Gut Feeling – Feeding the food intolerant and allergic toddler
Mostly written by a friend of mine called Lydia for me when I was having problems with my food intolerant refluxer rejecting foods left and right and centre. These words helped me alot, I changed my thoughts towards feeding DS2. I found some joy in the process and within days he was trying everything I put on the table. I hope it can help somebody else out there.
"Children’s Allergies are become more prevalent, more frequent occurrence. Families are becoming overtaken by their children’s allergies and food intolerances. What they can and cannot eat. It can take over the thoughts of everyday thinking.
What will I feed my child to sustain them? It’s like foraging for food in the desert or a nomadic track. What is poison? What is not? We are constantly looking and waiting for a reaction. Will it effect them?
Will they like it is more the point. Finding what is good for them is one thing. But the tasting is what brings them pleasure and whether they will eat it or not. We need to find combinations of food that are pallitable to the child. Their senses are so affected by the problems that food creates for them.
Eating can be an experience of joy or one that can become intolerable for the child and the maker of the food. A war zone almost. When the element of frustration is removed, everyone is happy. A child may resist a new food simply because it is new, so do adults. We shouldn’t be surprised is a child does the same. Consideration and respect is important and introducing new foods does take time. Pushing a child to do anything too quickly does not go down well. It is important to try many times with a new food, they may take to it eventually.
Babies who have food intolerances and allergies have an added layer of resistance to foods. They know what will happen and how they will feel if food reacts badly in their body. Like an alarm system that goes off if there is an invasion. They will put barriers up by using all sorts of methods to reject what is not palatable or attractive to them.
It becomes very important for the parent to feel relaxed and joyful about preparing and providing food to the allergic and intolerant child. If a parent is stressed and fearful about the foods, this will come through the the way food is prepared and presented and thus be transferred to the child. As we know, children are sensitive little angels!
For the child, the feel of the food in their mouth is so important. The taste and of course the smell. Consider these factors when preparing foods for them. The texture needs to be something they are comfortable with. So much can be gained by letting babies and toddlers make their own choices. Grazing can be a good thing here. Thinking creatively will help, create a variety so they can combine safe foods in a fun way. For example, for a dairy and wheat intolerant child, serve buckwheat porridge cooked in rice milk with mashed banana through it, and a little bowl of crushed cashews for sprinkling on top. My 15th months old loved his porridge after it was served to him this way. As an adult we love choices, so do children.
A grazing plate with 3 or 4 choices is a good idea to introduce new foods. Use it as a palette to try things out. You will be able to gauge what is eaten and what is left. Never force a child to eat something that you have prepared.
Use an attractive way to present the foods: - maybe in little bowls, finger foods arranged into a circle or the shape of a car. Rice cut with a cookie cutter in the shape of a star. Not making an effort shows and the child will respond accordingly.
It is important to give them time to eat the food at their own pace. If it takes longer then so be it. Everybody is different in the way they eat, why should children be any different?
Lastly, taking care of food and having respect for the person who is eating it and an important factor. Make food a valued part of your life and it will reward you many times over."