Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear PediaSure: Your Commercial is Offensive!

I saw this commercial on TV last night. Boy, did it strike a nerve! A very painful, raw nerve! The mom in the commercial--the one all smug cause she gives her kid PediaSure, and now little PediaDrinker's the star of the soccer field--is a smug, self-righteous bitch. What a snotty thing to say to her friend who's concerned about her child being a little slow on the field (might have something to do with that giant Box-of-Fast-Food-Fries costume her kid is wearing), "Well, they are what they eat!" Judgmental much? Who says something like that to another mom?!

Some of us have children with Sensory Processing Disorders (very common among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder), which limits their food choices. Some children, like my son, have brains that mix up the signals their senses are sending them. To him, many foods the rest of us with normal-functioning brains find delicious and tantalizing, smell like vomit. Or garbage. Or poop. How could you eat something that smelled as nasty as that?

Food is a big issue in our house. To his credit, Jack won't touch anything made of potatoes (my favorite vegetable!). He abhors french fries, mashed potatoes, baked or fried potatoes, as well as potato chips (Lays Original are my crack cocaine). I made this discovery when he was about a year old, and we were in a public restaurant. I gave him a small spoonful of mashed potatoes and gravy (Yum! What kid doesn't love mashed potates and gravy, right?). He gagged and threw up, right there in the crowded restaurant. So sorry, other diners!

His main food choices consist of plain white rice (no butter!), cheese pizza, Ritz crackers, and grilled cheese. He also likes Chinese chow mein noodles, as long as I pick out every tiny bit of vegetable matter. Spaghetti is a favorite, but only with Ragu Original sauce (no chunks of tomatoes, please). His only palatable vegetables are corn and raw carrots (as long as ranch dressing is provided). He's also allergic to cow's milk, so will only drink vanilla soy milk.

I've actually thought about looking into PediaSure, but doubt he would drink it unless it tastes like the soy milk he's used to. But I have to say, their marketing people are clueless, as well as really insensitive. I've been trying to educate other moms, like the one in this commercial, for years. I get so tired of people offering suggestions like, "Just make him eat it. I made my little Susie sit there until she ate everything on her plate. If she doesn't eat it, I give it to her for breakfast the next morning!" Or, "He'd starve to death at my house, cause I wouldn't fix him anything special." Well, yes he would. If he doesn't like something, he will say he's full and shove it aside, even if he's hungry. He'll tell you he's not hungry, but it really just means he can't (not won't, can't) eat it. His brain is telling him it tastes and/or smells nasty. It's that disordered signals thing. Not his fault.

Children with ASD very often have food issues. And the "no thank you bite" doesn't work for us either. Even if I can get him to unclench his jaws long enough to taste something new, he'll usually just run to the garbage can and spit it out. We're hoping that as he gets older and observes other people eating and enjoying various gastronomical delights, he might learn to be a little more adventurous. But for the time being, we just have to feed him what he'll eat and accept him the way he is. He was born this way. Different, not less. Not defective, just different.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -- Plato

Am I the only one offended by the rudeness of this commercial? Please feel free to share your feelings in the comments section below.


  1. Thanks! You know how sometimes things just strike a nerve? When I saw that commercial, I was definitely struck. She just seemed like all the smug, judgmental people who are always trying to tell me what I "need to do." Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Debbie K.

  2. Pediasure ingredients: Water, Sugar, Some other stuff....
    Your son is better off without that crap for sure. The sensory stuff can be SO stressful. Other people will never understand unless they have walked the walk.
    Pediasure is playing on our insecurities as mothers to get us to buy sugar water to make our kids awesome soccer stars. Assholes.

  3. I haven't seen that commercial in a long time. I wonder if their marketing people might have seen this blog and realized how offensive it was?

  4. How is your son doing now? Iam having the same issue with my 3 year old boy. Any advice will help me a lot

  5. Jack is 15 1/2 now, so he was 10 when I wrote this. He's definitely doing better. He still doesn't like most vegetables (I'm not crazy about them myself). He will eat corn and raw carrots with Ranch dressing, but that's about it. He's a little more adventurous with meat. He eats hamburgers now (In-N-Out is one of our favorites), but with spread only (no lettuce of tomatoes). His favorites are still pizza and hot dogs. He could live on those.

    It's a little easier to take him out to eat now, though. He loves Chinese food (mainly chow mein, orange chicken and spring rolls) and has his favorites at a Vietnamese place we go to. Just keep trying to offer your son new things and hopefully he'll find more that he likes. I always ask Jack just to take one small taste, and he doesn't have to eat it if he doesn't like it. Sometimes he decides it's not bad! I don't believe in forcing a kid to eat something he doesn't like. You don't want to get into a battle of wills, and can you imagine how awful it would be for someone to force you to eat something that tastes nasty to you? Some kids' tastebuds are just more sensitive.

    Trust your instincts. You know your son better than anyone. Offer him things now and then you think he might like, ask him just to try a small bite to see if he likes it. Get playful with food. Make colorful designs on the plate. Cut up hot dogs and let your son dip in ketchup. One of the best things that ever happened to us was when Jack went to science camp in 6th grade. He was so hungry because they were active all day long. He learned to eat a lot of things he would never touch before!

    Someone who works with children once told me, "A child will not starve himself to death. He'll eat when he's hungry." Hang in there, and be patient. It'll get better.

    Thanks for stopping by!