You don't know from Picky

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(or How I feed a kid with Sensory Integration Dysfunction)

Foods currently on her acceptable list – (Green light):

  1. Chicken fingers – but only those from fast food chains. No homemade all meat chicken fingers will be accepted – no matter how hard you try.
  2. French Fries.
  3. Chips
  4. Hot dogs – beef or pork – no soy
  5. Chinese Spareribs and pork fried rice
  6. Salami – both Genoa and Regular
  7. Cheese, American only.
  8. Corn
  9. Pasta with butter. Nothing else. No cheese, no sauce, no herbs.
  10. Ice cream or anything else made with 80% sugar.
  11. Butter, in any form
  12. Mayonnaise
  13. Bacon
  14. Popcorn (see butter)
  15. Nutri-Grain Bars – Apple only.
  16. Blueberries - but not strawberries
  17. Balsamic Vinegar

Foods currently on the Yellow list – meaning “Sometimes I eat them, but you’ll never know when or why, so when you buy a bunch thinking I’ve added something to my diet, I will announce that I hate this food. This will make me scream and cry until I throw up.”

  1. Yogurt
  2. Mozzarella Cheese sticks
  3. Macaroni and cheese – but only Kraft. Do not try to slip in the homemade crap.
  4. Applesauce
  5. Bananas
  6. Peaches
  7. Pears
  8. Peas
  9. Goldfish crackers
  10. Mandarin Oranges
  11. Hamburgers
  12. Pork (Other than bacon)
  13. Eggs
  14. Pancakes
  15. Rice – only white
  16. Bread
Foods on the Red List, meaning “I will actually gag and puke on the table if you force me to put these in my mouth. And I’m not above doing this in a nice restaurant. You've been warned, bitches.”

  1. Carrots
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Squash
  5. Mashed Potatoes
  6. Green beans
  7. Plantains
  8. Beans– any sort
  9. Steak
  10. Any thing that comes from the sea
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Herbs de Provance, or any green herb like substance.
  13. Any non American Cheese
  14. Any food I have not eaten before, no matter how much you tell me “it’s just like….”
  15. Any food that has touched another food on the plate.
  16. Anything that has touched a garnish of any sort. No green parsley. No fruit. Nothing.

You might think we've spoiled her. That if we just MADE her eat the food that she would. It doesn't work like that with a child who has SI.

Emily's brain functions a little differently. Her needs for and sensitivities to texture and taste run to extremes. Our Occupational Therapist calls it the "beige diet" of SI. I actually wept when she told me this for the first time. You mean LOTS of SI kids eat this way?  It isn't my crappy parenting?

Nope. It is who she is. It doesn't mean we stop trying to introduce new foods. I know from research that a typical child needs to be exposed to a new food a minimum of seven times before they will even put it in their mouth. My kid just takes 70.

Originally published May 16, 2006 at The Gimlet Eye


And here is the best news. At 13, Emily now eats like an almost normal human being. She still has some gag reactions to some things ( broccoli, for instance) but the beige diet has given way to being able to eat with us in restaurants, ordering not chicken fingers, with pleas for no garnish on the plate and for the love of all that is holy do NOT let the food touch - but real food. Ask her about the Korean place she loves above the others, or Thai food. Or her love of French Onion Soup with Smoked Gouda.

It was a long, hard road in those intervening years, but we made it. So, other parents with SI kids, it will change. Ever so slowly, but it will. 

5 Baleful Regards:

Sarah said...

Thanks. As the mom of a 5yo with extreme sensory issues with food, I needed to read this. Heh.

And the yellow list? The Yellow List drives me crazy. I can deal with the Green list, I can deal with the Red list - but WHY must the Yellow list change so much??? LOL

Dawn said...

I was recalling this list to Em today Sarah, and she was laughing.

The yellow list made ( and still makes) me crazy. She still has a few foods that will be One day are DELICIOUS...and the next day she will announce that she HATES this food. No rhyme or reason to it.

At least she can pick the garnish off her plate now rather than dissolve into hysterics.

Mary_Flashlight said...


No really... YOU don't know from Picky.

You people with your entire lists of food that the child will eat make me laugh.

The J-man eats 6 foods on a regular basis. We call them the Sacred Six.

They are:
1) Tyson Breast Chicken Nuggets (only the breast ones, which don't come in the large bags, so we buy a minimum of six boxes of them per week)
2) Unsweetened applesauce thickened with baby oatmeal (although this is where we dump all the crushed up meds/vitamins too)
3) Toast made from Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat bread, spread with Smart Balance. Don't try another butter/margarine or bread!
4) Premium brand saltine crackers (no other brands are acceptable)
5) Tostitos bite-size round tortilla chips. (No other brands, or even other types of Tostitos!)
6) Veggie Straws (like an Pringle, but extruded in the form of a squared-off straw. Comes in a plain potato, spinach-potato, and tomato-potato flavors mixed in one bag. He eats one flavor at a time.)

He drinks lightly sweetened decaf iced tea. He only eats the "snack" items above if they are in rectangular ziploc-type containers - not square or round.

That is his entire normal menu.

Now, on VERY rare occasions, he will eat a couple Bojangles french fries. Twice he has tasted Icees.

He was in feeding therapy for EIGHTEEN MONTHS to get to this stage. Hell, it took us months to get a spoon in his mouth, and then we added food to the spoon...

YAY for sensory issues!

Dawn said...

Oh Mary, I laughed when I read your comment, because I really do feel your pain. I swear, only parents who have had a child with serious sensory issues can truly understand the pitfalls of the wrong container...or a billion other things that can set off the wrong chain reaction.

Plus, I looked at his list and thought "Well - he has the main food groups there" - because that is how you think when you have attempted to feed kids with sensory issues.

I just always crack up when I would read those "Hide veggies under cheese" tricks in parenting magazines.

Last night I was telling Em a story of how she freaked out in a restaurant, worked herself into a froth and vomited ALL over the table, because her plate was brought with garnish - which she perceived to have touched her food.

Mary_Flashlight said...

We actually grind up a chewable multivitamin and 2 chewable calcium (oh, and those both have to be the spendy kind or he gets sick from them), a scoop of Superfood, a teaspoon of Benefiber, and an allergy medication in his breakfast applesauce. It's the only way we get calcium in his diet... I don't think Smart Balance has that much calcium!

Oh yeah, we know about the vomiting in a restaurant. *sigh* We can't take a meal into a restaurant (has to be the snacks) because he has to WATCH the damn nuggets come out of the freezer, get put on the special plates he thinks they should be made on, then microwaved halfway, cut into quarters, then cooked the rest of the way to blazing hotness.

That means no leftovers! (Luckily, our 2nd kid likes those...)

I think the most we've been able to "hide" in food is something like 1 teaspoon of yogurt or 1 tablespoon of something like pureed butternut squash stirred in the applesauce.

So glad someone else understands about containers!

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