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Featured Different Kinds of Food Issues

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Hareofhrair, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Hareofhrair

    Hareofhrair Active Member

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    So having sensory issues with food is pretty normal for us from what I've read, but I'm curious about all the different ways this can manifest. The most standard version I've heard about is people preferring bland food or having trouble with texture. I have a friend who isn't yet diagnosed but I strongly believe to be autistic who has a very limited diet-- He'll basically only eat the same handful of recipes his mom has cooked all his life, or things close enough to those that he can identify all the ingredients and be sure they didn't add anything else. Trying new things just causes him a ton of anxiety. But he also doesn't seem to enjoy food at all. He doesn't really expect food to taste good, or understand why someone would go to extra effort to make food taste better. If it's edible and doesn't set off his anxiety, that's as good as it gets. We've had actual arguments about this.

    Meanwhile, I've never heard of anyone having the same food issues as I do. I'm basically on the other side of things from my friend. I physically can't eat the same thing too often, even if it's something I love. It starts making me sick. The limit seems to be about two weeks of eating the thing every 1 - 2 days. After that, putting it in my mouth will make me gag. If I try to force it down I'll start dry heaving. As a kid, before I knew what was going on, my mom's insistence I finish my food could lead me to actually throwing up. If I realize I'm getting 'fatigued' on a food and I stop eating it for a while eventually I can eat it again. But some foods I forced myself to eat long enough that even years later they still make me gag.
    I also have a lot of trouble motivating myself to eat. If the food isn't either one of my comfort foods or exciting to me in some way, it becomes really hard for me to make myself want to eat. The difficulty goes up the more stressed/depressed I am and how much effort has to go into preparing it.

    For a long time, I ended up skipping meals a lot because I couldn't motivate myself to eat, and buying a lot of frozen meals and fast food to minimize prep so that I'd be more likely to eat it. Recently, things have improved for me by figuring out a way to work a meal kit delivery service into my budget. Because the recipes are always changing they keep my interest, and it also removes the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping and simplifies budgeting since it always costs the same. It's helped a ton.

    It's relatively common knowledge that hyper-sensitivity is a common autistic trait, but I didn't learn till pretty recently that hypo-sensitivity was also a thing. And since I seem to favor hypo-sensitivity in a lot of other things (I like compression and weight and complete silence or very light touches stress me out-- I can't be in a car with the windows down because hair touching my face makes me want to die lmao) I wonder if my inability to eat the same foods regularly might be another expression of that need for stimulation?

    What are your food issues like, if you have them? What are your tricks for managing them? Have you ever had issues like mine? If you're hyper-sensitive to foods, are you also hyper-sensitive about most other kinds of stimulation? I just think this is an interesting and potentially really varied aspect of the autistic experience, and I'd love to see all the different perspectives!
     
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  2. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I don't have a lot of issues around food, but I am sensitive to texture - I can't stand certain textures such as tomatoes - the seeds inside look like frogspawn! Or eggs. Can't stand eggs - I dislike both their texture and taste. And smell - they smell like month old farts :) Or bits of fat, sinew and cartilage in meat. I very meticulously trim these off any meat I'm going to eat. I don't often eat meat, prefer vegetarian.

    I love spicy food and will also try new foods, as long as I know what's in them. My main issue with food is the fact that you have to go and buy it, or cook it, and it requires time and organisation, which I'm not so good at. So I end up making food in batches and eating the same food two or three days in a row. I tend to stick with what is easy and needs less time with fewer stages. Something like a stew or hotpot, or spaghetti and sauce, plus a salad.
     
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  3. rubicks52

    rubicks52 Member

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    My family always makes fun of me for what a picky eater I am, although I have gotten a bit better from when I was a kid. I don't do condiments, sauces, or things like that - ketchup on french fries, salad dressing, buttered bread, frosting, maple syrup, gravy, etc. I don't like carbonated beverages and I've always suspected it's a texture thing. I don't like my food touching, so at the school cafeteria I often arrange my plate so there's some sort of a barrier, like a banana or raw spinach, in the middle to keep food separate. I also have a hard time motivating myself to eat, even at school when all I have to do is go grab the food.
     
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  4. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Food is uninteresting of itself to me, so unless conversing I read while eating. Also prefer the same bland basic set of foods. Meat should be cooked just under charcoal stage. Veggies I like both cooked and raw. I like fruits, nuts and herbs eaten plain not mixed in recipes.
     
