Tag Archives: food issues

Quality Of Food Is A Privilege

Forewarning, this is a bit of a rant, so I will admittedly say I wrote it in an emotional state and I may sound contradictory and/or quite enthusiastic in my execution of words … I possibly get distracted then, focused again. ;-)

I normally steer clear of arguments about food and any sort of dogmatic perceptions that claim that changing eating habits can heal a person from skin disorders all the way to mental illness. It simply is not true for everyone, every body digests and has chemical reactions differently. We all have sensory uniqueness and preferences that differ from one another. We are all individuals, I will use myself as an example. If I drink a soda the sensory effects drive me batty and cause me physical problems. I do not like carbonated anything it upsets my stomach. The sugary substance coats my teeth and makes it almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything else until I brush them, however; there is a lingering metallic taste that stays. My stomach feels icky, I get a jolt of energy then, crash very hard leaving me with a headache and bathroom problems. It does not matter if I drink a Dr. Pepper or carbonated flavored water I cannot consume them and feel well.

Other people seem to be able to drink these without a problem.

My mother is another example that is interesting, for most of her life she would get sickly eating fruits and vegetables. She had problems with them texturally and physically. Her diet is still quite limited, but as she has gotten older she has been able to add things such as spinach, broccoli, and bananas to her regular diet. It is no secret that I have been and continue to be very health conscious when it comes to food. I think growing up with limited food sources because of funds and because of my mom’s sensory issues, food sensitivities, and negative associations with food in general made me passionate about my kids always having enough food — particularly healthy food. I also, read many books while pregnant about child development and nutrition. I took it as a personal mission to feed my kids in the healthiest way I could.

I made all of my kids baby food from fresh organic veggies and fruits.

I steamed them and pureed them myself. They did not have regular sugar items unless it was made with honey for the first four years of their life … I believe I cannot recall exactly when. They still have never had a soda or some sort of fruit juice that is made with sugar. I did not give them very much processed foods and we are still not that big on eating a lot of it. Even the processed foods I did and do get normally have five or less ingredients and you can read them without needing a dictionary or google to search for them. I use coconut milk, water, oil, and any other sort of milks I find like rice, cashew, and almond because Daniel and I cannot drink milk. It makes us sick, however; Daniel can eat regular yogurt but not cheese. I cannot eat regular yogurt, but can eat certain cheese.

Our dairy is very limited. 

We eat in ways that many people do not. I spend a lot of time reading labels in the grocery to ensure we are in fact getting gluten-free, msg free, no high fructose corn syrup (corn suger) types of foods. I have done this since the children were born and I say all of that to express how much articles like this one upset me Chemist says omitting MSG cured daughter’s autism. I am all about healthy eating, if it were possible I would never buy anything processed because it makes me feel better. I agree with many points about diet in the article, however; I find it grossly irresponsible to suggest that autism can be “cured” simply by a change in diet. I am not sure if it is the mother’s perspective or how the author wrote it. It really does not matter, I have had Daniel on an MSG free, gluten-free, limited caisen, no artificial coloring, limited sugars of any kind for many years.

I was strict with the kid’s diet, and I admit to an extreme from the time they were born, until a little over a year ago and guess what, he was and still is Autistic.

However, in the past there were many days when I was thankful to get Daniel to eat ANYTHING! I had to feed him Carnation drink mix for about a year because I could barely get him to eat something unless it was white AND he refused to eat anything that was a crunchy texture and he refused meat, beans, or nuts. I was able to gradually introduce several foods that helped him. Did I see some significant improvement when I put him on a complete gluten free/limited caisen diet, yes. He was able to communicate verbally and his stomach problems were much less. Even recently, I accidentally gave him something that had “traces of wheat” (the one time I did not check, URG! I was very upset with myself.) he lost his words, his whole body basically shut down. He could not walk, his eyes were glazed over and he was in pain. When he eats certain foods with dyes or sugars his anxiety heightens, his sensory challenges are heightened, and he is irritable.

This is true for Ariel, Joshua, and myself too.

