Helpful Nutrition Tips for Raising Children with FASD

Garbage in, garbage out. How we nourish our body extends to our mind and spirit.

With thanks to our parenting support group, the hubby and I attended a webinar with a nutritionist that works with individuals with FASD.

Our 8.5 year old T is characteristically a picky eater – or as I learned through this webinar, a neurodiverse-appropriate term is “selective eater.”

The nutritionist summarized a few factors that affect eating habits for individuals with FASD – and I bolded the traits we see in T:

  • Sensory integration with food
  • Selective eating
  • Oral – poor swallowing or oral aversion
  • Fine and gross motor challenges with eating
  • Eating in excess is called Hyperphagia
  • Not eating enough
  • Not finishing meals
  • Medication can increase or decrease appetite

The nutritionist also reviewed general healthy diet guidelines:

  • Eat rainbow of colours for fiber, nutrients and antioxidants
  • Balanced meal of fiber, fat and protein
  • Focus on whole, unprocessed foods
  • Avoid additives, preservatives, food dyes, sugar
  • Blood sugar crashes can be the reason for anger and behaviours
  • Keep hydrating

Then she provided tips for caregivers:

  • Keep a food journal
  • Allow time to finish meals and allow messiness if it helps
  • Avoid distraction during mealtimes
  • Have emergency snacks to prevent blood sugar crashes
  • Include children in meal planning
  • Explore different ways to prepare food
  • Eating out
  • Foods high in omega 3, choline; antioxidant rich foods
  • Exercise
  • Emergency snacks

T has come a long way with his nutritional habits.

A few months ago, out of the blue, he decided he wanted to eat oatmeal for breakfast, which we pair with yogurt then his multivitamins.

This is a huge win as it replaced his sugary cereal.

Lunch and dinner can still be a struggle. We often cycle through the same 3-4 starch rich meals – but we try not to stress about it. If he wants pancakes for dinner, pancakes it is.

Fruit is a staple but veggies are avoided – even cussed at. 🤣

Multivitamins have been helpful and we’ve been giving him “Smarty Pants” gummies, which have choline, for a few years now – along with a separate Vitamin D gummy.

Meat is a challenge, but he gets protein through yogurt, milk and cheese – and McDonald’s chicken nuggets and hamburgers and Taco Bell if you consider that meat! 🤣

T recently ate not one, but two of these meaty beauties, in one sitting.

Recently, T wanted to try BBQ burgers and ate two meaty prime rib burgers from the supermarket – PC brand is the best. This was a huge win.

As the person who does the groceries, I’ve cut out sugary snacks, like Oreos, as well as juice, weaning T off them slowly, and that’s a win.

We recently took away the tablet during mealtimes so T can focus on his meal – and heaven forbid, socialize with us too. 😆

Perhaps an important ingredient is doing our best to role model healthy eating habits.

The hubby and I have been transparent with T about our health journey – and we openly celebrate the incremental wins together.

Since starting his diet in January, the hubby has reached 50% of his weight loss goal – and T tells the hubby he’s sad he won’t be able to cuddle with him when he’s not fat anymore. 🤣

I also have ongoing conversations with T about the importance of exercise – and why gym is part of my ongoing routine.

Slowly but surely, T will get where he needs to be.

As T’s fortune cookie from our recent Fathers Day lunch at Asian Legend – pictured at top – said: “You will make many changes before settling down happily.”

Yummy bowl of fish maw soup from our Fathers Day lunch at Asian Legend. One of the few unique food items T will actually eat.

27 thoughts on “Helpful Nutrition Tips for Raising Children with FASD

  1. I am learning that sugar and high carb intake if I am not exercising regularly or even on the day I take in the sugar and carbs, I am more irritable. I give T props for oatmeal! The texture of it i cant.get past. And Grits forget it! Ick! I love that you include him in your health journey. I am on one and just because he sees me mu youngest is careful with sugar. Although I told him as a.kid its ok to have more than I do. I love tjat they are watching us. Sometimes anyway lol.

    1. I can see how it makes you irritable. Food affects so much of our mood as we’re learning with T. It’s great that your youngest is also observing you. That is a great start. 🙂 Enjoy your holiday today!

