What is this thing called picky

I’ve been reading a lot of stories from parents about their child’s picky eating habits. The despair is apparent: how can I get my child to try new things? How can I ensure that they get a healthy, balanced diet?

Well, speaking as an autistic adult: don’t. I was a very picky eater as a child, and I am not a picky eater anymore (apart from a few exceptions). And frankly, this is DESPITE everything my parents did in forcing me to try new foods and finish everything on my plate. I used to dread dinner time. Now it’s my favourite meal of the day.

Because I started cooking for myself.

Picky eating in autistic kids is not obstinacy or temper tantrums to get candy. It’s tied up with a whole boatload of sensory issues: not only taste, but also smell, texture and temperature. Most of us are far more sensitive to these things than you realise. That’s why some autistic kids don’t like crisps, or ice cream, or bubblegum… things you imagine every child would like.

Maybe I can show you by listing examples of the things I would and wouldn’t eat as a kid.

Vegetables

You know, the big one. The one every parent freaks out about, because if you’re not eating your veggies, you’re going to DIE. Or something. So let’s look at how I kept myself from dying so far.

© Katrien | Praetershoek

I liked broccoli but only if it wasn’t boiled too long. Spinach, only if it was nearly pureed. Green beans were alright. I was quite fond of string beans as well, but only sliced very thinly (my mother had a special slicer for that, pictured on the right). My favourite vegetable was curly kale, mashed with potatoes. Other than those five, I hated all boiled vegetables. I hated them so much, that I scooped them behind the radiator at my back when nobody was looking, or hid spoonfuls in my pockets. I also hated to eat anything in which I couldn’t identify the vegetables. Vegetable soup was a nightmare, mostly because of the texture of boiled onions and leek. I didn’t start to eat onions until I was 19, and then only if they were sliced razor thin. Leek took me even longer, age 25. I didn’t eat tomatoes until I was about 22. Tomato sauce was OK provided it was pureed to death, but not my favourite. And other vegetables? I discovered a marvelous thing once I started living on my own: I could eat them raw. Carrots, cauliflower, endives, beets, cabbages, courgette (zucchini), even fennel have all been added to my veggie repertoire now that I’m an adult. All raw. I love veggies. What a difference from when I was a kid. If only my parents hadn’t forced me to eat them boiled.

Fruit

I loved and still love cherries. Oranges and clementines have always been a favourite of mine. The tarter the better. I couldn’t stand overly sweet oranges, not to mention the ones that were sort of chewy and dry. I also had to spend about half an hour picking off every last bit of pith. I’ll call it attention to detail, but the adults around me called it exasperating and neurotic. Now that I’m an adult, I fortunately have a higher pith tolerance. Strawberries were more complicated. I love them plain, but process them in any kind of way and they became my most loathed fruit enemies. Strawberry jam, strawberry yoghurt, even strawberry ice cream: YUCK. It was a combination of taste and texture: processed strawberries are completely different from fresh ones. Bananas were and are still only OK if they are slightly green, with absolutely zero brown spots. The texture of brown banana is still grueling to me.

© Kornelia Häfele | Wikipedia

I could only eat apples if they were rigorously de-cored, and not with an apple corer because that would still leave pieces of core. Pieces of core even made me refuse apple pie if I found any of it inside. I hated the taste of grapes. I still can’t stand seedless grapes as an adult. Peaches, apricots, and plums were only edible if they were skinned, again a texture issue. In line with the tartness of oranges, I also loved and still love any type of berry: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, gooseberries. It probably helped that we grew most of those in our back garden. My favourite was gooseberry, cracking the skin and then sucking out the juicy flesh. So while I was very specific about the ways in which I wanted to eat fruit, fruit was never the nightmare for me that vegetables were.

