Stealth Health: Veggies

Questions about health issues are common when talking with parents, group home staff, teachers, medical professionals, and others who are interested in the well-being of children, teens, and adults diagnosed with autism. Vegetables are a frequent topic of conversation when discussing a healthy diet.

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SPECIFIC STRATEGY Sooooo…how can we encourage folks to eat veggies? These yucky green things are vital to long-term health, but difficult to sneak into a daily diet. First of all, consider dropping the word “vegetables” from your vocabulary, and avoid speaking phrases like “You’d better eat your vegetables; they are good for you.” Instead, try introducing new foods in new ways.

DIPPERS: Some folks who will not touch cooked vegetables love the crunch of raw veggies. The key is to have small pieces for dipping. For example, cut celery into one inch chunks to use for dipping cheese dip or ranch dip or even one of the new cream cheese based fruit dips. Other good dippers are slices of cucumber, small carrot sticks, a sliver of sweet red pepper, or a thin slice of cauliflower. You could even mix in some fruit dippers like apple or peach slices with the crunchy veggies. +

TREES: Brocolli can be served raw with dip or cooked, drained, and seasoned for a healthy addition to a meal. You can even have “tree pizza” with tiny brocolli pieces sticking up out of the cheese or sauce.

ANTS ON A LOG: Cut celery into 1 inch slices, fill with peanut butter, then add a row of raisin “ants.” 

CRUNCH SNACKS: Scout around for a store that sells dehydrated vegetables in bulk – carrot slices, whole green beans, squash, and other nutritious “chips.” Let your friend with autism scoop their own mixture if possible. The treats are colorful and crunchy and addictive!

NOTE TO LISTENERS AND READERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. You can click on a button to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solutions. Check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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