What You Don’t Know About the Kid Eating Those ‘Unhealthy’ Foods


Many moms out there feel judged. Did you breastfeed, or was the only nipple your child knew made of silicone? Did you circumcise your son? Did you vaccinate? Is your child on a strictly organic diet, or are you just desperate for them to eat something, regardless of what it is?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to any of these questions. We are all doing our best and what we think is best for our children.

But on Facebook recently, I saw a few people ranting about the foods they saw children sent to school with and how unhealthy these foods were. They mentioned Oreos, Slim Jims, Goldfish crackers, cheese cubes, etc.

Cheyenne G.'s son

This struck a cord with me as the mom of a child who has autism, sensory processing disorder (SPD) and a carnitine deficiency. Because of his autism and SPD, my son is an extremely picky eater. If it were up to him, he would survive solely on chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit and yogurt parfaits, and fruit.

So admittedly, some days, I’m just desperate for him to eat something, regardless of how nutritious it is or isn’t. I think we all get that way, whether you’re a special needs parent or not. I think at some point, we parents just want our children to eat. And because of his carnitine deficiency, he has to eat every two hours and is on a high-fat, high-protein diet.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “primary carnitine deficiency is a condition that prevents the body from using certain fats for energy, particularly during periods without food (fasting).” Signs and symptoms often occur during infancy or early childhood and can include confusion, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), a weakened or enlarged heart, muscle weakness and vomiting. The severity depends on the individual, but liver problems, heart failure and sudden death are risks associated with the syndrome.

So those Oreos? Maybe they’re a quick pick-me-up in case he’s showing signs of hypoglycemia. Those Goldfish? They’re a quick dash of salt and fat to help boost his energy. That Slim Jim? Easy, fast on-the-go protein. Those cheese cubes? They’re a little dose of carnitine, the kind naturally found in food, that may be the ticket to getting my child through his day.

So maybe we should dig a little deeper and be a little less judgmental — at the very least, until we know all of the details surrounding the situation. After all, “judge not lest ye be judged.”

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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