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Paleo for Autism with Food Aversions

Answered on January 05, 2014
Created January 04, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I have a 19 year old son who is a moderately-severe autistic. He has that standard autism stims, though doesn't typically express with self-abusive or aggressive behaviours. He is very empathetic (which makes me wonder about his diagnosis, but that is for another post!) but does exhibit most of the OCD, echolalic, etc. symptoms. He was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and is now taking meds of this, though he has only had 3 seizures in the past 2.5 years.

The one puzzling symptom is his BMI -- it is currently 17 and places him firmly underweight by at least 10-15 pounds. His last seizure (in our opinion) was triggered by a massive increase in calories by supplementing Ensure under the supervision of a nutritionist. (We subsequently found this to be a huge no-no for epileptics.)

Here is my concern -- we'd love to try a paleo-esque diet with him to help manage both his seizures (ketogenic diets are supposed to be great for managing epilepsy) and his autism. However, he has extreme food aversions with fruits and vegetables. He eats green beans daily, apples if prompted, oranges with encouragement and that is about it. He might eat a banana, but that is a spontaneous act.

With all of these aversions to fruits and veggies, what are your thoughts on doing paleo? I couldn't get a piece of lettuce or a carrot into this kid to save his life. We're considering juicing fruits and veggies and using the juice in a base for a smoothie. We'd also add in a organic, grass-fed beef liver (1-2 oz up to 3 times a week) to help with his nutritional density.

Should I be worried that I can't get him to eat fruits and veggies? Any tips to help make the leap would be awesome. I'm also dealing with a spouse that doesn't necessarily get the paleo thing so I have to step lightly. (Odd that she is OK with his diet change, just not quite ready for the rest of the family to make the move :D )

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on January 05, 2014
at 01:15 AM

The fruits & veggies are not a problem if you are thinking of doing a keto diet with him as a keto diet is extremely low carb & high fat with moderate protein. Try to get a little veg down him if you can for nutrients. My (non expert) understanding is.. the lower carb we go, the less vitamins we need as processing a lot of carbs uses up vitamins. My son has Aspergers & although i don't massively restrict his carb intake he does get plenty of fats & protein he seems to do a lot better than when we were eating a standard high carb diet. Again, in my (non medical) opinion a ketogenic diet seems to help a lot with epilepsy in a lot of cases. As an afterthought.. the calorie increase problem makes sense as excess calories will kick people back out of ketosis. My understanding is 10-15 % of carbs plus 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight & the restof calories (with a little deficit) from fat is the way to go for ketosis. Hope this helps.

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