4 Food Storage Must-Haves for Children with Autism

Children with autism face unique food challenges in everyday living, and especially when it comes to storing foods for emergency preparedness. Eating the wrong foods is akin to taking hallucinogenic drugs for an autistic child, and can lead to a “leaky” gut and abnormal behavioral problems. For this reason, many parents have turned to the gluten-free-casein-free diet to protect their children from foods that are toxic for their bodies. Some children need an even more restrictive diet, abstaining from corn, soy and yeast as well. With such a restrictive diet, how can parents store food for survival? Here are 4 food storage items you’ll need:

1. Real Canned Meats

The problem with ready-to-eat meals or MREs is that they’re prepared with ingredients that children with autism cannot tolerate. Very often, the ingredients will include wheat, sugar, artificial colors and other additives. You want your child to eat protein in a survival situation, and you may not be able to hunt or trap animals right away. The best choice then is buying real meats cooked in their own juices. You can find ones that have nothing but the meat, salt and pepper. Although sea salt is preferable, there aren’t any vendors making real canned meats with sea salt yet. These have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years, and there have been a few instances where a canned meat was opened twenty years later and still edible. You can buy them in 14oz or 28oz cans, which make for heavy lifting if you carry more than a few in your “bug out” or “get-out-of-Dodge” bag.   For that reason, pack them in a bag with wheels or plan to tie them to the back of a bike.

2. Brown Rice

Parents who have children with autism on the gluten-free-casein-free diet can’t store wheat grain or oats to make flour, because wheat contains gluten and oats are processed with gluten. The only gluten-free oats on the market, by Bob’s Red Mill, are too costly to buy and store for emergency preparedness. Those on the more restrictive corn free diet can’t store corn to grind, either. Rice is the staple of choice then, to make flour for biscuits, breads (made with baking soda, not yeast), or to cook as-is for rice and beans and other meals. White rice is not a good option because it has no nutrients. Children with autism have bodies that have to fight to keep nutrients, because of poor digestive abilities, and therefore you have to store foods rich with nutrients. Brown rice is the best option to store, in five gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers. Although the shelf life of brown rice is said to be 6 months, you can store it for up to 2 years safely in a cool, dry place.

3. Peanut Butter Powder

Peanut butter is a healthy and nutritious addition to store for emergency preparedness. The packets that come in MREs or store-bought peanut butter contain artificial and chemical ingredients that are intolerable to children with autism. The best thing to do is store peanut butter powder and make it yourself. Peanut butter powder is sold in #10 cans, and is nothing more than partially defatted peanut flour. The shelf life of peanut butter powder is 4 years, and you can extend that if you refrigerate it. 

4. Vitamins

Children with autism have low levels of B6 and magnesium in their diets, and need vitamin rich supplements to maintain their mental and physical health. This becomes as necessary as food intake on a daily basis, but especially in a survival situation when food is scarce. You can prepare by buying and stocking extra gluten-free-casein-free vitamins now. The popular Super Nu-Thera vitamin supplement, sold by Kirkman Labs in liquid or powder form, stores for 1 year (best used by date) and six months. You don’t want to buy vitamins that are made with artificial sweeteners or processed with gluten. That would defeat your efforts to store the proper foods.

Your emergency preparedness plan should include freeze-dried fruits and vegetables that you store for the entire family. This can supplement the list of foods that you store specifically for children with autism. Finding the right foods takes extra time, effort and money on your part, but it’s worthwhile to protect your children in the event of an emergency.