Food!

My children both have their preferences, as do most children, when it comes to food.

I have just ordered our shopping online, for the first time in forever, as normally they struggle if my attention is taken away for any length of time.

They helped me select the items and chose some ‘new foods’ to try. It’s basically the same old things…nuggets, fish, pizza, pasta and chips…all presented in different ways. I’m not sure if they will actually eat some of the things they have chosen but I felt it was worth a try! My eldest spent most of the time obsessing about cleaning his teeth as I forgot to do it with him this morning…so I won’t do that again. I can’t let him do it if I am not present, as he likes playing with, and eating, the toothpaste. I digress…

Texture is a HUGE problem. As well as appearance and smell. Everything has to be familiar. For my youngest, everything has to be dry!

I read a very fascinating article recently (if I can find it, I’ll add a link to this post) suggesting that parents ensure children are in the presence of a strong smelling food item they like when trying something new.

Smells can absolutely trigger my eldest in both negative and positive ways, so I am going to give this a try. I mean, it affects most people, let alone people with SPD.

We went to a local coffee shop recently and sat near the toilets as it was the only place large enough to house our monster pram. We still need it as my eldest gets very overloaded and tired, often needing to rest. Anyway, the toilets seemed to be very busy that day, and every time the door was opened, the strong smell of cleaning products overwhelmed us. I did not enjoy my latte and carrot cake as I just couldn’t taste it due to how distracting the smell was. A family member said it didn’t affect them, but the majority of us around the table struggled with the experience.

Reading and learning about ASD and SPD has made me realise that I myself am a sensory being, and some of the things my eldest does, I did as a child. Just not quite so extremely! I’ve also realised that as I am female, my social awareness was probably ‘better’. I picked up on the comments and funny faces people made, and knew to hide the behaviour better in future.

My son is usually pretty oblivious and absolutely not in control of his impulses, so he does not hide any behaviours. The good thing about identifying this about him, and myself, is that when people question why he does certain things…I already understand innately! The research I have done has helped me understand him, and myself, so much more, but more often than not, I can answer from experience without needing to consult a textbook!

As a small child (I believe I was 3 or 4) I had to be ‘gassed’ and have all of my teeth removed as they crumbled due to what I imagine was malnutrition. My mum said it was one of the most traumatic experiences, as I struggled against the mask and had to be held down. I hated textures with a passion and would store food in my mouth, tricking my mum into thinking I was eating. When I could store the food no more, it would explode all over the place. My poor mother!

Nothing they tried worked. I just would not eat. As an older child/teenager…I literally lived off of carrots, boiled potatoes and sauce. Very occasionally I would have pizza, but if the texture was wrong, I couldn’t eat it. As I got older, I was a huge vegetable fan and ventured into sandwiches and chips. I remember trying to share family meals such as bolognese, but I would spend most of the meal picking everything out of the sauce as I just could not stand the feeling of ‘bits’ in my mouth.

Thank goodness I had such an understanding mother, as most people called me fussy and said my mum was pandering to me. My mum did absolutely the right thing, as forcing me to eat would have probably traumatised me and caused some kind of eating disorder. My parents never gave up trying to get me to eat new things, but they were very patient and listened to me. My mum was always of the belief that you would never force an adult to eat something they dislike, so why should children be treated any differently? Children also have tastebuds that change a lot!

Although my children are very sensitive to textures, we have worked really hard on familiarising them with different food items. We have used all sorts of approaches such as food play, which was suggested by a nurse and health visitor. I was reluctant to do this as I am very hot on manners and was worried that the children would feel it was appropriate to play with food at the table.

Generally, they understand when it is and is not appropriate to play with food, but we have the odd slip up, particularly when my eldest is experiencing a ‘seeking’ day!

I am so happy they are not as bad as I was. As much as you would never believe it now, I spent much of my childhood and early teens underweight. I really do not want this for them.

The main fear for me is that they are not getting a lot of variety in their diet. I have been told not to worry as they are still so small, but I’m their mum so it’s kind of my job! My husband and I have done extensive research on diet, and feel a little uneasy about the amount of refined carbohydrates and hidden sugars they seem to consume. It is really tricky to address and balance this when there are limited food items they will eat.

On that note, I must go as my eldest is not coping with the amount of time I have taken out. He is craving some attention. He is desperate to clean his teeth again…it is not going to go down well when I tell him he has to wait until bed time!

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