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My Struggles With Eating as Someone With Cerebral Palsy

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Eating is an issue for me as someone with cerebral palsy. It isn’t what most would term an eating disorder, but I consistently watch what I eat and often feel my body’s food intake needs are a chore. It’s not something I ever intended, but there it is. Food is something I may never truly and unreservedly enjoy.

I’ve thought a lot about this, not only because someone asked me about being “fat” or why on earth I’m picky, but because I want to know. I wanted to see if I could pinpoint anything.

I have.

First and foremost is my disability.  I’m thin mainly for reasons related to how much energy everything takes for me compared to others and a naturally high metabolism. I’m iffy about what I eat because of fear — specifically the very real fear of choking and gagging.

First on my list of no-nos is anything stringy like aubergine. My gag/choking reflexes are just not built for things like that  Anything that takes too long to chew through is also out. Pork cutlets are most definitely on my hit-list, among other fatty pieces of meat. Moreover, I mostly avoid things that don’t break off properly and easily, such as many sausages because of the bits that sometimes get left behind when cutting/biting off.

I believe in learning from your life experiences, and I’ve certainly learned to stay away from hazards. I also take longer to eat than most, which means that I can end up just leaving food if I’m the only one left. It’s uncomfortable and rather embarrassing. I hate having to cut anything up, so I try to make things as easy as possible and avoid choices like steak or chicken when I’m out.

Now to glorify something.


Spaghetti, penne, fusilli… whatever it may be, it’s great. It’s soft, not usually necessary to cut, chews and swallows easily and also tastes great in multiple ways and forms. Plus it fills you, unlike soup, though soup is often my main choice.

I get by and I’m careful. I won’t ever starve, but I may not truly enjoy. I’m protecting myself.

My research brought up eating as an issue for many people with CP because of how it affects your muscle control and ability. Anyone care to share their own experience with food?

Getty image by Kritchanut.

Originally published: November 5, 2018
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