Contrary to popular belief, autism is not a single type of illness. Instead, it is a whole spectrum of conditions that overall hamper a specific segment of development (most often social) in an individual. These conditions include Asperger’s, and similar developmental disorders.
Curiously, there is as of yet no consensus as to the origin of the autism spectrum. There are various theories, with varying credence. What is generally accepted, however, is that aside from therapy, making dietary changes is among the most influential factors that can help improve autism symptoms. In fact, studies claim that up to half of all children within the autism disorder are placed on various special diets.
These diets are as varied as the other factors surrounding autism, and the more exotic among them offer mixed results. The dietary recommendations in this article, however, follow well-researched cause-and-effect relationships that have been known to substantially improve the well-being of those in the spectrum.
Food & Nutrition Diet (Meal Plan) for Autism
#1 Recommended Breakfast Diet for Autism
Of all meals, breakfast is likely to be the most highly-altered for those with autism. Due to restrictions on gluten and casein (explained later), grains and dairy products have to be kept under careful watch. Typical breakfast fare, like eggs, meat, and fruits, can instead be substituted.
The key here is to keep everything natural. As much as possible, do not place any processed foods on an autistic individual’s plate. Because of modern manufacturing processes, many food products are made in shared facilities. Because of this, they might come into contact with equipment used to handle gluten and casein-containing products. Because of this, even food products that do not naturally contain these substances may have trace amounts. Such can ultimately prove to be harmful.
#2 Recommended Lunch Diet for Autism
With meat, fish, and poultry still available as options, it is easier to cook up lunch. However, keeping a healthy plate may be a challenge as people in the spectrum typically stick only to a select group of favorite foods. This may sacrifice their nutrition, hence it is important to introduce at least minor variations every now and then.
#3 Recommended Dinner Diet for Autism
Dinner fare can be the same as that for lunch, since there are no major restrictions. It is important, though, to include not just individual preferences when creating the menu but also the various bodily responses to food which may not be part of the autism spectrum. This includes minor allergies and gut issues (including reflux) whose discomfort may be overwhelming to an autistic person. Because of this, new food items should be introduced one at a time, and in small amounts.
#4 Recommended Snack Diet for Autism
Fruits and nuts are among the most reliable and healthy snack items for autistic patients. Traditional snack fare which may include cheese and other dairy products should be removed.
#5 Recommended Drinks for Autism
There are no drinks specifically made to ease the symptoms of autism, but there are different drinks that should instead be avoided. These include taurine-rich drinks and energy drinks, which tend to excite the brain and therefore increase the likelihood of autistic symptoms.
#6 Recommended Herbs for Autism
There are currently no known herbs that combat the symptoms of autism. However, some herbal remedies help in increasing the effects of lifestyle changes that may contribute to the lessening of symptoms. Turmeric, for example, has excellent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that could help cleanse the digestive system and prevent the absorption of harmful elements which aggravate symptoms. The bacteria Candida is one such element, which some believe to be greatly contributory to autism’s onset and effects.
#7 Recommended Fruits for Autism
There are no specific fruits that can help cure autism, but since nutrition is a perpetual problem for autistic children it is important to nourish them with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
#8 Recommended Vitamins for Autism
While all vitamins are important, Vitamin D plays a special role especially for autistic children. It has been said that low levels of Vitamin D absorbed during infancy has been correlated with the onset of symptoms. Furthermore, Vitamin D has been shown to be effective in improving the function of neurotransmitters, thus alleviating some of the symptoms.
#9 Recommended Minerals for Autism
Like Vitamin D, magnesium is an important mineral for those in the autism spectrum. Some of the more common symptoms such as anxiety, teeth grinding, and poor attention span has been linked to a deficiency in magnesium. Increasing magnesium intake, whether through supplements or diet, would help in reducing the intensity of these symptoms.
#10 Discouraged Food for Autism
The top two discouraged food for autism are gluten and casein. Gluten is a type of protein that is found in many grains, such as wheat and oats. Casein, on the other hand, is another protein found in milk and similar dairy products. It is also used as an additive in many types of food, so it is important to double-check labels.
These two proteins produce a morphine-like compound when digested in an incomplete manner — hence, there is a significant level of difficulty in removing these food stuff from one’s diet. Furthermore, using utensils that have previously handled these proteins have the potential of retaining and transferring these proteins to food that do not normally contain gluten and casein.
Because of its ability to excite a person, sugar intake should also be strictly regulated. While the food items that need to be removed might seem to be a heavy dietary change, the rewards are great and would be worth the wait and sacrifices.
There are different kinds of symptoms in the autism spectrum, and while they are often easy to spot, the reasons behind them can be elusive. The most important changes to be made should always be holistic, covering different lifestyle aspects, and in keeping with the latest findings in the field.
- READ MORE