I get many questions and requests about how my son eats. He has always been a very picky eater with many food aversions (due to his autism spectrum disorder). I knew that when I came home from Extreme Weight Loss Boot Camp that getting my son on-board with my new lifestyle would be the fight of my life.
I am not sure if many of you know about the many feeding issues associated with autism, but I have experienced them first hand - food aversions, food jags, refusal to eat and gagging when trying new things have plagued me as an autism mom... and now... I am adding NEW FOODS???
I admit that in addition to the food issues that come along with autism... I created awful eating habits in my son. I am still working through the guilt I feel about this... I fed my kid fast food, I let him have soda, I packed his lunch with pre-packaged snacks. He watched his mom eat her way to 360 pounds with convenience foods. I taught him through my actions what portions to eat, that drive thru was a necessity when you were as busy as I was, food was comfort, food made things more fun and that processed food was ok because "that is all I could afford." I was raising a child to be like me... unhealthy, reliant on fast food, addicted to salt, sugar and processed food, not eating for fuel.....and let's just call it what it is.... I raised a FOOD ADDICT. The minute I realized what I had done to my son..I bought the pre-packaged foods, I packed his lunch, I cooked his dinner and served up huge portions, I took him through the drive thru on nearly a daily basis. I taught him how to be a food addict... I was crushed. I lived in that guilt for a minute... a long minute... then realized the only way to break the cycle that I started was to start a new cycle of healthy living.
Mason is 16. Telling a 16 year old ANYTHING is difficult. Telling him, "Mommy is a food addict and she has turned you into one too." SUCKS!!! I was embarrassed. But it MUST start with a conversation. I had to explain what was wrong with our eating in the past and how we were going to fix it in the future. I believe in being open and honest with your kids and owning your mistakes and pushing forward with dignity. During our talk, I laid out the new "ground rules".
- No more drive thru - (if we have to get something from ANYWHERE we will always walk in)
- No more soda (we are gonna drink water like it is our job)
- Mommy's trigger foods are NOT ALLOWED in this house (Cheetos/Taco Casa)
- You can only eat processed or off-plan foods when you aren't at home (with friends, grandparents, etc.)
- You will at least TRY new meals
- Monday Funday with mom we will be our ONE NIGHT every week to go out to dinner at a restaurant
The rules were hard to enforce... but necessary to get my kid off the processed junk!!! Here are a couple of tips that I have given my friends that have kids on the autism spectrum that helped me the most during this transition:
Play the "water game": for every plain bottle of water you drink - you can have a flavored water (Mio or Dasani drops)
Veggies!!!! - Find a vegetable that your child will eat and SERVE THE HELL OUT OF IT!!!!! Mason's veggie is bell peppers. He eats bell peppers and hummus, chicken and bell peppers, sautéed bell peppers, stuffed bell peppers... you get the idea
Kid friendly doesn't have to be processed. I make him fresh grilled chicken strips, pulled-chicken in the crock-pot, tacos and protein pancakes. I have substituted things in recipes to be able to make him healthy versions of his favorites: Sloppy joes and pizza!
Mason has lost weight, his acne has gotten better and even his attitude is better after making dietary changes. I am so proud of him for pushing through food aversions, trying new things and making healthy choices.
Here's to many more healthy years with my son!!!!! :)