Autism & Food – My Autistic Experience with Eating, Stomach, and Digestive Problems

Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on Oct 17, 2022. The video’s public release will be Dec 7, 2022.

ID: Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary person with black winged eyeliner, short green, teal, and blue hair with shaved sides and jet black roots is sitting in an RV with dark wood panel walls. They are wearing are wearing a red shirt and the words “Autism & Food, Tummy Troubles, & Digestive Distress” floats in front of them in pale teal and green letters.

Transcript:

I, like many Autistic People, experience stomach issues and stomach distress. There are a multitude of reasons, and triggers, for my tummy troubles.

Today I’m gonna share about my experience of being Autistic and having problems with my stomach, and digestion, and why I think so many Autistic People also struggle with this.

If you would like to know more… please do stay tuned.

Unfortunately, stomach issues, as I’ve said, is one of those things that is, painfully, common for a lot of Autistic People.

I have stomach issues for a variety of reasons. One big thing that impacts my stomach, as an Autistic Person, are my sensory issues.

Smells can be something that can cause me to get sick to my stomach, or sensory overload can cause me to get vertigo, where everything is spiny and I get disoriented, and that can make me nauseous. My sensory system is one major component of my stomach problems, and my stomach distress.

In addition, sensory issues also impact the food I am able to take in, via taste.

I am someone who is taste sensitive. Foods that are bland, or don’t have a lot of taste, will make me feel queasy and I can’t- I literally will get sick and, you know, stuff won’t go down if, if it doesn’t taste the right way. Bland foods are just an absolute no for me. I am sensory seeking in that taste area of my senses, of my personal, sensory profile.

Other Autistic People might be sensory avoiding in the area of taste, where they are going to eat much more bland foods. I, on the other hand, am eating food that is, really, really, heavily seasoned, and so spicy that I’m crying.

It’s gonna burn on the way out… even to the detriment of my digestive system.

That’s another thing, seeking out foods that are really, really, bold, and often too much for my digestive system, and not always great for me, but that’s just what I’m craving, and that’s what I want to eat.

Another thing about my experience with food, as an Autistic Person, is: sometimes I don’t sense I am hungry, until I am really, really, hungry, to the point where I’m hangry, or I am about to pass out already, and I’m getting dizzy, and I’m really not okay anymore, and that’s how I realize I’m hungry.

It’s like, “Oh, I’m not feeling okay. I’m really woozy. Uh oh, I haven’t eaten anything at all today.”

That sense of sensing when I need to eat, is not always connected in, in my brain, body, stomach connection. It doesn’t work the way it should always.

Same thing with going to the bathroom. It’s like, “Oh shoot, I’m gonna die if I don’t go pee right now, because I have been ignoring my body, and just tuned out of my body for hours.”

Also, if I am under periods of stress, or anxiety, my desire to eat food and sense hunger, I become very unhungary, and I don’t crave food, or have any desire for food at all.

 If I’m not doing well, and I’m stressed, and I have too much on my plate in life, not food on my plate, too much on my plate in life… my appetite is often one of the first things to go, and I can waste away from not feeling like eating, which is not a good thing.

Plus, when this happens, a lot of times food, also, will start to not taste good and won’t be appetizing to me anymore. So, even when I want to eat, I will try to eat, and food will be just so gross, that I literally, cannot keep it in my mouth, especially if I’m stressed or anxious.

Also I, like a lot of Autistic People, have foods that don’t digest well, and I’m not saying all Autistic People should avoid gluten, or all Autistic People should avoid any kind of one particular food item.

For me gluten is a big problem, and that stuff is in everything, and was in everything growing up. It was one of the main things I ate. It was actually one of the main things that the doctor recommended my mom feed me, when I was having stomach problems is: crackers and chicken noodle soup… which is all gluten and chicken water, which was completely counterproductive to my health.

Because of having foods that would make me sick to my stomach, that I was unaware of what would make me sick as a kid and growing up, it made me have some unhealthy relationships with food.

I was very hesitant to eat or try new foods, because of not knowing, the sensory things: texture or flavor, or if it is something that was going to really mess up my stomach.

 Also, because I would get sick to my stomach so often, as a young person, I literally had a phobia of throwing up, because I threw up so much.

That translated into me also being afraid of eating and trying foods, because I was so afraid that it would make me sick to my stomach.

Now, as an Autistic adult, and even as an Autistic young person, I had, and have, safe foods, and though I do branch out and try different foods from time to time, typically, I do have some staples. Whatever current food I am on, available at all times, because I know that’s a food that’s good for my stomach, good for my sensory, is always going to fill that sensory, taste, texture need that I have, and is a good food I can count on.

Every now and then that safe food will become suddenly not safe anymore. I’ll have a lot of that safe food on hand in my pantry, and all of a sudden I go to eat it and it’ll be like, “I can’t eat this anymore. It’s terrible! It’s no longer good.”

Which, which is totally a thing that happens. So, you know, when a food is not safe, there is nothing I can do to make myself eat it.

I’ve been sitting, eating a salad that was my favorite salad for months at work, that I ate every day for lunch and then, all of a sudden, I take a bite of that salad, and it’s making me sick to my stomach… and the more I eat it, the more I know I am going to be physically sick, because all of a sudden, my favorite salad was no longer safe.

That’s the other thing with this: kids who have food sensory issues, sometimes adults have the wrong idea that, “Oh, when they’re hungry, they’ll eat”.

