Meal Planning & #SpecialNeeds…?! (#Autism)

I had an “aha!” moment yesterday at mom’s group. The speaker was talking about meal planning and, honestly, whenever this is the topic, I never want to attend. When I was married, I was very regimented abut meal planning. Every Saturday morning, I sat down with the flyers and my recipe books, see what was on sale for the week, make a meal plan for the week then take the kids to the market and library. I would buy staples during the week (pasta, rice, meat, etc), and buy fruits and veggies (and a couple of cookies as a treat for the kids while we were out) for the meal plan.

The rest of the weekend, my slow cooker and oven were going, cooking all the meals for the week so I didn’t have to do anything other than remember to thaw that night’s meal, warm it up and serve throughout the week.

After my marriage ended and my kids’ sensory issues became more prominent, I stopped menu planning. They are very restrictive with their foods, based on blandness (is that a word?!) or spice or shapes. I basically have been eating whatever I felt like of the two dinners I make them each night, or just do up a Mr Noodles for myself. I didn’t see the “point” of meal planning anymore.

My “aha!” moment today was that yes, I can still menu plan…I just need to tweak it a bit, same as what I do for pretty much everything else in our lives. So, I created a Menu Planning Template that I wanted to share…which includes space to write what the kids are eating and what the adults are eating. Nothing fancy:

Meal planning template

Please feel free to print off as many as you wish…and offer feedback below in the Comments section.

I’m also hoping (fingers crossed!) to vlog about my journey with getting back into menu planning so be sure to Subscribe to my Youtbe Channel to check in (or remind me to do it!).

Seriously though, I hope this template is helpful for you…and me! 😉

Summer #Detox – Recap of Day 6

Today, I started with using each of the fruit from my frozen blend:

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I decided to make the cleansing salad again for lunch, adding apple and fresh mint this time (one of the options suggested in the recipe):

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The great thing about this salad was that the apple was the only ingredient this time from the store. The cucumber and mint were from my garden; the beets and carrots were from my mom’s garden…with some really funky carrots!

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My man’s friends joined us for dinner…so of course I received a lot of teasing about not being a “good hunter” for being on this detox. I’ll admit that I was VERY tempted to eat the spaghetti my man was making…it smelt sssoooo good. The next thing I knew, my man put this down in front of me. Look at how TALL it is!!

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The guys stopped teasing me when they saw that! I couldn’t even finish it all…here’s the “carnage”:

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One more day to go…and then I think I have a steak calling my name…sorry Anneka, but I miss meat! 😉

Picky Eaters…but what about #SpecialNeeds eaters?

I went to a moms group this morning that meets twice a month. This morning’s speaker (who is absolutely fantastic and an amazing woman!) spoke about picky eaters. Needless to say, the room was filled with more moms than usual. It’s obviously a huge issue. There were some great ideas and suggestions, including replacing the terms “like” and “dislikes” with “I’m hungry enough” or “not hungry enough” when asking for snacks, etc. The speaker suggested telling your kids to try new foods by saying “someday you may like that food, and today could be that day”. Expect your children to at least try a taste of whatever food so they can determine if today is that day.

 

We started the meeting with brainstorming what the “go to” meals are for families. I even asked the questions on my Facebook Page. I looked at the list when the room was finished and just shook my head. I WISH my kids would eat even half of the meals people listed. I can list off why my son or daughter would or would not eat most of these meals.

meal brainstorming

During the presentation, I thought they were all great ideas…however, how do I translate the suggestions to my kiddos, both of which have sensory issues? My son needs all food to be specific shapes EXCEPT for when it’s crazy processed foods like chips…of course that’s when shapes don’t seem to come into play at all. 😉 My daughter can’t handle ANY kind of spices or herbs. Even salt, pepper or italiano herb mixture is too much for her. She says pizza sauce hurts her so she eats garlic bread/Crazy Bread while her brother and I eat pizza. If I eat something with lemon pepper or other spices in it, she complains that it hurts her nose and one of us has to move across the room.

