Nutrition comes primarily from what a person eats and drinks. Some people supplement their nutrition by taking vitamins. Autistic teenagers, as well as teenagers without autism, need healthy nutrition and a level of exercise that is very important to meet the demands of their growing body.
The best nutritional plan for everyone is to eat a healthy variety of foods at the proper portion throughout the day. The amount of food a person needs will vary depending on their level of activity. An active person, such as an autistic young teenage adult, requires a higher caloric intake to meet the demands of their body using up that energy faster. A less active person, needs proper nutrition in smaller amounts. This will decrease the risk of these extra calories being stored in their body as fat.
Many young boys have a period of time when their body rapidly grows. During this time the teen may have an endless appetite. Boys have a growth spurt beginning at ages 12 to 13. This growth peaks around age 14 and usually ends at about age 19. During this time their hormones change, and their muscles, bones and even their brain continues to grow. It is not uncommon for a teenage boy to gain between 37 and 40 pounds during these years. Some of this weight varies depending on how tall or muscular they become.
The food should be a good balance of vitamins and minerals. Their bones need a good source of calcium. Most people get their calcium from drinking low fat milk (1 or 2%), through orange juice with added calcium, and low fat cheeses (mozzarella string cheese is a favorite for many.) Dairy products not only provide calcium they are also a good source of protein. Milk is a good source of vitamin D.
Snacking is important to maintain the energy supple the body needs. This also helps prevent the teen from becoming overly hungry between meals that can lead to over eating at mealtime.
Protein is supplied by meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts. When cooking meat it is best to either bake, broil, or grill. This decreases the fat content.
Vegetables supply the body with vitamin A and C, and minerals like iron and magnesium, also fiber. Be sure to have good color variety, light ad dark green, yellow, red, orange, white and purple.
Fruits provide vitamin A and C and potassium. Avoid canned with HEAVY SYRUP because of the high sugar content. Again, have a variety of colors, red, yellow, green, purple, orange, blue.
Grains provide energy in the form of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. This can be found in breads, cereals, rice, pasta and nuts.
During the daytime PAY ATTENTION TO THE SERVING SIZE on the labels. This is a good guide. It is also helpful to eat the majority of your foods earlier in the day rather than late at night. During the daytime we are more active and the use of calories for the energy needed throughout the day seem to wear off sooner than at night.
Autistic young adults may take certain medications to help their brain function the best it can, this adds the challenge of maintaining a proper weight. The medications tend to add weight so it is best to help them with a healthy nutritional plan and regular exercise. It may be an excellent idea to discuss with your physician or experts in this field.
Exercise on a regular basis is important to everyone. It not only helps with weight control, but also keeps our bodies flexible. Exercise provides strength to our muscles/bones, helps us calm down and think clearer, breathe better and in general feel good. This applies to autistic teenagers as well.