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How To Implement An Autism Diet With Your Child

John and his fresh-from-our-garden-veggie and pasta salad


To parents like us who have children on the autism spectrum, every meal time is a battle where we often emerge as losers. Many of our kids are known to be picky eaters making a healthy autism diet a struggle. Many of them are also sensitive to various food items due to digestive issues and the likes. Think about headaches, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, irritable behavior, diarrhea and meltdowns– all because the food we put on the table are not attune to their digestive system.

So, what to do?

In our journey, we often seek out various dietary regimens– all to provide the healthiest and most nutritious meals for our beloved. We home-cook and make huge sacrifices to ensure just that. So, what to do when implementing a healthy Autism diet for your child? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Start with a food diary. Make focused observations on your child’s eating habits. Record what he or she eats and any symptoms that occurred alongside them. From the littlest morsel down to what he or she drinks, keep it on record. This is one way to check for allergies as well as what’s often labeled as “food intolerance” to individuals with Autism.

  1. As much as possible, serve only home-cooked meals. This is one way for you to keep hawkeye control on what your child consumes. Restaurant-prepared foods often have a lot of MSG and other hidden ingredients to enhance flavor and aroma. Some of these “secret” ingredients may cause harm than good to your child.

  1. Educate yourself on various autism-friendly dietary options. There’s the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet, Ketogenic diet, and so on. These diets are known to deliver dramatic improvements to individuals with autism like improved focus and concentration, enhanced locomotor functions, and so on. By researching, you can also become adept with new discoveries leading to a more optimized health of your child.

  1. Beware of special occasion cravings. It cannot be helped that sometimes, in our excitement and joy to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and so on, we tend to forget the importance of sticking to our child’s dietary regimen. To ensure that problems will not crop up, finding festive substitutes or alternative helps a lot. Just slip it quietly into his or her meal routine without giving a hint that will make him or her feel isolated from the rest. When attending parties, you may want to have emergency treats handy. A quick talk with the celebrator by explaining to them about his or her food sensitivities will help. Suggest bringing such food yourself to not cause a ruckus.

  1. When grocery shopping, it is essential to read the fine print carefully. Keep in mind that some manufacturers do not divulge if their products has gluten or casein additives. Do your own research while observing your child’s reaction to it. Keep in mind that your child can also be exposed via hand-to-mouth ingestion.
Photo Credits: NHS Choices
  1. As much as possible, go for a mitochondria-friendly diet (See previous post HERE). These tiny organelles are considered to be the body’s energy and mental capital. When optimized, these quadrillions of organelles can help your child’s body stay healthy and disease-free while improving their focus, metabolism and digestion.

  1. While vegetables are absolutely a YES, be vigilant about fruits. Some fruits are high in fructose and can do more harm than good. You may want to consider stuffing on leafy greens and colorful veggies, and complement these with a handful of fresh fruits particularly berries, avocado and olives.

There is no easy way to implement an autism-friendly diet. There will be meltdowns. There will be certain changes to your child’s behavior. But all these are but on a short-term basis. To ensure building up rapport with your child, try to introduce healthy options slowly. Easing your way in will definitely give more chances for your new healthy diet regimen to become a success. Do remember: this is all for your child’s sake. Now, start that stovetop burning!

Do you have a special diet for your child with autism?  Share it with us. Write to pamela@livingautismnow.com or  livingautismnow@gmail.com. See you!


Autism Healthy Eating: Feeding Your Child Right

Autism has become quite a news sensation nowadays, with significantly higher statistics supporting its rise today than in recent years. A pervasive developmental disorder, Autism highly affects the brain and developmental skills of a child’s first few years of life. From difficulties in verbal to social, emotional, physical and intellectual functions, the impact of autism lies in wide-ranging spectrum with overlapping symptoms making each case unique and distinctive than others. One of the prevalent issues, however, in children with autism is their high selectivity for food (or picky eating).

Autism is all over the news these days, with significantly more children being diagnosed with this condition today than in recent generations. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that affects the brain, develops within a child’s first few years of life and affects verbal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual functioning. The causes of autism are not fully understood, and its severity and responsiveness to various treatments vary widely from child to child. Some autism experts believe a healthy diet might help children with autism function more successfully.