Dairy

I was breastfed and then got formula for a couple of months until I was about 12 months old. I stopped drinking milk after that. It used to worry my mum that I wasn’t getting enough calcium. She shouldn’t have worried, because I’m an absolute cheese fiend. One of my first words was cheese. When people asked me what I wanted on my sandwiches, I always said “Cheese!” even when I meant something else. And even as a little kid, I preferred the stronger tasting and aged cheeses (I discovered blue cheese when I was about 14, and fell utterly in love). I also ate a lot of plain yoghurt, with little or no sugar added. Fruit yoghurts tasted artificial to me and were too sweet. As an adult, I still eat enormous amounts of cheese, but I’ve also added ice cream (yes you’ve read that correctly, I didn’t like dairy based ice creams as a kid), sour cream and other dairy products to my diet. I still can’t stand sweetened yoghurts or milk, though.

Meat and fish

© Kokodrill | Dreamstime.com

My love of meat was extremely dependent on texture. I wouldn’t eat sausages if they had chewy bits in them. I painstakingly removed rinds of fat from everything, including ham and bacon. I wouldn’t eat any type of cold cuts except very thinly sliced “rookvlees” (a kind of smoked carpaccio). Steaks had to be extremely well-done. Funnily enough, I loved such weird things as chicken livers, venison, and rabbit. As an adult, I’ve slowly moved towards liking rare steaks, but I’ve become very picky about quality, and prefer to eat vegetarian if I can’t get good quality meat. I’m still not fond of rinds of fat, but I’ve learned how to cook them to a crisp. Crispy is much better. Texture-wise, I also had to eat everything with knife and fork, even things like chicken legs, because I hated my fingers getting sticky. I didn’t eat spare ribs until I was 27. Any type of fish sent me into a panic because I was scared to death of choking on a fish bone. Even fish fingers had to be meticulously checked for stray fragments. I didn’t learn to like fish until I was in my late twenties, and I still check for fish bones, although not as panicky.

Beverages

In this sense, probably the ideal child, because I only drank tea or water. Even fruit juice and cordials had to be watered down beyond all recognition, otherwise I wouldn’t drink it. I couldn’t stand Coke or other sodas, because they were far too sweet. I liked carbonated mineral water, though. As an adult, I’ve added coffee and most types of alcohol (except alcopops) to this list, but other than that, no change.

Other things

Bread: as a child, only toasted (but not too crispy), especially supermarket bread. And without whole grains in them. And no hard crusts. I’ve come a long way since then, and now I’ll eat any type of bread, although I am still fairly snobby about supermarket bread.
Eggs: only fried or scrambled, and only if the yolks were broken up immediately and the egg was thoroughly cooked. I didn’t eat a soft boiled egg until I was 34. Hard boiled eggs still make me gag.
Vinegar: my nemesis. Just the smell is enough to make me throw up. My two brothers always tried to take advantage of this, by “accidentally” dropping some mayonnaise or ketchup on my chips so I’d refuse to touch them. More chips for them. I still have to be very specific in restaurants about not wanting any salad dressing or other condiments.

This image is enough to make me nauseated. Not kidding.
© Kliek | Wikipedia

You might be thinking to yourself that this doesn’t sound very picky, because the list of foods I would eat was still fairly long. However, it was still a list, and if something wasn’t on the list, I’d have a complete meltdown when forced to eat it. It was nearly impossible to take me to a restaurant because I didn’t want to eat anything I wasn’t familiar with. Once, when I was on holiday in Austria, about age 10, I ate nothing but Wiener Schnitzels at the local restaurant for over a week. This ended with the chef making me the most gigantic Schnitzel I’ve ever seen (about the size of two large dinner plates), to the extreme hilarity of everyone present.

For years, food to me meant being forced to eat things, because that was the way the world worked. It was only after I started cooking my own food that I dared experiment a bit more and develop a healthier attitude. I had control over what I ate and how I ate it, and that helped me to become less uptight about food. Even so, it took me a long while to stop feeling anxious when having dinner at someone else’s house, because I hated drawing attention to my long list of weird food dislikes.

I’ve finally come to the point where I eat and enjoy most foods. But it’s been a very long, traumatic road.

