Diet tips while vacationing with picky eaters

Diet tips while vacationing with picky eaters: Guide for parents of kids with ASD

Diet tips while vacationing with picky eaters: Guide for parents of kids with ASD

“While the journey of a picky eater with autism might have its challenges, the love and understanding we put into packing their favourite foods can transform any vacation into a heartwarming adventure.” – Anonymous

Every parent looks forward to going on a vacation. Since it is an opportunity to escape the daily routine and unwind. Taking a break from work or other responsibilities allows parents to recharge, reduce stress levels, and promote overall well-being.

Picky eater with autism

Planning a vacation with a picky eater who has autism can bring unique challenges, but with a touch of empathy and careful preparation, it can also lead to delightful moments of joy and connection. As caregivers and parents, we understand that your child who has autism symptoms may experience sensory sensitivities that can significantly impact their eating habits and choice of food. Empathizing with them will help you to recognize and respect these sensitivities, fostering a nurturing environment that encourages the child’s autonomy and comfort.

It’s essential to remember that each child’s journey is different and unique. By understanding their preferences and gently introducing new experiences, you can turn mealtime into an exciting adventure during your vacations. Let’s delve into effective strategies for packing food that caters for the unique needs of your picky eaters with autism, ensuring that every meal becomes an opportunity for growth and discovery.

Diet tips for you as a caregiver or parent to consider while vacationing with picky eaters, specifically kids with ASD:

  • When planning a vacation with a picky eater or a child with special dietary needs, it’s important to do some research and identify restaurants or food options that can accommodate their preferences. Look for establishments with diverse menus that offer familiar foods your child enjoys. Additionally, packing familiar foods is a good idea to provide a safety net. Bring along your child’s preferred snacks and easy-to-transport items like granola bars, fruit cups, or individually packaged foods. This ensures your child has access to foods they are comfortable with.

  • To increase your child’s engagement and willingness to try new foods, involve them in the meal-planning process. Discuss the upcoming trip with them and ask for their input and suggestions regarding the types of foods they would like to have during the vacation.

  • Introducing new foods gradually is beneficial, even before the vacation begins. Incorporate new items into their regular meals at home so that they become familiar with the taste and texture. This can make it easier for them to try similar foods while on vacation.

  • When dining out, opt for familiar options that closely resemble the foods your child is used to eating. For example, if your child enjoys chicken nuggets, look for restaurants that offer a similar option. This increases the likelihood of your child accepting the meal.

  • Visual aids such as pictures, menus, or food cards can be used to help your child understand and choose their meals. Visual representations can be particularly helpful for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to make decisions and express their preferences.

  • Being flexible is important, as your child’s eating habits may not change drastically during the vacation. Be patient and allow them to eat the foods they are comfortable with while still encouraging them to try new options when they feel ready.

  • If your child has specific dietary restrictions, communicate this to the hotel or restaurants to ensure their meals are prepared accordingly and to minimize the risk of exposure to allergens.

  • Encourage sensory exploration during the vacation. Encourage your child to touch, smell, and interact with different foods, even if they are not ready to taste them yet. This can help

  • desensitize them to new textures and increase their comfort level over time.

  • Celebrating small victories is important. Praise and reward your child for trying new foods or making progress in expanding their food choices. Positive reinforcement can be a motivating factor to continue exploring new options.

  • Consider how you pack the food and serve it. Some foods can get spoilt, hence make sure to serve it as soon as possible, while some foods could get soggy. Make sure you don’t add salt or sugar but rather at it while serving.


Vacationing with picky eaters, especially children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can be challenging when it comes to ensuring a balanced diet. You can follow the above tips to enjoy your trip without stressing about your child’s meals.

Remember to take into account any specific dietary restrictions or allergies your picky eater may have when preparing these snacks. Feel free to modify the recipes based on their preferences and gradually introduce new flavours and ingredients to expand their palate. Keep in mind that every child with ASD is unique, and their eating preferences and challenges may vary. If you need additional guidance specific to your child’s needs, it’s important to consult with professionals such as dietitians or therapists who specialize in ASD.

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Suhana Shriyan
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