My gosh, what does he eat!? Can’t he have any normal food?
That’s a statement I hear a lot, especially when it comes to party snacks. With the last day of school around the corner, it and its many variations have been ringing off the hook.
C.S. has a restricted diet. Ever since he was only 6 months old, his sensitivities have required a diet free of dairy/soy/beef (when nursing him, this was my diet); otherwise he suffered ear-splitting, spine-scraping colic and had blood in his stool. After he went through what I now understand is a classic transition of lost eye contact sometime after he turned two, under the guidance of a Naturopath, I gradually began restricting his diet even further. Believe me, I balked when it was suggested we give up gluten. But with each change came noticeable, remarkable improvements in his behavior.
And so his diet, while difficult to maintain, is something I will guard with the ferocity of a mother for her child’s soothing blanket or favorite lovie. It keeps him connected. It allows him to sleep. It fuels his happiness.
But, it is not ideal for parties or eating out. There are a few challenges for us here. Still, his diet includes plenty. It is open to just about anything that can be grown or picked and plenty of poultry, pork and fish. The full restrictions now include dairy, gluten, soy, beef, potato, egg whites and he will not touch a tomato or a pepper for anything.
So, what is it that he is tragically missing out on? What is “normal food?”
Apparently what every kid should get to eat is pizza, hamburger with fries, breaded dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, potato chips, gold fish, brownies, pudding cups, ice cream…stuff like that.
And what he eats—his lunch usually includes a peanut butter apple or turkey burger with a side of banana, grapes or berries. He won’t touch ketchup but a dip in honey mustard can convince him to try anything. He munches on nuts, Rice Chex and corn chips. Loves sugar snap peas, carrots, asparagus and grits. And we simply choose sorbet or Italian Ice instead of ice cream.
So, passing up pizza for a peanut butter slathered rice cake is unusual and the diet Autism has led us to is far from typical. It is not normal—but it is incredibly healthy. And it makes me wonder about many other things "normal." Could these also be similar to pizza vs. rice cakes,