For those of you who know Mr. L, you know that he has always had a very small palate. Most of the time I can count on my fingers the things he will eat, occasionally it gets stretched to maybe 15 things, but that doesn’t usually last very long.
After starting this post off with that tid bit of information, I don’t think it will be very surprising for you to read one of the ways that my first born son adjusted to the beginning of our Coronavirus “Stay in place” or aka our quarantine. Yep, you guesses it, he literally ate plain pasta with melted cheese on top of it for EVERY meal for the first month. Oh and his fiber gummies. Yep, that was it, oh and water and root beer.
My husband and I decided the first week of being home from school and regular life that we needed to keep the tradition of going to Burger King or McDonald’s every Wednesday for lunch because it was important to both keep some part of our son’s routine normal and to keep the door to other foods open. Although my kid orders root beer, grilled cheese and French fries… Still he used to get chicken nuggets and would occasionally put up with a cheese burger. Anyways, then a few days later when that first Friday of quarantine came along we realized Mr. L wasn’t eating anything but that one dish of pasta, so we decided we needed to keep “Friday pizza day” on the agenda too. So I guess you could say Mr. L only ate cheese, pasta, and on Wednesday’s he had grilled cheese for lunch, and Friday’s he had pizza for dinner. Regardless that’s still a lot of pasta!
So all that work of expanding my kid’s list of foods he would eat, all the hours of food therapy, and all the evenings of gently coaxing him to allow alien foods like spaghetti sauce, broccoli, and bananas onto his plate were tossed out the window. But ya know what? We didn’t push it. I boiled the pasta, my husband made sure to always return from the grocery store with pasta, and we both made sure this kid got his fiber gummies in the morning.
Because you know what? Life since this virus has been hard. It’s been frustrating and stressful both emotionally, but physically and mentally. Then add autism and the need for routine, and I just gotta say, I’ve been lucky with how well this kid has adjusted. Making all the pasta in the world, putting it into individual Tupperware dishes, and stacking it in my fridge isn’t even a big deal. And Mr. L will even eat the protein infused pasta, so it’s not all bad.
Things in life are still frustrating, unsure, and changing every day as the world continues to unfold after Covid-19 was unveiled to this planet. But we have got past the first month which was full of the biggest onslaught of change in a short amount of time, and Mr. L has been slowly allowing other foods back into his life. Heck, I can even get him to eat one, single, small bite of a fruit or vegetable a day. Small steps ya know?
I just used what I learned from ABA about how to offer choices, and use rewards, and how to take the smallest of steps. I still fed my other kids the regular foods they were used to and I hoped that it would be a positive influence on him, and I think it was. Even at bedtime when his siblings would eat snacks during reading time, that first month he was eating his pasta and cheddar cheese. But now he has branched back out to frozen pb&j’s, cheese sticks, and chocolate or 2% milk during reading.
I recognized that his diet was a coping mechanism and it was his way of feeling safe and secure during unsure times. That pasta and cheese was also a safe way for Mr. L to gain control and confidence over something in his life. Because of this, I didn’t want to add any more stress by fighting with him to eat what I served. I was just glad he was eating and I was grateful we had food to feed him. I just kept offering and felt that slowly over time as he adjusted to the new norm of everything that he would start to accept my nudges and start to eat other things again. Let’s just put it this way, the kid ate half a box of cereal, cake, milk, granola bars, water, Doritos, a bite of orange and his pasta and cheese today. He’s come back around to other foods.
His diet isn’t magical, he is a kid, and we celebrated a birthday today, so there was cake… But he has branched back out to other foods, he loves water, and he had a taste of a fruit today. So I’m going to call today a win and be grateful he ate more then 2-3 things.
Can you image eating the same thing everyday for a month? AND wanting to? I mean I guess that does simply life right?