A mother has said her family has been ‘overwhelmed’ by deliveries of Walkers crisps for her four-year-old daughter after revealing she spend hours each day searching for bags amid a national shortage.
Michelle, from Narborough, Leicestershire, told the BBC she relies on the crisps as a staple part of Ava’s diet, because she suffers from a number of conditions, including Cohen’s syndrome and avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).
According to her mother, Ava can only eat these crisps, toastie waffles and a specific type of baby puree and only drinks sweetened almond milk and a prescription vitamin mix.
Earlier this month, Michelle revealed she was struggling to find Walkers’ oven baked sea salt-flavour crisps because the product had been caught up in supply chain problems due to a glitch during an IT upgrade.
However Michelle has now explained how the family have been inundated with boxes of the crisps, saying: ‘I think we’ve received about 450 packets, and we’ve been really lucky to be able to send them out to other families and other people that are also in search of these crisps.’
Michelle, from Narborough, Leicestershire, has said her family has been ‘overwhelmed’ by deliveries of Walkers crisps for her four-year-old daughter Ava after revealing she spend hours each day searching for bags amid a national shortage
ARFID was only officially recognised in 2013, according to This Morning’s resident dietitian, Ursula Philpott.
It is characterised by people refusing to eat certain foods or severely restricting how much they eat.
More extreme than fussy eating, the condition may cause people to vomit, choke or become afraid or upset around food, according to the charity Beat Eating Disorders.
It is different from conditions like anorexia and bulimia because it’s not linked to body image, but more of a physical aversion to food.
According to her mother, Ava can only eat these crisps, toastie waffles and a specific type of baby puree and only drinks sweetened almond milk and a prescription vitamin mix
The inherited condition Cohen syndrome affects several parts of the body, sparking developmental delay.
This means those who live with the syndrome can endure intellectual disability, small head size and weak muscle tone.
Other features include worsening nearsightedness, degeneration of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, an atypically large range of joint movement and distinct facial features. These can include unusually-shaped eyes, thick hair and eyebrows, and long eyelashes.
The features vary significantly among those affected, with other signs including low white blood cell levels, ‘overly friendly behavior’ and obesity forming in late childhood or adolescence.
Those with the condition could also have narrow hands and feet, and slender fingers.
Michelle explained: ‘Ava has a rare genetic syndrome called Cohen syndrome that affects around 1,000 people in the world.
‘That’s led to lots of digestive problems and food allergies. She was found to have ARFID, which is a food avoidance eating disorder.
‘And it means that she doesn’t feel hungry, she isn’t interested in food, any food to be honest.
‘Yes, they’re not great, they have got high salt content but anything is better than nothing.’
Showing a photograph to the camera, she continued: ‘That’s an example of the things we give her, soft-cut vegetable things like that, every day to see if she will decide to eat it.
‘She really enjoys the crunch of these crisps and the salt does make her thirsty and then she manages to drink her juice that we put her prescribed vitamin powder in.
‘Beige foods are often the love of many many children and adults with the condition because they’re consistently the same after each time you eat them.’
Michelle spoke to media last week about the shortage of crisps across the UK, before receiving an outpouring of support from strangers.
Michelle explained: ‘We’ve been completely overwhelmed by letters and cards and emails, and we’ve just been receiving boxes and boxes of crisps from people around the UK who have managed to find them.
But the response weren’t all positive.
Michelle said: ‘We did get a lot of negative messages about my parenting skills or Ava.
‘But AFRID is an eating disorder, and it is a recognised eating disorder the same as anorexia, or bulimia.
‘We face having a disabled child judgement every single day for every single aspect of our parenting but it’s never easy.
Michelle said after revealing their story, she was met with judgement from strangers who called her a bad parent (pictured, with Ava)
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.
Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID. Possible reasons for ARFID include:
> Negative feelings over the smell, taste or texture of certain foods.
> A response to a past experience with food that was upsetting, for example, choking or being sick after eating something.
> Not feeling hungry or just a lack of interest in eating.
You can find out more about ARFID on the Beat website.
‘Eating any food is really valuable to Ava, whatever it is, and the dieticians have advised that we just give her whatever she wants, whenever she wants it.’
Michelle continued: ‘She loves playing, she plays all day. She loves bubbles and balloons and Teletubbies.
‘She’s everything, she’s everything to me, her dad, her brothers, all of her extended family.
‘She’s a pleasure to be able to get to spend every day with.’
Speaking earlier this month as she described her struggle to find food for her daughter, Michelle said: ‘When your child relies on a food, and you can’t get it, it’s really hard.’
Michelle had previously claimed her little girl would rather go on a drip than eat food she does not like.
They had been struggling to get hold of the crisps for almost a month. At one point Ava apparently became lethargic and withdrawn after going without her favourite snack for five days.
‘[If she doesn’t have them] it makes her really sleep, she lays around and doesn’t have enough energy,’ said her mother.
Ava’s mother said that many children with eating disorders often favour crisps, and she knows of families in a similar situation to her who were also struggling.
She added: ‘There is a lot of people that experience this at all ages, but there has been a lot of judgement and a lot of very, very negative comments.
‘This is a registered eating disorder and a lot of people don’t really understand learning disabilities, autism, sensory eating or ARFID so there are misconceptions about what it is.’
Walkers has stated that its supply issues are likely to continue well into December, with priority given to its more popular flagship crisps, such as salt and vinegar and cheese and onion .
The mother-of-one said ‘eating any food is really valuable to Ava, whatever it is’ (pictured, Ava eating her favourite crisps)
Earlier this month, Michelle described her struggle to find food for her daughter and said she was searching for the Walkers crisps for hours a day
A spokesperson added: ‘We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves.
‘We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.’
Earlier this month, Mail Online revealed that Walkers’ shortages had led to unscrupulous sellers flogging individual packets of salt and vinegar crisps for as much as £6 each online.
The tangy and savoury potato treats usually cost a maximum of around 90p a bag in most supermarkets.
Ava’s mother was worried her daughter might have to go into hospital after suffering lethargy from going five days without her staple snack
This brand of Walkers’ oven baked sea salt-flavoured crisps is one of the few foods Ava will eat, alongside toastie waffles and a specific brand of baby puree
One eBay one seller from Leicester – coincidentally Walkers’ home city – was selling them for the huge price of 6.89 online – an increase of 665 per cent.
Another photograph on a store in London showed empty shelves in areas normally packed with crisps.
A Walkers spokesman told MailOnline: ‘A recent IT system upgrade has disrupted the supply of some of our products.
‘Our sites are still making crisps and snacks but at a reduced scale.
‘We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.
Empty shelves of Walkers crisps in Iceland, north London after IT system upgrade at Walkers
Some sellers were advertising one packet of crisps for £6.89 each, dwarfing the usual 90p