It seems that all children have food preferences, just like adults, but those on the autism spectrum take it to a whole new level. Some children will only eat foods that are a certain color or avoid foods of a certain color. Some will only eat specific brands of food and when you see that mamma at the food store stocking up on a specific item you know she is doing it to avoid a meltdown if it is out of stock at home.
Ben went through this phase as well and still has lingering issues to this day. There was a time when he would only eat Lenders bagels for breakfast and then after several years he decided he didn’t want them any more.
At one of his school programs, they would request that I send in “non-preferred” foods as they would work on it during his lunch time. To this day, he still eats his peas like taking pills - swallowing them whole with his water.
In order to keep organized, I have a large kitchen calendar that has a place to write in the dinner meal idea. This is a blessing and a curse. If Ben loves the chosen meal all's right with the world, and if it is something he does not like he will stress until the meal is over. One week I had the nerve to put fish on the menu, definitely not a preferred food and Ben started stressing. On the morning of "Fish Day", I came down to the kitchen after Ben had left for school and found this sweet note on the fridge.
He was not done yet though. At the time, he was employed by Olive Garden, so he called and volunteered to work that dinner shift knowing that he was always allowed to buy dinner when he worked and so effectively skirted the dreaded fish dinner. You have to give him kudos for creativity and problem solving.
I do understand that everyone has food preferences, likes and dislikes. The part that confuses me is that Ben loves penne pasta, but won’t eat spaghetti. He loves hamburgers but won’t eat meatloaf. There is probably some underlying sensory issue that he can’t explain, yet his thoughts behind the preferences have always intrigued me.
What I try to do is not turn into a short order cook and make multiple dinners for everyone. I try to plan that if I am making meatloaf, to leave a portion of ground beef aside and grill him up a burger. If I am making spaghetti, it is no more trouble to put on 2 pots to boil with different pasta as I end up making the same amount.
Just yesterday Ben said to me "Whew, I dodged a bullet!" as I turned to see him pointing to the shepherds pie meal scheduled for a night this week he would be with his aunt's house overnight.
I just may have planned that meal knowing he would not be home, but he will never know!
Love you more,