Yes, I am guilty too, at times. It is so much faster and far less hassle. Let’s face it, it simply tastes better too!
Add to that the fact that our kids are HARD core rigid in their tastes. But, the cost is high. Too high for our children who need to learn and grow.
It is too easy to fill our kids with C.R.A.P’ …yes, crap: Carbonated drinks, Refined sugar, Artificial flavours and sweeteners and Processed foods. My own children, including the one with autism, turned their heads as soon as I pulled out the carrots, green peppers, bananas and cheese. They wanted (and secretly so did I) lunch meats, pepperettes, soda, fruit drinks, candies, cheese slices, ‘granola’ bars and cookies. Now, I am certainly not a ‘healthy eater’ by the standard of many. But, I have been a teacher long enough to see (and feel) the effects of a high carb, sugar laced lunch and snacks. The ‘brain droop’ happens after we enjoy those kinds of foods. It is usually when we need to be using our brains: to learn, think, be flexible, friendly – you get it the point. Yes, behaviour DOES change depending on the food we ingest. Sluggishness, teariness, agressiveness, the ants in the pants…they can stem from what we have put into our children’s bellies.
You don’t have to be a healthy food zealot but our kids with autism (and all of us for that matter) need to be ‘fueled for success’. This means that the majority of food in that lunch bag is real food – the kind that fills our body and brain with vitamins, minerals and nutrients: fruits and veggies, chicken, pasta and bean salads, hard boiled eggs, trail mix, yogurt, crackers (low salt) with cheese or peanut butter, hummus and pita flatbread, sliced veggies with yogurt dip and so on. Use your social network and ask what others are serving their children -keep it varied – unless you have a child that will eat the above everyday! Send your child with water, milk or freshly squeezed juices.
To be really blunt…..the food our kids eat also has an effect on their body fat and appearance….let’s face it, our kids with autism already have enough social challenges, we REALLY do not need to add obesity to the list.
It’s too easy to give into the food demands of a child with autism. We are the advocates for their education, health and welfare….we need to to practice what we preach: do the best for the kid…not the easiest, not the cheapest nor the short term answer.
One last thing, please read the labels. A granola bar that has 30 grams of sugar in it or yogurt laden with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (this is a common ingredient in many packaged foods like cookies and snack cakes) are NOT healthy choices. Neither is sliced fruit in a cup of syrup!
We train our taste buds for better or for worse. Sadly, if we have trained our kids to ‘need’ sugary sweetness or salty foods, then we have some retraining to do! It IS possible to change the taste buds …but it takes time, patience, the right groceries and the right strategies. Let us know what has worked for you and your children.
Some good websites to check out:
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