Although, there are other factors that could have contributed to Daniel gaining new abilities with his language during that time, he was around four and half or five when we saw a greater increase, connections could have rapidly been made in neural pathways that had not been able to before. That is one thought, there could be multiple factors, but I am not going into them. Though he benefits greatly, he is not cured neither is anyone else in this house. Of course, many people will benefit from eating a healthier diet, but we have to be realistic not many people can afford to, are willing, or able to give up certain things in life in order to maintain this dietary lifestyle. It costs a lot to eat healthy! Fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive and have a shorter shelf life than processed foods. Our biggest living costs is our housing and our food. We have eliminated many things such as cable, we do not eat out very often, or buy clothes at regular price.

I frequent Goodwill or clearance racks to find clothes for these constantly growing children of ours.

We try to keep the most cost efficient phones, packages, and many other things to ensure that our living environment is sensory and learning friendly for all of us. As well as trying to get the least costly of healthy foods which is a task — grocery shopping is not fun for me and it is time consuming. Many Americans and many more in other countries cannot do this, they do not have the resources to even consider “eating healthy.” They do not have the time to walk around reading labels to see what is in their products. I will say that other countries seem to have a different perspective about their food and may not need to look at labels like we do. Those who receive government assistance have to stretch out each dollar and are looking for the most for their money. That does not make it easy to buy organic or products such as I have mentioned above. I find it frustrating that people assume that it is an easy fix to buy healthy when many people are eating what they know they can afford. From my own experience, I had no connection to my food. I did not know where my food came from growing up.

It was in bags, boxes, cans, our staple meat products were SPAM, bologna, canned tuna, and other canned meats.

The freshest meat we ate was bacon and that was rarity. I have thought about the foods I grew up on and I believe it was the cause of much of my stomach problems, but I had no idea how to read a food label until several years ago. I never thought about where my hamburger came from. I had no idea how animals were farmed or fed, I did not think about it. I think that is a big issue in our country we have no connection to our food or a healthy relationship with it. We are not taught good eating habits, we are bombarded with large portions, processed everything, and then continually marketed to about dieting. No one thinks about how “diet” foods are loaded with sugar and are highly processed causing all sorts of health issues. You can be skinny and unhealthy and you can be larger and healthy. (I am not sure how to word that I do not mean to be offensive so forgive me if that is not a proper way to phrase it.)

I know I am going off on a tangent here, but I think this can apply to many things.

People do not think about Autism. They do not connect to it so they follow the fold like sheep listening and believing whatever someone else tells them, mainly the media. These types of articles send me in an uproar because it is not sharing useful ways to help Autistics. They are making idealistic claims. They are feeding parents and caregivers the perspective that we need to be changed AND it can be as easy as getting rid of MSG! No, No, NO! What does that do to the child? How do they feel if they show any sort of Autistic trait after they have been “cured”? What if they stim? What if they have anxiety? What if they cannot communicate, have a meltdown/shutdown, or they find a new special interest that they cannot tear themselves away from, then what? Will the diet need to be reevaluated? These are the things I think of when I read articles like these.

I do believe that if the diets of people in our country were healthier that we would see a decrease in physical health issues.

I do feel that we would see some mental health improvements. I believe that, I am not going to tell you that you must do it. Or that I am absolutely positive that it will cure all of your ailments because it might not. You could give up all of the processed foods, soda, sugary drinks, candy, anything else, and after several months you may not feel better — you most likely would, but will you be cured of depression, anxiety, ADHD, Autism, or other physical/mental issues? I cannot say. I am healthy, I do everything that they say is healthy for a person and I am still Autistic. I still struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. I still have depression and have to work through those days when the world is all a distortion — isolation consumes me. I still have PTSD episodes and my sensory processing issues get triggered manifesting OCD tendencies at times.

The coconut oil did not cure me.

The clean diet has not cured me. It has not cured my children. I can tell you with certainty that we do much better when we are eating like this. We do not have the severe stomach problems. Our minds feel clearer and we can get through anxiety much smoother. This opportunity to eat healthy should be an option to everyone, especially in a country that is so rich. However, that is not the case. We have families struggling to feed their children. We have children going to school and getting the only meal they will have for the day and some of them don’t even get that! It is outrageous. It is a privilege for me to be able to buy the foods that I do and I do not take it for granted. I was one of those kids growing up without food. My mom did everything in her power to ensure that I was fed, but she starved herself to get me that food many times. She took on jobs at the schools in order to supply me with breakfast and lunch so all she had to worry about was dinner.

