If I had my way, I’d live on grains, dairy and sugar.
I literally used to dream about eating delectable cakes, cookies, pies, and chocolates (odd about the pies as I’m not a huge pie fan in my waking life). After having one of those dreams, my first waking thought would be “I gotta get me some of that.”
Now I eat a lot of vegetables. Although it has taken a long time and dedication to make the changes, because they were small steps, eating lots of veggies is effortless.
For most of us, adding veggies would be a good shift in our diet, but it is especially true for people with sensory issues for at least a couple of reasons:
1. People with sensory issues are more likely to be picky eaters or have avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Therefore, these people have less variety in their foods, which increases the chance of being low on nutrients.
2. People with autism are more likely than the general population to have leaky gut or gut issues, which means nutrition that is available is not properly processed.
In both cases, adding nutrient dense foods to a diet would be useful. As we read last week, almost half of the top 40 nutrient dense foods are greens (*spinach warning below).
Another reason for writing about this topic is to increase the health of those who help people with sensory issues so everyone has better physical and mental health.
Below are some ideas so you can easily add veggies and fruits to your diet (but the focus is on veggies).
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
All disease begins in the gut.
~Hippocrates (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration but I get the point)
1. Visual. Create fun combinations like the photo above. Here are more examples but don’t limit yourself to what is shown in the link. A round grape can also be another fruit using a baller, or change the size and use peas or brussel sprouts.
Also present veggies in a less common way – matchstick cut carrots, peel zucchini to look like flate noodles, use lettuce to create a wrap.
2. Olfactory. Play a blindfold game. Have child see the food options (textures must be similar), then guess which one he/she is eating. The food smells might be obvious but eating blindfolded can push the comfort zone.
Just for fun, here is a list of foods that taste good but smell bad (need to click through to next one to see description of the smell).
3. Tactile.Playing with food increases the chance of, on a different occasion, eating the food. Start with an acceptable texture and move out from there.
4. Auditory. I hadn’t given this one much thought but sound is very important to flavour. Watch to see if your young one likes a specific sound of food and replicate the sound. ‘Crisp’ is a common one and can come from eating potato chips or snapping matchstick-cut carrots, apple slices and maybe cucumber rounds (don’t have any cucumbers to test that suggestion)
These are mostly purchased items that might make eating more fun, but perhaps will spark your creativity for a DIY project.
5. Ownership. Kids who have helped select the veggies or fruit in the store, have helped chose a recipe or prepare the meal are more likely to eat it.
6. If you want to introduce more salads, this website has them divided into groupings which may make your search easier. Is there one style of salad you want to focus on? If there is, it helps to narrow your seach.
Looking for a very easy salad dressing (and my fave for the last year): lemon juice and an oil. Or, more often for me, I add fresh avocado and sprinkle the lemon juice over the salad before tossing. Easy.
7. Not too sure if the recipes on this website are special but it does connect autism with salad recipes so there may be something useful. (The website above should work but when I did a test, it didn't. If interested, here is the full link: https://www.tacanow.org/recipe-category/soup-salads/
- Got someone who really gets into eating, and you want to encourage the eating but reduce the clean up? We have some extremely durable, easy to clean, no off-gassing of toxins (off-gassing an issue with many waterproof fabrics) and cute solutions for you. View our Catch-It Bibs, Perfect Pocket Bib, and Perfect Pocket Smock.
Summer and salads go together. Have a healthy, happy salad-filled summer.
*Spinach has oxalates which can be a concern. Baby spinach has less oxalates and if rotated with other food, there usually is not be a problem. Cooking breaks down oxalic acid so is only a concern when eaten fresh.
P.S. For a long list of ideas to expand the food options, check out this website.