Exercising with friends is an excellent way for differently-abled people to connect with others, get in shape, and manage their symptoms. However, you’ll need to fuel your body with the right foods to get the best results from your workout plan. If you have autism spectrum disorder, you might struggle with food aversions or sensitivities that make it challenging to consume the right foods. That’s why we’re here to help you create a special diet for autism!
Getting used to cutting out certain foods and replacing them with better options can be a huge adjustment for most people. This is especially true if you’re on the autism spectrum and prefer sticking to your routine. However, eating the right foods and exercising can help you lead a healthier, happier lifestyle and manage your autism symptoms.
How Nutrition Affects Autism Symptoms
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. Since autism exists on a spectrum, symptoms differ from person to person, but research suggests that proper nutrition can help people with autism manage their symptoms and improve their overall health.
Although every person with autism is different, nutrition may affect autism symptoms in the following ways:
Your gut health is closely connected to your mental health. Studies suggest that people with autism have an imbalanced gut microbiome, which causes inflammation in the brain and affects cognitive function. With the proper diet and an exercise routine, people with autism can live healthier, happier lives.
How to Create a Healthy Diet for Autism Symptoms
Even if people with autism have similar symptoms, each person has vastly different food preferences. However, there are a few tips that you can use to help you create a healthy, balanced diet for autism. Just remember to speak with your healthcare provider before drastically changing your diet.
Eat More Whole Foods
Artificial ingredients can make autism symptoms worse because the body is trying to metabolize and excrete man-made chemicals. When creating a diet for autism, remember to avoid artificial colors, dyes, flavors, and preservatives.
The shorter the ingredient list is, the better! The rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s in your best interest to avoid it altogether. A diet for autism should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts. If you’re struggling with food aversions, try creative recipes that conceal vegetables to ensure you meet your nutritional needs.
Load Up on Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are a vital component of any healthy diet, but this is especially true when creating a diet for autism. Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, flax seeds, and chia seeds can support brain health and may help reduce inflammation. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, and avocados. If you struggle with food aversions related to texture, consider adding more nut butters to your diet.
Try a Gluten- and Dairy-Free Diet
If you’re creating a diet for autism, you may need to cut out a few foods for better gut health. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and it can cause inflammation because it’s difficult to digest, especially for people with autism. Some studies suggest that the brain treats these proteins as opiate-like chemicals. You may need to cut out regular bread and pasta, but there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods.
Another protein to avoid is casein, which is found in milk and dairy products. Much like gluten, it can be challenging for the body to digest this protein found in fermented foods, processed meats, and aged cheeses. Many people with autism choose to avoid dairy products for this reason. However, just like with gluten, you can always consume dairy-free milks and cheeses to compensate for this dietary restriction.
Identify Any Food Sensitivities and Nutrient Deficiencies
Many people with autism are sensitive to gluten and dairy, but other foods can also cause issues. While elimination diets are a viable option, taking a food sensitivity test is much more effective. For instance, an MRT test can detect sensitivities to 170 foods.
Furthermore, people with autism often have nutritional deficiencies due to a selective diet or malabsorption. If you’re concerned about nutritional deficiencies, consider reaching out to your healthcare provider for nutritional testing.
Eat Healthy and Exercise with Let's Go Fitness
When it comes to physical fitness, getting your diet right is only half the battle. If you’re looking for a special needs fitness program but you’re not sure where to start, our team at Let’s Go Fitness is here to help. We provide special needs fitness programs for differently-abled individuals.
At Let's Go Fitness, we strive to create a welcoming environment where anyone can make friends, get in shape, and have fun doing it! Our adaptive fitness specialists guide participants every step of the way. Whether our athletes need accommodations, modifications, or simply an understanding listener, we'll help everyone reach their goals.
Are you ready to start a fitness journey for yourself or a loved one? Contact Let's Go Fitness today to learn more about our membership packages!