If you son or daughter struggles to try new healthier foods their long term health could eventually become affected. Learning how to give subtle consistent encouragement and establishing routines for mealtimes and snacks will open their minds up to trying new foods and help them to live healthier lives.
If their food obsessions are the result of a physical or psychological condition finding ways to help can become more complicated. Children on the autistic spectrum are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges where encouraging variety or changing the routine can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. Only eating foods a certain colour or resisting any change in the eating process are just two typical examples of how someone with autism copes with any anxieties surrounding their eating.
My family helped me eat healthier by involving me in the whole process of choosing and preparing food in the form of a regular routine. I was given the opportunity to be in charge of my new and improved healthy diet. Once a week I would go to a local supermarket, withdraw my own cash from the machine, grab a basket then proceed in selecting different fruit to last me the week. I would then take my selection to the checkout and pay. This event runs like clockwork and I gain great comfort in the whole process. I didn’t once feel like this process was forced upon me because I was making all the decisions and shown new ways of enjoying my independence.
How do I get my son/daughter to try new healthier foods?
- Experiment with creative ways of trying something new – turn the food into a face, make the samples bitesize, change its appearance
- Don’t make a fuss or get frustrated with your attempts – Always stay consistent in your style, too much emotional reaction will just act as a distraction
- Offer simple clear choices and allow them to lead – the more involved they become in making decisions the more they will invest into this new routine
- Avoid the temptation of offering rewards – the focus should be on learning to love new foods and not suffering them to get something else
- Understanding the food obsession – try to see the world through their eyes and discover more patients
- Make sure the environment is right for getting better results – any distractions will stop you making any progress
- If you’re not enjoying it then its likely they won’t either – try to keep the process positive and enjoyable
- Stick to your routine – predictable routine can be a great comfort to someone who lives with autism
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