Autistic Versus ADHD Style of Eating

Food for Thought

I prefer eating one thing at a time. It baffles my wife. This evening, I had a big tray of various vegetables and dips for dinner. When it arrived, I homed in on the hummus, like a woodpecker trying to dig a hole there. This does not happen consciously on my part; it just feels right. My wife reminded me that there are lots of other items on the tray. “Yeah, I’ll get to them,” I replied.

This propensity apparently annoyed my parents also. When I was around five, my parents constantly told me to shift my attention, because, otherwise, I would eat all the white rice by itself before moving on to other items. Since I wasn’t responding to their verbal instructions, my dad began slapping my head if I kept eating too much of one thing.

A typical Japanese meal includes small amounts of many dishes, which means that my attention had to be divided into at least five different dishes. Even if I ate one thing at a time, I would still need to shift my focus five times. A typical Japanese person would switch after every bite, which would mean more than a hundred transitions per meal. That is insane. I’m not sure why ADHD style eating is considered normal by the majority.

My wife and I were watching this TV series on Netflix called “Love on the Spectrum” about autistic people trying to find love. In one dinner scene at a fancy restaurant, as soon as the food arrived, this autistic guy sank his face into it with his undivided attention. In fact, his face was so close to it that something got in his eye; but he pressed on.

My wife then said, “See how annoying that looks? That’s exactly what you do. You forget that you are with someone.” Actually, I didn’t even notice that something unusual was happening. It seemed like a natural thing for someone to do. If you went to see a movie with someone, you wouldn’t keep talking once the movie starts. Likewise, once the food arrives, what is wrong with paying full attention to it? We can talk afterward.

Since the pandemic, I can no longer do many things I used to, but I don’t miss anything. Once my focus shifts to something else, I don’t think about what I was doing before. It’s actually a much happier way to be.