Thursday, February 11, 2010

the anti-bento lunchbox

So far you have seen the lunches of my oldest son and my daughter. I do actually have another child who takes a lunch to school every single day. 

My middle son is 6 and in Kindergarten this year. He has autism and is, by far, the pickiest eater I personally know.

The thing you may or may not know about people with autism is that they tend to be very particular about certain things. For some it may be their clothing - being fussy over seams and tags and the way it fits. For others it might be the way items in a room are laid out or the background noise of his or her environment. For my son, his tendacy towards being particular is most evidenced in his pickiness over food.

So with this explanation I will share with you the contents of my six-year-old's lunchbox:
anti-bento lunch


Yes, that's it. Every single day it is the same thing:
- a Horizon milk box (ONLY Horizon brand, he will not entertain the thought of trying another kind) in either vanilla or strawberry flavored (NEVER chocolate)
- a Mott's Natual applesauce in a single-serve container
- a mini-fruit roll-up (always strawberry)
- a small Lock & Lock box of something crunchy (Goldish crackers, pretzels, corn chips, etc.)

He arranges it in his lunchbox just so:
anti-bento lunchbox

You may be wondering what the piece of straw is for. Well, from the time he was a year old to just in the last month the ONLY way he would eat the applesauce is through a straw. Poked through the lid of the container. But just recently he has started to eat it with a spoon! A spoon, people! (can I get a "Woot! Woot!" from the audience?!) :) I took these pictures awhile ago, which is why there is still a straw being shown. But for the last several weeks he has been packing a SPOON! :) I'm working on him bringing the spoon back home rather than throwing it away.

Now when he eats these single serve applesauce containers at home I save the little cups. I wash them out and reuse them for making jello cups in, or serving small snacks to the kids, for craft projects (great for holding small items like googly eyes or beads!), and when they get too cruddy to continue using (or someone steps on one, LOL) then they finally go to the recycling bin. It's not ideal, but it's just the way it is. Now that my boy is finally using a spoon for the applesauce I have hopes of refilling the containers with jarred or homemade applesauce for his eating at home. Eventually he might let me just put applesauce in a regular bowl to begin with and be weaned off these darn wasteful plastic cups. Fingers crossed! :)

So there you have it folks, a little slice of my real life. It's not all ribbons and bows and tidy bentos.

The sticker across his little Lock & Lock box is a Mabel's Label personalized name sticker (I have his name blocked out for safety purposes :) ). If you haven't seen these before, you need to check them out! They are personalized labels that adhere to just about anything. They are dishwasher safe, microwave safe and do not fade. Since I bought labels for my kids the company has since come out with a new multi-colored label, so cool! If you have gear to label I recommend these whole heartedly. :)

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Shannon said... [Reply to comment]

Have you seen the squeezable applesauce at Trader Joe's? My kids love those. They also have some at Whole Foods called Mashups that come in different flavors, but they are more expensive.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

The ones with the funny plastic dispenser cap on them? I have seen those, but I haven't been able to bring myself to try them out. It's the excess packaging thing. Seriously, it makes me feel ILL that I have to buy the single-serve applesauce cups in the first place!
I know the 2yo girly would LOVE those applesauce squeezie things though! She's asked about them several times already. My poor kids, being deprived because of my crazy hangups.... ;)

Shannon said... [Reply to comment]

There's two kinds, GoGo Squeeze ( and Revolution Foods Mashups ( I guess in my head I figured the packaging wasn't any worse than a plastic cup of applesauce, lol. Those prices on Amazon are pretty good! And they both fit in the top tier of a stacked bento with just enough room for a tiny sweet treat to sit with it. Both of my kids love them.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Yes, but can you put googly eyes and pom-pom balls in those when you are done eating from them? Hmmmmmm???? ;-)

Sometimes the food items on Amazon are a deal - I was once able to order a case of Horizon milk boxes for half the price I pay at Target, but it has since gone up to more than regular retail. And Costco stopped carrying them last month. Boooo!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I came across your website because it was recommended on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Community on Facebook. I have two undiagnosed aspys. The oldest (13) eats everything and has been able to overcome many of his "symptoms" though some remain. However, my middle (7.5) has MANY that are still ongoing. Food is a BIG issue in our house and I was so surprised to read your blog. I think my son has many of the same issues and I never even realized it might be related to the autism. I never made the connection and just thought he was being stubborn. He LOVES crunchy (carby) stacks. ALWAYS wants individual applesauce, etc. I will try to be a little more sensitive to his issues from here on out.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hello bewellconsultations! :)
Yes, the eating thing is one of the biggest hurdles we deal with relating to the autism. It's a hard thing to accept that my little 6-year-old has an eating disorder, but that is truly what it is. For him putting an unfamiliar food, something just as innocuous as a piece of banana, is as retched and difficult as if you or I were told to eat slug. Just holding a wet noodle once made him gag to the point of throwing up and he couldn't tolerate watching us eat without gagging. We are happy (and so lucky!) that as he's aged a lot of his peripheral sensory issues have subsided - he is less sensitive to sounds, for instance, and is pretty accepting to changes in his routine and environment. But the issues dealing with food are the most slow to improve. He does join us at the dinner table now, he doesn't eat what we do, but he can watch us eat without any dramatics. :)

Carla said... [Reply to comment]

I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. I have a three year old who is just a picky eater and I'm often frustrated and worried about his eating habits. But after reading your story I'm inspired and humbled by your experience. Thank You.

Angela said... [Reply to comment]

Name Bubbles are also great! They have dishwasher safe and laundry safe labels! I love them!

Debi said... [Reply to comment]

Okay, can you tell I've been been browsing your site! We too have a 5-year old that loves his "strawpplesause" and "strawgurt" as we like to call them. Anything that can be sucked up a straw gives my son great joy. :)

Fatima Wise said... [Reply to comment]

My little brother has Autism and he practically lives off of Goldfish, Very Vanilla Rice Dream, Apple Juice, Orange Juice and oatmeal. I was surprised to see the Goldfish in your son's lunch box! My little brother is about the same age!

aliwilbur said... [Reply to comment]

I have a six year old Aspie who was very much like how you describe your six year old. I used Bentos as a way to get him to eat - he got to the point where he had a feeding disorder, and was 28 lbs at five years old. Now at six he is 36.5 lbs, and eats like a teenager! We realized that dairy was giving him tummy and behavioral problems and within the first week of taking it away, he was another child. Another child still on the spectrum, but he was EATING. Not saying that would be it for your child, but just telling you that there is hope! Good luck to you, great website!

Candy Girl said... [Reply to comment]

My 7 year old has autism, he likes to eat the same thing for lunch every day - peanut butter sandwich, yogurt, apple juice BUT he enjoys me cutting it in different shapes so I do get to include him in the fun lunch posts.

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