6 Steps to Help A Picky Eater with Autism or Neuro-Immune Syndromes
Many children are picky eaters, but a child with autism or sensory issues might have an even harder time overcoming their highly specific palate. A recent scientific study found that children with autism are five times more likely to have a food-related behavioral issue, be it picky eating, ritualistic eating, or tantrums related to eating. Picky eating can stem from a variety of different underlying beliefs, from an inherent worry about eating unsafe foods to the desire to be in control. It is also important to supplement their diet with key nutrients if they don’t get what they need from food.
To make sure a child is getting enough nutritional value from their food, it’s important that they move away from fussy eating. Here are some simple steps to get your child on the right path when it comes to food and overcome picky eating once and for all.
1. Make the Table a Safe Space
Your child wants to feel secure and comfortable when it comes to food, so make your dining table a safe space. Refrain from pressuring your child and leave all arguments at the door. Urging a child to eat a certain food at a certain time will actually have the opposite effect from what you are trying to achieve. Remember, baby steps!
2. Introduce Foods that Are Similar to the Ones They Like
Don’t dive in the deep end with exotic foods before your child knows how to swim with the basics. Start with their favorite foods and pick foods that are very similar. For example, if your child likes mac n’ cheese, serve another kind of pasta with cheese and see if they are willing to give it a try. Don’t expose them to too many foods at once as this could be overwhelming.
3. Eat Together at the Same Times Each Day
Establishing a mealtime routine that you follow everyday will further instill that feeling of security that you want at the table. Instead of just three meals, try a schedule of five eating times so that snacktime is included in the day’s agenda. Keep the table as a space only for eating and do work and homework in another room.
4. Say No to Grazing
When you have the five eating times established, there is no need for your child to graze on snacks. Grazing is not good for picky eaters because it is out-of-control eating that can lead to unhealthy foods and not being hungry for actual meals. Your child should eat because they are hungry and not because they are bored.
5. Involve Your Child in Meal Prep
The next time you go to the grocery store, let your child come with you. Involve them in meal prep, from helping to pick out foods to unpacking the ingredients and even cooking. Get them excited about different kinds of food. After they have participated in the production of the meal, they will be more inclined to eat it.
6. Supplement their Nutrition
Of course, while you are working to establish a routine that works for your child, they may not be getting all the vitamins they need from the limited foods they eat. To make sure their nutritional needs are being fulfilled, try giving them a supplement that is designed for children with picky eating habits. Through trial and error, we are offering a few suggestions to hide certain supplements in different foods and drinks from parents, caregivers and doctors. Click here for tips and tricks to help your little one take their supplements. We hope these suggestions will help!