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46 thoughts on “What is this thing called picky

  1. I’m really impressed by all the foods you eat! I’m still notoriously picky, and having to eat a meal somewhere where I’m uncertain what will be served (or if it’ll be edible) is still incredibly anxiety producing. I don’t know how to get over this. There are just so few things that I can eat without gagging. I’m frustrated by my attempts to try new things, mainly because I just don’t enjoy it (even if I can get through it without gagging). I’m perfectly happy and content eating the same things over and over. It works for me, and since I do like various fruits, veggies, and other high nutrient foods, I’m doing fine nutrient wise. Yes, it would be lovely if I could be an adventurous eater because then I wouldn’t have to deal with the issues and anxiety that comes from having such a limited palette, but I’ve just no idea how to get there. Or if it’s even possible for me. *sigh* The struggle is real.

    Also, I’m amused by the differences between American English and your Dutch English in this post. I have no idea what crisps are, and I have a very strong feeling that your chips correspond with our fries, and I don’t know what word you’d use for what we call chips.

    • Crisps are what you call chips, and chips are what you call fries. I grew up watching the BBC and had a British pen pal when I was young, so I’m more oriented towards UK English. 🙂

      The only way I’ve found to be able to try new foods is to be kind to myself. To not blame myself for being a picky b!tch or feel like a failure for not being able to eat things. To always have a backup plan. And to start with the general principles of what I do like. Learning how to cook has been a life saver for me (and rapidly turned into a special interest once I got the hang of it, lol). A large part of that is about having control of what I eat, and not letting others ridicule or put pressure on me. I’ll be the judge of whether or not I’m going to like sushi, thank you very much.

      • I had a suspicion that that’s what crisps were…thanks for clearing that up. 😉

        I definitely like to be in control of what I eat too, but I think one of my biggest hangups is that cooking is incredibly difficult for me due to executive dysfunction. :/ It’s one of my biggest EF struggles, actually. It’s horrible. Honestly, I wish I had a cook. I could make up a menu with them, so I’d still be in control of what I eat, but they could just make everything for me so I wouldn’t have to try not to accidentally kill myself in the kitchen. 😛

        • I know what you mean, I feel like an honest to god miracle worker when I manage to get everything done at roughly the same time! My partner tried to get me to do the DISHES while I was waiting for the food to cook, I told him never in a million years. I simply cannot schedule that many disparate tasks.

          (I’m a big fan of crock pots, stews and oven dishes in that respect. No need to keep my eye on several pots and pans at the same time, can do everything step by step, and can take breaks without endangering myself or the end result).

  2. Oh my word, my father still does not understand that canned peaches and fresh peaches are not the same thing. Can’t count the number of times as a kid when he’d say “do you want some [fruit or vegetable]” for dinner tonight?” Yes! Only to find that he meant canned. Which…yuck. Eventually I learned…”canned ones or fresh ones?”

    The one and only piece of advice I have for parents of particular eaters is to find some way to let your kid be involved with food preparation, to the best of their ability. Both picking out and actually handling and preparing food. That they *don’t have to* proceed to eat if they don’t want to. But being familiar with a food by handling it, and being able to cook it to your own taste and texture preferences…well, the list of things I found as an adult that I actually liked when I could have them the way I needed them, is long.

    • Exactly! Being involved and having control are so important. The first time I cooked an entire meal for my parents and brothers, it made me feel so proud, never mind that it was incredibly limited in its palate. It helped me figure out ways to avoid the textures that I couldn’t handle. And in the process, I became a very inventive cook.

  3. I’m not autistic, but I was (and am) rather a picky eater. My parents still don’t understand why I insist on eating the same thing every single day (so we get into fights about it a lot), but the consistency of routine is important to me, as is the certainty of knowing that whatever I’ll get for meals is something I actually like to eat (because there aren’t that many things I’ll eat).

