Recently, Adrianne left a comment on my “Sick Since Birth” page, which included this statement:
“HOW IN THE WORLD (please, anyone, can you tell me?) DO YOU FOLLOW THE GF/CF DIET WHEN YOU CAN’T FOLLOW YOUR CHILD EVERYWHERE HE GOES?”
And I sent a response with some tips and pointers, then I thought… maybe I should post those tips and pointers for others who are new to the life or in need of encouragement.
My first piece of advice is to get educated. Why this diet? What are the possible outcomes? What am I looking for from the diet? What are the potential long term health effects if we don’t follow the diet?
Next, educate your child (if he/she is who will be on the diet). In an age appropriate manner, teach them WHY this diet is so important. Don’t waver or they will sense that and won’t be as responsible about their food. Let your child know that you expect and trust them to be responsible about managing their diet.
Prepare tubs of individually packaged treat foods to leave with school teachers, church, clubs, and other activities your child frequents. This way, there will always be a treat on hand given any surprise parties or goodies. Some of the foods we put in these tubs include: Individual (2pack) of Enjoy Life Cookies, Ians GF Cookie Buttons (5 individual bags per box), Nana’s No Gluten Cookie Bars (now avaliable in boxes of 5 individually wrapped cookie bars), Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bug Bites, Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks and Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops. We try to keep a variety in the tubs and check the content status frequently.
Bake a large batch of cupcakes (our favorite flavor is chocolate) and store them in the freezer. This way, when there is a party, just grab one out to defrost. Then whip up a super quick frosting (we use 1 Tbs Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and some powder sugar or agave to sweeten it), and let the kids choose sprinkles or other toppings. We like Let’s Do Sprinklez, India Tree Natural Sprinkles, Enjoy Life chocolate chips or sometimes just a dusting of powder sugar without frosting.
When sending your child to a friends house for a meal or overnight, be sure to talk with the parents about your child’s diet. Make easy meal suggestions, like tacos with crunchy shells seasoned with safe salsa (those seasonings packets often have wheat in them, as do some salsas). Stress that WHOLE FOODS (like meats, veggies and fruits) are always okay as long as breadings are not added. Offer to send food for your child (maybe this would only mean sending a package of pasta to go with their spaghetti). And send snacks along that your child can share with their friends. It always makes my child feel less different when her friends eat what she does.
Give yourself time to see the changes. Being on a GFCF (and all natural) diet isn’t going to change your child overnight. Within six months, I had a child who was completely different. Now, when foods are consummed that shouldn’t be, we see the effects. When she was on a regular diet, she was ALWAYS reacting so we couldn’t narrow it down. In the early days, we thought she just needed to remove all dye, artificial flavors and preservatives… we noticed a drastic improvement in the ADHD symptoms, however we still saw facial blotchiness/discoloration, belly aches, bed wetting and bowl issues (mostly constipation). One day, her Kinder teacher called to say she’d noticed a blotchy face that morning. I couldn’t figure out what it was, she’d only had a cheerio type cereal with milk and apple juice for breakfast. Later, when we discovered that she couldn’t tolerate gluten and was allergic to wheat and dairy, it made sense. Now, I can see the changes right away… activity changes, belly aches, facial changes, etc…
So, be SUPER strict in the first 6-12 months so you can have a child who has cleared their system of the allergenic foods. Then if you relax a bit, or decide to try a food you will notice if there is a reaction.
Hopefully our experiences help some one out there… we were newbies in this world not that long ago. Now we cheat (an occasional icee) and try different allergy foods (yogurt, cheese) to see if a reaction occurs. I’ve noticed that even allowing a (regular) lolli, icee, or standard candy once a week is enough to create a build up in her body causing more reactions.