Healthy Autism Breakfast Ideas
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of making a nutritious breakfast for yourself or your autistic child? You're in the right place! Whether you're dealing with allergies, sensory issues, picky eating, or are desperate for improving digestion, this post outlines 10 easy breakfast ideas for autism.
Why is breakfast important for autistic people?
We've all heard the saying "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." But I disagree! All meals are equally important, especially if you're dealing with disordered eating or an eating disorder. What we eat has a massive impact on the state of our nervous system, our mental health, our ability to concentrate, and our energy levels. Neurodivergent folx tend to struggle in these areas, making good nutrition even more essential.
Why is breakfast difficult for autistic people?
It's one thing to know healthy eating is important, but a whole nother to actually execute on it! There are several reasons autistic people may have a hard time eating breakfast, including:
- Difficulty sensing hunger cues and not feeling hungry in the morning
- Executive functioning difficulties
- Sensory sensitivities can lead to what many people perceive as "picky" eating
- Fear of consequences after eating, such as digestive issues, or in the case of ARFID, other food-related traumas
No matter what you're going through though, it is 100% possible to achieve your unique state of health, and the below recipes are here to help. If you want even more healthy meal ideas for autism, my cookbook Nourishing Neurodiversity contains over 50 plant-based recipes! In it, you'll also find tips on how to support mental health, gut health, and improve executive functioning.
10 autism breakfast ideas
1. Cereal (hot or cold)
Cereal has been recognized as a healthy breakfast for centuries, and for good reason! Whether you choose hot cereal (such as oatmeal or porridge made from other grains) or cold cereal, a cereal breakfast can be customized to meet sensory needs and meet nutritional goals. My favorite breakfast cereal recipe combines oats, cauliflower rice, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein, and plant-based milk for a base that contains fiber, veggies, and plant-based protein! You can also add flaxseed or chia seed to add omega-3 fats which boost brain health. Top it off with your favorite fruit and nut or seed butter for a well-rounded breakfast that ticks all the nutrient boxes :)
2. Smoothie (bowl or drink!)
Ice cream for breakfast anyone? Smoothie bowls are one of my favorite ways to pack in loads of nutrition without even tasting the "healthy" ingredients ;) My go to: blend frozen fruit and veggies, flax/chia seeds, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein, and milk of choice until thick and creamy. Transfer to a bowl or glass and top with your favorite toppings! I love the sensory contrast of a creamy smoothie with crunchy granola. You can find the recipe for my sweet potato smoothie bowl (pictured below) in my cookbook Nourishing Neurodiversity.
3. Toast (sweet or savory)
Another classic with endless variations! While bread has been demonized in our diet-culture-infested society, there's a reason some of the healthiest countries eat bread daily: it's an excellent source of carbohydrates, one of our body's main fuel sources! In fact, the human brain depends on glucose for fuel, making adequate carbohydrate intake exponentially essential for folks on the spectrum. Top your bread (toasted or untoasted) with a mix of protein (greek yogurt, eggs, deli meats, cheese, etc), fats (nut or seed butters, avocado, butter, etc) and vitamins (veggies, fruit, or this 2-ingredient chia jam from my cookbook) for a well-rounded breakfast.
4. Pancakes & waffles (homemade or frozen)
To me, nothing screams breakfast as much as a plate of pancakes or waffles😍 I love to batch prep my 3-ingredient pancakes (vegan and gluten-free) and freeze them so I have a healthy breakfast ready to go in minutes. Alternatively, you can turn the pancake recipe into waffles to switch up the sensory profile while maintaining the trust and familiarity of the same ingredients. However, frozen pancakes and waffles can be just as good an option! Whatever floats your executive functioning boat, go for it!
5. Mug cake
Honestly, no day goes by without a mug cake for me :) Made in the microwave or oven, you can have your own personal cake ready in just 5 minutes! Packed with fiber, plant protein, and brain-boosting fats, mug cakes will become your new favorite breakfast treat! You can find several mug cake recipes in Nourishing Neurodiversity.
The biggest difference between a mug cake and muffins is that mug cakes are single-serve, while muffins are easier to batch prep! You can easily freeze them and then pop in the microwave for a quick breakfast throughout the week. I love pairing my Blueberry Crumble Muffins with some peanut butter for healthy fats and a side of scrambled eggs or yogurt for protein!
7. Energy bars and bites
Energy bars and protein bars aren't just great for snacks, they also make for an ideal grab-and-go breakfast! Unfortunately, many store-bought bars are filled with additional ingredients that don't always agree with sensitive bodies, which is why I teach you how to make them at home in my cookbook!
8. Yogurt bowl
Another classic that's infinitely customizable :) Simply start with a base of your favorite yogurt and top with carbs, fats, and fruit. Some of my favorite toppings are:
- Sweet potato with nut/seed butter and blueberries
- Granola with nuts/seeds and banana
- Crumbled muffin w/ strawberries and whipped cream
9. Stuffed sweet potato
You can put the sweet potato on top of the yogurt as mentioned above, but you can also put the yogurt in the sweet potato itself! In my cookbook, I call this recipe "productive toast" i.e. you're using the sweet potato as the "toast" and since the recipe is filled with nutritious ingredients, it will help you be extra productive! Instead of sweet potato, you could also use pumpkin or squash. You could also always go savory by pairing the sweet potato with eggs, avocado, and your favorite veggies.
10. Cookies and brownies
...for BREAKFAST? Heck yes! The Sweet Potato Brownies in my cookbook require just 4 ingredients: sweet potato, cocoa powder, nut/seed butter, and a bit of maple syrup for a treat that's not only delicious, but provides you with energy to start your day on a sweet note! In Nourishing Neurodiversity, you'll also find a recipe for Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies that are packed with protein and fiber.