Friday, April 4, 2014

Orange you glad to see me?

Most people have heard if you eat too many carrots, or other food high in beta-carotene, it will add an orange-hue to a person's skin. This is not just a food myth, it can happen. I've met parents with orange kids because their diet is so restrictive.

People have restrictive diets, or are picky eaters, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons has to do with the texture of the food. I was unable to eat scallops for years because of how they were cooked for me. It make me gag just thinking about them. Some people I know cannot eat raw veggies, drink milk, or a whole list of random food things that are completely off limits.

Another big reason for restrictive diets is a sense of comfort. In elementary school, I had a cheese sandwich on Hawaiian bread with chocolate milk almost exclusively for lunch. It made life easier because I knew exactly what was waiting in my lunch box. Even now, I sometimes fall into a routine of the same foods. The only difference is now I try new foods on almost a weekly basis.

When parents ask me how they can make their child try new foods, I need to correct them. They can't 'make' their child do anything. There were times my father made me sit at the table until my plate was rid of veggies. He did not say they had to be eaten and the centerpiece was often my hiding place for peas. Instead of making mealtimes a horrible or dreaded event, there are so many ways to make food fun by first including the person in the process.

What if there was one new fruit or veggie selected each week and that could be an adventure. What if there is a way to prepare or cook the food so it had a different texture? What if it looked more appetizing? What if food was fun and an opportunity for the person to have a say in their own life? Below is a picture of a fun bento box. Fair warning, if you start looking up fun bento box designs you can spend hours falling down the rabbit hole.

Photo credit Wendy Copley from
Just like with addressing a biological reason why hearing is impacted, it is also important to address if there is a medical issue preventing someone from eating specific foods. There are autistic people who exclude gluten, dairy, and food additives like artificial colors from their diet. Food sensitivities are less serious than allergies, but also need to be considered. Food issues can also develop at any point in life and can also leave randomly. I was horribly allergic to citrus when I was younger, but now I can eat as much as I want. I mean, I still ate citrus when I was allergic but I didn't care if my face hurt until I ran out of strawberries then I was more upset there was not more. A doctor can run tests to determine allergies, but it doesn't hurt to make a note if there is a behavior or negative reaction after eating a specific food or at a certain restaurant.

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