diet tips for an autistic child

6 diet tips for an autistic child with poor muscle tone

6 diet tips for an autistic child with poor muscle tone

Have you heard of stories of autistic children with poor muscle tone and feeding difficulties?

They usually find it difficult to eat normal homemade foods. Children can eat only 1-2 comfort foods daily without any interest in other foods.  A few years back, I had a patient with poor muscle tone who would just drink his food. His diet consisted of dal-rice-boiled vegetables, pureed fruits and porridge. He would just not eat food in large quantities.

This diet is comparable to a full-liquid diet. The diet’s nutrition is insufficient to meet the growth and developmental milestones.

Autistic children could likely have low calcium and protein, responsible for reducing brain development, growth of bones, and strength of muscles. When it comes to managing the dietary needs of an autistic child with poor muscle tone, it’s important to focus on providing a balanced and nutritious diet.

There are two causes of poor muscle tone. The first being vestibular issues and the second being nutritional deficiencies.

Tips on how diet management in nutritional deficiency children

In this article, I will share tips on how diet management in these children can help improve their condition to a certain extent, especially if nutritional deficiency is the cause.

Hypotonia or poor muscle tone due to nutritional deficiencies is a result of poor nutrition delivery to the muscles. The child may eat everything but is unable to digest or absorb nutrients from food into the body. Some children may not be able to break down protein into tinnier particles (i.e., amino acids) which are required to build muscles. Or calcium is not sufficient in muscles to help with muscle contraction and relaxation and over some time it results in weak or poor muscle tone.

When it comes to supporting the dietary needs of an autistic child with poor muscle tone, it is important to focus on providing proper nutrition and promoting overall health.

Here are six diet tips that may be beneficial:

  • Including all food groups: Ensure that your child’s diet includes a balance of all food groups, including cereal, pulse, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds and if you are a non-vegetarian you can include meat (egg, chicken, fish). Adequate calorie intake during the day and the right portion size during each meal become essential.

  • Your child’s diet should also include the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates and fats provide energy, proteins support muscle development and repair, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain function. Including a variety of whole grains, lean proteins (such as poultry, fish, and legumes), and sources of healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, and seeds) can help provide essential nutrients.

  • Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prioritize nutrient-dense foods to support your child’s overall health. These foods include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in their diet. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support muscle tone and overall well-being. Encourage your child to consume a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure a wide range of nutrients.

  • Adequate Protein Intake: Protein plays a crucial role in muscle development and repair. Ensure that your child is consuming enough protein-rich foods. Include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based protein sources (like tofu and tempeh) in their diet.

  • Hydration: Proper hydration is essential for muscle health and overall well-being. Encourage your child to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. You can also include hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and soups in their diet. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary drinks or sodas, as they provide little nutritional value and may contribute to poor health.

  • Consistent Meal Schedule: Establishing a consistent meal schedule can help regulate your child’s energy levels and support muscle function. Aim for regular meal and snack times to ensure they receive adequate nutrition throughout the day. This can also help prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can affect energy levels and muscle tone.

The takeaway of this article is to work with your child’s feeding difficulties, nutritional deficiencies and meal routine. Remember, it is always important to consult with your healthcare professional like a doctor for medical diagnosis and a dietitian who can provide personalized advice based on your child’s specific needs and medical history. They can help create a tailored diet plan that suits your child’s requirements and solves feeding issues.

Contact the admin at 1 Special Place for more information on the program or book a diet and speech therapy session.

Suhana Shriyan
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