Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life On The Autism Spectrum: For God's Sake JUST EAT

Okay Parents and parental sympathizers:

Who is familiar with a child who has eating issues?  Raise your hand.  Among the few special points of interest that nag at me daily--no, constantly--EATING is one of them.

It's weird, isn't it?  We all love food.  Everything we do centres around food.  I invite my sister over for dinner so we can bond over something really tasty.  A girlfriend of mine wants to throw a makeup products party, and is using the promise of "cocktails and yummy snacks" as an enticement.  One of the pleasures of a vacation is the food; abandoning oneself to eating as much as one wants, and whatever one wants.  When we have parties, everybody brings food.  We go for groceries at least once a week.  We fight the urge to overindulge in junk food.  Food, food, food, food, food. 

But not Jack, my 7 year old son. 

He's slowly giving up all the things he's willing to eat, one by one, and he's not adding anything new to his list. 

His lunch is sitting on the table.  I've reminded him three times to come eat it.  OOp, make that FOUR now....FIVE....

Anyhow, here is what I've set out for him:

* 2 pieces of (lightly toasted) cinnamon raisin toast--NO butter 
* glass of half high protein nutritonal shake/half milk, sweetened up with a little chocolate syrup
* a tablespoon (literally) of peach yogurt, with NO lumps of fruit in it

Jack's breakfast is/was: 
*bowl of flavoured instant oatmeal
* glass of chocolate milk

Jack's morning snack is/was
* 2 pieces of (lightly toasted) cinnamon raisin toast--NO butter
* glass of chocolate milk

Jack's afternoon snack will be the same as the morning snack, if it's the weekend. If it's a weekday, it will be a container of chocolate pudding.

Jack's dinner will be:
* bowl of flavoured instant oatmeal

* 2 pieces of (lightly toasted) cinnamon raisin toast--NO butter
* glass of half high protein nutritonal shake/half milk, sweetened up with a little chocolate syrup

bedtime snack:  same as morning and afternoon snack. 

The oatmeal can only be one of the following flavours: 

* cinnamon spice

* maple and brown sugar
* cinnamon apple
* strawberry but NOT "strawberry vanilla"

He will also eat homemade muffins, plain milk chocolate, and mint chocolate. 

In the past year he has stopped eating:
* butter on his toast

* Polish sausage
* weiners
* ice cream
* french toast
* slices of apple
* Sun Chips

and very recently he will not eat peanut butter sandwiches, or  yogurt. 

The peanut butter sandwich saga went a little something like this:  he ate peanut butter and jam sandwiches at lunch for two years straight.  Then he started to get a little funny about the peanut butter.  If there was any peanut butter coming out the side of the sandwich, he would not eat it.  If there were any bread crumbs mixed in to the peanut butter, he would not eat it.  I started putting his sandwich in the fridge half an hour before lunch, so it would "firm up" the filling.

Then he started to get funny about jam.  If the jam was too thick, he would not eat it.  If the jam was too globby, he would not eat it.  If the jam came outside of the borders of the bread, he would not eat it.  Then he stopped eating jam altogether.  To think, he used to eat jam on toast. 

He becomes ABSOLUTELY furious now if I ask him if he'd like a piece of cheese.  He's not skinny, but he's not fat either.  He's a little bit chubby from eating so much damn bread.

He takes a multivitamin with ZINC at breakfast time, as well as Omega 3.  At lunch he gets a vitamin D gummy, and we boost his nutrition every now and then with high protein shakes, which I feel a little uneasy about, because they're for adults.  That's why I split it over the course of a day, or two days. 