Tips to Healthy Eating

Before engaging in any special diet meant for children with ASD, it is imperative that you consult with your child’s physician to ensure that underlying gastric disorders are addressed. Be reminded that in addition to their behavioral and neurological symptoms, children with autism often suffer from digestive and allergy issues. The help of a registered physician or dietitian with experience in treating autism can be of great help to ensure that the food they take will not trigger symptoms, as well as proper nutrition and caloric intake are provided for.

When it comes to food choices, organic and unprocessed foods are ideal choices. Packaged and/or processed foods provide minimal nutrition and inadequate caloric content that will hinder weight development among children. Building a child-with-autism’s diet around these fresh and healthy foods ensure zero nutritional deficiencies and other prevalent digestive risks.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet is considered one of the special diets that can help “treat” autism. This diet, though not scientifically proven, has been going on for quite some time. Parents to children with autism have continually backed the efficiency of this claim that it can help manage, if not minimize the symptoms. Some diets that are also free of allergens as well as yeast can be helpful.

The use of supplements and vitamins is also an important key in ensuring adequate nutritional intake of your child. Supplements like probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6 and C, are just some of the typically recommended ones. Keep in mind that diets like CFGF Diet can make kids lose out on some of the necessary vitamins and minerals prohibited on its food list. To guarantee that necessary nutrition is in your child’s system, the addition of these supplements can be added BUT with the approval of your child’s physician, of course.

All in all, this complex developmental disability called Autism Spectrum Disorders may not be curable but can be managed and controlled with proper intervention and healthy dietary factors. When done with the guidance of an Autism-accredited physician or dietitian, keeping your child’s symptoms under control while maintaining his healthy physique can be attained.

Obesity and Autism

Obesity and Autism | Photo: www.abc.net.auObesity has become a prevalent condition among children nowadays. In the same way, the sudden rise of autism has also been recorded at 1 in 68 children by the CDC.

More research suggests that obesity in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has also been rising over the years, and has been noted as high as that of developing children. This statistical data is quite staggering. Children with ASD are not only exposed to the same risk factors as that of typical developing children, they are also more susceptible and vulnerable to more adverse effects such as genetic issues, sleeping and eating disorders, physiological challenges, and so on. For all individuals with ASD, obesity poses a huge threat to their overall health and quality of life.

Likely Causes of Obesity to ASD

Three of the likely causes of obesity among children with ASD are genetics, delayed/impaired motor skills development, and psychopharmacological after-effects. Obesity in children with autism is biological in nature. Children with ASD born to parents with obese patterns are more susceptible to such growing up. Genetic determinants, however, are not specifically and fully identified.

The use of psychotropic medications is quite common among individuals with ASD, particularly to those who have severe symptoms. Medications such as stimulants, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics are usually prescribed to individuals with Autism as well as to those with behavioral and developmental needs. Some 35% to 65% are prescribed with one of these medications while, approximately 10% are prescribed with more than 3 medications. These medications are often used not as a cure but as a means to control and manage the symptoms. Though known to be effective, these medications can result in weight gain as they increase appetite and lessen physical activity. In addition, metabolic syndrome such as raised blood pressure, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, abdominal obesity, and many more are also noted to be caused by these medications among children with Autism.

Delayed or impaired motor development usually limits the physical activity among children with autism. Most kids with severe autism have sedentary behavior due to low muscle tone, postural instability, and motor-skills impairment. These conditions often lead to involvement in physical activities difficult as these children struggle for balance, endurance, and motor planning.

Other Risk Factors

Autism with obesity are known to be associated with other risk factors such as sleep issues, and picky eating. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is quite common among children with ASD. Sleep issues usually affect appetite and metabolic functions leading to weight gain. Children with ASD are also known to be highly selective eaters and have the tendency to be indisposed to specific smells, colors, textures, temperatures, and so on. This “picky” eating routine leaves children to choose unhealthy foods and/or energy-dense foods which are often “more attractive” and much tastier than organic/fresh foods.

The Role of the Family

Most issues concerning dietary, sleep patterns, and physical activity are usually affected by family dynamics. Mealtime routines, feeding styles, and other parental practices relating to food and activities at home directly impact obesity clauses among children with ASD. By developing a healthy family environment and proper dietary management while infusing effective intervention, obesity among children with ASD can be prevented.