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  5. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    The very light touch thing, with the example of the hair touching your face, sounds like tactile hypersensitivity.

    Compression and weight are proprioceptive input and light touch is tactile input -- they are not two ends of the same sensory channel, they are two different sensory channels.
     
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  6. Wolf Prince

    Wolf Prince My future job title.

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    I actually have that problem with cinnamon. And could not stand the sight of fish bones in a seafood restaurant as a kid. It made me sick and heave. Im better with it now.
     
  7. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't know that they are issues for me, unable to eat the same thing each day. With the exception of breakfast, which is usually toast and coffee. Make entirely different meals each day, which are never the same and have for all of my adult life. Even if I make pasta repeatedly, the sauce and pasta has to be different each time. Can't abide leftovers, although my husband likes them.

    Cook most days. If I don't like the results, for various reasons, texture, spices, taste, freshness, I won't eat the food. My husband would eat the same six meals his mother used to make, for the rest of his life. He eats to live, and will essentially eat most things, no matter how overcooked or badly done they are in restaurants. A problem for me as I will resort to a salad in those circumstances.

    Grew up eating fresh food from a large family garden, my mother was an excellent french cook, and I learned a lot from her. Also worked as a sous-chef and then chef for a good part of my life. So my relationship with food is problematic, in that I only really like food that is plain and fresh and perfectly cooked. No visually impressive but tasteless pretty food for me. Although I made a lot of that, in my life for others. Plunk in some expensive and complicated ingredients and people will rave, often the mish-mash of flavours seems to me to be pointless.

    My difficulty is that I taste most everything in food. So, I think people who do are called super-tasters. I can tell when the fish is fresh or the corn or the fruit or if the spices were freshly ground. And it makes most nervous, especially friends who ask me to dinner. Is it a problem? I suppose it is in a way. But not something I can't live with.
     
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  8. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I have avoided drinking milk since I was a small child.

    Mostly because my family had to move to Guam, where in the 50s the only equivalent was powdered milk which basically made me throw up. When we moved back to the mainland my mother was ecstatic that we could now drink real milk again. Problem was, at that point in time the taste of real milk also made me throw up. :oops:

    The solution was simple: avoidance. So I grew up drinking fruit juices. Funny that only in my 60s I discovered vanilla-flavored almond milk. That works. :cool:

    Like many others here, I also was a picky eater and always had to keep my foods separated on the same plate.
     
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  9. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I don’t really have food issues.
     
  10. Hareofhrair

    Hareofhrair Active Member

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    @Progster I am the same way about eggs! I hate the texture and the sulfur smell so much... The one that kills me is mushrooms. I love looking at mushrooms and learning about mushrooms and taking pictures of mushrooms and I WANT to love eating them. I even like the taste when they're diced or cooked down beyond recognition. But the spongy texture is completely inedible for me, I can't stand it, and the smell is often unbearable also.
    I completely feel you on the time and organization thing. I've stressed myself to tears trying to plan and budget meals, and grocery stores are pretty much my least favorite place on earth. I kept trying to find a food I could eat without the weird gag reflex thing happening because I wanted really badly to figure out a super straightforward menu I could just get all the time and forget about. Unfortunately, my brain decided that would be too easy, lol. The meal kit service has been a big help with that, though. They send me enough ingredients for two servings, so I cook three times a week and eat left overs on the off days. I couldn't keep up with much more cooking than that, lol. And the cost isn't too bad either. Theoretically, if I was following sales and pinching pennies, it would be cheaper to buy my own groceries, but I'd rather pay a little extra in order not to have to do the meal planning and grocery shopping. I also found a grocery delivery service for staples and snacks, so I can spend as little time as possible in Grocery Store Hell.

    @rubicks52 I'm sorry your family teases you for your diet. I think food is such an interesting part of how we interact with the world, and a unique window into our experiences. I hope one day your family can learn to appreciate the way you experience food and share that with you. There are a lot of chefs that might actually agree with you about not letting your food touch. There's a whole school of thought in cooking that prioritizes the pure ingredient and looks for ways to present the best example of those ingredients in their most essential form. They think food should taste like itself above all. Getting ketchup on it or letting it mingle with the mashed potatoes would alter that flavor, so unless they designed those two things to complement each other (like the way wine can make red meat taste more like itself) then they'd also be pretty insistent that the food not touch. I hope this doesn't seem condescending? I just think, NT people sometimes forget that just because something is the "normal" way things are done, doesn't mean that's the best or only way to do it. Wanting to taste your food unmuddled by other flavors is also normal. Some people even make it into art! <-Emily Blincoe's organized food photos are deeply satisfying.

