My Son is Addicted to Crack…ers.

“Stolen water is sweet;
       food eaten in secret is delicious!” Proverbs 9:17

BUSTED with cookies at 3 am!

BUSTED with cookies at 3 am!

I never thought I’d have to have the “Just Say No” talk with my son at the age of three. A few months ago he casually dabbled in the Glutino-brand gluten/dairy free crackers. He thought they were okay, I guess, but he didn’t HAVE to have them. Well, in the past two weeks, he has suddenly become an addict.

At first, I was glad he liked them. It meant I could sneak in some nut butter between two crackers and give his body a little protein. It was a snack that didn’t have sugar, so that was good. Then, I praised him for requesting them so nicely. “Crack-er,” he says eloquently as he flings the pantry open. I complimented him on “good asking… here you go.” Then he pulled out all the stops. Pointing, requesting. He liked them so much that I could use them to bargain him to try a bite of another less desirable food so he could get to that one. Score!

When did I become a pusher? Well, the boy now wants these crackers in the morning, when he gets home from school, before he goes to bed, in the middle of the night. He’s had some mysterious red cheeks lately, and I started wondering if it was the crackers. The ingredients don’t seem to be off limits, but we autism moms learn to watch out for those cravings our kids can get. There’s also the ever illusive “natural flavors” ingredient which could be absolutely anything. The carbs likely get the yeast partying too. So, now I have my son in cracker rehab.

I’ve started by giving him less and less of the crackers, and then not giving in after I give him just a couple. But, like those who often need to amp up the smoking as they’re trying to kick their drug addiction, I had to use the gluten-free Cherrybrook Kitchen mini chocolate chip cookies as a replacement. He went for it! If he asked for a cracker, I could usually redirect to the cookies, realizing I didn’t want to get him hooked on those “sometimes” treats either.

Fooled again! Josiah woke up at 3 am this morning. He got out of his bed (uncharacteristic of him) and we heard some rustling. My husband went out to find Josiah sitting on the living room floor with tiny cookies scattered around him and the evidence of the purple cookie box beside him as he shoveled in as many as he could get his hands on. Apparently, Josiah had one mission and he followed through with the steps of getting out of bed–with his duck and blanket in hand, turning on the light, going into the cupboard to locate the box, and getting those cookies out in the most accessible, efficient way. I was kind of impressed.

Now Josiah wants crackers AND cookies. Today, I picked up some rice crackers at Whole Foods and put them in the Glutino cracker box. He asked for crackers. I brought them down and fished out a thin rice cracker. He looked at it, whined, looked at the picture on the box and carressed the cracker on the box and said, “Cracker!” Okay, I guess he can’t be fooled. I asked him where he got this addiction to food he shouldn’t have. The look in his eyes accused me. “I learned it by watching you!” I’m sure it will turn into an ABC afterschool special one day.

On an up note, after I had some phone consults with Julie Matthews, a DAN practioner and autism nutrition specialist in California, I’ve been able to get Josiah to consume some better nutrition. He’s been gluten and casein free for over a year, but he’s gotten pickier with food as time goes on, so I needed to act.

We’re seeing some little victories. He’s been off soy for a couple of weeks. He just ate squash meatballs tonight–willingly, and he’s been very receptive to smoothies with avocados, mangoes, and blueberries. Plus, he’s really into the GF/CF muffins I made with grated carrots, zucchini, and walnuts. Slowly but surely, we’re making progress. (Just got a juicer and a Magic Bullet today!) If you’re having trouble getting good nutrition into your picky eater, or wondering what your next step after GF/CF should be, I’d recommend getting some help from Julie Matthews. She helps take the guess work out of the 101 options for autism diets by specializing a plan for your child.


5 Responses

  1. LOVE it!! Not only is our little Josiah absolutely adorable, sweet, loving, intelligent, & clever, but now we can add resourceful to the list! The little stinker! Would have loved to have seen your faces as you discovered Jo Jo indulging in his middle of the night snack session 🙂
    Just loved your blog post…so well written, as always!
    Much love,

  2. cracker rehab…lol. It’s funny what our kiddos will get stuck on. We have had a few food rehabs over the last 12 years too.

  3. But he is determined, that one!

    Thanks for the pick-me-up. This had me laughing out loud. And how cute that the duck and the blanket had to come along for the Cookie Caper. =)

    I, too, could stand a stint in cookie rehab.

  4. Hilarious! Pumpkin Pie woke up on Christmas Eve and sneaked downstairs and ate the candy canes out of our stockings this year!

  5. so stinking cute! Another trick to getting those vegetables and meats down….puree it and spoon feed it while watching youtube clips. That’s our trick! I’ll worry about the consequences to this later 🙂

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