Advice needed on how to control my unhealthy diet

My relationship with food has always been terrible, even before I was diagnosed with autism.

I would eat very large plates of food as a child, and would pick off of other people's plates once they had finished. I loved sweets, so much so that when my mother started to hide the sweets, i would dig through the cupboards until i found them. I ate and drank things so fast that i would have frequent nausea. I never stopped mouthing, so any pen, pencil, lid or bottle cap would either be chewed to an unrecognisable clump of plastic or swallowed.

Even with the diagnosis, i haven't seemed to control myself. I know now that i mostly overeat because of a lack of mental stimulation and because of sensory input, but I can't change my diet no matter how hard I try.

However, i do worry that at the rate i am going, i could end up with diabetes. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

  • I have an issue with food as I only eat a small number of foods. From you description, I get the sense of comfort eating, is this correct? I love Tony's chocolate but limit myself to the odd bar maybe once a week. Maybe this is an idea, not to restrict treats but in moderation and make this part of your routine. You mention lack of mental stimulation, would excercise help with this? I am thinking about getting out and burning off the calories and also stimulating your mind. Yes, it is hard at present with the many confusing rules but you can go out once a day. I am not an expert but simply suggesting what has helped me. Yes, I used to comfort eat a lot but then realised why I was doing it and worked on it.  

  • Look up 'The Marshmallow Experiment' on YouTube. I know that I would have failed that experiment miserably, myself. Expressionless

  • A good place to start is if you try to get into a fitness regime.  It's very difficult to lose weight by exercise alone, but it's a good way to get yourself into the frame of mind you need to be in to start taking your food intake seriously.

    People overlook weightlifting for example, because it's hard I guess, but the good thing about it is your body continues to burn calories for days afterwards as muscle recovery is happening.

  • If you overeat a lot, I know it can be really hard to stop doing it.

    Have you tried chewing sugarfree chewing gum? I find it very helpful because it provides mental and sensory stimulation (without actually putting food into your body). Playing with stimming toys can also be a good alternative.

    Exercise is doubly good because it will both make you healthier and release endorphins, improving your state of mind. Don't use it as a punishment though, or else you will just get bad associations with exercise.

    You also need to consider if there is an emotional reason why you overeat. If you eat worse when you are e.g. overwhelmed/stressed/anxious/lonely/feeling depressed then if you address this you will probably find it much easier to stop overeating. Sometimes it's hard to put a name to an emotion but if you figure out why then it helps a lot.

  • Hello ,

    I'm sorry to hear about some of the struggles you've had with food. You may like to look at the NAS advice around diet/eating:

    https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/behaviour/eating/all-audiences

    I hope this is useful,

    ChloeMod

  • my diet growing up was about as unhealthy as yours. i ate sugar constantly - occasionally someone might tell me not to, but really to no effect whatsoever. entire bags of candies. bags of cookies. i was kind of active physically, so i actually was quite thin. three years ago i tried intermittent fasting. i eat all the fat i want, stuff veggies down (altho i really don't care for them, but i no i have to eat them), i still eat sugar, alas. but i intermittent fast about five days a week. that means in its simplest form, eating in a 6 hour window, so you have 18 hour fasts in a day. 

    it's kind of mitigated the eating when you're bored, eating when you're really needy, to a certain extend. sometimes i worry about it developing into an eating disorder, but i think it's over all been ok. i don't have a social life at all, so that makes fasting pretty easy.

  • Their are possible multiple issues causing this behavior and you need to see a doctors about them ! There could be a sensory issue at play here or multiple issues with not recognising when you are stomach is full, The possible the need for oral stimulation. There could be an issue with your hormones or endocrine making you hungry all the time or a underlying health condition. There could be an underlying issues with your digestive system where your body isn't absorbing certain nutrients so you are constantly getting hungry as a result. You may not be drinking enough water and confusing hunger with thirst.  

  • Yes, I find regular, ideally daily, physicall exercise regulates my eating or desire to eat.

    Start with walks, do Couch to 5k, and yes look at strength exercises as well as aerobic.

  • Good advice. I think it's worth sussing out the underlying cause so you tackle it the right way.