Living with Celiac Disease

Good Afternoon,
Today I bring you a guest post from a dear friend living with celiac disease.  She is very involved within the celiac community and has great suggestions as well as product recommendations.  A big thank you to Katie and her family for sharing their experiences and wisdom.

I am a mother that has celiac disease, and I am raising two young boys who at this time do not have celiac disease.  Of course, I realize that it may come on at any stage of their lives.  I was diagnosed with celiac disease 7 years ago and for the last 3 years I have been the VP of Programs for the Denver Celiac Sprue Association.  This has resulted in my planning all of our chapter meetings, gluten-free picnics, and I am the person in charge of the Incredible, Edible Gluten-Free Food Fairs that we put on in Denver each year.  The Denver CSA has a membership of over 700, so I am always around people with Celiac Disease, people living with gluten intolerance, or talking with parents of children with celiac disease.  With my experiences, I know how hard it can be to have the disease.  I believe it would be even harder to have a child that is the only one in the family with the disease.  I am always happy to help, if I can, with your situation.  My e-mail address is vpprograms@denverceliacs.org

Personal experience and tricks to dealing with celiac disease while raising kids 

  • I need to eat gluten-free but my husband and children do not.  We do picnics at the parks often and I have noticed that I have gotten sick more often lately.  The only thing I can think of is that I am feeding my kids wheat at the same time that I am eating my gluten-free lunch.  I have started waiting to eat until after I am done feeding them and have felt a lot better lately.
  • Initially it was difficult dealing with this much gluten on a daily basis but I have gotten used to it at this point.  I always just make sure to make the gluten-free meal first and then deal with the wheat separately.
  • If we make cookies, cakes, muffins, pizzas, etc. I always make them gluten-free so I can eat these treats with my family – we do not even have regular flour at our house anymore.  It makes it easier than making two of everything and I have worked at it and found recipes that everyone likes now.
  • There are so many great gluten-free products on the market now days that it makes things a lot easier.  Some of my very favorites are Rudi’s and Udi’s breads, Pamela’s Pancake Mix, Tinkyada pasta, Schar USA products (can be found at Walmart), Chex cereal, and Think Thin protein barsThe Last Crumb Bakery has amazing gluten-free flour called Cheatin Wheat that I have used for several years with all of my favorite recipes and it works great!
  • It is always great to have support so if you have not already, look at joining the Denver Celiac Sprue Association. We have events throughout the year and it is fun to talk with others going through the same things that you are.

    6th Annual Incredible Edible Gluten-Free Food Fair™

  • If you are a parent of a child with Celiac Disease, the Denver Celiac Sprue Association also has Cel-Kids and Cel-Teens group that puts on gluten-free events for the kids.  Check out the website for more info

Lots of families share Katie’s story and are living with Celiac disease or have a gluten-free diet.  If you have questions, please contact me through this blog or leave a comment below. 

If you know someone who is living gluten-free please share this blog with them. 

Good Luck,

Katherine

Picky Eaters

Good Morning,

I will admit that before I started working with families I held the belief that kids would eat just about anything if it was presented correctly.  While I still hang on to this belief somewhat, I now know that natural tastes are as individual as snowflakes.  No two are the same.  I have worked with parents who lose sleep over their child’s eating habits and are constantly calling their doctors for ideas to incorporate more variety into their diets.

While it is difficult to answer all questions regarding picky eaters, I would like to give you some general information as well as some helpful tips to manage your particular picky eater.

Age Appropriate Eating

  • 0-1 years:  Help create a healthy digestive system by introducing lots of greens and fiber into the diet.  A slow transition from baby food to adult food or new foods can help.
  • Toddler-hood:  Exposure to foods that are common in the house or that mom and dad are eating will get your child accustomed to eating these foods.  Allow your child to try some of what you are eating.  If they do not like it the first time, try offering it to them again at a later time.
  • Picky eaters usually get better after the age of 4.  If they continue as picky eaters at the age of 9, they will very likely be picky eaters as adults.