    @the_tortoise Oh, cool! I thought they were two expressions of the same thing basically. Like, light touch is bad because I like more intense touch, or the inverse, heavy touch is good because I hate light touch. I didn't consider they were completely different channels. Thank you, I'm still learning about a lot of this.

    @Mia I'm a bit jealous of you getting to grow up eating like that! It sounds wonderful. I grew up on a very repetitive diet of spaghetti, mac and cheese, and hamburger helper. All three of which can make me queasy to look at now, lol.
    My thing can be weird about just varying flavors. It can extend how long it takes me to get fatigued, but often not by much. Pasta with red sauce, or alfredo, or vodka sauce, all still register as pasta to me, so even if you change the sauce every day after three days it will start being very hard for me to eat it. I think the longest I ever held out was the time I tried to do Slimfast, so I was constantly rotating flavors but it was still the same shakes and bars. I made it a little over a month I think, before I started gagging the minute I picked up the bottle.

    @Judge I'm not fond of milk either, I think I'm a bit lactose intolerant. Discovering almond milk was really nice for me too, lol.
     
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  11. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I was a problem eater as a kid, and only through travel, curiosity, or no choice did I learn about lots of different foods and the ways they are prepared. I tend to believe that our inability to venture across some lines in the culinary world stems from our fears that the food will cause us to lose our appetite if not cause an embarrassing irreversible reaction if we smell it or taste it. This is why we stay safe by only eating what we have confirmed we like. It's unfortunate, but these fears are quite real. I suppose that if we were to categorize the foods we abhor seeing, we would find the pattern of "turn-offs" that are the root of the matter. Kids can be finicky just to be difficult, but behind the ASD food aversions, we understand there is a complex collection of severe rules and regulations regarding our food. It isn't logical, but the impulse to stay away from certain foods has merit. Whatever our brain is thinking, we have determined that some food is not attractive to us. I feel bad for ASD kids who are punished for not eating certain foods. Perhaps we interpret taste differently or find certain food conditions to be completely gross. Uncooked egg yolks, room temperature milk, coagulated fat or grease, and pungent cheese have always bothered me. I also find wet bread to be disgusting, so I'm only a marginal fan of French toast or tiramisu. Wet cake is just as bad. I hated raisins, olives, pickles, and stewed fruit. I stopped eating my corn flakes if they got soggy. I think that the common thread for me here is anything soggy or runny. I don't like rice pudding if it isn't custard hard. As an adult, I've come to tolerate these foods, but not without a genuine disdain for them. Today, I tend to stay with safe options when I eat in a restaurant. I think you can temper your attitudes about food, but if you dislike something, there is a reason behind it. I don't know what it is exactly. Most of us hate anchovies, but I can't associate that with ASD.
     
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  12. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Stuff I definitely will not eat voluntarily

    Creepy crawly and slimy things (bugs, crustaceans, snails, etc)
    Fish (unless it doesn't smell/taste very much like fish)
    Things mixed in with too many other things
    Fungus
    Brussel Sprouts
    Things that look like or remind me of eyeballs (stuffed olives, Black eyed peas, etc)
     
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  13. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Anything that's soggy is quite offensive I find. When I make bread pudding, I place toasted bread on top after. Funny I love raisins, olives, anything pickled and make stewed fruit as an accompaniment to some meats and only eat the fruit. Soggy cereal flakes are repulsive. I don't mind runny though. Anchovies with hair on them, not for me, capers either.

    I have eaten them, but I don't like eating things that look like large insects. Wouldn't be my preference ever. As my nephew once said loudly at a restaurant: "Those are insects that walk along the ocean floor and eat fish poop." Funny about the fish, usually, I cannot eat anything with a fishy taste, unless I cover it up with something like a sauce. My spouse often gives me a thumbs up sign, you did it again, it doesn't taste like fish.
     
