I wasn’t really a great eater when I was growing up. I was very picky about what I would try, would say I didn’t like something even though I had never had it, and I didn’t enjoy a lot of the meals that were made for the family.
My mother is an amazing cook and baker, so it was nothing to do with the food itself or how it was prepared, but I never understood what my issue with food was until I was 25-years-old and I’d given birth to my second child.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Suddenly it became clear why I was such a picky eater and didn’t care to try new things. Eating wasn’t supposed to hurt the way that it had been hurting me. It wasn’t supposed to make me feel so tired and I wasn’t supposed to have a stomach that bloated and bones that were so brittle.
I didn’t have to manage this food-related disease during my childhood and I imagine it would have made things more difficult for me in one way if I had, but it also could have had a positive impact on me if I had been diagnosed earlier.
Raru, my 6-year old daughter can’t eat gluten either. We noticed an issue when she was only 14 months old and she has been off the stuff ever since. There are times though that she comes into contact with it — at school or a family member’s house — and she’s accidentally contaminated and she feels the pain.
Feeding her when she’s been “glutened” (which is what we call getting cross-contaminated with gluten), can be quite the struggle. I totally understand the feeling because I have lived with the contamination myself. It plays havoc on your intestines and it makes all foods painful to eat. She tends to stick to food that she is comfortable with — much like I did when I was a child — but this can make dinner time difficult. I want her to be able to feel safe while she is eating, and while everything I make is strictly gluten-free, she still has the “Safe Foods” that she likes to stick with in place of everything else.
There are really only 5 things that Raru will eat without any struggle:
Peanut Butter 1 of 5This is my go-to thing for her and has been since she was first taken off gluten. She lost 5 pounds when she had to go on a "gluten-challenge" for 4 months when she was 18 months old. We had to help her gain the weight back with fats and protein and peanut butter became an "obsession" ever since. She loves to just eat it with a spoon.
Specific Deli Meat (gluten free) 2 of 5She loves deli honey ham that I can get in a sealed gluten free pack. She doesn't care to eat it on anything, just the meat alone.
Gluten Free Pizza (with specific cheese) 3 of 5She has a favorite gluten free crust that she will eat and a very specific cheese that she likes. No pepperoni or the cheese she doesn't like or she won't eat it.
French Fries (only shoestring style) 4 of 5Raru will eat french fries nearly anytime, but they have to be the thin shoestring style type. She will eat them with ketchup, but it's not really that healthy.
Gluten Free Meat Spaghetti 5 of 5This meal is the only one that's really hardy and she eats with no struggle. The bonus for this one is I can hide vegetables in the sauce (if you grate them up really small) so I have a little more control to give her better nutrition.
Do you have any tips for me on how to encourage my child to try new foods? Does your child have food-related health issues that hinder them from being more adventurous when it comes to their diets? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Photo credits: iStockPhoto
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