I was not hungry growing up, thanks to my mom looking for anyway possible to feed me.

Though, there are many food traumas that I do have, but that is another story. I will say that I knew full well that there were many times when I had no idea if we would have food, water, or electricity. It is one of the reasons why food is a special interest to me. It is also, why I too have done whatever was possible to ensure that my kids had the food they needed. We have been in positions where our pantry and fridge were bare. We have been through circumstances where we sought assistance from the government. We did receive it while I was pregnant with Daniel and Ariel and about a year after. Then, David changed jobs and we made too much, but not enough and that pattern has continued for us. We were blessed to have people in our lives that helped us during those times. We were fortunate also because they saw and understood the importance of our family being gluten-free and trying to eat as healthy as possible. I continue to live as though I do not know if we will have enough money to get the foods that we eat.

I am frugal.

I do not waste, I think about how to stretch out what we have, but my children have never known that feeling of fear of no food or hunger. To assume, that all families can easily adjust to a nutritious life-style and way of eating is naive. When I read things that imply that it is a simple solution to eliminate foods for any family impacted by Autism especially, as a means to a cure. For people in general I get frustrated and reminded of all those people who deserve to have food who do not. They welcome any food, and if they are a special needs family the importance of quality and specific foods is even more challenging to obtain. Many do not have the privilege to consider whether it is locally owned grass fed meat, GMO free, MSG free, minimally processed, no high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar) or completely go vegan. They are overcome with a moment of peace to have a plate of food. Some families do not even have a moment to consider food options.

How can we change this?

How can help people get the foods that would benefit them in some ways? I get frustrated when I see food banks or donation boxes filled with the cheapest low quality foods possible. Why do people do that? I have seen people give these types of foods and I have been in their homes with pantries overflowing with good quality products. It bothers me. I know I have a bunch of things wrapped up in this post. It is something that I care deeply about, but have no idea how to do anything about it. Learning about food and the connections to how it affects our body and mind should be a priority in Autism interventions. I do agree with that, I think it can be beneficial. I feel that offering specific ways to help find quality food/specialized foods on limited funds should be a priority to those in the Autism Community — many of us have a lot of expenses and limited funds. I am neither confirming nor denying that changing a diet will make things better for people, but I think it should be something to consider.

NOT for a cure, but as a means to improve quality of life.

However, I believe that we first need to acknowledge the people who cannot even consider “healthy eating.” That includes children, special needs families, elderly, and those who are disabled. Interestingly, The major players that have foundations to feed the hungry are those who produce GMO products along with being the front runners in our meat/dairy economics. It’s like the cigarette companies paying for “Quit Smoking” campaigns … However, currently, GMO is the only affordable solution to feed the hungry. There looks to be positives on the horizon for more affordable options to eat organic Walmart is bringing in “more affordable” organic products. I think this is huge and with the burst in our desire to eat healthy, understand, and connect to our food I believe there will be more options in our future. Possible solutions like lab-grown meat may become more affordable and a new way to solve world hunger. (I told you that I may get distracted.) I watched this documentary and it gave me many things to ponder A Place at the Table.

Other reads:

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Food Stuff, Diets Egad! Movie & Documentary I

My mind has been looping and stirring about body image. (As we all know.) Last week, when my sister and nieces came to visit I was struck again with the body image damaging behavior that is rampant in my family. They do not even realize that they are doing it. My niece who is 13 years old showed some comparison behaviors that sent red flags immediately. (It could only be typical teenage behavior, but my family is already prone to this so I am highly sensitive.) I was ticked off when my sister was watching Ariel flop and flip on our chair and said, “Dang! Look at her abs and she is only seven!” I quickly rebutted with our limited diet and how active the kids are. It is pointless to go into any deep conversations about anything because well…

I got the look from everyone as if I were depriving my children by forcing them to eat “healthy.”

I looked at them and said, “My kids are not deprived. Come on, they get gluten-free Oreo’s, cake and stuff. We get burgers and fries from restaurants.” I felt like I should feel guilty for some reason. I hate that. The main thing that has been taught in this household is that food is an energy source. If we want to feel good and have energy we need to make sure we are eating foods and drinking things that achieve that for our bodies. We want our brains to be focused and alert. We want to feel connected to our food. We do not feel we should eliminate everything things in moderation makes sense. I am not even going into the issue that I have about my daughter’s body image already being pointed out. Leave her alone! I do not want her to even start thinking about that nonsense.