    • I’ve never been a pickier eater than during my teens, when I ate the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch (the only two meals I had control over) every single day. Drove my mother nuts. But it was definitely a need for routine and avoiding unpleasant surprises in a time where everything else was already so incredibly stressful.

      • That’s exactly how I feel! With university applications, school and just the general craziness of being a teenager, it’s really hard to cope already, so I need things like food to not be one more difficult thing to get through.

  4. Foods! I was definitely picky. I wouldn’t eat anything with green bits in it until past high school. I would probably eat only two or three types of vegetable. For years I would only eat carbohydrates (and milk). I spent a lot of my childhood eating plain spaghetti. My parents were so happy when I started actually eating meat when I was 10 or so. I think I always had to try one bite of everything on the table that was healthy or that wasn’t super fancy/yummy (like my parents didn’t make me eat sauted mushrooms after the first time.)

    My parents wouldn’t let me help with cooking often because they would hide vegetables in a lot of sauces by pureeing them and stuff. But I was still very sensitive to taste, so things like bell peppers could not be added or else I would CATCH THEM.

    Milk was super super important because it is such a quick thing to eat and I love it and drink an abnormally large amount of it, and sometimes it is the only thing I eat the first half of the day because I dislike breakfast foods and have been bad at packing a lunch. I would be a much grumpier person without milk. It is so instant-hunger-fulfilling.

    I don’t like eggs at all (but they are cheap protein so sometimes I chop them into tiny bits so small that they don’t have a texture and add them to things with strong sauce.

    I only just started eating salad (lettuce/spinach) and onions and only because if I cook them I can cook them exactly right. Same with broccoli. Actually, I mostly eat root vegetables. Yams and carrots and such. But carrots are good. My mom used to make us carrots in a brown sugar and butter sauce and they were delicious. (And yams are so so so yummy too.)

    Although cooking is also something that I am bad at remembering to do until after I am hungry, or coming up with ideas for it, and with only myself to feed, I get lazy. Which is why I have eaten rice and cheese and barbecue sauce with tiny hidden bits of egg for the last three nights. (Which I call barbecue pizza rice to make it sound marginally less strange.)

    But yes, cheese is good. Cheese is the best. I love cheese. I am glad you do too, because I like people who like cheese.

    Also I just like talking about food. 🙂

    • It always amazed my parents that I was able to pick out even the tiniest fleck of onion out of an entire quiche. I can ALWAYS taste bell peppers as well – which is the only reason I don’t eat them much, I don’t mind the taste but it’s so overpowering!

      • My parents couldn’t understand why I bothered picking the onions out of Western sandwiches (they’re a sandwich on toasted bread with an onion and ham omlette in the middle, if you’re not familiar with them). I liked the ham omlette, hated the onions. I’d do it even at restaurants, until my parents told me I could ask them to not put onions in it. 😄

        • Even after all these years, I still feel SO self-conscious when asking for a salad without salad dressing. With onions, I’d prefer picking them out! At least that way I don’t have to ask and am not depending on someone else to remember. 😛

        • I still will pick out any bits of tomatoes out of anything anyone gives me unless the tomatoes are pureed (like in sauce). Even in restaurants… although I often will just avoid that by not ordering tomato containing things in public.

    • You’re welcome! Thinking of my childhood eating habits still makes me shudder. Not because they wete so restricted, but because of how food could drive me to tears if it was something I couldn’t handle.

  5. I used to be an incredibly picky eater. For a while, the foods I would eat numbered less than 20.

    Adults tried forcing me to eat with the “you’re not leaving the table” thing and also the “we’ll just give you the same thing to eat over and over” thing. The first led to a meltdown and I still didn’t eat. The second meant I would starve until the adults gave up or the food they were trying to force me to eat went bad, whichever happened first. You can’t eat something that makes you gag.

    For me, it was usually a texture thing (except for bell peppers and certain raw foods where I didn’t like the aftertaste), so if stuff was pureed, I could eat it.

