Food is a tricky subject when you’re Autistic. And with the number of autistics in my family, we tend toward quite a boring diet. We have the same meals over and over again, unless I deliberately force them to try something different.
Our family loves Italian food. However, TOH’ll eat any kind of pasta… except tubes. Doesn’t matter if it’s Macaroni, Ditalini or Cannelloni. He won’t touch it. No matter what the sauce is. Similarly, NOS won’t touch Lasagna sheets or Tagliatelle. I put mushrooms in everything – I adore them. PT on the other hand hates them; she says that they go all gooey and slimy and will only eat them on pizza. PW loves the pasta and the sauce but won’t touch meat, vegetable or anything else in the meal.
Most of our diet is formed around the need to have as much time as possible for our obsessions. I cook using a Slow Cooker at least once a week, use the Oven a lot and the rest of the time it’s quick food – noodles, sandwiches, ready meals or takeaway.
When one of us has a food obsession, I will take that into account – for example, TOH loves a particular type of Soba Noodle Pot, so that becomes one of the quick meals, but only when he’s obsessed with it – he can eat them for lunch or dinner for weeks, but once he goes off them, we won’t have them for months.
The older kids will only eat certain fruit. I’ve had months where the Bananas disappear entirely from the fruit bowl the day after they’re bought, then I’ve tried to anticipate demand and I’ll end up freezing loads of them for Banana Bread because I’m the only one eating them and I have too many!
PW has a thing for crunchy food – she loves cucumber, crackers, crisps, toast…you might say that’s not unusual, but she won’t touch raw carrot or any other vegetable. She won’t touch a roast dinner (something most kids love) and her favourite food is Pizza.
To be honest it can be a bit like having a whole family of toddlers!
None of this might sound unusual, and certainly there are autistics out there with more unusual tastes or food obsessions. One boy I knew had a period of time where he would only eat red food – his mum resorted to dying all his food red with beetroot.
However, having the wrong food in the house or for a meal can cause all sorts of problems – it’s a sensory thing you see. One example is that TOH adores homemade pickled onions and will eat one (if we have them) with one of our oven meals (Wedges, Breaded Chicken Fillets, Baked Beans). There are varying problems with this – PT hates the smell of the pickling vinegar, I can’t stand the sound of TOH crunching them.
In fact, I have problems sitting up the table with people eating full stop. I can’t stand the noises that people make when they eat; the slurping, crunching, munching really makes me anxious and tense. I’m always telling the kids to chew with their mouths closed. I’ve had people laugh at me for this, saying that it’s a stupid reason for not wanting to go to restaurants or eat at other people’s houses. It’s a very real condition though – it’s called Misophonia and a lot of people have it in different degrees.
In my case, on a normal day I can tolerate a lot of noises, but might snap if someone is eating noisily. On a bad day though, I get enraged by most of my trigger sounds and everything else will be too loud, making me anxious, irritable and not a good person to be around. It can trigger a meltdown very easily.
How does your Autistic handle food and all the attendant problems?