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  • Any Other Parents of Autistic Children?

    I have been eating Paleo off and on for a year but decided to stop hopping on and off the wagon a month ago. Feeling fantastic, doing it right this time! I am sure I wasn't eating enough fat during my earlier attempts.

    Have DH (mostly) on board and am trying to get the kids switched over slowly. All the kids are autistic.

    Oldest son (17) is very high functioning and will eat pretty much what you put in front of him as long as long as he can have 18% cream and white sugar for his coffee. He also has a job so buys his own cereal and other crap, nothing I can do about that.

    Middle son (7) is low functioning (GAF score of 40/100), daughter (4) is in the process of being assessed but I believe she will come out closer to her older brother on the spectrum.

    The two younger kids are crazy picky eaters. They both have a list of around 15 foods that they will eat. Not the same 15 mind you. So I've trimmed out the non-Paleo foods and am left with:

    Son:

    Beef Jerky
    Fruit (apples, watermelon, bananas, pears)
    Plain chicken
    Greek yogurt (must be a sweetened and flavoured variety but whole fat and organic is acceptable to him.)

    Daughter:

    Bacon
    Farmer's sausage
    Fruit (cherries, strawberries, bananas, kiwis)
    Greek yogurt (Same as her brother)
    A few bites of very plain chicken

    So any advice from ASD parents? Where do I go from here? They will both eat gluten free pasta, pretzels and cereals as well as rice and corn and Butterball Turkey hot dogs (no other brand, they can smell the difference).

  • #2
    15 foods is plenty. Thats about what my youngest sits at. Variety is great from a culinary standpoint and whatnot, but don't get hung up on it. Yes introduce new items, but more for the psychological exercise. Nutrition wise they can very well thrive on that. Other than that just know that feeding them a nutrient dense diet avoiding toxins and the most common food allergen/intolerance items can only improve their health and capacity to reach their individual potentials. Wish you all the best!

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    • #3
      But if I cut it down to primal foods then they only have around 5 foods each and no vegetables. (Well, since corn isn't a veggie then they never ate any veg to start with.)

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      • #4
        I hear your frustration - I have a 20yo son who is a high-functioning autistic, and he was super picky when he was young. As in, he ate bananas, eggs, cheese, plain white rice, pasta with butter and not much else. The good news is that now he eats absolutely everything, but it was a long road to get him to that point. I had to keep presenting foods to him over and over again until he was willing to eat them. I'm not sure about your kids, but for him it was mostly about texture. As far as veggies, I started with some that I felt were easy to like because they were sweet: raw carrots and cucumbers, and yams loaded with butter and cinnamon were the first things he liked.

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        • #5
          It's so hard to feed them when I feel like I'm failing them every time I put a plate of GF pasta in front of them and like I'm starving them if I only offer Paleo food. My 4 year old ate 9 slices of bacon today which made her happy but without the vegetables to balance that out I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing.

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          • #6
            Hi Neckhammer - we meet again!

            Poppi, I don't have autistic kids, but I do have one seriously super-taster youngest, one who cannot tolerate artificial colors or preservatives or additives same as me, one dairy-allergic celiac, and one with a huge diagnosed sensory disorder along with being developmentally delayed who is SCD with Primal tweaks.

            Neckhammer is right - for right now, they willingly eat regularly, do have most of the food groups in there, and get the calories to grow. Let it be enough for right now while you decide which food project to take on next. You have complex cases there in your kiddos - there simply is no way to get it ALL done quickly. This a process, and it will take time. Cut yourself some slack - many, many moms simply wouldn't take the time or the trouble - you do/are, and you will get there.

            If you want your kids off of g/f noodles NOW, try the all-rice varieties from an Asian grocer. Yeah, they are rice, but rice gets accepted around here. Might be a good next step.

            Re the vegetable thing - they weren't eating them anyway, so that is no diff from before. A lot of kids get started with skinny carrot sticks with a dip - how about a homemade bacon ranch dip?? The youngest does bacon and yogurt...

            And chicken - my super-picky started eating chicken when I served her a local free-range brand and roasted it extra well. She hates Tyson... And try a really crispy-skinned duck - same kid almost physically fought with another sibling in order to have the most duck.
            I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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            • #7
              My son is six and so far they feel he has sensory integration issues and possible high functioning autism. He is just finishing kindergarten and is reading and writing(with difficulty-using a pencil is hard for him) and adding and subtracting. He has always been a pretty spectacularly picky eater. He eats most fruit, most dairy, anything breadish or crackerish, no meat except fish sticks and chicken nuggets(which he seldom gets), eggs sometimes, almost no vegies and usually raw, and for whatever reason frozen peas(still frozen). I usually have to hold the food he likes hostage in order to get him to eat a bite of something new. He would rather go hungry than eat a new food most times and he has woken up in the morning puking because he refused to eat dinner the night before. He will eat oatmeal but not rice or potatoes, he will eat macaroni and cheese but no other pasta-not even plain buttered. I am completely open to suggestions on how to get him eating more variety. I've talked to his doctor but he is pretty useless. Sometimes even if he says he likes a new food he will only eat a couple bites. Oh yeah, and peanut butter, he eats a lot of peanut butter sandwiches.