We consciously think about our food.

We are not hyper obsessive, calorie counting, and no sugar; eat only organic, raw foods type of people. I have done a lot of observing with my kids. I have taken notes, and watched their behaviors when they eat certain types of foods. I know my kids and how food and drinks affect them. I think it is very important and until they are old enough to make these decisions for themselves, I will decide for them. I do not buy much junk food, I do get some types of chips, but frankly, I do not find pleasure in eating foods that others find enjoyable. I do not care for soda, in addition to feeling like I am wasting money on empty calories. But that is me, who cares what I am doing!

I have talked about this before, but it really gets me upset.

My kids are happy, healthy, and perfectly fine without any of that stuff. Personally, I would rather spend my money on other things. I admit it is costly to eat this way – it is ridiculous that that eating fresh foods is more expensive than, eating processed foods. Now we do eat processed foods like pretzels, chips and mac and cheese types of things, but they are “healthier” version (seriously not sure about that. :-)) and gluten-free. Those are about double the cost of regular products. I do not see the point in giving my kids sugary drinks when they are happy with water. They are happy with 100% fruit juices and no additional sugars added. They are happy with my blueberry muffins made with a little bit of honey. Why would I want to change that, especially when I do not eat that way? I try to buy foods that I know will satisfy them because they eat A LOT! My purpose for food choices I think are logical, I am not a stickler or judgmental toward others. However, I do take offense when I feel like I am being judged for my personal choices.

I think it is silly to judge me for the choices I make when the person clearly has a choice in what they purchase. 

It is their choice what foods they like, or what they want to spend their money on. People seem to get awkward when they eat sweets, or certain foods around. They never ask me why I am not eating it, or why I have politely refuse to have some. I only receive a look and then, an awkward feel sometimes accompanied with rude comments such as, “I guess that is why you are so lanky.” I have to say no for my kids because I know what it will be like in our household after the consumption. (I usually bring back up food or snacks anyway.) The majority of the time I do not eat foods because they make me terribly ill. I get sick to my stomach, have bathroom problems for days, cannot sleep, or the sight/smell/taste genuinely is making me feel icky. It has nothing to do with discipline, or me wanting to be a healthy eater. My body forces me to be like this on many occasions. My kids suffer from many of these symptoms as well.

I used to eat anything and everything – I had energy, stomach, and mood problems ALL the time. 

I see food as my batteries for my body and mind. I need it to survive and I will use it to get the most energy I can. I am a person of habit when it comes to food for sure. I eat the same breakfast every morning, the same lunch, a variety of different dinners, but with the staples of protein, starch, and veggies. As a snack, if you asked me whether I wanted a bag of chips or a rice cake, I would take the rice cake. Why? Apparently, my taste buds prefer cardboard. :-)  It used to be a means of control, but now I am seeing that I really enjoy these types of foods. Gluten-free foods taste good to me. I would prefer them to southern fried foods any day.

I do enjoy spicy food that feel fresh and clean.

I am referring to things like peppers, or cayenne pepper on things. I have sensory issues with greasy foods, and sweets as well such as them leaving a film on my tongue and teeth, or the grease smelling a certain way. Foods like salad, rice, some fruits do not. They do not upset my stomach either, not sure why spicy stuff does not make me sick. There is no rhyme or reason to my body. It would seem that my taste buds are much like my emotions happy – sad at the same time, bland – spicy at the same time, nothing in between. I got completely sidetracked. The reason I was stuck on food is that it connects to the two movies I watched yesterday morning. (I actually wrote a lot of this yesterday, but I could not publish I was very fragile yesterday.)

The movies made my tears come out in a volcanic eruption.

I finally watched Disfigured and America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments. I could possibly devote two entire posts to these movies, but I need to process the emotions and thoughts I am feeling in the moment. In Disfigured, it went into a direction I had not expected at all. At first, I was trying to get through the awkwardness, and the “indie” type feel that seems to be consuming movies lately. I was also confused by many of the social interactions going on. I did what I normally do and tried to grab hold of the concepts and ultimate goal of the movie instead of trying to figure out what they meant by their odd phone conversations. I was not sure what to expect really, but I did not expect the heavier woman to ask for “anorexic lessons” for real. I think it played out well though. Heads up: There was a sex scene that I fast-forwarded through; I was not in the mood for any of that. I do see the value of what they were trying to convey in the scenes. I would have fast-forwarded any sex scenes because it stirs emotions that I cannot explain.