    I’m less picky now because I’m in control of what I eat and so if I don’t like it, I just don’t finish it. Plus I grew out of some of my food issues (but not others: Raw tomato is still gagmaking, as is celery in any form that isn’t a puree. And even then, the puree has to be in soup, not on its own. )

    • Also: Can’t stand mayonnaise. Which means I can’t buy sandwiches – they put it on every thing here. My sister used to squirt mayonnaise onto my fries to steal them, too. Eventually, I just stopped ordering fries since I’m rather indifferent to them.

      • Also also: O my gosh yes about the sticky fingers. I hate sticky fingers. Hate them! Much hatred.

        My parents tell stories of when I was first eating solids and how it would take me forever to eat until I learned how to use utensils. I’d take a bite, and then I’d hold my hand out for my parents to wipe. Only after it was wiped clean would I take another bite. Apparently, I’d just start crying at mealtime until they figured out what was bothering me. I’ve hated sticky fingers literally since before I could crawl. I was also incredibly finicky about my face (hate stuff on it even now) and the texture of what my feet were touching (my first encounter with grass provoked intense crying for three hours. And I still can’t walk on grass barefoot).

      • I know exactly what sandwiches I can buy at about two dozen different shops. And I’m a dedicated ingredient list reader. Also, siblings can be evil. I think my biggest frustration wasn’t so much my brothers doing this, but my parents telling me to stop making such a scene about it, instead of telling my brothers to stop torturing me.

  6. Most of my food issues are about texture and mouth feel. Anything greasy makes me nauseous (with the strange exception of butter on bread). The elements have to be separate on my plate if it’s something like sausage, potatoes and peas. And as a child I would have a meltdown if my parents cut up my food for me rather than letting me do it myself.

    • I couldn’t handle mixed-up food either. I always ate everything separately. As an adult, I’ve a far better handle on which textures actually complement each other, and so it’s not much of an issue anymore. But I completely recognise what you mean!

  7. I also found that cooking was the best way to relieve some of my sensory food-related nightmares…and in terms of eating out, the best thing I did was watch a ton of food network, read about food, and really understand what all of the various words for sauces, cooking methods, etc. were. It helps me to order things to my liking, to know what I’ll have to ask them to leave off or on the side, and to know what new things might be similar to things I already like.

    I hate vinegar but I’ll eat ketchup or pickles, I can’t even look at mayo, and I am luckily lactose intolerant so I can get out of most dairy easily. I’ll still eat plain yogurt or some ice cream, which doesn’t bother me the same way, but I don’t even want to look at a glass of milk! I used to eat only raw vegetables or broccoli stems as a kid–I had no way to explain that I only liked vegetables if they weren’t mushy at all, and my mom cooked most of them for way too long. My mom couldn’t understand why I would eat certain foods in one place/brand/form but not elsewhere, and it was 100% about the texture. As an adult, I have not only started cooking for myself, but I’ve also discovered different types of international foods that we never ate but that I enjoy, which has greatly expanded my list of foods I eat.

    • It’s so hard to put food dislikes into words, even as an adult! Never mind as a kid. I honestly can’t explain what it is about certain things that makes me gag. And parents often seem to think that you’re just making a fuss over nothing. Especially when to them, the things that you will and won’t eat don’t “make sense”.

  8. This reminds me of the time I cried over a savory dish that I can only describe to you as rice flan with meat embedded inside. Didn’t like the soft texture and it looked like nothing I knew about food at the time. I was so sad, I didn’t know what to do!

    For me I felt like I had to eat everything on my plate, so I learned how to hold my breath and quickly swallow down bites of food that I didn’t like. I even grimaced when I did that, but at least I didn’t have to deal with any bad tastes or textures for too long!

    Later I realized I could eat most vegetables and dishes as long as they were still crunchy. But small fry with bones in them, small dried shrimp or eel?…NOPE. Still don’t eat those.

