Choosing a Diet
There is a wide assortment of autism therapies, but results vary considerably for each individual person.
Advancement towards development of medical and behavior modification solutions have been interrupted
primarily because of contradictions over the nature and causes of autism spectrum disorders. Parents of
children more severely affected by autism or perhaps children who are not showing improvement from the
therapies available to them are trying controversial nontraditional treatments. Although, these remedies are
not recognized by medical authorities many claim that special diets do actually decreased some of the
ailments related to autism.

Autism treatment usually consists of a combination of behavioral therapy, language and speech therapy, and
special education in schools. Reports suggest that play-based behavioral therapies and alternative treatments
involving dietary restrictions and vitamin supplements are beneficial. However, there is no documented
evidence to support this. Complicating their behavioral issues is that children with autism are afflicted by
additional troubles like sleeping difficulties, anxiety, or gastrointestinal problems. Speak with your of child’s
health care provider for advice about their behaviors, education, and treatment, practitioners should
approach alternative therapies with an open mind. Children whose parents pursue dietary interventions
should have their overall nutritional status monitored by a health care provider with expertise in nutrition.
Given that children with ASD may have limited diets on the basis of self selection as well, dietary
interventions should ideally be performed with input from a nutritionist.

It is best to start the diet gradually since children with autism do not take well to changes, especially
alteration in the food they are accustomed to. Parent should slowly introduce the child to anything new. For
one week make only dinner using the new menu, then during the following week make dinner and lunch, by
week three all meals and snacks will be completely following their specific diet. Studies have shown that it
takes several introductions of new food before the item is accepted. Eventually, the taste buds adjust and
begin to desire the new food. Keep a diet log, and look for a pattern between symptoms and foods eaten.
This can help to isolate food allergies or intolerances. Remember to be patient and your efforts will pay off.

Strict adherence to these particular diets is required. Foods required by the diets can be quite expensive.
Often it is difficult for families to adhere to the diet for the three months required to see any benefit. Many
parents think that they don’t have to follow the diet every day or all day and eventually give in and allow
their child to eat foods not allowed on the diet. This is especially true in families where other siblings are
eating regular food items. While many of these diets might seem to be the answer to helping deal with the
aspects of autism, they are rather difficult to follow and can be expensive. Several studies have shown that
these diets may improve ASD symptoms, but the overall results are inconclusive. It’s best to consult with a
registered dietitian and get a full nutritional assessment of the child before starting any diet changes or
Meat & Beans
Children 2 to 3 years
(1200 calories)
4 oz
1 1/2 Cups
1 cup
2 Cups
3 ounces
3 teaspoons
Children 4 to 8 years
(1600 calories)
5 ounces
2 Cups
1 1/2 Cups
2 to 3 Cups
5 ounces
4 teaspoons
Teen girls, children 9 to
13 years, adult women*
(2000 calories)
6 ounces
2 1/2 Cups
2 Cups
3 Cups
5 1/2 ounces
5 teaspoons
Teen boys and adult men
(2600 calories)
9 ounces
3 1/2 Cups
2 Cups
3 Cups
6 1/2 ounces
7 teaspoons
How much do you need each day from each food group?
Daily Food Guide

Calorie levels shown in this table are averages for the group.  Calorie needs will vary for individuals
depending on age, gender, height, weight and activity level.  Go to www.My Pyramid,gov to find out about
your personal calorie plan.
* pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their health care providers or a licensed dietitian / nutritionist for information
about their daily food intake.
Here are the foods and amounts you can choose from each food group when following the
daily food guide shown above.
Grains Group
1 ounce equals:

• 1 slice of bread
• 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
• 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
• 1 small bran muffin
• 1/2 of an English muffin or 1/2 of a 3 inch bagel
• 1/2 of a hamburger roll
• 5 - 6 whole grain crackers
• 3 cups popped popcorn

At least half your grains should be whole grains.
Vegetables Group
1 cup equals:

• 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
• 1 cup vegetable juice
• 2 cups leafy salad greens

Try to have a variety of vegetables each day.
Fruits Group
1 cup equals:

• 1 cup fruit
• 1 cup fruit juice
• 1/2 cup dried fruit

Make most choices fruit, not juice.
Milk Group
1 cup equals:

• 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) milk or yogurt
• 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese
• 2 ounces processed cheese

Choose fat-free or low-fat most often.  For a non-dairy
option, you may choose a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
Meat & Beans Group
1 ounce equals:

• 1 ounce cooked meat, fish or poultry
• egg
• 1/4 cup cooked dry beans or tofu
• 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
• 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds

Choose lean meat and poultry.  Vary your choice by
eating fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
1 teaspoon (5grams) equals:

• 1 teaspoon liquid vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon margarine with zero trans fat
• 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons light salad dressing          Developmental Disorders          Autism          Parenting Issues