Friday, December 8, 2017

MOM LIFE:: Picky Eaters

The other night we had salmon with quinoa and peas for dinner.  My daughter squirted ketchup all over her salmon to mask it but enjoyed the quinoa with the peas mixed in.  As I watched her eat, I couldn't help but acknowledge how much progress we have made and I decided to write about our journey in case it helps another mama out there.  My daughter became a picky eater shortly after her second birthday. We went from liking healthy things like salmon and tofu to refusing almost everything. 

Adding to her food vocabulary on a gluten-free diet without compromising nutrition has not been easy and I know that we are not where we want her to be.  However, we have made remarkable progress and I wanted to share some of the tips/tricks we have compiled along the way:

1. Patience is key-  Change will not happen overnight and today's victory at dinner time might dissipate by breakfast time.  With our hectic schedules and sleep-deprived existence, it's easy to give in to frustration but that just sets the wrong tone for meal times which should be fun for all.

2.  The number of bites rule-  Have them take as many bites as their age in years before sending the plate back to the kitchen.  It's a simple concept that's easy for them to grasp even at a young age.

3.  Make sure you always serve something they like-  This one is key.  If you serve a plate full of new things they have not tried, rejection is guaranteed.  Therefore, only introduce one new thing at a time.

4.  Keep food groups separate on their plate-  For the longest time, I could not add pasta sauce or sausage to my daughter's pasta.  Everything had to be separate so she could inspect it.  Now when I watch her eat her pasta with sauce and sausage or peas, I feel so proud.  She even asks for seconds.

5.  Ketchup is your friend-  My daughter drowns anything she doesn't like in ketchup.  It helps her eat it, so we are okay with it.  The gluten-free ketchup we buy is very low in added sugar. 

6.  There's nothing wrong with bribery-  My daughter loves chocolate.  We buy gluten-free cookies that are very low in added sugar.  In the early days we would use them as a bribe to get her to the number of bites she needed to take.  We haven't had to bribe her for quite some time, so they do grow out of this.

7.  Be creative-  It took our daughter about one year to actually eat pasta.  My approach was to present her different forms of pasta with hopes of finding one she would actually like.  Try your natural food stores.  They are smaller and carry things that bigger stores might not have.  I found this tricolor pasta in cool shapes that was actually gluten-free and had some protein.  She loved it!  After some time, we were able to transition to the more common brown rice pasta which she still enjoys.  She'll even eat the gluten-free mac and cheese now. 

 I hope you find these tips helpful!  Don't despair fellow mama-  it does get better!  Which tricks have worked for you? 

Thanks for reading!

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