  9. Thanks for this. This is why I think it’s so important to trust our kids and let them have some control over what they eat (and ignore all those voices warning you of raising a little tyrant because heaven forbid you let them pick a side dish).

    I’m definitely more of a sensory-seeker than a sensory-avoider (if that’s a word), so like a lot of different things, but it’s got to have some spice, tang, or crunch. I add a ton of spices and herbs to just about everything I make and I love to combine different textures. There are only a few foods I won’t eat, and it’s usually for bizarre reasons- like I’ll eat brown mustard but not yellow mustard because of the color.

    Also, cheese!

    • None of it makes sense, because I lovelovelove sour/acidic stuff… except when it’s vinegar sour, because then I hatehatehate it. It seems only other people with sensory issues seem to understand that they are completely different types of sour. Same with your mustard thing. Colour is an essential component of the food experience.

    • Sensory-seeking, yes! Spicy is good: I love hot curries. And different textures are good. I also like some foods because they trigger happy memories. Same with smells.

      Appearance is important to me because when I read or hear the name of a dish I get an image in my mind. If the reality doesn’t match that image I often won’t eat it.

      And cheese is the food of the gods! 😀

  10. Cooking really is the best solution. I love the food I prepare, with almost all of the veggies and meat that made me gag as a child. The smell of food was my biggest problem, and then the texture. I still can eat only fresh vegetables, the moment veggies are frozen, they acquire that ‘frozen odour’ that I find horrible. There were no way I could swallow chicken. Chewed until it was a dry mass in my mouth, and then had to spit out. Nowadays chicken is a firm favourite. The mere sight of avocado made me gag, now I can’t get enough. It took decades, but I am not so picky any more – and nothing my parents tried had any positive effect.

  11. your post reminds me so much of my partner’s daughter. apparently, as a young child she was notoriously “picky”, now at 15, she is much less so. lucky for us, she has the ability to articulate what she doesn’t like and why. and also lucky for us, she seems to like most veggies, although she always wants to know EXACTLY what’s in every meal. (her NT sister is the one we have to bribe with dessert to eat veggies.) her biggest texture issue is the fat on meats. not matter how much trimming of the meat i do, she always manages to find more to take off before she eats. *grin*

  12. Hah, this post sure makes me feel better about myself! In social scenarios, when I’m introduced to others, my friends always feel the need to add the disclaimer “She’s a really picky eater/She hates food” (either that, or “She’s not a hugger”). Even up until my high school years I would sometimes end up hiding entire plates of food just because it wasn’t done or cooked to my liking (despite it being food I normally ate), rather than enter into an argument with the cook, usually my mother. I remember eating tangerines as a child, which I loved, but it would take forever to eat because I had to pick out every pit AND peel all the excess white skin things from around each section. Now I just remembered that for the longest time, in order to get me to eat grapes, my mom would cut them in half and pick out the seeds because I hated them and it was the early 90s in Brazil–so apparently they didn’t have seedless grapes. I’ve only started venturing a little more to impress my foodie husband and because I’ve finally learned to cook for myself. Great article, I totally relate.

    • Your friends seem to be doing a bit of black-and-white thinking there (“she hates food”). You simply have very explicit preferences. Are you sure they’re not autistic? 😉

      • Hah, who knows! Maybe! 🙂 But I think they just learned after years of witnessing my “weird” reactions to things to apologize for me in advanced when introducing me to their cool new friends T_T

      • Oh no I wouldn’t want to waste your time with a few spelling/punctuation errors. I think it’s just a WordPress thing anyway. I’d rather just vent my frustration with WordPress on your comments section (apparently!) :p

  13. I just found your blog, which I love by the way, and this post is just full of awesome. My son is autistic, 3 years old, and people outside of the family constantly try and suggest new diets for us to force on him to make him less autistic. It’s very frustrating. We choose to not let food be a fight right now. The bit you wrote about the strawberries was great. We recently had an incident where Oliver wouldn’t touch ice cream, which he loves, because it had strawberry sauce on it, and he loves fresh strawberries. It hadn’t occurred to me that he might love a food in one form, but not in another (although it should have because he does that with so many other foods). Thank you for writing about this.

