Food is a contentious issue for those of us who deal with the autism spectrum every day. It is more of a problem here because of all our our food allergies. Because of all of these issues I have become more and more drawn to the kitchen and find that cooking can be a creative outlet. We are constantly trying to get Daniel to try more foods. Sometimes, more, is enough, but I would like them to be healthier too. He seems to be (finally!) understanding the difference of the healthy and non or I guess un. We recently went to a health and wellness night at Zachary's school. We received a food target (as opposed to the pyramid) and it has been very helpful to him. It is by Chris Johnson, who came to speak at our school. I think that, visually, it makes a lot more sense than the pyramid and to his autistic eye, he wants a bulls eye. Perfect.
Daniel's willingness to try more foods lately is a good start. It may only be one bite, but we have to start somewhere don't we? And one bite of a grilled chicken is better than zero. We have found that reciting passages from Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" is helpful. For instance, Todd offers Daniel a bite of his chicken. Daniel says, "No, I do not like chicken". So Todd starts saying, "I will not eat it in a boat, I will not eat it with a goat. . ." Daniel starts repeating after, until he pops a bite into his mouth and no matter what says, "hey, I like chicken, I do!!!!!!!!!. . . I would eat it in a car and on a plane. . ." It, as everything seems to, grows old. But it WORKS and that is the most important thing.
This food target has allowed me to show him that chocolate fudge poptarts are not in the bulls eye and in fact are very bad. It is ok on occasion, but twice a day for snack may be a bit much. When he looked at me with his sweet face and said "they aren't good for me?" with such authenticity and true sadness, I could just melt. But, no, they are not. Now that he is 12 1/2 I believe his daily calorie need is rising fast. I don't want it to be filled with empty calories. I have watched my father struggle with his weight (this is being extremely kind by the way) and I don't want Daniel to get to a point that he has to lose weight, because I know that would be very difficult.
This leads me to today. His school was having a "parent appreciation" breakfast. I was asked to go as I have been a part of the parent council all year. I'm still not really sure how that happened and think that some very smart president somehow eased me into that with out me even realizing it. I know that seems impossible, and you may be thinking how can that happen without your realizing it? But it did. Maybe I was even too busy to realize it was happening and then there I found myself on the council. Either that or my high incidence of migraines really has rendered me completely helpless and hopeless.
Last night I asked Daniel if we could go to the school early for this breakfast. I feared that the schedule change would be too much for him. I, in passing, said he could just come with me and "have a muffin" if he so desired. I had no idea what sort of "carrot" that muffin would be. This morning the very first thing out of his mouth was "I get to have two breakfasts today". hmmm. who knew? He ate his breakfast and broke his schedule without me saying a word and did everything early so he would be ready to leave for school 30 minutes earlier than usual. We walked to the school together, went into the library and he immediately took a blueberry muffin (?) This is an odd choice for him, but I believe it was because the night before I had said "have a muffin". Good grief why didn't I say have some fruit?
So he had his muffin and orange juice. (also an odd choice, he always always drinks water I have zero hope of him ever having milk) then I saw him working his way back up to the table, only to grab a chocolate donut. I told him he could have only ONE. So he scurried off and ate that. Then, as I was chatting, I saw him slinking back to the table again. Two teachers were there and I could see he was headed back to the donuts. They were, of course, encouraging this. As I yelled NO MORE DONUTS. His plan was foiled. But how could he still be hungry? He had 3 pieces of whole wheat toast (plain no butter) and three pieces of bacon and water. Same as every day for the past 5 years? I'm realizing this may not be enough. . . as he walks by me with a BAGEL? WHAT? He's never had a bagel in his life. Plain of course, but he started to eat a giant bagel. Half way through he was slowing down and I told him if he's full he can be done. I was happy that he actually stopped, because I do think sometimes he feels compelled to finish. No matter what. This is not from us because we have never been "clean your plate" people as I feel it encourages eating when you aren't hungry and encourages obesity. Yes, I'm a bit obsessed with this issue.
The good thing is that he is a water drinker. I am very happy that he has chosen water as his drink. I have been asked by other parents how I have avoided him drinking soda. It is easy. It isn't an option and we don't have it in the house. You can't drink what isn't here. Parents usually then say "oh I have to have my Coke". Enough said? The only time he gets a soft drink is when we are in a restaurant and most of the time he doesn't even drink it. It just is a "treat". I believe some kids his age are starting on coffee which is crazy to me partially because I can't imagine someone talking incessantly about Teletubbies while holding a latte. We live in a college town with a coffee house every other store front, so I understand the lure. He's never been a juice guy, but every so often he'll have an apple juice "Juicy Juice" juice box.
My husband recently "won" a silent auction item for me. He bought himself a signed Tom Izzo basketball and for me, a margaritaville "basket". Which is just entirely too fitting for each of us. In it were these two adorable glasses. Which Daniel has taken as his own. Yup. After school he's been filling it up with water and taking it to the computer.I guess it's better than it's true intention. . . but it is funny watching him walk around with a margarita glass full of water!