Monday, February 8, 2016

How To Deal With Food Sensitivity

Welcome to The Cherry On Top.

On Monday's we talk about Autism and give you tips that have worked or work for us, to try and make your life a bit easier, across the spectrum.

Today, we're looking at eating and food sensitivity disorders.  Perhaps you go through the same thing we do and that is stages, stages and more stages.  In a way, it's a bit relieving to think, "Oh, it's just a stage."  Sometimes they stick around for a while and other times they don't last at all.

Keep it simple and give them choices.

If there are any qualities we've learned to apply to make everyone's life easier, it's patience, compassion, perspective and persistence.  I'd like to go into each of these just a touch.

Patience was something I was not born with it, but after having two kids with Autism, I'm getting really good at this one and I feel more at peace with myself and the kids are also less stressed because mom and dad are dealing.  It didn't come easy and it didn't come fast, but it did get here.  Showing your child patience is a super duper example behaviour.  You may even want to point it out occasionally.

JJ!  Toes were not on the menu!

Compassion is what we need to feel when someone is in need.  Of course, everyone on the spectrum is different, but our youngest needs a lot of attention, around the clock, in most manners of life.  When we learn to be compassionate about helping people, it all gets so much easier and rewarding for all.

Perspective is a totally cool tool to bring to the table.  I have never looked at life from so many perspectives as I have been the last 10 years.  I'm sure you've had times where you're looking at your Autistic friend, family or colleague and you're thinking, "What the...?"  We do this a couple of times a day, easily.  We are wondering where the heck they come up with these questions or why they found something funny or why they thought a date was so important that they remember it three years later, exactly.  Learning how to look at things or try at least try to see things the way others do is a true gift.  We can learn so much by doing this and for everyone, really.

Persistence is crucial.  Do not give up on the things that matter.  For us it's sleeping, eating and school.  We do not give in on any of these.  It's really tough in the beginning, but it gets easier for everyone after a while.  There are so many battles to fight, that it's important to remember the ones that are most important so you're not fighting all of them.  Think of things that are most important and work with friends, teachers and family so that everyone understands all of them and sticks to it.

Let them cook or bake, too!

Apply all of the things above to your sensory disordered person.  Our oldest never wanted to eat.  He was very under weight and eating time was something we all dreaded.  While our youngest had such difficult sensory issues, it took ages to figure out just what he would and wouldn't eat.

First, I can tell you it gets better.  However, it is always changing and not always for the better, but  it is better than what it used to be because we were patient, compassionate, persistent and we put ourself in our kid's place to try and figure out what the big deal was.

Do not give in to junk, junk and more junk.  Do not continuously reward with dessert.  I see that this is a big problem for a lot of families.  Obesity is there.  We all should know that sugary, processed foods are hardly even food and reap havoc on our bodies.  No one is better off.  If the only healthy thing a child likes is celery than just keep giving celery.

Fingers are fun.  Don't push utensil use.

Continuously introduce new foods.  Never stop doing this. Encouragement is huge.  Show by example.  Try raw fruit and vegetables.  Start off by giving a dipping sauce of honey.  This one worked great for us!  A fresh fruit tray with all different kinds of fruit and a small spot for dipping honey.  Then use less and less and then none, if possible.

Just leave things on the table.  Don't make a big deal out of when they eat something, if it's possible.  We noticed that when we weren't watching, the youngest would often try stuff.  Give the kids serious props for at least trying.  This is a huge thing.  Our oldest has this smell thing.  He is very, very sensitive to smell and often doesn't want to even try things because of the way it smells.  They always HAVE to try at least a tiny taste and that's it.  Try not to harp about it.  Just let the food sit there.

Cram the nuts and veggies, and fruit into muffins!

Gagging is an absolute sign to stop.  Never ever force.  Especially, if there is gagging.

We don't let anyone leave the table until their plate is clean or until everyone else is finished.  You may find kids want to get off of the table to go and do something and this will help prevent that.  We also reward, occasionally, extra game time when they eat something that they really didn't like.  A prop behind the door is sometimes necessary, but shouldn't be overly used.

Many folks have problems with sauce.  So just give plain pasta, rice or potatoes without it.  There are so many kinds of pasta you can buy that are healthy like quinoa pasta and gluten free pasta, too.  Think of all of the shapes and  colours.

Making food look fun or pretty will make it more appealing to eat.  We also give huge spoons or tiny plates to entertain and get them to think of other things rather  than the food.  Talk a lot.  Change the subject.  Try to laugh and make table time as enjoyable as possible.

Pay attention to what it is that they just can't handle.  Small pieces are often the culprit. I puree like crazy.  This way they get all kinds of vegetables, but there is no physical evidence.  Hehehe...Mix white vegetables like various beets, parsnip, cabbage...through your typical mashed potatoes.  Carrots and spinach are delicious mixed with mashed potatoes. This has been just magical for us. Make sure those chunks are not to be seen or felt by using a mixer.  Staff mixers are great for this.

Remember or learn the basics of what a healthy person should be eating.  We really need a minimal amount of meat.  So don't push that.  Potatoes are certainly controversial and shouldn't be consumed often.  Bread is also a hot topic.  Fruit, vegetables, grains...these are things to focus on and make sure they are being consumed.

Soup, completely pureed is ideal.  You can put it in a sippy cup.  Serve it cold or warm.  So many options with soup.

We've got a super blog with a lot more tips on getting picky eaters to eat good food.  Check it out, here.

To see all of our posts on Autism in one nice place, go to our Autism board on Pinterest.

Thanks so much for checking out The Cherry!  See you next week.

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