One of the greatest challenges of persons on the autism spectrum is that of getting proper nutrition. Well, now that I think of it, it's probably one of the greatest challenges in America, let alone for someone on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately, for kids and adults on the autism spectrum, a sensitivity to textures and smells can mean a very selective, even picky approach to food. Some adults will only eat two to three types of food.
But poor nutrition can lead to all sorts of health problems. So I encourage you to form an eating plan that will help you instead of hurt you in the long run.
Change the Texture
As a parent, if your child will not eat mashed potatoes, for example, try making baked french-fries, or try potatoe slices, baked. If your child will not eat orange slices, try serving him/her orange juice. As an adult on the autism spectrum, I would challenge you to do the same thing for yourself.
Involve Your Child (Or Your Adult's Inner Child :) in Nutrition
Go over the food pyramid with your child. Or, if you are older, review it yourself. Ask your child what foods seem interesting. Take a trip to the local grocery store with your child. (I was shocked when I tried this: the kids came home with a watermelon, carrots, and apples, and I found out that my son had an appetite for cherry tomatoes!). As an adult, go with a friend and just check out the different foods. Try one new thing. You may be surprised at what you can add to your diet!
Pair the New Food with Familiar Foods
If your child has three or favorite foods, you can try introducing the new food that they picked out at the local grocery market alongside their favorite foods. In addition, as a parent, keep the food around the house so that they are repeatedly exposed to it. And make sure that you are eating that food as well. Through repeated exposure and modeling, they may eventually incoporate the new food into their diet.
Make New Foods a Family Event
It's hard to always eat together as a family. Maybe you can aim to have even one family meal together per week. Make a big deal out of it. Set the table. Build anticipation. Go shopping together, plan the menu together. Hopefully, the excitement and togetherness can result in trying new things over time. As an adult, it may seem a little fake, but maybe do the same thing with a friend or another member of your family. Plan a 'new foods' night together, and try your new foods together.
Don't Give Up! Be Patient!
Change takes time. I encourage you as a kid, a parent, and an adult, to make small changes over time. But keep at it! Print this article out and post it on your refrigerator. Come up with new ideas and share them with me over here at the blog.
I hope these suggestions will start you on your way to getting more nutrition into your body. You are priceless, and so is your body. A Mercedes deserves high quality gas, not mud, in its gas tank. You are worth way more than a Mercedes, so what are you going to choose to put in your tank? I hope it's good!