Over the years, we've heard countless stories from you about how Sneakz has benefitted your family's nutrition. That's music to our ears because it's exactly why Sneakz exists in the first place. It was made to help parents of picky eaters get their kids the complete, whole nutrition they needed to grow and thrive. Accommodating busy lives and the classic childhood aversion to stuff that's really good for you, like vegetables, was and still is a high priority.
What we've heard time and time again is that Sneakz is particularly helpful for parents of children who have diagnosed food sensitivities, sensory processing conditions, and Autism. It's important to note that picky eaters and children (and for that matter, adults) with sensory processing and food sensitivities are not one and the same. A picky eater doesn't "like" any variety of foods, while someone who has a sensory condition, sensitivities (either under the umbrella of or separate from Autism) is uncomfortably overstimulated by the sight, taste, smell, texture, details, etc of food or a number of foods. Food provides us with a whole slew of sensory stimuli and the taste of that food is just one. Essentially what happens is that food can give someone more information than they can process and integrate.
April is Autism Awareness month, so we wanted to share some insight into how Autism can be linked to how a person experiences food. We're so fortunate to have real live customer stories to educate us and to share how Sneakz can support you and your family on the road to happy, healthy living through the lens of this topic.
So, what is the link between food sensitivity and Autism exactly?
"Research has backed up what you’ve experienced firsthand. Food overlaps with many aspects of life that challenge the coping skills of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These can include extreme sensitivity to change and sensory stimuli, as well as an intense focus on details." - Emily Kuschner, Ph.D. (1)
For a person with Autism (and other food/sensory sensitivities), food can not only overload the senses, but it can also be an area of fixation not unlike their other interests. Food that is more uniform in their sensory information tends to be more comfortable.
Jaimee Goergen is the mother to an Autistic child, and a part of the Sneakz community who relies on our Kids Milkshakes to get her son, Parker, the vegetables he needs.
"A lot of Autistic children have sensory issues as far as texture, color, temperature and even presentation of food. Parker prefers to only eat yellow, orange and neutral colored foods. He is super picky. He smells all of his food and drinks before he will touch it. Because of this, it was nearly impossible to get him to eat any vegetables. He is set in his ways and won’t “venture out” to other foods. I have tried mixing vegetables into smoothies and even his macaroni and cheese. No luck. I was determined to find a way to “sneak” good foods into his daily diet. He has always been a fan of chocolate milk, so I was hopeful when I saw Sneakz. It is the perfect way to get vegetables into his diet. It’s the only product I have found that meets the need of great taste and excellent nutrition for him."
Nancy Flynn, the mother to another wonderful little boy, has had a similar experience.
"My son has sensory processing issues and has been in occupational therapy/food therapy since he was 9 months old (he just turned four). He doesn't tolerate anything unless it is a smooth texture and is very particular on tastes. At one point we had him drinking two Sneakz Milkshakes a day because it was one of the few things that he would eat without having a meltdown, and we were trying to get him as many nutritious calories as possible each day. Mealtime is a struggle so to have this milkshake that is nutritious and he looks forward to drinking has been such a help and relief to us."
Supporting a child in incorporating new foods and transforming sensitivities can be a feat, and there are many, many resources for learning how to navigate these waters compassionately and effectively. Time and experience, however, are great teachers. Jaimiee offers this advice to other parents with the wisdom of her lived journey with Parker:
"Never force food on them. Food should never be a fight, in my opinion. Continue to offer foods that have been refused before, they may change their mind even after years of refusing. Never use food as a punishment. For example, I don’t believe in saying “if you don’t finish this, you can’t have this”. Autistic children truly struggle with food and connecting it to punishment only makes it worse."
Time and compassion are on your side when dealing with food sensitivities from Autism or sensory processing conditions. Just like all of life, there's no "one size fits all" solution for every individual or family. We're here to help as you figure out the best possible blueprint of health and happiness - for you.