Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just eat it

The kids have been on the gluten-free diet for 3 1/2 weeks. I've been surprised at how little they've resisted. They're both rule-oriented, black-and-white thinkers, so when I said, "This is what we're not eating anymore," they went with it. K. had a couple teary events where he saw someone else eating cupcakes or cookies and I didn't have the gluten-free version handy, but for the most part, it's been pretty painless.

(I can't say I've noticed a lot of change in their behaviour, but it can take 3 months to tell. And the summer is a low stress time. The proof will come when school starts.)

It's hard to get G. to eat at the best of times because she's so sensitive to tastes and smells, and it doesn't help that now I've narrowed her list even further. She used to eat a lot of rye bread and Kraft Dinner, which are now on the naughty list. She likes turkey bacon (if it has hidden gluten, I don't want to know), chocolate milk and peanut butter smoothies, mango yogurt, and fruit (preferable from a tin).

It's also hard to get her to sit still at the table long enough to eat much of anything. So here are some ideas I've learned for how to get kids like G. to eat:

Location, location, location:

If they won't eat much when they're at the table, give it to them where they'll eat it. Make them popcorn in front of the TV. Feed them in the car. When there's playing to do, it's hard to sit still and eat, but in the car, there's nowhere to go. I always take apples, bananas, and juice boxes, even on short rides to return library books or pick up T. from work. I know how easy it is to eat more than I mean to when I'm mindlessly watching TV or driving, so think of those times when you shouldn't be eating, and those are the best times to get kids to eat more.

Hands on experience:

I planted green beans, snap peas, and carrots this spring. We all know that homegrown produce tastes best, but I don't think it's just because it's fresh; I think being part of growing the food adds something sweet to the mix. We all love to enjoy the fruits of our labour. I make sure to advertise at the table that these are the beans you watered and your brother picked. Their own beans have a better chance of making it onto a fork. Same thing for the bread they baked or the cereal they chose.

What they don't know, won't hurt them:

You can hide veggies all over the place. For K.'s birthday cake, I made gluten-free dark fudge brownies that have a whole can of pureed black beans hidden in them! I tried hiding spinach in my meat sauce. It stuck out like a bunch of green leaves, actually, but it tasted really good. Shredded carrots camouflage better. Some cake recipes allow you to replace the butter with applesauce. A banana muffin is still healthier than a plain one.

A snack by any other name sounds grosser:

I learned this one from Calvin and Hobbs. If you tell a kid to eat a "rice cake" they will yawn; if you tell them you've invented edible Styrofoam, you'll have to run out for a second bag. "Drink you water" is boring, but "Drink your monkey spit" - now that's cool. We think up crazy names for everything. Not only do more things get eaten, but it releases pressure and lightens the mood for everyone.