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Everything I Wish I Knew About Food

Food is difficult. In a world where we wish we could grab hold of the reigns for a minute of control, food can become something people on the spectrum use as a way of doing just that. I guess it’s the same reason we love routine. It gives us a feeling of control amidst the chaos.


There is a high cross over with autism and eating disorders, however, it has been disputed whether something that is perceived as an eating disorder might actually be a part of our condition and our need for order. Morgan Blair, who holds a master’s degree in the field of eating disorders, says that increasing research supports the correlation between eating disorders and autism. It is believed that up to 37% of anorexia and 30% of sufferers of ARFID (avoidant and restrictive food intake disorder) have autism. There is an overlap between the restrictive, rigid, and repetitive manifestations of both anorexia and autism. Blair says,  ‘Anorexia is an eating disorder characterised by rigid attitudes and behaviours surrounding food, weight, and body image. These narrow interests and repetitive behaviours mirror the preoccupation with certain objects and/or topics in autism.’ She goes on to describe the crossover between autism and ARFID – ‘A common attribute of ARFID is a hyperactivity to the sensory components of foods leading individuals to avoid new foods or only eat a small variety of options. One diagnostic feature of autism is repetitive or restrictive patterns. Within this diagnostic category are several examples, including the need to eat the same food every day and/or a hypersensitivity to sensory input. Both diagnostic features can be traits of individuals diagnosed with ARFID.’


Now all the research is out the way I can tell you a bit about my firsthand experience with food and my rather quirky way of living that gives me something to grab onto when my world is shaking and glitching.


I have always gone for the same foods. I ate the same salad every lunch from 2014 to 2021. And from 2016 until now I have eaten hummus every evening for my tea. It wasn’t a restrictive thing so much as a ‘making a decision’ aversion. My experience as a person with Asperger’s is that I find decision making a complex task, one that I rarely do alone. If I can avoid making decisions, I will. Knowing what I’m going to eat every single day is a surefire way of doing that. A big decision for every day immediately eliminated. I found foods I liked and stuck with them. Very smart of my brain if you ask me. The only problem is what came next. When I lived alone for the better part - or worse part in this case - of a year I found it too hard to think as far as food in any capacity. I decided that the best way to avoid making that decision, was to simply not eat. Make a decision every day not to decide. I still have this logic daily and find it distressing making a decision about what to eat. My parents make me food and I generally eat that because they’ve taken the decision out of my hands. However, as you know from an earlier blog post, I am driven by emotion. When my emotions are on the lower side of okay, I need my safe foods. Which are hummus, cheese, chocolate, and custard. When I am not driven by emotion I am driven by routine, which means, if a meal is late, I probably won’t eat it. If it falls outside of my usual routine and I’m not told on time, I probably won’t eat it. Hence eating hummus every day. I love hummus, I want to eat it for every meal, and I would if my parents didn’t insist on feeding me proper meals.


Not coping with change also makes it hard for me to accept that my body size might fluctuate. Then what will happen [cue internal panic]? I will have to wear different clothes or feel uncomfortable in the clothes I rely on every day. It feels imperative that I don’t put any weight on, which makes me unable to relax around food and not be restrictive to the same foods day in, day out.


A lot of this might be perceived as unhealthy, but maybe it’s just a part of what makes each of our experiences as humans diverse. Life is complex and eating hummus every day eases the chaos.




 

 

 

 

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