So why isn't he coming for lunch right now?  The yogurt.  I have so much yogurt in my fridge right now, it's ridiculous.  I think that probiotics are very important.  They put good bacteria in the gut.  Good bacteria helps for better digestion of food.  Better digestion of food helps with better absorption of the nutrients therein.  One theory about kids on the Autism Spectrum, is that a lot of them suffer from "leaky gut syndrome," which basically means that some key nutrients in their food pass right through them.  But Jack has stopped eating yogurt.  So, I keep searching for a new yogurt that will taste delicious, and not the least big sour.  If anyone has any suggestions of brands, please, please share.  I bought the little probiotic drinks.  He hated it.  I wasn't really surprised because it was both too sweet and so intensely yogurty tangy, I knew he'd never like it, but I kept my big yap shut.  Now I've got another mega pack of assorted flavours, but in another brand.  We've seen more ACTIVIA come through this house than you can imagine.  So, I was delighted that this new yogurt had no lumps of fruit to pick out.  But he won't like it.  I just know it.  It's not sweet enough. 

A Little Theory I Have On Diet, And ONE HELL OF AN ADMISSION
Personally?  When I think about a lot of behavioural problems kids have, I question their diets.  I question the diets of kids who don't have behavioural problems as well.  When I was little--and this is going to floor you, perhaps--I used to eat toilet paper and towel strings.  CLEAN toilet paper, you maniacs.  And no, I wasn't eating handfuls of the stuff, but every now and then I would get a towel and yank a string out to munch on.  I can remember how delicious it seemed. 

Now, before you conclude that I am/was a total freak, first let me say I never eat towel strings or toilet paper any longer.  I don't crave them.  I don't eat them.  I can remember how appealing they seemed though.  But consider this:  how much fibre did I/any kid have in their diet back in the 1970's???  Was fibre even a consideration then for the general population?  Think about it: 

If you were like me, you started your day with your bowl of cheerios, rice krispies or some other junk cereal that had little candy marshmallows in it, or featured the word "SUGAR" right there in the name.  Fibre count?  Maybe 1 gram, if you were lucky.  I didn't like oatmeal then--lots of kids do not.  Then I had my nice, fluffy bleached white sandwich. Fibre count?  Minimal.  I didn't like the fresh vegetables nearly as much as the canned ones, so we had a lot of canned green beans.  I hated peas, and cauliflower and broccoli made me gag.  I did love salad.  Yeah, I loved a salad made with that nice, pale ICEBERG LETTUCE.  Fibre count?  Forget it.  What if, my body was desperately craving fibre?  Hmm...

And how about snow-eating?  Do you remember eating snow?  Lots and lots of it?  Do you remember how delicious you thought it tasted?  Yeah?  That's interesting...did you also know that when people are iron deficient, they often CRAVE ice chips? 

It is now 44 minutes since I made Jack's lunch.  I know he's avoiding it because the yogurt is sitting there.  I also know I can either have a fight to get him to try it, or I can use the "I'm casual, and I don't care if you eat it or not method", which means I'll say nothing about the yogurt, and he'll never, ever, ever try it.  Or, I can yell upstairs and tell him the yogurt is off the table, so he won't be afraid to come and eat, and then I'll buy some probiotic supplements and replace yet another food with a pill. 

So disheartening. 

Image from HERE


  1. those freakin spectrum problems suck. it's amazing how a kid can be so thoroughly dedicated to avoiding a certain thing once they deem it unacceptable.
    i'm sorry you have to deal with that constantly. we have piles of issues here, but thankfully food isn't one of them at the moment.

  2. Wow this is tough Karen. Diane's son has horrible eating habits...he eats nothing of nutritional value.

    Did you know when I was growing up I hated everything? I used to freak if my food touched each other.
    The only sandwich i ate all through high school was peanut butter..made my mom sick everyday. Oh and as a child at birthdays? I was the only kid who hated hot dogs!! I would only eat a cookie.
    No wonder why i was so skinny and my sugar intake was huge!!!
    The only thing i liked was brocoli, milk and I loved liver...strange kid!

    What do the doctors say about Jacks eating?

  3. yeah, it's true Sherilin--too many problems! The food thing is something I'm sure most parents obsess over if it's a problem!

  4. you loved liver, Pam? Damn, that is interesting...Funny then that now you craft up such yummy meals eh--and love to cook!