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              • #8
                So are you trying to get him to go Paleo or are you just happy when he will eat anything resembling a meal? I know my son does better high protein/low sugar but getting him to eat that way is nearly impossible. I'm exhausted from cooking 6 different meals a day (2 different breakfasts, lunches and dinners) as well as multiple snacks a day as his SPD doesn't allow him to feel full so he is constantly asking for food.

                My oldest has progressed to the point of likely being sub-clinical (not quite on the spectrum if re-tested) so he's not a concern but the two youngest (and especially my middle, low functioning son) are a problem. The therapy center tells me not to worry about it and just let him eat what makes him happy but I just can't do that. He'd eat nothing but Mac & Cheese and candy if I let him have his way.

                As you know offering healthy food and trusting that they'll eat when they get hungry doesn't work for ASD kids. They will starve themselves. We tried that once on doctor's orders and within 24 hours had 2 children that were dry heaving from low blood sugar but still wouldn't try a new food. We've never taken that advice again.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
                  Re the vegetable thing - they weren't eating them anyway, so that is no diff from before. A lot of kids get started with skinny carrot sticks with a dip - how about a homemade bacon ranch dip?? The youngest does bacon and yogurt...
                  They won't do dip. Neither of them will eat anything with any kind of sauce with the exception of spaghetti and sauce and mac & cheese. I have progressed with vegetables to the point of getting them to eat 2 skinny carrot sticks at dinner eat night. I guess I'll just keep working on that, making the sticks a bit thicker and maybe introducing something like cucumber that doesn't have a strong taste.

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                  • #10
                    Poppi, are they in therapy with an OT for the sensory thing??
                    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
                      Poppi, are they in therapy with an OT for the sensory thing??
                      My youngest isn't in any therapy as she hasn't been formally assessed yet. We feel she may be subclinical but if she follows the same path as her brothers will become diagnosable in a year or two.

                      My middle son is in OT but they have been focusing on emotional regulation and appropriate eating skills (not grossing everyone at the table out) rather than sensory stuff yet.

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                      • #12
                        I am just trying to get him to eat something resembling a balanced meal with enough vitamins and minerals. He does not react well to too much sugar/carbs. He bounces off the walls when he eats too many carbs and that is what he most wants to eat. He is also skinny as a rail, to the point of making us concerned. He is 46" and 47lbs with a naturally stocky build like his dad. What he likes he will eat and not usually overeat unless it is crackers or treats like candy or ice cream. He doesn't like food warmer than room temperature most of the time. He is also allergic to any form of corn and soy so I have had to cook from scratch even if he doesn't eat it. I'm also cooking for five people, myself and my husband, my two grown daughters who haven't left home yet and my son.

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                        • #13
                          First, take a breath and know that you are doing a great job, ok?

                          From there, i'm just asserting a few things in case it can work. It's ok if it can't, and I'm sorry if that's bothersome!

                          1. broth --

                          we love bone broth in our household. we make chicken and beef, currently, and I make it with all kinds of veggies as well.

                          we typically crock pot the bones and veggies in salted water for about 8 hours. then we jar it up and use it throughout the week -- to steam veg, to make soup or sauce, or just to drink. and as a special treat, we get rice noodles and make chicken-noodle soup.

                          it has a ton of vitamins and minerals in it -- it's so healthy!

                          (it also freezes well if you can't get through your jars of it as quickly as we do).

                          2. juice --

                          we have a juicer and love that darn thing. we make a green juice for ourselves, and for DS, we make a 'tina sparkle' which is beet, lemon, ginger, apple. It's so nice. We also make popsicles out of various juices, sometimes adding some cut fruit to it as well.

                          3. glluten free/paleo goodies made with veggies --

                          this is one that I suggested for a kid's lunchbox. basically, there are tons of cool recipes out there that use all kinds of veggies as part of the base. for example, i have various GF, paleo recipes for cakes such as carrot, beet-root/chocolate, banana nut, some made with zucchini and one mde with pumpkin (but I've also used butternut squash before), and so on.

                          I make these into muffins, and they are great. really healthy, good for breakfast with yogurt over them, and some berries as well. Right now, we are in winter, so I've made a fair amount of pumpkin ones which we have with yogurt (dh and i have coconut cream) and then we put on whatever fruit we want (usually frozen berries, pears, sometimes citrus fruit, etc).

                          All really good, and gets the veggies in. and "carb-y" feeling.

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