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  14. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    The diet was never repetitive, although there were a lot of potatoes and meat as my father insisted. Each sunday there would be a beef or pork roast, which my father ate for the week. The rest of the family ate more vegetables and fruit, sometimes canned and various other things, but that sort of diet was a lot of manual work for my mother and eventually us as we grew older. The vegetable garden was endless work; Harvesting, freezing, canning, pickling. All of us would be out weeding and hoeing several days a week. I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore. Your diet sounds great, the spaghetti, mac and cheese were things I wanted to try. But no foreign foods like 'spaghetti' were allowed:(
     
  15. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I love mushrooms! I think that the texture doesn't bother me because cooked mushrooms are firm rather than soggy or gooey. I once tried freezing them though, and that didn't work. They thawed out into an inedible gooey mess. We go out into the forest and gather mushrooms after rain. Which species of mushroom is in your avatar picture? I know most of the local variaties where I live, but I'm not familiar with that one.

    I love brussels sprouts, but hate ice cream cones, because they go all soggy when the ice cream melts.
     
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  16. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Another basic rule of thumb I follow is don't eat anything both prone to wildly mutate due to nuclear testing and of known uneven temper.

    giphy.gif
     
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  17. xudo

    xudo something

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    I like to always eat the same things if I can, and it makes me anxious and annoyed is I can't. I always have overnight oats for my breakfast, and it ruins my day if I forget to do it the night before.

    I hate it when my foods touch, say things like baked beans and mashed potato. I eat things separately too, so I would eat all the beans and then move on to all the mash for example. If we go out somewhere for food, I have to check the menu and decide what I'm going to have beforehand because the amount of choice leaves me unable to make a decision. When I decide on a meal from somewhere I'll have that every time we go there.
     
  18. 8398

    8398 Well-Known Member

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    Picky eater here. I relate to a lot said on here. I'm picky in the sense where I get sick of things fast, hard time getting motivated to eat unless it's especially appetizing at the moment, I like complex food and simple food but it can be polarizing, little tolerance for junk food and overly sweet stuff. I'll eat anything I've grown myself, after eating salads consisting of things from the garden I can't bring myself to eat boxed spinach anymore. So darn picky.

    I remember at daycare I did not eat. I dreaded it because the lady would stare me down, a lot of pressure for her to get me to eat. Of all the times I went, I ate raw carrots and broccoli one time. I must of been desperate 'cuz raw broccoli isn't too great.
    My mom also attempted once, to get me in trouble for not eating fried eggs. I sat in the corner, knowing I was on the right side of justice, I easily sat there the whole day. She probably realized afterwards that there was nothing that could change how I felt about foods I don't like.

    Yet I've eaten bugs and liked it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  19. AnnadinNoliman

    AnnadinNoliman Member

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    I've been severely a picky eater myself, some of my earliest memories are my parents yelling at me for not eating dinner. I remember dinnertime being my least favorite part of every day because it was when my mom would try and cook something different. Lunch and breakfast were more or less the same every meal and to this day if I don't have cereal in the morning I freak out.
    My diet has expanded a little since them, some of my pickiness just stemming from my anxiety about trying new things that I've been managing a lot better. But I still can't eat literally any fruit (except bananas for some reason?). It's so bad I genuinely tell people I'm allergic to fruit now because if my teeth even touch an apple or anything I will just immediately throw up, I always thought it totally a texture thing, but my sciencey friend also has an idea that the natural sugars might freak my tongue out in a way that added sugar doesn't.
    My friends joke a lot about how my favorite food is preservatives and how I eat like I'm in first grade, and it's not entirely false. I obsess over candy and take the crusts off my sandwiches and all that.
    However, I made some real progress in this department recently because I started dating this wonderful Bangladeshi person and I really wanted to be able to eat her family's food. So I trained for months, starting with hot cheetos and working my way up to going to Indian restaurants until the day came I visited her family and I totally did it!!! Ate their spicy food like it was nothin!! It was cool to know I have at least some control over my taste if I really focus.
     
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  20. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    I love a wide variety of foods, but I'm a little uneasy with organ meats and strange creatures (e.g., sea cucumbers). One thing that queers me is a flavor in a dish that is different than anything I can identify. I want everything I eat to be prepared from whole ingredients. As for repetition, I don't mind, but I follow a rule I learned from a wise Catholic mama with a huge family: Don't serve the same dish two nights in a row. Either modify it the second night, or store it for a couple days with something else in between.
     
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