    What do the doctors say? I think most are of the opinion that a "child will not starve himself." Nuts to that! I have a new doc now. Maybe I'll mention it to her, though I'm sure she won't get it.

  5. A child won't starve him/herself? Not true. Most won't. Some will. Not intentionally. And, well, some intentionally.

    I was picky growing up too. I was the only one allowed to eat alone in the living room in front of the t.v. I would take my dinner into the t.v. room, quietly open the pation door to the deck and stuff my dinner down the cracks. I did that for ages, and got away with it for ages too. Until one time. It was winter. There was snow on the deck. I hated milk then. I was too lazy to pour it down the cracks of the deck and hey! Milk is white! So, I figure I could just pour the milk and it would just look like snow. No. I was busted. :(

    I remember being OBSESSED with eating snow and clovers. I thought clovers were soooo delicious and I would eat HUGE quantities of them.

    When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter I craved snow like a MANIAC!

    Anyway, I'm not picky anymore. I love food now. In fact, I love it so much that I often have a hard time understanding the picky eater.

    But poor Jack. His lack of eating makes me feel sad for him. :( What is the solution? I just don't know.

  6. clovers? Wow, I didn't know that. Clover tasted decent. I once ate so much--now that you mention it--before a soccer game as a kid that I didn't feel too good. Har har.

    I don't know what the solution for Jack is, but I'm toying with the idea of starting all over again--from smooth pureed baby food.

  7. You know what Karen? That is not as crazy idea as it sounds. In fact, I think it's a very bright idea! However, let's not forget how gross a lot of the baby foods are. So one would have to be very clever about it.

  8. Oh, your son sounds just like my daughter! It's a battle to get her to eat anything new and forget about a balanced diet (and I hate those pills, but you have to do what you can).

    I recently found this website . It has a lot of information about why our kids won't eat and what we can do about it. I'm looking for a feeding therapist now.

    I agree baby food is sounding good about now.

  9. Well Aim, I'm thinking of buying some of the nice ones and (shudder) pureeing some myself. Like, I'd buy the apple strawberry and other fruits again, and whir up my own sweet potato concoction. I mean, he's lost years of food progression--how's he supposed to leap from soft carbs to steak???

  10. Isn't it a joy, Beth? Do you obsess over the whole food/eating business too??? I'll check out that link. I know that typically kids with behavioural issues, also have sensory issues, ie; they're more sensitive to taste, smell, texture...the same way they're sensitive to noises and lighting.

    Thanks for dropping in to have a read, by the way :)

  11. Don't think this question judgemental at all. please!

    But me being pretty ignorant on the spectrum thing.

    I just cannot help but wonder how much of this FOOD issue with everyone is just based out of a need for control in ones life.

    I am not pointing fingers at Jack or anyone.

    I realize the body will crave what it is lacking.

    But how much has to do with the environment around us?
    IE: food really is the only thing a youngster can and will control.

    Even in adults. there is such a high incidence of food related phobias, eating disorders that some of this purely has to start/end up/ with the need to control ones choices.

    I also wonder about food intolerances?

    The other thing I wonder about is the excitotoxins in all of our pre-packaged food and how it is affecting the young brain.

    I just think there are so many contributing factors to behaviour, eating disorders and the rise in all of this has been now in the last basically 22-23 years.

    The rise alone in autism has risen 300% in the last 20 years.

    Heavy metal toxins, found in babies at birth are alarmingly high.
    I have an article which I lent out to someone which has the basic heavy metal count in newborns. when I get it back it be worth mentioning.

    What is said that the baby is already born with high levels then we imunize them and it tips them over the for instance one of them was aluminium..I am not talking about thermisol ( is the the culprit they like to blame?)That is why some children would be affected more than others, based on the heavy metal count in the beginning.

    If we had the chance as parents to cleanse our own body of these nasty toxins before pregnancy I wonder if our children would stand a better chance.

    Chelation therapy will cleanse the blood but it is a mightly expensive procedure not done by regular medical doctors.

    there is an MD in town with also his ND degree and he has a combo approach to illness and has had huge success.

