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While there is no specific juvenile idiopathic arthritis diet, it’s vital that children with the disease eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that meets all their nutritional needs.
Growth can be impaired if children don’t get the necessary amounts of protein and other nutrients required to build bone and muscle. Yet, eating can be challenging given that the disease or the medications used can suppress the child’s appetite. It can also be painful for children with jaw pain to chew or swallow food, and those with arthritis in the hands, fingers or wrists can have difficulty cutting food or opening containers. If this is the case, softer foods that don’t require a lot of chewing or cutting can be used, like oatmeal, scrambled eggs, soups and smoothies. It’s also essential for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis to maintain a healthy weight to avoid additional burden being placed on the joints.
Meals should have enough protein, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats to help the child’s mind and body grow. The diet should also be high in vitamins and minerals, and low in fat, highly processed foods, fried foods and sugar (such as soft drinks) to minimize the risk of additional health problems.