The other thing is the anorexic woman says, “I am socially retarded. I do not know what other people do.”

I do not think this was an inappropriate use of the word in regards to the context of the character as a whole. However, I know that others are sensitive to the misuse of the “R-word” and I would hate for someone to watch it and be unaware that the word is used. I did not see it as offensive, but others may feel differently. There is so much packed into this movie. I am not sure even where to begin or filter my thoughts. I think it was worth it to watch. I think it deals with some hard issues. I think it exposes people’s prejudice and stigmas that forebodes our society. It reveals how many of us suffer in silence whatever our eating disorders.

It gives perspective of how we need to change our perspective toward people.

The scene that caused me to lose it was, when the heavier woman confronted the anorexic woman about expressing herself. She tells her to cry, or scream and the anorexic woman says, “I can’t do that.” When she said that, my head flood with all of the years that I have hidden my tears. I would not allow myself to cry. I just spoke with my aunt last night she has been having a hard time too, she said, “I will not let myself cry.” I would not eat in front of people, (still at times) I would not feel, or let anyone know my thoughts. I controlled my food intake as well as my emotional intake, and release.

I watched the woman lose it, get angry, scream, and cry.

It took the prodding of her friend to send her over. I watched her lie in her friends lap as she was held, I think for the first time in a genuine caring way. I had flashes of last summer when I laid curled up in a ball on the floor sobbing, not knowing what to do with the intense feelings. The feelings that I have controlled and kept hidden unleashing themselves. I confess religion was a great way for me to stifle emotions. It helped me focus on helping others, and not to help myself. As I watched the movie, I could relate to the anorexic woman very much, there were many things that were familiar. I was never a calorie counter, or obsessive about foods – I would just stop eating. I would binge eat, and then stop eating thinking I had eaten enough for a few days. I used diet pills and cigarettes back in the day. I would be limited on funds and cigarettes were always a priority over food. Insane.

I cannot really write anymore about this movie, it’s too much to process.

Food Stuff, Diets Egad! Movie & Documentary II…

 

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The Cheese Experiment

I have been going around and around in my thinking about Daniel having such a hard time with cheese. I wrote about what happened when I gave him cheese in this post No Cheese! . It just doesn’t make sense to me that he can eat some things like yogurt and macaroni and cheese but cannot eat cheese. I had to go looking into it to see if I was just making things up and of course there will be experiments on Daniel with different foods because there is no other way for us to know what is going on. I don’t want to but we have no choice. He is repeatedly asking for cheese and doesn’t understand why he can’t have it. I am torn because I want to give it to him since he has never eaten it for me before, it is a new texture and feel in his mouth, that is a good thing. I have searched the soy and rice cheeses and they too have milk protein (casein) in them.

I found an almond cheese but it was crazy $5.00 for a small block!

What if he doesn’t like it? It may seem like it would be worth it to try but seriously I cannot be alright with spending $5 on a block of fake cheese that he may or may not like and I know darn well the rest of us will not so it will go to waste. I did find a recipe to make your own gluten-free, casein-free cheese. I may try it, it is made with hemp milk and tahini. I was thinking that I was crazy about this but just this week twice in a row, I used more milk in our dinner than I usually do. I got so extremely ill that I wasn’t sure what to do. The only difference was that I had more milk in my diet than usual. We didn’t change brands, I didn’t have anything else different in my diet except for the amount of milk. I find this odd because I can eat cheese. I cannot eat a lot of cheese because I get ill with that as well.

Maybe he just has a low tolerance and I gave him too much cheese the other day.

I do know that in order to find out what it really is we have to try to give it to him again. We will have to do low doses and take it from there. The week that he had the problem with the cheese, he ate cottage cheese and block cheese. It could have been just too large of quantities for his body to digest. I do know he cannot drink milk, that always makes him sick. I find this whole thing just odd. He isn’t allergic to it, he was tested for that but he obviously has an intolerance.

After the holidays and after things settle down, we will start our cheese experiment.

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