Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

I am a one-on-one with a 5 year old boy. I was told he was autistic, but he mainly is mentally retarded with autistic tendencies. He doesn't eat much. What he does eat is not good for him; chocolate donuts, chocolate cereal, pop tarts with icing on top and cookies. Every once in a while if he is lucky, he gets some fruit but then he doesn't eat it.

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I really would like to see his lunch and all the other lunches that are packed up at home to at least have 1 nutritional item that a child would eat. I feel really sorry for this child. Any advice would be appreciated.

Sandy from Baltimore, MD

Answers:

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

Well, you're in a hard position. Maybe if he likes eating sweets he would like eating healthier food that is sweet. You could try peanut butter and bananas, Nutella and celery, stewed apples, candied yams, peanut butter and jelly or honey sandwiches, smoothies, and fruit dipped in sour cream and sprinkled with sugar. This is always a start because if someone likes sweet sugar fruit then they might start to find plain fruit more appealing.

Another solution that could work is to make the foods he likes, but healthier. For instance, you could make healthy cookies. The site "all homemade cookies" has a whole section of healthy cookie recipes. Also, when making cookies and quick breads, it is fine to substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour and add 2 tablespoons of wheat germ to add extra protein. Be a little sneaky with your cooking; add extra apples, veggies etc. to muffins, cut down on the sugar with baking. I have noticed with my kids, if I cut everything into easy to manage pieces and serve them on a tray (cheese, meats, veggies, fruit, pretzels and dips), they just eat it up.

Good luck, I hope some of this gives you some ideas. (11/01/2005)

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

This is really the parents' issue, isn't it? Check with the teacher to see if the parents might be amenable to discussing your concerns. If you can get the parents on board, suggest they pack a healthy food as well as a desired food. Offer a small bit of each on a plate, when the plate is empty, he can have a refill. Being autistic, he won't like this new rule, but I suggest (as a special ed teacher for 30 yrs) you write a social story about the new eating plan. You might try a plate with a favorite character and try to "see Sponge-bob" by clearing the plate. Use non-food rewards as appropriate.

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Please remember you are his one-on-one aide. Having been a teacher and worked with countless aides, I don't feel it is up to aides to intervene with parents. I think this communication should come from the teacher or case manager. (11/01/2005)

By Linda

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

Hi, my nephew is autistic and when he was younger like this boy, he only ate green beans and bananas. He had a certain texture thing he went through, from food to toys. I would just try different foods and he will soon go on to other things. Good luck. (11/01/2005)

By Michele

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

What about cutting healthy food into funny shapes with cookie cutters? It might look as fun as junk food. (11/02/2005)

By ludostef

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

I have a 16 year old, and when he was little he was an extremely picky eater. All he liked was cereal, and would eat it 3 or 4 times a day if I let him. I would mix a jar of baby food, like strained green beans with his eggs, not enough to change the color, but just enough. Also, in his meatloaf, or just anything I thought I could get away with. If I was making hamburgers, a half jar of baby food went in it. He still doesn't like "green veggies" or any kind of veggie, but at least I tried. (11/02/2005)

By Jean in GA

Helping a Child Eat More Healthy Food

We have a 7-year-old autistic grandson who also eats that way. When they eat at our house, I try to fix grated carrots. Just grate them and cook with a little liquid. Then drain and mix in some butter and salt. He ate so much the last time, I sent the rest home with them for his snacks. He even liked them cold. (11/02/2005)

By Coreen

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