    • “Full of awesome”… This compliment just made my entire day! Thank you! 😀

      I’m really glad this has been helpful for you. And I am even more glad to hear that you’re taking your son’s food sensitivities seriously, instead of forcing him to eat things based on other people’s advice. In the end, your son’s the best person to give advice on what he can and can’t tolerate!

  14. Reading through some of your older posts (your writing is so engaging, I love it. :D) this one caught my attention.
    Since your handle is autisticook I had wondered about how you related to food. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am a little surprised how many issues you had with it when you were younger.
    Finding your love of food *your way* is a wonderful thing though, and I am so glad you were able to find a way to work around your sensory issues on that one.

    Man, so many people love vinegar, and they put it in like half of everything! Arg! I just struggle with it. (I think I’d have issues if I ever did go to Korea, which i’d like to, because apparently they like pickles on nearly everything)
    As an adult I can actually enjoy a bit of vinegar, notably balsamic, but I’m with you on it causing quite the aversion to a lot of things. For salad dressings, I like citronettes, the ones with only lemon/lime/orange juice and no vinegar whatsoever, they are my favourite salad dressings. I often make my own. 🙂

    Reading through the comments I feel lucky to have only a handful of issues with flavours and textures, at least ones that were extreme in any way.
    To my recollection there were a few mishaps that resulted in internal mayhem. For instance I once cried when my mother put mayonnaise on my sandwich, because that made it inedible. She said you could scrape it off, and that threw me over the edge because I knew she was wrong, and I was so hungry that I cried until I fell asleep. I was embarrassed about it too because I was in late elementary school, and “big kids” weren’t supposed to dissolve into tears over sandwiches.
    One of my favourite things, which has allowed me to overlook even aspects of flavours I don’t like, has been to pick apart flavours and textures and describe them, I love doing that, even at times when I don’t love the food.

    There was a thing you said which I mulled over quite a bit, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
    You said “don’t” in advice to people trying to encourage a picky child. I mean technically, I agree that forcing a child is not a good idea, but I’m not convinced that encouraging them is a bad idea either.

    One of mine and my brother’s best friends who we grew up around is both an auspie and a “picky eater” (though much less so now) I kept thinking of your advice and him, and I can’t reconcile that it’s always best to step back.
    He used to eat nothing (or almost nothing) but plain cheese pizza or cheese buns, and drink almost exclusively pop. He still loves these things, they are his comfort foods, but eating nothing but that isn’t healthy.
    Through a lot of coaxing his mother convinced him to take vitamins, since his diet really did not offer all the nutrients he needed.
    His mother, my brother, and I painstakingly worked at convincing him to try a few new things, and when he got a little older those few things helped expand his comfort zone to try other closely related new things.
    He laments sometimes that he wasn’t coaxed into eating a wider of variety of things sooner. (Though I think when he says that he forgets exactly how hard he was to convince to try anything)
    It’s possible he may have started to add things to his diet completely of his own volition, but given how much he still struggles to push away from the routine of eating nothing but those things, I can’t help but wonder if he would have, or could have overcome his anxiety of eating new foods on his own.

    I think also this was a case where anxiety complicated things, in instances where that happens, trying to coax a kid, or a person in general, might well be better than leaving them to their own devices. Force? Never, but coax, maybe sometimes.
    A lot of the coaxing I did was to go over it with him logically, and explain why being afraid of trying the other foods wasn’t rational, and explaining the benefits and the risks, trying to assure him that his fears were definitely irrational. Fortunately I don’t mind rehashing the same topic 50-100 times for years, if I’m interested.
    So while I agree that force isn’t good, I think just suggesting “don’t” is a bit too heavy handed, maybe.

  15. Pingback: Вещи, которые называют «разборчивостью» в еде. | Нейроразнообразие в России

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