In my previous post on this topic, The perfect meal plan (part1), we explored why it’s so hard for a Spoonie like me to make a meal plan and then stick with it.
Summarising, these are the complicating factors
- medical need to eat a gluten free diet
- energy levels often low
- pain levels might be high
- sensory and other issues causing aversion to many foods
- executive dysfunction
- tight budget
To solve the problem, I need to create a list of foods I can and will actually eat. First of all these foods need to be gluten free. They need to provide just the right kind and dosage of sensory stimulation. But they also have to be low cost and easy to prepare.
Enter the concept of samefoods.
These are foods that autistics turn to again, and again and again because of their taste, texture and even quite simply the routine of eating the same thing and not having to make choices.
These samefoods may remain the same for months, years or even a lifetime.
When I was a student, my number one samefood was fruit yogurt. It was easy (in fact, I didn’t even have to leave the house to obtain it, as I rented my room from a milkman who also had his storage in the same house), tasted great and felt smooth, soft and creamy. Just the way I liked it. I practically lived on those fruit yogurts back then. It wasn’t the most balanced diet, but at least I ate. That alone was a win.
Not surprisingly, yogurt is one of the first foods to make it to my samefoods list. But I do want and need a variety of foods.
One shall not live on yogurt alone.(If I could, I would. Trust me.)
I need fruits, veggies and legumes on that list. And, unfortunately, eggs. And cream cheese. And canned fish. Because I can either beat myself up over eating eggs, fish and dairy, or I can accept the fact that these are fast, easy and affordable foods that I love and will actually eat. Which is far preferable to keeping plant foods I may not even want to touch in my fridge till they go off and I have to throw them in the compost bin.
I need to recognise that I, due to my autism and gluten intolerance, don’t have the luxury to eat a completely plant based diet. There’s too much food I won’t eat, and I will develop deficiencies if I stubbornly insist on eating vegan foods only. Eating well as a Spoonie and autistic person is hard enough already. I don’t need to complicate things by restricting my diet any further than I really need to.
Once I’ve got that all-important list, I can decide on a meal plan. Something easy. With breakfasts and lunches I’ll eat again and again and again without ever having to think about it. Breakfast smoothies and rice pudding for breakfast. A smooth, creamy soup for lunch. Or maybe my Corona muffins might make it to that list.
And maybe I could come up with an easy rotating 3-week meal plan for supper, just like Dad who, by the way, lives on ready meals from the local supermarket. He’s happy that way, and his GP doesn’t object, so that works fine for him. Logically, there shouldn’t be any reason why a similar plan – with easy home cooked meals – won’t work for me. So that’s what I’ll be going for.
Now to create that list. That’ll be my homework for the next couple of days.