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11 AUGUST 2021

Tips for Healthy Eating

by Oreke Mosheshe

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Nothing prepares you for having a child with autism. You cannot mould a child with autism you need to meet them where they are as individuals, this is my belief. My ability to love unconditionally has been expanded from loving my son with autism and unlearning old beliefs. 

In this post, I will be talking about food and the challenges of ensuring a healthy diet for children with autism. Rather than to label a child with autism as a fussy eater you need to begin to understand and find other ways to introduce new foods and a balance diet. At the end of the post I will also share a cake recipe that my son loves.

Many children with autism struggle with diet and nutrition. Fussy-eater is not a term I would use with children with autism, selective eating is the term I prefer. Feeding difficulties in children with autism has been reported as high as 90%. When my son was about 3 years old, I attended a parent feeding course provided by my local council, especially for parents with children that have autism. This was really useful and over time from parenting my child and seeing lots of different specialists. I have picked up various tips.

My Tips

  • Try to allow your child to feed themselves, they are to choose how much they eat and end meal time when they have had enough.
  • If your child throws food, calmly remind them that food is for eating and it stays on the table. If the behaviour continues, try to ignore it. I’ve not drawn too much attention to it.
  • Use reinforcement, a favourite toy to encourage trying new food.
  • Keep a food diary of what your child eats, what brands and what foods you would like your child to eat. You can later share this with a food clinic.
  • Try to offer the vegetables your child will eat with every meal focusing on the benefit of getting the nutrients that they will eat rather than stressing yourself on what your child should eat.
  • Try blending vegetables into healthy cakes and food. My son loves zucchini bread and has no idea it is packed with vegetables.
  • Best to encourage eating at the table.
  • Try introducing a combination of food textures and flavours; sweet, sour, crunchy and liquid.
  • A meal plan could help ensure you give a varied diet.
  • Ask your doctor for multi-vitamins and supplements that your child may benefit from. A blood test may be needed.
  • Let children use their hands if they want and where possible sit together as a family as your children will be watching you eat.
  • Use a pea-size sample of food for all tasting be positive and encourages child to retest a new food and celebrate every small step.
  • I know a lot of experts say to turn off your TV and no iPads during mealtimes but as a mother of two boys, one with autism, I have to be honest with you and say sometimes I do let my children have their iPads whilst eating but try to ensure what they are watching is educational.

Find below a recipe for my sons’ favourite cake. I hope you enjoy this blog post, until next time
Oreke xx

Oreke Mosheshe portrait

The Author

Oreke Mosheshe is a mother of 2 boys, a regular model for ITV Lorraine show, TV presenter, Cook and has a true passion for fitness.

She has run 5 marathons, posesses a level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, writes and manages a Health, fitness and lifestyle blog – www.yummymummyuk.com – and has presented the benefits of health and natural child birth for ITV.

Ralph’s gluten-free cake

Ingredients
Butter 225g
Caster Sugar 200g
Gluten-free self-raising flour 250g
Dairy free milk 1tbs
Vanilla extract 1tsp

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, with an electric whisk
3. Pour the mixture into non-stick tin
4. Place in the oven until golden about 20 minutes
5. Cool on a wire rack before serving

Ralph's favourite cake

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