Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: About Food Aversions From a Food-Averse Autistic

Sunday, January 10, 2016

About Food Aversions From a Food-Averse Autistic

Trigger Warning: Extensive use of graphic imagery, passing for normal, and implied gaslighting. Do not read if you are emetophobic.

Food aversions do not mean that I do not appreciate the effort your put into your food. They do not mean that I am spoiled or have anything against you personally. When I refuse your food, do not be offended. Food aversions mean that I view triggering foods as poison. I avoid them at all costs. I will vomit if I eat them, so there is no point in eating triggering foods for me. If you think your food is "healthy" and think I should eat it on those grounds, keep in mind that I will not acquire any of its nutritional benefits if I throw it back up anyway.

They are no joke. My gut twists every time I see autistic peoples' food aversions and preferences presented as cheap comedy fodder. If they like eating spaghetti with ketchup, they like eating spaghetti with ketchup. (This is one of my preferences.) You may even consider investing in the manufacturer depending on the extent of the preference. Food aversions are not a means of manipulation or merely pseudosensations that are all in our head. They are as real as the hum and glare of fluorescent lights, the dog barking across the street, and the tag stabbing me in the back of my neck. These are understood more than food aversions and I have a theory on why:

Taste is a primarily pleasurable stimulus to most people. While other senses are neutral, taste is generally perceived as a good thing. Neurodivergence can take this pleasure away from someone. It can twist the sense of taste so that what a neurotypical might see as delicious I see as poison. It is human nature that we expect others to act the way we do when presented with the same thing, so someone who derives pleasure from food may be baffled and even insulted when someone else does not have the same experience.

Imagine that there is pressure all around you to take "just a bite" of a rotten durian. Try hearing "It won't hurt" when forced to eat a Carolina reaper. Envision having poison ivy shoved down your throat because it's "good for you". This is what food aversions, at least to me, feel like. Luckily, I have accommodating friends and family. However, this is not the case with everyone. Some people force their poisons down their throat in order to "pass for normal".

If you have an "Eat at least one new thing" rule for a child with sensory issues that they absolutely refuse to comply with, take my perspective into account. Is getting a piece of trigger food down their throat worth the meltdown and/or vomiting that ensues? Dismissing the reality of food aversions is a form of gaslighting.

There are several "lessons" that one can learn from having their food aversions dismissed. They are as follows:
  • Authorities are out to hurt you and not to be trusted.
  • New things are inherently bad.
  • Your bodily sensations are most likely "nothing".
  • You have no control over anything.
  • Your opinions are inherently invalid.
  • You are not worth anyone's time.
In the case of severe food aversions that limit nutrition, consider the origin and patterns of the aversions. See doctors and specialists. Know that there are alternative ways to get adequate nutrients. (Did you know that there are vitamin Pop Rocks?) Let the affected person (might be you) try new foods on their own time and of their own volition. I tried calamari despite never having eaten other seafood before because I wanted to, not because anyone told me to do it. Had it been shoved in my face, I would have resisted new foods and experiences further.

My advice for parents of food-averse autistic children and other food-averse autistics is to work around their aversions and let them try food on their time in their own way. I do a "fingertip test" because I am easily overwhelmed by strong flavors. Just trust your child/yourself when you say they don't like something after a fingertip test. Don't say something like "You didn't even taste it" because that is gaslighting. While it is reasonable to restrict unhealthy foods to a certain frequency, I think you should have safe foods at hand or at least present options between unknown foods. Find ways around food aversions. I have a fairly restrictive diet in the eyes of most Nts, but I can get nutrients into my system and use the energy I acquire to devote time to my passions. There is no right or wrong way to adequate nutrition as long as no gaslighting or poison-forcing is involved.


  1. Guess what! Jon snow from GoT and Aragorn and Galadriel from lotr are INFJ's and I'm an INFJ!


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