Nutritional Management

nutritional management-1336513_640
nutritional management

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

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:

  1. Buy foods that are gluten and casein free.
  2. Avoidance of food additives, artificial colors, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and preservatives.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Resources for further readings:

www.foodforthebrain.org/nutrition-solutions/autism/about-autism.aspx

www.generationrescue.org/resources/nutrition-guide/

www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/010713p46.shtml

www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/treatment-associated-medical-conditions/gi-disorders

If you have any questions, suggestions or clarifications, please leave your comments on the comment box provided and I will try to answer you back as soon as I can.

Sincerely,

Adel 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Nutritional Management

  1. I have a close relative with Autism and getting them to eat a healthy diet is a daily struggle. When I ask why wont you eat that the answer is ‘I don’t like the feel of it in my mouth’. I have known one child with high functioning autism that would only eat capsicum and another who ate compulsively. My relative is highly intelligent and despite intense therapy as a child we have never been able to get them to eat anything but meat. he is an adult now and I despair for him. Do you have any tips on overcoming the problem? Should we just give him vitamin supplements to try to compensate for bad eating habits?

    1. Thank you for your question. As I mentioned in my post , one of the reasons why they are having problems eating a balanced diet is that they sometimes don’t like the texture of some foods. I would suggest having your relative consult a Nutritionist who can excplain to him the importance of having a balanced diet. It is likely that your relative will follow the suggestion of a Nutritionist since he or she is not a family member. They could be manipulative sometimes and might follow someone who is new to them. You could also ask the help of his doctor who can give you the appropriate recommended daily allowance of vitamins that he could take for not eating a well-balanced diet. Hope these suggestions have answered your question.

      All the best with you and your relative. 🙂

  2. Hello, Adel. Very sincere post with so much good content. Your content definitely is a plus for those in need. Very useful information on managing the nutrition of autistic children. It is not an easy road to raise children with specific needs. Keep up the good work, Adel.
    Marcel…

    1. Thank you, Marcel. It’s a good feeling that I could be of help to those parents who are finding it hard to manage the nutrition of their child with autism.

  3. Adel. What an interesting article! I have a co-worker of mine who has a autistic child coupled with mildly severe psychological issues. She is always talking about the challenge of working with him (his schooling and education) but also talks a lot about his nutritional behaviors.

    She recently lost a babysitter due to these challenges. I don’t have to tell you the upheaval that caused. She now has adjusted her hours at work so she can be home with him at the appropriate times.

    I’m forever amazed (but then again, not really) the impact that nutrition has on many aspects of life. You mentioned eliminating the “trigger foods” that might cause certain regressive behavior. That is such a brilliant concept. Eating clean foods is better for the mind and body, and essential to good health overall.

    Thank you for an informative article. I’ll be sure to share it with my friend.

    1. It’s good that you find this article useful. Eliminating “trigger foods” like foods rich in gluten, casein, soy and certain food additives, preservatives, artificial food colorings and flavorings will help. Thank you as well for your intention of sharing this article with your friend. You will be helping me in my advocacy to raise autism awareness and understanding.

  4. Thank you for this informative post on diets for autistic kids. My lovely little cousin sister has autism. As you have mentioned, I have seen her getting out of control when her usual cups and plates are not in the table, will be showing this post to her mother, it will be of a lot use to her.

    1. Autistic children are particular to the food they eat and as well as to their routines. They easily get agitated to unfamiliar objects and surroundings due to their sensory issues. It’s good to know that you found my post useful and will be sharing it to your cousin. Thank you.

  5. Hello,

    you are absolutely right, autistic kids usually have specific needs. And their unusual habits can cause digestive problems. This is up to parents to make things better. This sometimes can become a real challenge, but with the right attitude, It’s possible.

    I love your website and I appreciate your work.

    1. Thank you, Julius. Parents do play a big role in helping their autistic children maintain a well-balanced diet which is also healthy for their gut.

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