Sometimes children with autism spectrum disorder can be picky eaters. Other times, they can either overeat, not eat enough or even eat things that aren’t meant to be eaten. Managing your child’s healthy eating habits is essential in their development. With the right guidance, your child will be much more open to different foods and will benefit from more nutrients. At RAD, we believe in providing children with autism and families the resources that will help guide them nutritionally and educationally.
Here are tips to help your child with autism develop a more structured eating behavior:
Rotate between favorites and something new
Make sure your children are not used to eating the same things every single day. This type of routine will cause them to be picky about trying new things. Let your child eat their favorite but also mix it up by adding something new occasionally. Try disguising the food and finding a way to mix their current favorites with new fruits or vegetables.
During grocery trips, have your child get interactive and choose something in the aisle. You will be surprised by what they choose. It could be something completely out of the ordinary for them. Nonetheless, this allows them to be more open to something new if they get to choose.
The number one thing to remember is to encourage your children. Your children pick up your own habits. If you are expecting your children to be open to new food, you should be representing the same thing. Children can have a hard time trying something new, it’s your job to ease the process and show that it is a positive thing to try something new. Maintain a positive atmosphere for their meals always.
Praise your child when they try new food. That type of encouragement will make your child feel good about themselves. Rewards are good but too much of it will have your children thinking they are doing this only for the reward not because they want to.
Create a structure in their meals
Overeating is a huge issue among children. Make sure to create space in between meals and also making sure healthy snacks get included. Limiting the amount of food per meal will help especially with having regular meal times throughout the day. Alternate between normal kid snacks and the healthy kinds including fruits.
Every meal should incorporate something healthy such as fruits or vegetables. The important thing to remember is to make it fun. Most times, children do not enjoy healthy snacks compared to a bag of chips. Serving carrots with their favorite bag of chips makes the carrots seem less scary.
Do not ignore the fussy eating habits. Children with autism with develop their fussy eating habits if it is not resolved right away. Stay positive and continue working towards a healthier routine. They will likely develop healthy habits with your patience and constant understanding.
Physical activities before meals
It is often said that a little activity “wakes up” a child’s body and senses. Try doing a fun activity indoors or outdoors before certain meal times and see how they react to new foods after. After all the energy is exerted, children will likely get excited about a nice meal. This can allow them to be more open to different foods.
Our goal is to provide programs for children with autism that have access to the same healthy nutrition. Nutrition is key in all children’s diets. Helping children with autism develop healthy eating habits teaches them to be open, have better overall health and live a happier life.