Medical nutritional therapy (MNT) is an evidence-based process based on decades of medical research on the connection between nutrition, diet, and health.
MNT is not the same as nutrition education. Nutrition education is about learning basic, general nutrition principles. MNT, on the other hand, is about providing individuals with specific instructions and feedback on how to use their daily diet to support their medical condition.
MNT is about supporting and addressing one’s medical condition and also working to lower the risk of complications. In children, MNT is also about ensuring that the child’s diet works to promote their overall growth and development.
Nutritional therapy is traditionally implemented by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with the guidance of one’s doctor.
How Nutritional Therapy Works
With nutritional therapy for children, you will work with an RDN who is specifically trained in pediatric, adolescent, and young adult nutrition. The RDN will consider the child’s particular nutritional needs, as well as figure out how to guide the entire family in making healthy lifestyle choices that support them all.
The food a child eats impacts how they think, feel, and behave. Food can impact:
A child’s weight
A child’s activity level
A child’s mood
How a child handles stress
How your child performs in school
How your child interacts in social food situations with family and friends
Proper nutrition can help your child succeed.
Nutritional Therapy for Autism
Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have food aversions and sensitivities impacting their nutritional needs. Feeding problems are very common in children with ASD, which can put additional stress on the feeding process.
A child may have an extreme preference for a single type of food or have sensory processing issues that impact the kind of food they are willing to eat.
Children with autism tend to either avoid or crave specific foods due to:
This avoidance may be because of differences in brain development. Additionally, many people with ASD tend to have heightened or weakened smell responses, which can impact their relationship with food.
Other sensory issues, like hypersensitivity to sound, can impact where a child with ASD wants to eat and how they want to communicate while eating.
Deficiencies in certain types of food can worsen symptoms of ADHD, which is why it is so important to have a solid nutritional plan for your child.
With ADHD, certain foods should be avoided. Numerous studies have shown that children with ADHD become more restless when consuming a high-sugar diet, including traditional kid foods, such as fruit drinks or cocktails high in sugar.
Other studies have shown that some children with ADHD are negatively affected by food additives, such as artificial food coloring, flavors, and preservatives. Some common food allergies can also contribute to children with ADHD losing focus and becoming hyperactive, such as allergies to gluten, wheat, and soy.
For children with ADHD, a balanced, whole-food diet can optimize brain function. A diet that includes the following is often recommended:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Ginkgo and ginseng
A nutritionist will work with your child and family to create a diet plan that helps your child succeed and get the nutrients they need.
Nutrition and Brain Development in Children
The early years of a child’s life are crucial for overall health and development, and one’s nutritional intake has an important role.
A child’s nutritional intake plays a vital role in their overall health and development. A child’s brain development and behaviors are impacted by the foods that they eat, which is why it is important to ensure your child is getting it right.
Young brains are more vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies than older brains, which is why ensuring a child gets the right nutrients for proper brain development is important.
A few things that a young child’s brain needs include:
Fats such as omega-3
Focusing on nutritious, whole foods is important for a child’s development.
Learn How Nutritional Therapy Can Help Your Child
Nutritional therapy is an evidence-based therapy method that can be used as a tool to help treat your child’s condition and ensure your child’s overall well-being and development.
If you qualify for HCBS Services, nutritional therapy is a covered service that can be included as part of your child’s care plan.
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