Autism: Food Obsession

19 Sep

I am not even a “food person.” Most of the time, I don’t even like it. Okay, I do like chocolate, and pop, and… sometimes that is about it. But I get sick fast when I don’t eat well, so it isn’t like I can survive on that.

My relationship with food is so bad, that if I didn’t need it to survive, I would probably… I would probably get a divorce from it. Food. Bad. I have always struggled with food. It was likely worse as a child when I had to eat what I was given (typical Canadian kids meals – hamburgers, Kraft dinner, hot dogs, sausage, spaghetti) and I still can’t eat like that. I complained of an upset stomach a lot of the time (little surprise, my stomach still hurts a lot of the time) and wasn’t able to speak enough to explain any further. They didn’t believe me. It wasn’t “normal.”

However, I still have a lot of trouble with food. Though I can choose my own now most of the time, and though more people understand about allergies, sensitivities, intolerance… I am now an adult – and expected to behave as such (meaning not hiding in a corner crying because they are having hot dogs for lunch, and I have eaten so much wheat I can no longer think to find something of my own.) Being an adult makes it hard in a different sort of way.

So no. I am not a “food person,” and yet I spend so much of my time obsessed with food. This is likely not because I like it, but… you would think that by 40 (which I will be on September 25th) that a person would have learned what foods they can eat, and what makes them sick, and what they really, really like. I don’t, though.

I know wheat makes me sick, and dairy makes me sick, and if I eat eggs, I will likely stop breathing. And meat leaves me feeling sad, anxious, guilty, and disgusted. Those are important things to know. Still I don’t know what I like – and if I like it today, I don’t know that I will like it tomorrow – and if I like it at home, I don’t know that I will like it when I am camping – and…

You see where the problem comes in?

I just can’t seem to figure this very basic thing out. How do I eat? And that one question becomes an obsession, and a fixation, that though I am most definitely not a food person (I won’t even try new things unless I choose them – and if I go to a restaurant, no way will I try something other than that one thing I know I can eat – and if I go to a new restaurant… I will likely look at the menu until I am near tears, and then leave if I can, or eat nothing but fries if I have to)

So I write about food a lot – not because I like it, but because at nearly 40 years old, I still haven’t learned how to eat. And that is a problem. A big problem – and one that affects nearly every decision that I make.

Today for lunch I ate gluten free tempura battered fried tempeh with fried onions and kosher pickles. Why kosher? Because I sent my husband out for pickles, and he doesn’t eat them, and I guess that is what he thinks of the sort of foods I am willing to eat. (I like them by the way.)

food 002

Why did I do the tempeh that way (and why do I eat tempeh anyway?) Because the last and only time I have eaten tempeh (which I heard several vegans say they really liked) I was camping, and didn’t like it at all – but it was expensive (nearly $5 for 14 slices) and I couldn’t throw it away. So I battered and fried it like chicken strips – and other than the smoky flavour it came with, I liked it fine. But that doesn’t mean I will ever try it again. After all, it isn’t something I usually eat, and lentils are less than $1 a can.

When I was a kid and I couldn’t eat (most of the time) and my dad was away (because he believed children should eat what was on their plate) my mom would give me baby food in the form of jars of pureed berries, or pablum mixed with sugar and milk. That worked for me until my 20’s when I thought I should probably find real food to eat. But when I went back, baby food had changed so much I didn’t even recognize it – and change? Is never good.

So the question remains: What do I eat? And this is why I am obsessed with food.


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