ste·noph·a·gous (st-nf-gs), ste·noph·a·gic
Feeding on a single kind or limited variety of food. (steno = narrow, phagus = feeding on/consuming prey of)
I learned a new word today while working on a term paper (a friend of mine found it, actually, and loved the word so much she had to share): Stenophagous. The dictionary defines it as eating a limited variety of food. It was used in a context of something quite unrelated to humans, but I can’t help but think that the word applies incredibly well to a lot of us on the autism spectrum.
While I like to consider myself a relatively healthy, varied eater, I know this really isn’t the case. I have a few (probably about 8) meals that I cook for myself that qualify for lunch and/or dinner. I have the same breakfast nearly every day (cinnamon raisin bagel with butter, and if time, strawberry yogurt, and a glass of orange juice, diluted ½ with water), and the same lunch (peanut butter and jelly sandwich on lightly toasted bread – tip for all of you who make lunches – toast the bread on the lowest setting of the toaster in the morning. This crisps it up, but doesn’t turn it brown. Then make the sandwich and pack it away. 4-6 hours later, when you go to open it up for lunch, the bread is just at the right texture – not soggy!) For dinner, I basically rotate through my repertoire, often repeating more than I should. I’d say my diet is pretty stenophagic.
For me, my issues with food come from extreme sensitivity to textures. I can’t deal with multiple textures at one time, nor can I deal with most “mushy” textures. Quiche is my worst nightmare. I’m really wary of trying new foods, though I’ve gotten better over the years. I really enjoy flavors, and many Indian and Thai dishes, that are curry based and come with copious amounts of rice are fantastic – flavor (modulated with rice) and only one texture at a time (again, can be modulated with rice). But I’m always terrified of making a new food for myself – there’s no guarantee I’ll like it, and while I’ve gotten to the point where I can try it, if I don’t like it, I can’t force myself to eat it. This means that I rarely try new foods (that I cook for myself) because I don’t want to take the risk of cooking and not eating. And so, I am stenophagous.
I like that word a heck of a lot better than the alternative (“picky eater”) – and now just think, this new vocabulary word, which sounds utterly fantastic, can be used to cheer yourself up over your (or your child’s) stenophagic diet. Instead of telling the host you can’t eat what they’ve served be cause you’re picky, instead tell them you’re stenophagous. And let them work the rest out for themselves.
And just because it’ll be fun: in the comments section, take a guess as to what organism my friend was reading about when she discovered this fantastic new word. If someone guesses right, I will write a blog post about the organism and why it is super cool. (Can you tell I’m a scientist?)
Also, this is probably the last you’ll hear from me until after 6/21 – my orals are at 9am on that morning, and I have a massive term paper (can you read the procrastination?) due in 2 days. But the word was so fantastic, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it.