A Healthy Diet Plan for Autism

Are you finding it difficult to feed a proper and nutritious diet to your autistic kid? Is he/ she so fuzzy and picky during meal times? A nutritious diet is really important for the growth and development of the kids both physically and mentally. This becomes crucial when it comes to kids with autism as they have many digestive problems and other problems. So, understanding that they need different nutrient requirements, forms the first step in building a healthy diet plan for them.

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Autistic Spectrum Disorder:

ASD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a broad term that is characterised by kids having difficulties with social skills, repetitive activities, speech, and nonverbal communication. Inadequate nutrition is more prevalent in kids with autism. Having a nutritious and healthy diet plan is very much crucial for growth and brain development. Autism frequently coexists with sensory sensitivities, physical conditions including gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, seizures, or sleep disorders, as well as psychological difficulties like anxiety, depression, and attention deficits.

Also, check Autism and Sensory Sensitivity

Nutrient Requirements of Autistic kids

It is very important to know the nutrient requirement of autistic kids to have a healthy diet plan. The dietary needs of kids with autism spectrum disorder are met and associated complications are decreased by consuming foods high in vitamins B6, C, D, magnesium, and other nutrients. The following is the list of nutrients and some food examples than might help to build a healthy diet plan.

probiotics:

Children with autism frequently experience digestive issues. Since probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that influence gut microbiota, including them in the diet can help with these issues. Regular consumption of probiotics will assist the child to pass stool easily. Some examples of probiotics include fermented foods (idli, dosa, dhokla), buttermilk etc.

Also, Check this Probiotic rich Digest veggies and Dal powder – Buy Now

magnesium and vitamin B6:

It is found that foods high in magnesium and vitamin B6 help to improve speech and language in kids with ASD. Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin B6 are fish, peanuts, soybeans, oats, and bananas. Almonds, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, black beans, dark chocolate (60–69%), bread, potato, and brown rice are all promising sources of magnesium.

zinc and vitamin C:

Mothers who are low in zinc and vitamin C have been linked to an increased risk of autism in the foetus. Furthermore, if the autistic child lacks these two nutrients in their diet then they may experience worsening symptoms. Certain foods that are rich in zinc and Vitamin C are oranges, lemons, seeds (pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds), papayas, broccoli, eggs, and legumes.

Vitamin D and Omega- 3 fatty acid:

There is a strong link between a healthy diet plan and autism. It was suggested that a diet rich in vitamin D, PUFA (Omega- 3 fatty acid) and DHA have the potential to significantly improve the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder as per a study in the journal Trials. Some foods rich in these nutrients are walnuts, seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds), soybeans, and fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil.

Also, check 7 Brain Boosting foods for kids

 A healthy diet plan for autistic children:

Monday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Millet dosa and onion with mint chutney
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Fruit salad, almond/soy milk
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Rice, dal, ash gourd curry
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Orange/ lemon/pineapple juice
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Sabudana khichdi/upma

Tuesday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Brown bread,peanut butter, almond milk
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Tender coconut water/ fruit juice
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Brown rice, Spinach curry/ potato curry
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Vegetable sandwich
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Dosa with chutney

Wednesday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Idli and tomato chutney
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Carrot juice/orange juice
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Rice, Rajma curry/ vegetable curry
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Boiled peanuts/ roasted peanut /lentils
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Fruit salad, vegetable rice/ pulao

Thursday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Pongal and sambar
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Nuts and seeds/ Buttermilk 
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Rice, Tomato rasam, Dal
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Millet Muffins 
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Millet idli/dosa with sambar/chutney

Friday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Idli with sambhar
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Coconut laddu / ragi laddu 
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Mushroom gravy and rice
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Ragi laddu/peanut bars
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Jowar roti/ any millet roti/buttermilk

Saturday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Moong dal khichdi
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Fruit juice/coconut/almond /soy milk
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Brown rice, Spinach gravy, dal
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Oats and banana with honey
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Poha

Sunday
Breakfast (8:00-8:30 am)Besan cheela
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 am)Vegetable salad with some broccoli
Lunch (1:30-2:00 pm)Roti, Steamed rice, Vegetable curry
Evening (4:00-4:30 pm)Strawberry/watermelon/banana shake
Dinner (8:00-8:30 pm)Dhokla

To know more healthy food recipes – Check here

Foods to be avoided and alternative suggestions:

1. Dairy:

Casein, is one of the major proteins found in any dairy product. Casein upon reaction with stomach acid creates an exorphin. Exorphins can cause a variety of problems, including brain fog, fuzziness, difficulty concentrating, and numbness to pain, when they bind to the opioid receptor sites.

Dairy alternatives: Plant-based or nut milk like almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk can be used.

2. Gluten:

It is a protein found in many kinds of cereal like wheat, barley, and rye. These gluten proteins when consumed can aggravate inflammation as the body starts producing antibodies against gluten that may cause an inflammatory reaction in the brain.

Gluten alternatives: Gluten-free products like millets, rice lentils and pulses can be used.

3. Sugar:

Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates while increasing lean protein will greatly enhance judgement and focus while reducing impulsivity.

Sugar Alternatives: Jaggery or brown sugar can be used. Try including probiotic products in diet as it helps in digestion issues.

Also, check Healthy sugar alternatives for kids

4. Artificial Ingredients:

Preservatives, dyes and artificial colours, artificial flavourings, and artificial sweeteners should all be avoided.

Also, check Harmful side effects of Food Preservatives

Products:

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