Vitamins and minerals are essential to everyone for growth, development and overall health. Humans can’t synthesise vitamins (make our own) so we tend to consume vitamins as part of a balanced, healthy diet.

Where this can be tricky is for those of us autistics, who often have very restrictive diets, due to sensory issues, for instance (see ARFID ← click here or here →Beige food). If I ate my perfect meal (mashed potato, butter, vinegar and peas) three times a day, I’m quite sure I’d soon be deficient in some essential vitamins and minerals. Sadly, therefore, I have to be a little more adventurous!

In addition to the sensory issues around food that many of us autistics experience, a huge number of us also suffer with gastro-intestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). During periods of particularly bad IBS this can make it even harder for our bodies to take up and utilise the nutrients they need.

If we add to this that many of us restrict our exposure to the outside world, or have co-occurring conditions that limit our mobility, we also run the risk of a lack of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months, when all neurotypes benefit from a vitamin D supplement, unless they live and go out in sunny climes.

We can get very anxious about our restricted diets and goodness knows we do not need more anxiety in our lives. When one of my daughters was small I got myself into such a state because other mums and my family members kept telling me that her diet was too restrictive and she would ‘waste away’. My lovely health visitor came out and saw us and wrote down exactly what my daughter’s diet was: Weetabix, bananas, fromage frais, cheese, chicken and sausages as long as they weren’t fried. My health visitor laughed and categorically told me that her diet may look and sound dull and unhealthy to others, but it was giving her all of the nutrition she needed, particularly as I also gave her a multivitamin each day. I’m happy to report that my daughter, who still has a restricted diet in her thirties, is perfectly healthy. So, here’s a big told you so to all those perfect mothers who judged us!

If you have any concerns about your diet and its potential impact on your health I’d advise speaking to a qualified nutritionist, or the nurse at your GP surgery, for further support.

The Government’s Eatwell Guide has a really simple visual representation of the different food groups – → click here.