Are you someone who likes to eat only certain foods?
One of the signs or symptoms of Autism are people’s less interest in food or uncommon food preferences due to sensory issues, underdeveloped oral motor muscles, or behaviors influenced from the environment. During physical therapy at a very young age, I had trouble chewing foods, so I was taught how to chew by the therapist using hands-on prompting. They were using their hand to open and close my mouth. This helped me learn to chew and eat foods.
As I got older, I had a hard time trying new foods in general. When I was little, all I used to eat was macaroni and cheese, pizza, and French toast. I had these foods three meals a day for years. Plus, I had a certain way of eating these foods. For example, I would cut my French toast from the middle, eat around it first, and then eat in the middle of the French toast. This was a preference I liked when eating my toast. Another example would be when I tried a cupcake back in Children’s Center, the first school I ever attended in New Jersey. I ate just the bottom of a cupcake rather than the entire cupcake. That was how I ate cupcakes later on. Here is a picture of me eating a cupcake:
I think a lot of people can relate when it comes being a choosy eater. Now how do we break this habit exactly? People can go from being a choosy eater to a healthy eater in life. It is possible! Its all about taking the first step. I know the journey is not easy, but I can tell you myself that it’s worth it because eating healthy is part of a life journey for everyone. Any kind of food we eat impacts our own health. Here are some ways to help to become a choosy eater to a healthy eater yourself:
- Start small. By taking baby steps, it can help towards eating new foods. For example, taking at least one bite of a new food will already make a difference. Make sure to praise afterwards because that was a big victory right there!
- Do not press buttons. This means to not push your own or someone’s luck when trying new foods. For example, if a person has trouble sitting at the table due to past negative experiences and that is causing them to not try new foods, just make a goal to have to sit at the table for a couple of minutes. Its all about changing attitude towards mealtime. By changing attitude, this will help towards trying new foods.
- Share clear expectations. Make sure to schedule times to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Using a clock, timer on the phone, or visual schedule are examples of visuals that can help create expectations for mealtime when going to try new foods.
- Reinforce! Make sure to use a reinforcement system based on yourself or the individual on the spectrum. Praise for all of the good things you or someone on the spectrum is doing during meal time. From seating at the table for mealtime to taking a bite of a new food, providing feedback and praise is key to changing attitude and increasing this habit in the future and into other environments.
So are you someone who eats only certain foods, and do you think it’s possible to break the habit? Or do you know someone who is a choosy eater, and do you think it’s possible that they can break the habit? Share your experiences in the comment’s section!