Society is open to those who have issues with clothes, why is this not the case for those who have issues with foods?? It’s so much more socially acceptable to have preferences in terms of what clothing we like, because there are more reasons for that. I mean, there is different brands, fabrics, styles and prices. Unfortunately when it comes to food everything is more generalized. If I don’t like hamburger for instance, it doesn’t matter the style, brand or price. If I don’t like it, then just don’t like it. period.
“Just try it!” “If you don’t eat this then you have nothing.” For picky eaters, these phrases are all too common, especially for people on the Autism Spectrum. I myself am and have been a picky eater my whole life, thus I’ve eaten a small variety of the same foods throughout that time. Interestingly enough, being a picky eater can actually mean more than just not wanting to eat some foods.
Being picky if you’re on the Spectrum can be a texture or tactile issue. This can also be the case for those with sensory processing issues. I have always had an aversion to certain textures in clothing, everyday objects, and, yes, foods. For instance, I not only do not like the taste of hamburger but more so, I am put off by the texture of ground beef, meaning I have never had more that one or two bites of it my entire life. Crazy, right?
For parents of kids or spouses of adults on the Spectrum, dealing with a picky appetite can be challenging, even maddening. It can make mealtimes very demanding for both parties, and it deprive the person of specific nutrients like protein or vitamins if they don’t like meat or vegetables, yet there are alternatives, like Greek yogurt, eggs or vitamin gummies, to name a few.
As for me, I have been slowly increasing my variety of foods that I am willing to eat, the biggest being non-breaded pork or chicken; I even made myself some eggs a while back, the first time I ate them on my own, ever! For anyone on the Spectrum who struggles with being a picky eater, willingness to try new things and eat them more frequently is a monumental achievement.
I want to briefly speak of my own personal experience dealing with this. All my life, I have been teased, belittled and criticized for my eating habits, often being forced to try new things which left me feeling distressed, especially as a child. As a 26-year-old man, I must say that I do not like it when I am asked or pressured into trying new things; an adult should be allowed to eat or not eat whatever he wants!
All in all, I just want to reiterate that being a picky eater can be more than just avoiding foods one doesn’t like, but rather a sensory issue with the texture of the food itself. So, please, parents and spouses, don’t be harsh with your special picky eater, understand that it may be a sensory issue instead or alongside of simply not wanting to try a food.