Autism Spectrum Australia

Foodemian rhapsody

  • Posted: 08/05/2014
  • Author: Thomas Kuzma
  • Comments: Loading.. .


Hello foodies and gentle-eaters, I hope you’re ready for another exciting episode of Aspire. Last week I had tons fun on Free Comic Book Day and May the Fourth.

During the festivities, I emotionally went to my friend Sam’s going away party. While eating dinner I was baffled when Amanda stole some of my buttered chicken. After some delicious discussion, I discovered that people SHARE FOOD! What on earth? I have heard of sharing rice, chips and popcorn but this, this is EXTREMELY CHAOTIC! But it can’t just be me right? Surely people on the spectrum know my pain!

We’ve all got eating habits. I know some people eat their bananas by flipping them upside down, squishing the butt and peeling them that way (it works for the chimps in the wild). When it comes to soft drinks some wonder if this is a real lime or if it’s just a Fanta sea? We all have a rhapsody of different tastes, but what is with all these diets and fruits? And what’s up with their funky names like Kombucha, Pomegranate and Mango? So what are some healthy foods that we can pass on to our friends and family members who are on the autism spectrum?

A professional opinion

While looking through the menu in the canteen of life, I decided to talk to Aspect psychologist, Ellen Witzlsperger. Here is a snippet from the interview.

“There’s a wide range of issues when it comes to food, from the sensory component, all the way to textures that can affect kids and adolescences. Kids might prefer to eat mushy food because they haven’t become accustomed to food with a crunch, so they may not like chips or biscuits and other crunchy foods.  The opposite happens for those who are older, wanting crunchy type foods instead of mushy.

People on the spectrum may not like strong food tastes and smells, however people on the spectrum can have a wide range of tastes. So we can’t pinpoint one particular food. In some extreme cases, the food has made the person so distressed it has caused vomiting. When it comes to foods and colours, I believe that is more about the  person on the spectrum having restricted interests or rituals. For instance we’ve come across kids who have only wanted to eat foods that are red, so the parents would go to the ends of the earth using food dye to make everything red.

With day to day life, we need to know the difference between fussy eating and being incapable of eating a food. You need to look at the factor of distress when you present the food in front of them. The more distressed they become, the greater the chance that it is a sensory issue rather than fussy eating.

For those having difficulty getting enough nutrition, a dietician can help you choose the right foods for them to eat. If the problem lies with sensory issues an occupational therapist can help desensitise the person’s sensitivity.

Now for your food sharing issue, Thomas, I would suggest when there are situations that differentiate from the norm, the only thing you would have to do is prepare beforehand at home, so then you can understand the rules for when you go out.”

My two cents

I’ve had an interesting journey with food. I guess when I say ‘interesting’ I am sugar-coating it, like most things I eat. I am a skinny man, but I do have a problem with fatty and unhealthy foods. The problems are that it’s an easy solution and it tastes unbelievably good. When I need a quick pick me up at work, I go to my secret stash for all my candy needs. It could be worse; I could trust Disney’s Atlantis and rely on beans, beer, whisky and lard.

There are a lot of healthy foods I will go nowhere near. Mushrooms and avocados are God awful, I mean one looks like baby food and the other looks like a pe- well you get the idea. It took me a while to get into cheese, mainly because of the texture, unless it’s grilled or Jarlsberg Cheese, I won’t touch it.

I guess all I can say for those staring into the fridge deciding whether to have ice cream or  yoghurt, ask yourself this question: which one will be more beneficial in the long run? At home Sundays and Wednesdays are ice-cream nights and Fridays are usually Fish and Chips. Even though we have a routine we also have a wide array of dinners. This ranges from Mum’s delicious Pumpkin Soup to Dad’s not-so-bad Chilli Con Carne. Sometimes I feel that dad’s dinner sends shivers down my spine and my stomach aching all the time.

In conclusion

Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go, got to leave you all behind and face the truth. The truth that maybe I just don’t want to share my food! It might be a selfish act, but it’s order to me.

Today we have learned how we can combat the difficulties we face with our sensitive senses with food. In the grand buffet of tastes we must realise those delicious unhealthy foods like chocolate bars, chips and dodos should be eaten only sparingly (no one says dodos are healthy!).

Well that about wraps it up for another week’s blog. I hope this has been as insightful for you as it was delicious for me. But for those who didn’t get the lyrics I guess that nothing really matters. Anyone can see, nothing really matters to meeee.

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Foodemian rhapsody