This might be surprising, but for a lot of sensitive people (many auties are almost by definition in that category) the gut-brain axis is a big thing.
The standard approach to mental issues has recently become the “brain chemical imbalance” theory. While I’ve spent about 6 years studying how the brain works, for me the big thing is that the brain doesn’t live in a proofed isolation tank – it lives in the ecosystem of the body, and brain chemistry is very affected by body chemistry, again especially in sensitive people.
I got that idea from studying Ayurveda (where digestion is seen as the foundation of all other bodily functions, since obviously no organ runs well if there is no quality supply of nutrients), but I’ve seen scientific research catch up – look up “gut brain axis” and “gut microbiome” and you’ll find out, for example, that the best part of many neutrotransmitters is produced … in the gut, dependent on gut bacteria; gut bacteria are dependent on our hormones (which are affected by how we feel), but also simply by what we eat.
The good thing is that in cases where other factors (like emotions, thoughts and stress levels) are harder to control, a foundation to work with these can be laid by improving nutrition to the whole body. This automatically calms down the nervous system – in a tangible way that you can feel and observe – and makes it far easier to work on mental health from other angles.
The biggie here for many people is stabilising blood sugar; other factors include enough “good fats”, and I also like to share some Ayurvedic hacks for making meals satisfying – again a big mind-calming factor especially for the jiggly, nervous, anxiety-ridden ones among us. I will also be able to share strategies for weight loss (if you genuinely need it for health) and eating disorders (it takes many factors to correct them, but mind-supporting nutrition helps a lot)
Eating, especially the timing and quality of it, can also support sleep – which is probably the other single most important physical pillar for mental health (according to Ayurveda it’s actually most important one).
Note: the way I work with food is Ayurveda-inspired and relies more on the tangible qualities of foods (what you can see, taste, sense and feel about a food) and on eating rituals (yes, routine!) and timing patterns than on single super-foods, complicated supplement mixes or deprivation-based complicated diets that drive you paranoid and obsessive (been there so many times :D). Food as a daily source of nutrition and genuine comfort, calm and pleasure (but not an addiction or obsession) is a big part of what we’ll be aiming for if we use the food-based tools.