Parent takes doctor to task for child diet advice

Dear Dr. Gott: My father called and told me about your views on picky eaters. You said not to let them rule you. How arrogant could you possibly be? Have you ever treated a child with autism? They would rather starve than eat offending foods. And, if you were to force them to eat it, most likely they would vomit like my daughter. You need to have a reality check, doctor. Your post has just given hundreds of family members ammo to belittle us moms with special-needs children who have food aversions. Shame, shame, shame on you.
Dear Reader: I must confess I have never personally treated a child with autism, and I respect the additional care and attention parents and caregivers must provide. I am sure that you do everything within your power to keep consistency in each day if things are to remain on an even keel, and part of that consistency is likely mealtime.
Looking back on my original column, I think you may have been unnecessarily offended. The child I wrote about was 3 years old and did not have any medical conditions. Rather, and to repeat, he preferred a diet of Cheerios, Ramen noodles, chocolate cake, ice cream, wieners, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, cashew nuts, sausage and cheese pizza, pancakes and PediaSure.
His parents and grandmother were concerned enough to write me because they didn’t know how to deal with him regarding better eating habits. He clearly had the upper hand. I responded by indicating they could be facing medical problems such as diabetes, obesity, coronary-artery disease and high-cholesterol readings down the road if nothing changed. And I stand by
my original statements. Childhood obesity and its long-range consequences are epidemic, and the sooner appropriate modifications can be made, the better. This isn’t always the fault of any one person or circumstance. Fast-food chains, a hurried lifestyle, long working hours for parents and a great deal more come in to play. We wouldn’t be human if we took the hardest path all the time.
Also, I didn’t recommend forcing offending foods on him. I simply indicated that the foods that contained empty calories should not be made readily available but should be replaced with more healthful choices such as fresh fruits, raisins, and carrot and celery sticks. A firm diet modification is/was truly recommended in his best interests.
While I am not recommending you make dietary changes and force anything unwanted on your daughter, you might speak with her pediatrician regarding the two following suggestions: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some parents have found success with a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Gluten is found in the seeds of wheat, oat, rye and barley cereal plants, while casein is the primary protein in milk. Because both are present in so many of the foods we eat every day, it is extremely difficult to follow this recommendation. This is especially true if you eat out at all, because you never can be positive of the ingredients in restaurant foods. Other parents have found success with vitamin B6 when combined with magnesium, which makes the vitamin effective; however, research results are mixed.
I always welcome opposing views and hope I never get too old to be informed by readers who may have different ideas than I do. Thank you for your input.
Readers who would like more information on autism can find easy-to-understand information at www.nimh.nih.gov.

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