My Sensory Life: Taste

Categories: Life Skills | Sensory

Does your child or yourself fit under the labels such as “picky eater,” “particular about food,” “meticulous in taste,” or “precautious eater.” I for one fit under these terms, but I learned I’m not really the one to blame. When asked or persuaded, I do try new foods, though my taste senses are most likely to reject the new food whether it was because of the certain texture it had, smell or even size. For most of my life I thought I was the one to blame for being too picky and still was expected to eat the new food because substitutions were not allowed and especially so in a hispanic household. Though luckily when the discovery of my autism occurred, so did my Sensory Processing Disorder which put so much light on this issue. My SPD was the one to blame for me gagging at certain textures and simply not liking many types of food in general. Although I can play the blame game all day and achieve anything out of it, so my mom and I began the journey to a discovery of new foods my SPD will approve of.

One of the biggest struggles that I often have to overcome when it comes to food is textures. I don’t necessarily have a set list of which textures are good and which aren’t but there is a distinct set of restrictions of food textures that can’t be consumed together. Just to make it clear the different food textures can touch each other but they can’t be mixed together. I don’t necessarily need barriers to separate them, the food can live close together in harmony and I won’t lose my cool. Caldo de pollo is notoriously known for being something I don’t like. Caldo de pollo does translate to chicken soup but there are some key differences. Caldo de pollo consists of squash, carrots, corn on the cob, potatoes, cabbage, a whole chicken, garlic, onions, and lastly Mexican rice that sits at the bottom. A sip of this soup and you have a wonderful taste of flavors but eating it was a whole other ordeal. While eating my taste buds are overwhelmed with different consistencies of soft squishiness such as squash and rice. Also hard tough pieces of carrots and chicken. Plus most of the time this is served with chunks of the ingredients that are not bite size which makes the fear of choking very prevalent. In general it is not very enjoyable to eat though my mom was very clever to come up with her own modifications. My mom now cuts all of the vegetables into thin slices. The chicken is shredded into pieces so now no worries about eating a bone. She even keeps the rice separate from the soup altogether so that way I can eat it without it mixing into the soup. This is just one example of how she makes food more tolerable to eat and even enjoyable.

Being very selective about foods leads to a very rigid diet and when that diet primarily consists of sweets and carbs you end up with many digestive problems. As an autistic person my repetition habits can even wander into my eating style. I often find a certain meal that I really enjoy and want to eat everyday for weeks at a time until I burn myself out. Sort of like a special interest that I invest my entire devotion to until I absolutely know everything about it. Some people may think that it makes cooking easy, you’ll always know what to prepare. Well it can backfire horribly when you are missing ingredients to make that dish because no substitutions are acceptable in our mind. All we want to eat is that special dish. As a result my mom has to buy huge amounts of that one thing so running out of the ingredient won’t end up in a huge meltdown. One of my longest binges on a certain food was breakfast burritos. For at least six months my mom made four scrambled eggs with ham, wrapped in two huge flour tortillas, everyday for breakfast. This doesn’t sound too bad right? I mean you have lots of protein from the eggs and ham with just some carbs. Though it does lack a lot of those essentials from the other four food groups. Although at the time I didn’t worry or think about having a balanced diet, breakfast burritos worked just fine for me since I’m very physically active and those proteins helped me build my muscle. I did pay for my consequences with a trip to the ER since I was suffering from severe abdominal pain. It didn’t click in my brain immediately though that my digestive system was calling out for help, my body lacked much fiber and essential vitamins. So once again it was mom for the rescue she introduced me to oatmeal and I wasn’t so keen about it at first. But add in a spoonful of nutella and some chocolate flavored protein and I fell in love with it. So began my next binge on oatmeal for the next few months. This time though my digestive system thanked me for all the extra supplements I could add on my oatmeal without disturbing my food texture restrictions.

Don’t underestimate your taste buds. They can truly dominate your life and control your health if you let them. But with helpful new techniques in preparing food or those helpful subtle food supplements they can make a difference for your “picky taste.” 
Abigail Rivera
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1 Comment

  1. The oatmeal breakfast looks good. Great place to try different flavors.

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