News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Q & A: What is a dietetic analysis?

JCCHD | Thu, June 28, 2012 | [Autism Treatment][Healthcare][Q and A ]

Unhealthy Foods!Most people recognize the importance of eating well and addressing nutritional deficiencies.  In the autism and developmental disorder community, talk of appropriate diets and nutritional supplementation is common.  But getting the most accurate and beneficial information on what your child needs is often difficult. Parents (and some clinicians) often alter a child’s diet and add nutritional supplementation without information, or baseline data, on what that particular child might need.

One of the first steps that should be taken when addressing health or specific behavioral concerns such as feeding is a dietary analysis. This is a helpful tool to see which areas of nutrition may be too low or too high in a child’s diet and which foods, if any, may be contributing to some of the issues you are seeking to address. With a dietetic analysis you can find out what the daily intake of nutrients may be, compare that data with the recommended daily allowances, and identify areas for improvement or therapeutic intervention.

Nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) are the building blocks of good health, and imbalances can contribute to the body’s ability to successfully handle stress and illnesses, potentially leading to problems with focus and attention, sleep, cognitive development, and more. Each person’s needs are different, and understanding the particular intake and absorption issues on an individual level is critical to successful implementation of any plan. Many people follow generic advice or try to copy a plan devised for another person, and far more often than not the outcome is not what they were hoping for.

Healthy Foods!One of the first steps we undertake for those we serve is a comprehensive dietary analysis. Our registered dietitians begin by analyzing a three-day food diary to identify areas of adequate intake and areas of particular concern so we can choose priorities. Often we can easily identify missing, inadequate, or excessive levels of nutrients that are critical for the management of many of the symptoms our families are seeking to address.

Children often come to us with treatment plans that are generic protocols compiled from various sources; these children have never had the appropriate analysis that should drive treatment, and they are missing critical areas. Our goal in providing dietetic care is to ensure that all areas of health are addressed and any intervention prescribed is based on the most accurate, appropriate information available.