionally sufficient food options, I say eat what you like and how you like to eat it.

  3. My son has very high-functioning Aspergers–he wasn’t even properly diagnosed until age 15–and I have learned so much about HIM from your blog! He’s 18 now, and I’ve sent your blog to him and suggested he start his own. Thanks very much for all the insight you have provided, it really has been helpful to me.

  4. Thanks for this description. May I add a link to this on a website I’m building? It’s a resource for parents and everyone else – a doorway/hub to autistic voices/blogs & neurodiversity parents. I have a Sensory page and this would be a great resource to link to. The page isn’t up yet, but the facebook page – Autistkids – is (lots of links to autistic facebook pages 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  5. Glad to have met you too, Pensive! I love the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. Thanks for the insight into food anxiety. Adult social pressure is the worst. I am not fond of alcohol, and so I am usually the only person at a party who is not drinking something alcoholic. I am absolutely OK with this, but I usually get asked by the host several times if I’m sure I don’t want a drink. NO…if I wanted one, I’d ask for it. People look at you as if you are weird. Honestly! I can only imagine if I were a recovering alcoholic how challenging that would be.

  6. My husband is a really picky eater – but his diet is so narrow that there’s no way he could be healthy if I didn’t shove in something he doesn’t like that much. Left to his own devices, he will eat rice, mashed potatoes, and chicken strips. There’s a disturbing lack of any green. But I do not force him to eat the vegetables he hates, or mushrooms or melons, or any of the delicious, delicious foods he doesn’t like. Then again, the pressure put there is less social and more “Your wife loves you and would like for you to live a long, healthy life” pressure so maybe there’s the difference.

    • Ahaha – my wording is confusing there – I don’t force him to eat the delicious, delicious food he despises. I do put things he doesn’t like on his plate, like I said at the beginning of my comment.

  7. In the book “The Reason I Jump” (awesome book btw) the author talks about how new foods are effectively equivalent to plastic toy food. It takes a while before he knows if he likes a food or not. When my daughter listened to that part of the book she kept saying “That’s me.” So many times she will take one bite of something new and think she likes it or doesn’t like it, only to find out, three or four bites later, that she has the opposite opinion. It has taken me a long time to let her manage her food her own way, and as a result, she is now eating things she never ate before. Part of that is growing up (she’s 20) and part of that is not being bullied about food.

  8. It was a NIGHTMARE for my folks trying to get me to eat new foods as a kid, my Aspie side was so wary… XD
    They drew a firm line though; if I didn’t eat it, I went hungry, so in the end hunger always won haha

  9. Pingback: Autistics and new foods | lovenlearning

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