 

It wasn’t until my man started cooking for us that I actually realized that the 3 of us eat different versions or completely different foods for each meal. It stressed him out because his son will eat everything he makes (and sometimes bigger quantities depending on growth-spurt status!)…but it was just “normal” for me to make different things for each meal.

 

When the kids were really young, I mentioned my concern about my kids’ restrictive diets, especially my son’s. He spent about 2 years eating only fruit, rice cakes and pizza. That was it. The fruit didn’t bother me obviously, but rice cakes are really high in sodium, especially that my son would only eat the basil & tomato kind. The pizza wasn’t so bad because I could hide spinach and vegetables in the tomato sauce but still had pepperoni on it. The doctor wasn’t concerned because my son was healthy and growing fast so his diet wasn’t restricting his growth. I met with the dietitian at my doctor’s office too, and she was surprised to find a huge blackhole in the nutrition field specific to kids with special needs. As a parent, I know the Canadian Food Guide and I told her that before out meeting. Her research discovered that it’s not a nutrition thing, it’s a behavioural and desensitizing thing  for our kids on the Autism Spectrum.

 

So my question still remains though…how do I incorporate some of the great ideas I heard today to increase the diet for my sensory sensitive kids?

Hidden Costs of #Autism

Last weekend was a long weekend in Ontario, Canada… “Family Day”. The kids were at their dad’s for the weekend as it was his weekend, so I spent the weekend at my man’s place, sleeping A LOT. It’s been a rough few weeks with my son as he goes through a developmental advancement and is still working on being able to verbally communicate what’s going through his head, and what he’s feeling. 

I came back home on Monday, eagerly waiting for my kids.  I went into the fridge to pull everything out to make a sandwich before they came home.  Saw that there was mold on the container with pumpkin on it and thought, hmmm, that’s strange. I just used that on Thursday when I made pumpkin loaf, so the other half of the container shouldn’t have mold on it yet…it usually takes more than a week to go bad, but I didn’t think much of it.  Started putting together my sandwich (bagel, ham, havarti, sundried tomatoes, in case you were wondering) and realized the havarti and ham smelt “off”. Again, very strange. I had just gone shopping on Thursday to ensure we had a full fridge and I would have everything I needed for the kids’ school lunches on Tuesday. 

Opened the fridge again and noticed a smell. Started touching items, including the Brita filter, etc. Everything was warm. WTH?!!  Then I noticed it…the temperature dial was at 0 instead of 6, which is where it should have been…oh no! My son had turned the fridge off before we all left on Friday. Ugh.  I turned the temperature dial to 6, closed the fridge, exclaiming a few “words” that aren’t PG-friendly, and went to get my kids from their dad. 

After putting the kids to bed, I looked back in the fridge, made sure the temperature was starting to cool and it was. Phew! The fridge wasn’t broken. Then honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with it so I closed the door, did other things like laundry, etc and went to bed…thinking I’ll deal with it in the morning. So, after getting my daughter ready for school, taking my son to IBI Tuesday morning, going grocery shopping for basics that I knew would be spoiled, I went home and tackled the fridge.  Over an hour later, I had 2 garbage bags full to spoiled food that I wasn’t brave enough to even open, a compost bin full, and a nice shiny fridge:

 

 The only things I felt safe keeping were the bread products and condiments. At first, I kept the hotdogs, but I chickened out and threw them away later in the day too.  Just another example of the hidden costs of Autism. I had just spent more than $100 on groceries before the long weekend which were now ruined.  Tuesday morning I spent another $90 on restocking basics, and yesterday, I filled it more by spending another $125.  My son loves pushing buttons and apparently has now discovered the button in the fridge. Now I need to figure out how to make it inaccessible to him when he has been able to get through every fridge lock I’ve ever tried. Wish me luck!