We’ve all heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat.” While it may not have been intended for literal meaning, I do agree that what we eat directly impacts our health. So, in a manner of speaking, we really are what we eat.
I remember when I was a kid I was quite literally forced to eat a tomato. I gagged! But, I think the horrible feel of that tomato going down my throat was still better than what would have awaited me had I not swallowed it. Guess what? To this day, I refuse to eat a tomato. I don’t even like marinara sauce!
Now, my tomato aversion does not remotely come close in comparison to Aiden’s food aversion that comes with his autism. His sensory issues make him a “picky eater” and with that, his diet is very limited. But between my horrible experience and what comes naturally to him, my stance is this – do not force a child to eat anything!
Aiden used to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then he dropped the jelly and switched to Nutella. Then he ate plane dinner rolls and scrambled eggs. Now, he will only lick Nutella off of a spoon and that’s as far as he’ll go. He’ll taste a VERY tiny piece of a scrambled egg and that’s it. He also used to eat bananas. Now all he does is peel and touch it and then leave it alone.
Today though… he helped himself to a few slices of apple! WOW!
I may not be popular in my stance. But Aiden has taught me that he will do things in his own time, when he is ready. And while he thrives in routine, he will go through phases. Sometimes, he’ll come in and out of phases. Other times, he’s totally done with it. And that is all right!
The subject of food is no different. He will eat what he needs to eat, what he wants to eat, what he can tolerate to eat when he is ready. I refuse to force him!
What I will do is offer him foods that are good for him. I will lovingly invite him to “play” with it by exploring their textures and smell despite my own Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I will kindly ask him to taste it. I will be patient when he chooses to walk away from it. I will laugh with him when he chooses to giggle over my offer and hand it back to me. I will respect his choice.
Aiden’s food aversion does not make him a bad child nor does it make me a bad parent. One day, when he is ready and if I am lucky, he’ll eat a whole apple and then some.