Autism Awareness: Foods

What kind of diets do we have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters to find out.

When I have talked to other people on the spectrum, something we often have in common is our diets can be very unusual. This is probably one of the largest distinctive traits about me being on the spectrum. My diet is extremely unusual.

In the movie, Adam, the main character on the spectrum lives on Mac and Cheese. You can go to his cabinet in the movie and see that he has nothing but boxes of the stuff in there. Many of us on the spectrum can be finicky eaters.

Allie has been the only person who ever got me to change my diet, but I do hope to work on that a bit more, especially with a qualified therapist. My therapist and I are working on other issues right now, but I am sure we will get there someday. Allie got me to add quesadillas and fish to my diet, which is quite remarkable. Also, Subway sandwiches, which are now one of my favorites.

But she never managed to really get me to use silverware at all. There were some times I could do some things with silverware, but by and large, I still hate it. I prefer to eat anything I can with my hands.

One aspect of my food is that I hate it if it is messy. There were times when we met for Celebrate Recovery and the food section of the meeting was different from the social setting in some ways. There was still socializing around the food, but there was socializing elsewhere too. Sometimes she would ask me why I was out in the outer area and I would say “It’s messy in there.” She understood that that mean that the food was too messy for me and I would have internal emotional reactions to seeing it.

I also don’t like attention being drawn to my having a meal. We were once at a Christmas gathering for our small group and Allie was insisting I go and get something rather than sit on the couch reading. I went and got a tortilla chip to which the hostess, being perfectly innocent, came up to me with Allie there being so happy I was eating something.

I froze immediately.

Allie thought I was joking at first, but her laughter stopped soon. No. This wasn’t a joke. This was real. I stopped what I was doing immediately and honestly, the rest of the evening, I just wanted to go home. I was miserable. Fortunately, our hostess was very understanding and I made up with her later on, but it was a rough evening for me.

Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t have to. Honestly, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but that is the reality of what it is. I suspect you also can’t make much sense out of some of the things that you do.

That’s also why whoever said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach never met me. If anything, when friends invited me over to their house as a teenager and small child, the parents were often amazed that I was the friend who came over and never ate anything. Most of them had their son’s friends being bottomless pits, but not me.

It is also why when I understood it in a literal sense, reading in Revelation about the wedding supper of the lamb was never appealing to me growing up. You could compare it to people who have a problem when they hear God is “Father.” We can often understand that so I look back on my younger self and try to be understanding.

If you meet someone on the spectrum, be sensitive to food issues. Not all of us are like this, but many of us are. My hope is to meet more people who are understanding and accept me the way that I am unconditionally, but also are willing to gently work with me on the issue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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