Dr Rohit Kiran Cherukuri


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Autism Nutrition and Eating Habits

Catagory: Autism  Author: Dr Rohit Kiran Cherukuri
Autism Nutrition

With the start of the new year, many people take the initiative to eat healthier, and eating better may be a fantastic aim for kids as well, especially those with autism/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Autism is a developmental disability that affects one out of every 44 children and teens. Symptoms vary in severity (on a scale) from kid to child, but typical characteristics include nonverbal or delayed speech, trouble interacting in social contexts, repetitive or compulsive activities, and sensitivity to certain stimuli such as noise and food.

Autism and food connections


Most children are picky eaters at some point in their lives, but those with autism can be more so. For example, they may object to your urging them to try new meals or insist on eating the same thing at each meal.

“I talk with parents regularly about the culinary issues they experience with their autistic children,” says Dr. Rohit Kiran Cherukuri, a board-certified pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Child Neurology Consultants. “One of the most prevalent issues I hear about is restricting dietary choices or demonstrating extreme, even hostile, distaste of specific foods, scents, or textures of foods.”

Dr. Rohit Kiran Cherukuri finds the following food-related issues in his patients:

  • Not eating enough and gaining sufficient nutrients, since autistic children and teenagers may have difficulty focusing or sitting still long enough to finish a whole meal.
  • Constipation as a result of limited dietary options and gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Adverse responses to some drugs (such as those containing stimulants used to treat autism) can occasionally suppress appetite.

Dr. Rohit Kiran Cherukuri encourages parents not to give up and reminds them that it is critical to continue working with their child on what they eat and their eating habits.

Establishing healthy habits


To help their brains develop and bodies grow strong, all children require well-balanced meals rich in vitamins, healthy fats (omega-3s), protein, and calcium. It can be more difficult to encourage autistic children to eat adequately, which can have a detrimental influence on their learning and academics, as well as how they process emotions and relate with others.

Dr. Rohit Kiran Cherukuri advises the following suggestions to assist improve nutrition and eating habits:

  • Allow them to be picky.

You already know they’re fussy, so let them take the lead when it comes to encouraging them to try new foods. Take your child to the grocery store and make it a pleasant experience by allowing them to choose a new fruit or vegetable, and then possibly even leave it on the counter for a few days so they can study it–touch it, smell it, etc. Then, have your youngster look out famous recipes that use the new cuisine and assist you in preparing it to their satisfaction.

  • Routineize, even boring, mealtimes.

Children with autism frequently seek routine, so eating at the same time, in the same area, and with the same plates and cutlery will help them feel more grounded when it comes to mealtime.

Remove items in the kitchen that may distract children from eating and finishing, such as televisions or laptops, mobile phones, bright lights, dogs, or noisy equipment.

  • Be wary of restricted diets and/or seek the advice of a trained nutritionist.

Many parents believe that avoiding gluten and casein might help alleviate autistic symptoms. Gluten is present in wheat and other grain products, while casein is found in dairy; both are known to impair brain function in autistic people.

Although many scientific studies support these diets, if you want to try them for your child, be sure they are getting adequate nutrients from other sources. However, don’t rely only on vitamins, since they might have a detrimental influence if taken in the wrong doses or in conjunction with certain drugs.

A qualified dietician can assist you fill in the gaps on a limited diet where they may be losing out.