(or How I feed a kid with Sensory Integration Dysfunction)
Foods currently on her acceptable list – (Green light):
- Chicken fingers – but only those from fast food chains. No homemade all meat chicken fingers will be accepted – no matter how hard you try.
- French Fries.
- Hot dogs – beef or pork – no soy
- Chinese Spareribs and pork fried rice
- Salami – both Genoa and Regular
- Cheese, American only.
- Pasta with butter. Nothing else. No cheese, no sauce, no herbs.
- Ice cream or anything else made with 80% sugar.
- Butter, in any form
- Popcorn (see butter)
- Nutri-Grain Bars – Apple only.
- Blueberries - but not strawberries
- 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.”
- Mozzarella Cheese sticks
- Macaroni and cheese – but only Kraft. Do not try to slip in the homemade crap.
- Goldfish crackers
- Mandarin Oranges
- Pork (Other than bacon)
- Rice – only white
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.”
- Mashed Potatoes
- Green beans
- Beans– any sort
- Any thing that comes from the sea
- Herbs de Provance, or any green herb like substance.
- Any non American Cheese
- Any food I have not eaten before, no matter how much you tell me “it’s just like….”
- Any food that has touched another food on the plate.
- 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.