Guest Writer, Raina Dawn Lutz
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Founder- Experience Kombucha
Founder- Eat The Counter Culture

Raina received her diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
She runs a private nutrition practice online and founded Experience Kombucha
in Penticton, The Okanagan’s original local, organic kombucha. 
When not helping clients or brewing the Okanagan’s kombucha, Raina aids new Holistic Nutritionists’ into the industry with mentorship, sits on the board of Slow Food Canada as the BC Regional Mentor, and drives the food movement with her activism work. She uses systems based on psychology, not calorie counting, and is passionate about whole foods and mindful eating. Your families’ wellness journey is waiting. To schedule a consultation with Raina, click here.

What can Holistic Nutrition do for an autism diagnosis?

Holistic Nutrition as a system is very simple in its principles but it contains a lot of complexities.
We are all biochemically different and have different requirements based on our bodies and brains.

Nutrient deficiencies are a part of autism, which has been recognized since the 1970s. Figuring out the right combination of nutrients for the individual is the trick. Some studies show significant improvement in supplementing certain vitamins, while other studies show no difference when the nutrients are supplied alone. This demonstrates the bodies’ need for a correct balance of nutrients, which is likely to be different for each child.

Nutrition can be always improved to fit your lifestyle at the current time. A Holistic Nutritionist will look at the quality of fats in the child’s diet (for brain health) learn how to make fermented foods and find the correct probiotics for gut health. Since Holistic Nutrition is tailored to the individual, it is necessary to work 1-1 with each family member to make the necessary improvements and to create a proper support system in the home for the changes.

What are some of my best tips for parents?

Small steps, of course! You don’t have to change the diet or overhaul your pantry overnight. In fact, it is not recommended to do so! Small, gradual changes, introduce new foods while slowly cutting out others can work wonders.

What are a few nutrient necessities we can always look to add?

In every health issue, symptom, or wellness goal there are always “across the board” general recommendations that work for well for most, but not everyone.  The three keys I would consider when working children with autism include EFA’s, Vitamin A, and a good Probiotic. Essential fatty acids are necessary for brain function, Vitamin A is needed for proper vision, and Probiotics are needed for healthy gut function. These three key recommendations are generally lacking in most modern diets. Children on the spectrum are commonly deficient.

Our body naturally makes some essential fatty acids however, there are certain types of essential fatty acids that you must add to your diet because our bodies do not produce them. Getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet is crucial to maintaining optimal health and preventing deficiency.  Flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seed oil are all great sources of essential fatty acids. I can help you find creative ways of getting these into your child’s diet. It may be hiding it, or incorporating them into a dish your child already likes.

Vitamin A is found in beef liver, cod liver oil, sweet potato, carrots, black-eyed peas, spinach, broccoli, red pepper, mango, cantaloupe. Not all of these are easy to add to the daily diet of your autistic child, so sometimes supplementing works better.

For fermented foods, many parents find success in opening a capsule of a high-quality probiotic (from a health food store, not a drug store) and adding into juice or a smoothie. Unless your child likes raw sauerkraut, kombucha, or fermented pickles, supplementing is an ideal option. Lucky for you if they do!

The Biggest Issue

Most parents struggle with upgrading their child’s diet because they do not like, and will not eat the recommended foods.

I understand that altering the diet can be frustrating for everyone but, the key is to try many, many times. A Holistic Nutritionist will be patient and will do their best to make it fun. If the child I am working with has unique needs (how the food is plated, certain colors, etc) I will work with that. It’s a process.

“Holistic” means we will look at not only the diet but the lifestyle of you and your child. Optimum nutrition for a family with an autistic child like this is hard work. With a, ‘wholistic 360 degree,’ approach, we look at not only the above but also liver health, overall healthy eating to increase vitamin and mineral intake, we will discuss the best times to eat, supplementing nutrients, supporting digestion, absorption, the immune system, and the brain. We look at exercise and activities and help find ways for you and your child to connect. You will learn how to safely ferment your own foods for gut health, and where you can find the best-fermented products if you don’t can’t make them.

Other key points:

Wheat and dairy are common problematic foods and keeping a food diary to note behaviors and symptoms can be very helpful for you.

Allergy testing can be incredibly helpful in understanding where your child may need focused support. It can sometimes be easier, ‘not knowing,’ any allergies (and foods to cut out of the child’s diet) but with the right support and getting everyone on board, it doesn’t have to be the nightmare you envision. Holistic Nutrition can round out the support you give to your autistic child, to secure you with the knowledge that you haven’t overlooked this vital piece of wellness.
Holistic Nutrition can do a LOT to support an autism diagnosis.

I love thinking that autistic children are on a special mission

The children I have been lucky enough to work with have certainly been on a special mission. I also like to include a wellness plan that provides support and tools for parents. The wellness plan is both helpful and comforting, especially for parents who are tired and frustrated.
Nutritionist services are covered under the Autism Funding Unit through the BC government if you have a diagnosis and have registered through this organization. I am currently taking clients online. I do free 20 min consultations to discuss how I can help your family best.