Nutritional Management is essential for children on the autistic spectrum. Like any other children, they should maintain a well-balanced diet, which consists of carbohydrates, protein, and essential fatty acids and fiber. They should avoid foods that contain food additives, heavy metals, and sugar.
Autistic children have sensory issues, which might have an effect on the way they eat. They are hypersensitive and only eat foods depending on the texture, smell, color of the food and the sounds of their surroundings They might not like foods that are touching or on top of each other and would only like to eat the same food every day. My son, John would not eat unless it is his favorite food and prefers to sit on the same chair and place at the dining table with the same set of plate, cup, and cutlery.
They have problems with their gut. These might cause them to feel bloated most of the time which will lead to bowel irregularities such as constipation and diarrhea. Intolerance or hypersensitivity to certain foods usually triggers bowel irregularities. Most of these foods are rich in gluten, casein, and soy. John often complains of abdominal pains and constipation. This is the reason why I have to modify his diet making sure to eliminate the foods that are causing him to feel bloated. I tried buying gluten-free bread and lessen his intake of sugary and starchy foods. I tried to avoid buying casein-rich foods but he still drinks milk. I buy the skimmed ones because it does not contain saturated fats although it still contains dairy proteins which could cause allergies.
Gluten is a particular type of protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some grains and cereals. Casein is a slow protein found in milk, whey, and dairy. Soy comes from soya bean and belongs to the legume family, which includes fresh and dried beans, carob and peanuts. They can also be found in soy milk, soy lecithin, and soy sauce (contain very small amounts of soy with most protein in the sauce comes from fermented wheat).
Nutritional Management is an essential part of treating sensory issues in autistic children. Because of their gut problems, non-verbal children are finding it hard to express them and may resort to “tantrums” or regressive behavior.
By eliminating the “trigger foods” that might have caused their regressive behavior, you are not only treating their sensory issues but you are also helping them to maintain a good and healthy gut.
Consulting a professional nutritionist would be beneficial in finding ways to help your autistic child find the proper and well-balanced diet that will minimize his sensory issues and give him a healthy gut. There may be some instances that you have to consult your doctor if you want your child to take dietary supplements.
The following nutritional management could help your child in maintaining a healthy gut:
- Buy foods that are gluten and casein free.
- Avoidance of food additives, artificial colors, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and preservatives.
- Go organic. Organic meat, fruits, and vegetables are the best options to buy in the market because they do not contain harmful chemicals or pesticides.
- Buy Omega-3 Fatty acid-rich foods or give it as a supplement to your child. They are essential for brain development and proper neural function. Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods can be found in fresh fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, albacore tuna, herring, trout, and whitefish. They can also be found in tofu, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds and egg yolks. If you think that it is better to give it as a supplement to your child, I advise you to discuss this with his doctor.
- Give your child multivitamins in liquid, gummy or chewable forms. I highly recommend that you choose multivitamins that contain Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6 and B12, Magnesium, and Zinc.
- Lessen his sugar intake by not giving too many sweets, chocolates, and commercial fruit juices.
In summary, maintaining a well-balanced diet is an essential part in the treatment of your autistic child sensory issues as well as helping him maintain a healthy gut.
Following a strict dietary regimen by a professional nutritionist as well as giving dietary supplements per doctor’s advice are some of the ways you could help your child to achieve these.
The nutritional management that I have outlined could also help you choose the proper food and dietary supplements for your child. You could either follow these or make it as your nutritional guide for your autistic child.
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