  2. It’s great that you’ve been so open with T about your health journey. Congrats to your hubby for reaching half of his weight loss goal already! Food is such an important part of our lives and it’s great that you’re trying to teach T to have a healthy relationship with it. I wasn’t a fan of vegetables when I was a kid either, but now I love them. I probably eat more vegetables than fruit now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

    1. Thanks Linda! Health is a journey for sure. Diet is the first step and now need to get him on the exercise kick too. Haha.

      Our work is marching in Pride this afternoon. Let me know if you’re spectating and I’ll keep a look out. Haha. Hope you’re having a good one too.

      1. Thankfully kids are already full of so much energy, but it’s good that you’re trying to reinforce the importance of regular exercise, along with diet.

        That’s awesome that your work took part in Pride. I stayed cooped up indoors appreciating my air conditioner! The humidity is brutal.

  3. Great food tips even for kids without FASD! And oh the lack of filter from T with your hubby! I also know lots of people without FASD who lack verbal filters 😂
    Great post!

    1. Thanks Vickie. I get quite a lot of unfiltered barbs my way too. Makes life interesting and often times amusing!

  4. I find the part of you and your husband becoming role models for T the most interesting because that can be applied to almost any social interaction. For example, if you want your team members to do better and work more efficiently, then you have to set an example to them. Speaking of sugary cereal, I had no idea until recently that it is in fact the norm in North America to have it for breakfast! It’s good that T wants to try other things too.

    1. Thank you Bama ( double-checked I got your name right this time 😆 cuz I still am not caffeinated and it’s way too early on a Saturday cuz T woke up so early)!

      I agree it’s all about leading by example whether at home or at work.

      And I hear you on the cereal. I grew up in Asia and our morning meals were hot meals, sometimes even rice and corned beef. Those meals were the best! What’s your breakfast typically consist of?

      1. Haha! 😆

        When I was little, I remember breakfast was almost always rice with some protein and vegetables — chicken with stir fried morning glory, or fish with eggplants in ground chili sauce, for example. Oh and also a glass of milk. My mom made sure I was stuffed so that I had less urge to snack at school. 😄

      2. That’s the way to do breakfast! You won’t need lunch. 😆 I do appreciate those kind of breakfasts our parents made for us. I do the instant oatmeals for us three. 😆

    1. Thanks Gary. I hear ya. I recall you’ve written before that Hawklad loves his French fries and has his staples. I imagine it’s like that with many kids like him and T. It is indeed a nightmare at times but I know you just roll with the punches in that wonderful way that you do!

      We’re watching the Muppet Show right now and I can’t help but think of you and your muppet ways. 😆 Hope you two are enjoying your well-earned summer break together!

    1. Thanks Diane. Slow and steady. I’m determined to get him to try fried chicken, sushi, salmon and steak one day! I’m appalled when he goes, “Ewww” whenever I present him with an opportunity to try. This kid doesn’t know what he’s missing!

  5. This is so inspiring for me, Ab. I have a “selective eater” and it’s so hard so thank you for the ideas and inspiration. I’ve been working on eliminating tablets from mealtime and it’s astonishing both how hard and how meaningful it is. Great post!

    1. Thanks Wynne! Happy to give some inspiration back for all that you give us. 🙂 Removing tablet is definitely a battle but T makes it easy for us with his sailor mouth and thus automatic tablet removal. There’s always a bright side to everything. 😆👍

  6. When we view the body as a biochemical machine, it really highlights the importance of the nutrients we take in to help all the components run smoothly. It’s great that you and your husband are leading by example! As for the vegetables, I’ve heard that kids are more inclined to try veggies they’ve grown themselves or picked out at a farm. If you have the option to do either, that personal involvement may pique T’s interest in trying something new.

    1. Erin, I love that perspective of the body as a biochemical machine – it really freaking is! And I know you’ve had to take that view.

      I love the veggie farm idea! We did berry picking with him when he was little and he loved it. I’ll have to look at those photos now that you reminded me!

    1. Thank you Margie! The conversations you’ll be having with your soon-to-arrive grandchild! 👍🙏💕

  7. Nice job dads! I think the thing I love hearing is that you both realize you have to model for T! Kids are going to learn by example (I know that’s an old adage but it’s true) and T will benefit from seeing you eat healthy foods that taste good…with a small treat tossed in every now and then 😉

    1. Thank you Deb. The role modelling really is important. It’s just fascinating to me how kid brains are hardwired to desire the junk and not the nutritious stuff. I guess those big companies really have it done to a science!

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