    My own daughter had a barely positive ANA test done about 3 years ago for having brown knuckles..and swelling fingers...Now that is know to be a common symptom of insulin resistance..where the body produces too much insulin from eating carbs and then stores the sugars as fat, thus weight gain. Thus then ending up with some PCOS.

    I know my daughter had food intolerances that she does not take care of...and this sometimes worsens the knuckle colour....and she CRAVES carbs 24/7 ...her weight has steadily climbed where I would say she has gained 50 lbs it the last 3 years. she is 22.

    try telling a 22 year old to get her ass in to the doctor! or change her eating habits.

    I really believe our food is ruining our health. Mentally, and physically.

    Oh, and I am the biggest food hypocrite you are going to find around here , I know a lot of knowledge...have followed it more off than not and have a weight issue, but these are the things I worry/ think about.

    Not to mention and zillion scary documentaries I have watched lately..on food....

    Just saying..adding my two cents of thoughts..

    so what do you gotta say Karen I am interested to have a dialogue.

  12. Good points Melissa...
    yeah, I've done a lot of reading, and know that the metals in these kids systems are through the roof. Chelation is still a controversial therapy, as it isn't done by hardly anyone, and it's not always effective. I totally agree--there are toxins everywhere, and there are a lot of synthetic ingredients in food replacing more expensive "real" ingredients.

    It's interesting you bring up immunizations. I used to butt heads with some super science lovin peeps on myspace. They enjoyed getting together and laughing at dumbass Jenny Mccarthy type moms who have the audacity to think that immunizations could 'cause' autism. I found this extremely annoying because how do they know??? Not only that, if they had a child who changed SLightly after being battered by shots, they wouldn't be so high and mighty. Do I think immunizations cause Autism? Probably not. However, do they exacerbate and overload an already weakened immune system? You bet I think so! It's funny: a baby isn't supposed to eat ANY FOOD for what are they saying now--at least six months? However, we'll pump them full of needles before they're even a year old--sometimes as many as 3 per doctor visit. I think the immune system in these kids is weakened to start with, and they can't fight off these metals, toxins, and immunizations as well as a normal kid, with a fully functioning liver can.

    Love all the points you brought up because they reflect so many of my own arguments and things I have pondered. Isn't the obvious answer generally the true one? Everyone's wondering gee, what caused this rise in Autism??? Uh, look at our frightening food industry!

    Carbs are so, so terribly addictive. Jack's whole diet is carbs, so I see your frustration with your daughter. The body probably craves them in the same way it would crave ANY ADDICTIVE DRUG: after the high comes the fall, and the body desperately strives to boost itself again.

    By the way...who's that md? If you want to email me:

  13. Oh hell, I live eating issues. I have a 7 year old who lost 9 pounds in 3 months. That's a big deal on a kid whose highest weight has been 55 lbs. Our doctor even asked him to please eat a scoop of ice cream every day. He doesn't.

    I gave up worrying about vegetables a long time ago. Fruit? Forget it. Please just eat something! I still have his chocolate from his easter basket from last year.

    The child survives on whole milk, Quik and Subway.

  14. Ugh Lisa. The frustration of it all! You are so right about the fruit and vegetables. My mom used to say that if you have a picky eater, you'r actually THRILLED if a kid eats a hot dog, just because it's SOMETHING.

    What is with the chocolate milk thing??? I was just talking about this with my sister. When I was a kid, I almost NEVER had chocolate milk, and I love/loved white milk! Kids nowadays seem to just hate it.

  15. Can't imagine the heartache you ladies go through over such a foundational thing like food. Perhaps autism is just better diagnosed in current years than before?

    'Proactive' drug intervention makes me a bit nervous as well, only because medical science is always 100% sure on their message until they learn that they are NOW 100% sure about their revised message.

  16. Exactly Matt. Plus, I haven't heard too many drug success stories, where the person who takes them walks away feeling 100% better, with no horrible side effects.


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