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9 Autism Eating Strategies For Success
Eating issues are pretty common with autistic children. As moms we just naturally want to feed our children. So what happens when our child has issues with eating, textures, taste or other issues? It hurts our mom hearts
So, let’s talk about some ways to help make meals and food issues a little bit easier.
#1 Head To The Family Doctor
Honestly, start here and check in with the family doctor. You don’t want to overlook any medical conditions that might be an easy fix.
Have you noticed any problems after your child eats certain foods such as abdominal pain or allergic reactions? ie: redness, itching, swelling, coughing. How about a big behavior change after eating a certain food such as dairy products?
Your child might have medical issues including food intolerances and weight loss.
Mention these to your doctor.
#2 Eat On A Schedule
This is a little harder than it sounds, so let me break it down a little bit.
Plan your 3 meal times each day and put a regular time with each meal if you don’t already.
We are so busy and creating a schedule can take some work. Having a specific time to eat each meal will trigger hunger around the meal time and hopefully increase appetite.
Offer small amounts of carbs, proteins, fruit and a favorite food at each meal.
Spend time eating together and enjoy your food together.
#3 Gradually Add New Foods
Have a preferred food list. You know the one I mean. Your kid has a strong preference for foods on this list. Definitely offer these foods at meal time.
New foods in your child’s diet don’t have to be scary, but let’s introduce them slowly to selective eaters to reduce food refusal.
Pick 1 new food item that your child currently isn’t eating.
The fist time introducing a new food, start with a teeny serving…..and introduce a few small bites. The trick here is patience. Stay calm relaxed and detached from the outcome. It’s not personal. Keep trying.
#4 Stay Calm
Not feeling calm? Fake it. Keep this in perspective.
In other words don’t make the dinner table a battlefield. You just won’t get the results you want. It’s a good idea to introduce the new food, while encouraging and praising your child, but in the end don’t let them see you stress.
#5 Play With Yo Food
We understand the world through our senses. Although playing with food tends to be a no-no, why not have a fun food night to experience a new food or two through all the senses?
- Try hands on the food approach. Let them touch, smell, explore new foods and integrate these senses into their eating experience.
- Could you find fun cookie cutters to create shapes?
- Blending (think smoothies with healthy ingredients)
- Ask your child if they have a few ideas to make food more fun. You might be surprised!
#6 Set The Mood To Try A New Food
Make the introduction of a new food (1 at a time please) a big deal. Have music, decorations (Dollar Store) and fun.
If trying this new food falls flat, it’s okay. Roll with it and try again on another day.
Don’t be surprised if you have to keep introducing this new food before you see a glimmer of acceptance.
Change takes time.
#7 Food Textures and Unusual Eating Behaviors
The texture or feel of food, (crunchy food, soft food) affects healthy food choices our kids make.
We know it’s a good idea for our kids to choose a variety of foods for good health.
Kids are at greater risk for health problems when they have an unbalanced diet.
So, if you are struggling to help your child make better food choices, don’t be afraid to get help.
#8 Keep Your Eye On The Prize
Remember what your end game is here. You are slowly expanding your child’s eating menu.
Diet will be an ever widening circle as you expand and add particular foods for your child to try, and you don’t need to hurry.
Keep your sense of humor handy and your need for control checked.
You got this mom, you really do!
#9 Eating Treatments
Picky eating is a common problem for kids with developmental disorders, such as autism. Parents of children with sensory issues can get help for their child’s limited diet and treatment with a behavior analyst or occupational therapist.
If your child has limited food preferences, then work on a gradual approach to healthy foods with a professional who can guide you and your child.