kitchen table math, the sequel: Barney adopts a healthy new eating style

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barney adopts a healthy new eating style

Yesterday, Ed and I were experimenting with our groovy new, life-extending Vita Mix blender when we noticed Andrew systematically emptying the refrigerator of vegetables. We did what we often do: ordered him to Stop and then, after spending a few seconds discussing the mystery that is Andrew (deciding in this case that Andrew must be collecting vegetables because he wanted to watch us blend stuff he wouldn't drink on a bet), went back to what we were doing and forgot all about Andrew, who had by this time left the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind.

Andrew has never eaten a fresh vegetable in his life. He ate baby food vegetables when he was little, but when he stopped eating baby food he stopped eating vegetables. He doesn't eat fruit, either. Or noodles or rice or eggs or Chinese or Japanese food or hot dogs or hamburgers, and so on. In short, Andrew has an eating disorder. Two eating disorders: his autistic eating disorder (eating disorders seem to be common in autism) and his feeding-tube-as-a-preemie eating disorder (not sure whether doctors believe such a thing exists, but I do).

The reason we have a groovy new, life-extending blender, in case you're wondering, is that my sisters and brother and I have been scared straight by my mom's heart failure,* and my brother's scheme for not getting diabetes and also not getting heart failure was to buy a commercial-strength blender that makes commercial-strength smoothies and the best potato soup my California sister says she's ever eaten.

That ought to do it.

After I'd spent about 60 seconds considering the life-extending properties of the Vita Mix, I realized that the person in the household who really needs a life-extending commercial-strength blender is Andrew. For years I've been worried about his horrifically poor diet, and I've hatched various schemes to try to force some vegetable juice down him, none of which got off the ground. Andrew will have no truck with V8 juice.

But a commercial blender -- wow. Suddenly I could see a way to start small and work up. Start with something Andrew likes (grocery store apple juice), combine it with a tiny bit of something he doesn't like (any form of actual fruit) and have him drink it the same way he drinks pink antibiotics when he has to. Not willingly, but he gets it down.

Then I had a second brainstorm: positive reinforcement!

the plan: Blend half a box of apple juice in the Vita Mix and show Andrew that the other half is still inside the box, unadulterated & correct, waiting to be his once he swallows the blend.

It worked!

Andrew has now eaten (well, drunk) the first 7 grapes of his entire life. Also the first 3 slices of banana.

It's a miracle.

So back to yesterday afternoon. As I say, we forgot about Andrew and went back to what we were doing, which was figuring out how to make commercial-quality smoothies in the privacy of our own home.

A little later in the day I went upstairs to Andrew's room and found a brand new Barney tableau: vegan Barney.







Somebody's going to have to tell Andrew tyrannosaurus rex was not a herbivore.

* update 7/3/2011: My mom didn't have heart failure as we learned much later.

9 comments:

Jo Anne C said...

I love my Vita Mix!

When melons are on sale in the late summer I cube them up and freeze them to add to fruit smoothies all year long.

Have you tried making peanut butter with it yet? I use 1/2 bag honey roasted peanuts and 1 bag of the unsalted roasted peanuts (Trader Joe's).

Carrots are pretty sweet have you tried hiding one in Andrews juice yet? Try 1/2 fuji apple and some carrots. You will have to add alot of water and juice and let it run a long time. It can get a bit "chewy" if you don't blend it with enough liquid.

MiaZagora said...

I'm sooooo envious! I have been wanting an authentic Vita-Mix ever since I used to see the commercials on TV as a kid!

Another thing you might try for your son is the cookbook, The Sneaky Chef. It teaches you how to incorporate vegetable purees (perfect, now that you have a Vita-Mix) into perfectly normal food that your kids eat anyway.

Catherine Johnson said...

I had a 'nut butter' near-catastrophe yesterday!

Engine started smoking - then Ed read a warning in the cookbook.

Catherine Johnson said...

When melons are on sale in the late summer I cube them up and freeze them to add to fruit smoothies all year long.

Great advice.

Carrots are pretty sweet have you tried hiding one in Andrews juice yet? Try 1/2 fuji apple and some carrots. You will have to add alot of water and juice and let it run a long time. It can get a bit "chewy" if you don't blend it with enough liquid.

I'm writing this down!

Catherine Johnson said...

Mia - You're kidding!

Vita Mixes have been around since you were a kid???

WOW

Fantastic idea about the cookbook.

Thank you so much.

Catherine Johnson said...

well, so far so good, I think

Andrew scarfed down his smoothie this morning, then balked this afternoon.

This afternoon's smoothie was too much of a smoothie (too much fruit, not enough juice).

Christian and I sat him down at the kitchen table, flanking him, got him to drink a couple of tablespoons while praising him to the skies, then gave him his apple juice chaser.

He loved the attention & that in and of itself could lead to smoothie-liking.

We'll see.

Catherine Johnson said...

Joanne - THANK YOU!

The first vegetable I'll try will be a carrot.

I guess I need to 'cut' this afternoon's smoothie with more...juice.

I had half a box of juice, 4 grapes, and 4 enormous frozen strawberries.

No dice.

Jo Anne C said...

The best way to avoid to much thickness is just to add some water (especially when using apples and carrots together). I usually add an 4-6 0z cup of juice and 4-8 oz of water and about 5-10 ice cubes.

Using frozen fruit replaces the need for using ice.

Just taste the mixture and if it isn't sweet enough add more juice. The Vita mix demonstration lady put 5 raisins in to sweeten her carrot juice. If your batch is too thick just add water and if it is too warm, add ice or frozen fruit.

Adding watermelon to a smoothie has been my best discovery to date.

Anonymous said...

Some autistics eat by color. My brother eats things that are orange or white or orangy-brown--so potatoes, french fries, pizza, bananas (it's the inside that counts), carrots, Cheerios, corn flakes, bread, rolls, and breaded chicken and pork chops are in, and most other things are out. See if you can find a similar pattern and exploit it! It doesn't mean he'll eat ALL things of the proper color, but it means he's more likely to try it if it's the right color spectrum.