The Mighty Logo

What It's Like to Deal With Eating Issues as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Some people say that when a person is hungry enough, they will eat. But this statement is not true for me. I am on the autism spectrum myself, and I have had an issue with healthy eating habits my whole life. I take a multi-vitamin daily. But I also try to find healthy foods that taste good. For example, breakfast drink powders, or juice instead of soda. Also, I’ve noticed that the more I’m around food that is cooking, and the more I smell the food, the more I’m willing to try eating it. However, when I’m stressed out, I find it very difficult (sometimes impossible) to eat. It’s easier to sip a drink than it is to chew and swallow an entire meal. It literally hurts to put food in my mouth at these times. Both my mouth and my stomach hurt. My jaw tenses up, along with the rest of my body. And if I try to swallow, I may gag or even throw up.

I was definitely more restricted as a child. As I have gotten older, I find I have tried more foods — but it has been a very slow process. As I said before, when people cook foods I know I’m not going to be forced to eat, I’m much more willing to try them because I smell the foods cooking around me. However, forcing me to eat foods is a very traumatizing experience. I would honestly rather not eat than eat foods that I don’t like. I have nearly passed out because of that. No, I don’t like feeling that way. But it’s still better than putting foods in my mouth that I don’t like.

It’s not that I don’t want to eat healthier foods. It’s that it can hurt to do so. Forcing me to eat something that hurts me is only going to traumatize my eating experiences and make me want to eat less. Again, as strange as it sounds and as hard as it is to believe or relate to, I’d rather pass out from hunger than eat something that hurts me to eat it.

What helps me is to have people always offer foods and cook foods that are better options (but not the only option!) just in case. One day I may surprise you and ask for a bite! But I appreciate so much that my parents respect the fact that I literally can’t eat some foods.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: May 8, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home