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Tips for Healthy Eating

Issues around eating can be common amongst people with autism. Below are some handy tips to help with problems that may arise.

It is important to note that advice from a doctor and/or dietician should be sought where necessary to rule out any physiological difficulties or deficiencies. 

The environment 

  • Reduce emotions – try to keep as little emotion around food as possible. It can be a stressful time and the calmer the environment, the more likely your child is to eat.  
  • Posture – ensure your child has good posture when eating. Feet should be able to sit flat on the floor or a foot plate (in a highchair or specialist seating). Knees and hips should be at a 90-degree angle and the back should be straight.  
  • Routine – create a routine around mealtimes and be consistent. Make sure there’s low arousal at mealtimes with little visual, auditory and tactile distraction. 
  • Proprioception input to prepare – practice deep pressure input before mealtimes so that your child is in a calm state to process new tastes and textures. Deep pressure and calming strategies can be completed after mealtimes as well if needed.  
  • Try to avoid fixation on brands – peel labels off foods and unbox without your child seeing where possible.  

Take your time 

  • Introduce new foods slowly and try not to respond to negative reactions to new food.  
  • Big plate, small plate – have your child’s accepted foods on their usual plate and then have a small plate with a new food that you want to introduce. At first keep it close and praise your child for accepting it being there. Slowly get your child to explore the food, touch the food, smell the food, bring it to their lips/put it in their mouth, then finally try the food. Praise every success no matter how small.  

Most importantly, have fun! 

  • Messy play – play with a variety of food and have no pressure around eating it.  
  • Make foods more interesting – make them into shapes or colours that motivate the child.   

Download our handy top tips poster below!

Top tips for healthy eating

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