My mother very wisely introduced a food strategy that I adore. Instead of having us clean the plate or any of that, she only had everyone sample each food. Just a taste, she’d say, and then we could move on. We could have more if we liked it. But everything on the plate had to be tasted.
Largely because of this, my brother and I are adventurous when it comes to food. We enjoy trying out new dishes, and expanding our food boundaries.
So when it came to food and my child, I knew what I was going to do.
As anyone familiar with Asperger’s Syndrome knows, AS people tend to be very particular about food. Some of this is about texture – gooey foods like melted cheese, sauces, or pudding are often reviled – and some of it is about super sensitive taste buds. Some of it is about comfort and ritual. The rest of it… well, everyone is an individual, with unique likes and dislikes.
Of course, we didn’t know about this when my son was very young. We didn’t even know Asperger’s Syndrome existed until he hit about three years of age. So we instituted my mother’s policy.
It worked like a charm.
Sure, my son won’t wolf down the gooey stuff. He eyes it dubiously. But he’s willing to taste it, because that’s the rule, and because he doesn’t actually have to eat more than a little bit. And he’s an adventurous eater, always willing to try things most other kids wouldn’t touch, like crab, sushi, wienerschnitzel, Oriental foods, and more.
And because all he has to do is taste it, he’s managed to stay more in touch with when he’s full and when he’s hungry. So he doesn’t stuff down his dinner after he’s had enough to eat.
Is he perfect? Oh, no. Not even close. But being willing to try new things is so important. Being open to adventure and novel food experience adds such dimension to life. Plus, it means we’re always discovering new foods we enjoy eating. No restaurant is out of bounds, and no crazy home experiment is rejected out of hand.
Thank you, Mother.