Until there is a problem, we take family meal times for granted. The thought of everyone sitting round the table, sharing the same food is a positive family image, but for thousands of families meal times are more of a challenge.
What we need to eat
Children need food to help them grow healthily and resist infection. A good diet will help your child build up strength and have the energy to complete everyday tasks. The right food can help your child concentrate and learn better. In the long term, a healthy diet minimises the chance of future health problems from dental decay to heart disease. As the parent of a child with special needs or a disability, you may know this already, and feel that it just adds to the stress you experience when feeding your child. Read on to learn more about a healthy diet for your child, and in coming weeks we will look at how to adapt this when eating is not as straightforward as you would like.
The food we need
The food we need to stay healthy includes:
Carbohydrates – to give you energy. Found in potatoes, rice, cereals, pasta, bread and some fruit and vegetables. Made up of glucose and other monosaccharides
Fats – to give you energy. Found in dairy products, red meat, some poultry and fish. Made up of glycerol and fatty acids
Proteins – to help your body grow and repair itself. Found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and beans. Made up of amino acids.
Vitamins and Minerals – to keep your body functioning healthily. Vitamins are found in fruit and vegetables and dairy products. Minerals are found in fruit and vegetables.
People also need fibre in their diet to ensure that they can digest their food. Fibre is found in fruit and vegetables. It passes through the body and helps with excretion of waste products.
Read more about healthy family food in coming weeks on Family Friendly Working
Information from this article is based on the book Food and Your Special Needs Child by Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson. Children with special needs and disabilities may have accompanying issues with food and eating. This practical guide for parents will help navigate this often difficult terrain. In typically developing children, eating problems are relatively common, affecting 20 – 40% of children. In children with special educational needs and disabilities, eating problems can be even more common; they can be severe and can take many different forms. Anyone who has a child between the ages of two and nineteen with an additional need and a food or eating difficulty will find this book useful. Discover the origins of how we eat, and get practical tips from experts, plus read what has worked for other parents in similar situations