Does Your Child Not Eat Well? Autism Diet and Tips
We’ve already talked about treatments to help improve social skills in children with autism, but we haven’t touched on how to combat other types of problems that come from autism, like dietary disorders. Food and what to give your children is a common topic among parents with young children, but parents of children on the autism spectrum often times try to work without consulting a nutritionist, which is essential. I want to point out that an autistic child’s nutritional problems are not the parent’s fault, but a specialist can help the parents understand if the child’s aversion to food is a normal stage, or if it is related to autism. Learn about autism diets and what you can do.
The lack of reliable studies conducted on autism diets has upset many families, because it seems to many that it is not uncommon. Luckily, there are some diets for people with autism that seems to help their nutritional problems. For example, many families have noticed that a gluten and caffeine free diet has helped the child eat voluntarily and cuts back on some of the sporadic behavior.
A specific carbohydrate diet seems to be very helpful to help an autistic child eat, because it helps with some digestive problems. A yeast free diet is another option to help the child eat, because is helps keep the yeast levels in the intestine normal, avoiding the possible toxic effects.
There are a variety of dietary supplements that can be used to help treat autism. Many vitamins and minerals form part of the production or regulation of the neurtransmitters levels and can reduce the symptoms of autism. Some popular supplements are vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, and omega 3. Some studies have shown that vitamin C and omega 3 are able to help autistic children, but it still needs to be studied more in-depth. Even so, families have started implementing supplements into their diet.
In addition to diets, there are other ways to try to help the dietary problems that many children with autism face. Even though they may be very picky eaters and don’t want to eat a lot of different foods, they need to get a balanced diet. If your child is is a picky eater, try the following strategies:
Gradually introduce new foods: Start with something that is similar to something they already eat (smell, texture, flavor, etc.), and offer it to your child by pitting it somewhere where the child can see it, but can choose not to eat it if they don’t want to. Try putting a small plate near where the child sits. Showing them the same food over-and-over again may make the child more open to trying it.
Use stories: If the child has a favorite character, like Superman or Captain America, tell them a story about how they like to try new foods, showing that the food is really important for being a superhero. Using a character the child knows may pique their interest.
Making trying new foods something fun and pleasurable: You can try giving them the food you want them to try next to their favorite food so that they learn to relate one with the other. If the child likes pasta and you want them to try peas, try putting the pasta on one side of the plate and the peas on the opposite side.
Don’t try to trick them: Trying to hide vegetables in a sauce or putting other things in their favorite dish may work, but if the child finds out then they may be unhappy about it. The child might not trust you not to do it again and refuse to eat even more foods.
Nutrition and foods are very important, which is why a dietary problem affects the whole family. These disorders can cause tension and problems in the household, but it’s important to be patient and work together to help the child the best you can. Talk to other families who went through the same thing- see what their experience was and how they got through it. Knowing your not alone will help the process.
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.