Last week a case study was released about a young man in the UK who became blind as a result of his “junk food diet.” Headlines flooded the news feed, leaving many to question how this happened, especially since help was sought for fatigue more than 2 years in advance. This young man was described as a “fussy eater” (or “picky eater”). His diet consisted of French fries, bread, Pringles and selected pork products. Test results revealed multiple nutrient deficiencies.
Poor nutrition precipitated this young man’s blindness. I know it’s tough to think about, but let’s remember this is just one case. As my colleague pointed out to me, think about all the other stories that haven’t made the news feed.
For many families with children on the autism spectrum, this is the reality. Many children are labeled as “picky eaters” and often appropriate diagnostic workup has not been completed to assess whether an underlying problem is contributing to feeding difficulties. Truth is there many barriers to optimal nutrition.
A well-balanced diet is essential to health. Too much or too little of anything is generally not good. Many kids with ASD survive on a carbohydrate-rich diet. This is not ideal. The goal is to balance macronutrients. PROTEIN + good carbs and fats. Quality and quantity are key!
It is important to make sure you are implementing a diet that works for your child. Just because a food or diet is deemed “good” or “healthy” doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “healthy” for your child! Similarly, do not assume your child is getting all the nutrients from the food (s)he consumes. Depending on food choices and your child’s digestion, nutrient deficiencies may occur.
For more information about picky eating see 10 Extreme Picky Eating Red Flags.
Author Dr. Shyron Alston