ARI Publication 40 – 2013 Version
Rationale: Humans need certain essential nutrients for their bodies to function, including
vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids (from protein). A balanced diet rich in
vegetables, fruits, protein, and certain fats is important to help provide those key nutrients.
Explanation of Diet:
- Consume 3-4 servings of nutritious vegetables and 1-2 servings of fruit each day. (Corn is not a
vegetable, it is a grain; potatoes have only limited nutritional value, especially if fried). Fruit
juice is less healthy than eating the whole fruit, but better than soda.
- Consume at least 1-2 servings/day of protein (meat, chicken, eggs, nuts, beans). If child shows
periods of irritability between protein meals, consider smaller protein snacks given more
- Greatly reduce or avoid added sugar (soda, candy, etc.).
- Avoid “junk food” – cookies, fried chips, etc. – they contain empty calories.
- Greatly reduce or avoid fried foods or foods containing transfats.
- Avoid artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
- If possible, eat organic foods as they contain lower levels of pesticides. Organic milk and
chicken contain higher levels of essential omega-3 fats. If eating non-organic food, wash fruit
and vegetables well if eating the outside, and consider peeling the outer layer.
- Vegetables and fruits contain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to improve and
maintain mental and physical health.
- Protein is needed to provide amino acids, which are the building blocks for neurotransmitters
and many other key amino acids and proteins in the body.
- Reduction in sugar intake can prevent rapid rises and falls in blood sugar, which can cause
irritability and difficulty concentrating.
Kohlboeck G, et al. Food intake, diet quality and behavioral problems in children: results from the GIN/-
plus/LISA-plus studies. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60(4):247-56.
- Artificial colors and flavors can irritate some sensitive individuals, causing behavioral and other
- Organic foods have lower levels of pesticides, and one study found that people living near areas
with higher usage of agricultural pesticides had a significantly higher risk of having a child with
autism. Pesticide use inside the home is probably a similar concern.
Roberts EM et al./ Maternal residence near agricultural pesticide applications and autism spectrum
disorders among children in the California Central Valley. Environ Health Persped. 2007
Shelton et al./ Tipping the balance ofautism risk: potential mechanisms linking pesticides and autism.
Environ Health Persped. 2012 Jul;120(7):944-51.
Duration: Lifelong healthy diet.
Most children in the US consume insufficient amounts of vegetables and fruits, leading to decreased
levels of many essential vitamins and minerals.
ARI Survey of Parent Ratings of Treatment Efficacy:
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