We cannot eat things that are not sensory safe, or not safe foods. In addition, with those of us who may not sense hunger, we may not know when we’re hungry, and we may not eat when we’re hungry, and we may pass out from not realizing we’re hungry.

That’s something that still happens to me, even as adult… now. I get that hungry, to where I’m gonna pass out.

These food intake restrictions can have really significant impacts on someone’s health. If you are only eating, say, Fettuccini Alfredo every day for lunch, and dinner, and breakfast, and nothing else, obviously, you’re going to be missing a lot of nutrition.

When I am eating popsicles every day, and not eating any real food, yeah, me not getting a lot of great nutrition, for example. Because sometimes all I want eat is popsicles, and everything else sounds horrible, and I’m not eating real food, which is not good.

As a young person, all I wanted to eat for every meal was Fettuccini Alfredo, and I wouldn’t eat anything else. It was that one thing, or I would just go hungry, because nothing else in my brain registered as food. It was the only thing.

Maybe that comes from the Autistic tendency to be really fixated on something, and like once you get it in your mind, it’s really hard to let it go.

For me, as a young person, Fettuccini Alfredo was my lunch, Lucky Charms, was my breakfast. I don’t remember what my dinner was. It might have been Fettuccini Alfredo again for dinner. I’m not really sure. Eventually, the adults figured out a way to sneak some broccoli in there, by telling me I “could be a dinosaur” and eat these “little trees” because dinosaurs were one of my special interests. Mixing that with the Fettuccini Alfredo was a way to get me to eat something that wasn’t beige in color.

All right. That’s the video. If you’re still around, you’ve made it to the end, go ahead and hit that thumbs up, and let me know I did not lose you in transit to this point.

Thanks for sticking around! I appreciate you.

Also, I would love to know if you, yourself, experience any of the stomach, eating, food, digestive, sensory issues that I mentioned today, and what that is like for you.

Also, if you have a current safe food, what is your current safe food?

Have you ever had a safe food suddenly become not safe anymore? It really sucks when that happens!

Thanks to everyone who shares your own experiences. I appreciate you adding to the conversation. Also, thanks to everyone who leaves your feedback, video suggestions, or questions.

Of course, thanks to the Patreon subscribers, Facebook channel members, Twitter super followers, and those of you who do that little monetary subscription, to help fund the blog with things like website hosting, transcriptioning software, closed captioning software, the video editing software I use on my phone, to put out the short format videos. I could not do this without the help of you, the readers, so thank you so much!

Also, I wanna throw this out there, thanks to those of you who have helped with the monetary subscription, because you have made it possible to get our first book out, and I’m saying “ours”- because I couldn’t have done it without you.

First book, about NeuroDiversity in organizational work- workplace culture, coming out at the end of 2022. Stay tuned for more information about that. I’m really excited. That could not be possible without you. So thank you, all.

I will see you next Wednesday. Bye.

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This blog is made possible by support from readers like YOU! (Sharing my content is also, equally helpful!) Help me get the word out. If you like what I do, and would like more, please consider subscribing on Patreon?

Subscribe on Patreon to get access to more unreleased videos NOW. (As of August 9th I have videos scheduled through the first half of October already).

On Patreon subscription is “pay what you can” starting at $1 a month (less if you subscribe annually). I would love to have you.

 – Lyric

2 thoughts on “Autism & Food – My Autistic Experience with Eating, Stomach, and Digestive Problems

  1. My being a picky eater was a trial for my Mom. But I did love broccoli, I would have eaten it every day. Most of my issue is texture setting off a gag reflex. I hate bananas, their texture, flavor, and smell. I avoid smoothies because most of them are made with bananas as a base, the flavor just overwhelms everything. I’m not a fan of fruit because of the sour flavors of citrus, stringy bits, seeds, and, again, texture. Apple sauce, forget it. It looks like puke, can’t do it…even as an adult, 60 years old, that’s totally a “nope.” I used to hate onions, but not anymore. I outgrew that one, I grow them in my garden, can’t have enough of them.

    My latest safe food is my afternoon snack…peanut butter and chocolate chips melted together. I put a massive tablespoonful of peanut butter in a coffee mug, and then pour a very generous amount of semi-sweet chips on top of the peanut butter, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, turn it on for another 30 seconds, and stir it up until it’s smooth…a mouthful of heaven. It just makes everything right in the world!

  2. Well, you write a blog so I’ll take a chance you don’t mind feedback (excuse the pun). I have a nephew with full blown autism and my cousin’s son has Asperger’s, so I’m a little familiar. Also, my best friend’s children had some emotional issues. And she has a grandson with autism (this has increased so much). One thing they all had in common: they didn’t eat meat and nothing but carbs and sugar. Sounds just like your diet when you were young. When her kids with depression ate meat, their symptoms improved. I saw a podcast once about a family who forced their autistic child onto a keto diet. It took a LONG time before she would eat it, but eventually she did—and it nearly cured the autism. I know it can sound like people who give this advice don’t understand the issue and you are too old to be forced to do anything, but I DO think you realize your diet IS significant. You essentially just eat vegetables and meat and fat. But there are keto sugars and that means you can have quite a few things you wouldn’t think. Keto waffles, keto whipped cream. I don’t know. Might be worth a try. You develop a taste for meat like anything else…

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