Helpful tips

  • Kids WILL eat if they are hungry.  Allow for time between meals and minimize snacking.  This prepares your child to eat properly, and as a bonus they will eat healthy foods!
  • Some kids are picky eaters because their parents are picky eaters.  If you think something is unappetizing, you are not going to feed it to your child.  This is natural.  It also speaks to the importance of exposing your child to many kinds of foods.
  • Involve your child in meal preparation.  Measuring, counting, mixing, watching the timer and some cutting can be a great way to get your child involved with the meal and excited to eat the outcome.  This is also a great way to spend some extra  time with your child.
  • Start a garden.  Encourage your child to get dirty and grow their own garden.
  • Have reasonable expectations.  Your child will not like everything you give them and may not like the same foods that you do.  They will not like everything the first time it is introduced.
  • Listen to your gut.  Many parents get scared and give in to unhealthy diets and junk food because they are told that their child is underweight.  Giving your child high fat and high sodium foods will up their weight but in an unhealthy, potentially habit-forming way.  If you believe that your child is eating what is best for them (variety, quality, and quantity), stick with your gut.  You know your child better than anyone else and should make the final decision when it comes to their well-being.
  • Take your child out to eat.  Watching other people eat is a great way to get hungry.  They may be so excited about getting out of the house that even the same foods presented in another setting will be appetizing.
  • Have a playdate and a picnic.  The saying “monkey see, monkey do,” couldn’t be more true for kids playing and eating with their friends.  Nothing is so important until a kid sees their friends playing with it or eating it.  Have a variety of snacks available to your kids and their friends at playdates.
  • Play with your food.  While this seems counter-intuitive, kids want to learn about food using all of their senses.  Touching, smelling, tasting, and seeing foods give kids an opportunity to make their own decisions about what they eat.  If you are introducing a new food, relax a little and allow your child to play with it before eating.  Remember, many young children end up with most everything in their mouths at some point.  You can take advantage of this!
  • Have fun with food.  My grandmother used to cut our sandwiches with cookie cutters.  I have no idea if they tasted good, but I ate them because they were fun.  There are lots of ways to make food look fun.  Try adding fruits and veggies to make faces, stripes, shapes, dots, etc.  Allow your child to help “decorate” their plate before they eat.

The road for a parent with a picky eater seems long.  It takes time, patience, and consistency to get over bumps in the road.  Give yourself (and your kids) a break when you want to force feed your kids veggies.  Remind yourself that you are in charge of your child’s well-being and giving them junk when they will not eat is not a good parenting decision.  Nor is it the most healthy choice for your child.  If you would like more specific recommendations or just need some support, please contact me directly.

If you found this post helpful please subscribe to this blog by hitting the Sign Me Up button at the top right of this page.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Creating Meals your Family will Eat

Mormon Family Dinner

Image by More Good Foundation via Flickr

Good Morning,

As a parent, how many days each week do you struggle to get your entire family to eat the same thing at a given meal?  Two days?  Four days?  Every day?  Someone is mad, someone is late, someone doesn’t like what you fixed, the list goes on and on.  Do you ask yourself why you waste your time even trying?  You are not alone in this never-ending battle of food and family.  Take heart and read on.  Below are some strategies that will hopefully help.

Have a plan.  Getting your kids involved in the entire process of the meal is one way that often makes them eager to consume what you put in front of them.  Today I would like to outline how you can easily get your children on board with creating and eating family meals.

  1. Plan a weekly menu
    Ask your kids to offer suggestions about what they would like to eat each week.  Look through magazines, online, or in your recipe box for ideas.  If your child requests something specific, consider it.  If they want to try something new, great.  Allow your kids to be involved with the planning part of the week’s meals.
  2. Write a shopping list
    Have them write the shopping list.  Sound out the words, write them in a row, group them by type of food, etc.  The great thing about involving your kids in family meals is that it is highly academic as well.
  3. Take them shopping
    Other than an opportunity to spend an hour together talking and shopping, this is a great way for them to pick out ingredients and compare prices.  Have your child be in charge of coupons, crossing things off the shopping list, comparing prices on like items, and picking fresh fruits and veggies.
  4. Unpacking the groceries
    Kids usually know where things go.  Have them organize from oldest to newest, make sure things are in a straight row, or refold grocery bags.
  5. Read the recipe
    If you are using a recipe, have your child read the recipe.  Make sure it is easy to read, either typed or in legible handwriting.  If you are using a family recipe, talk about where the recipe came from and why it is special to your family.  If they are not able to read, have them get out the items as you read.
  6. Preparing the meal
    Giving kids jobs such as cutting, measuring, stirring, watching the timer, setting the oven, and setting the table are easy and fun.  Any child who can help should be invited to join in.  Ensure you have age-appropriate tools for your children.
  7. Dinner conversation
    As I mentioned last week in the Family Participation blog, have a jar of questions that family members can ask each other.  It is easy to talk about the day, but when that gets a little boring it is nice having a backup conversation.  You can pick one question to ask everyone, or have one person designated each night as the question asker.  Rotating seats so that the person at the head of the table is in charge is a fun way to mix it up.

Involving your kids from start to finish in meal preparation is great for several reasons.  It gets your kids excited to eat the meal they have just helped prepare.  It allows you to spend some uninterrupted time with them.  They are using their academic skills.  It may take a little longer, so be patient and have fun.  If you are not able to have them help every night, pick a few nights when you can involve them.  Of course, don’t forget to have them help with the clean up as well.

Other great sites from around the web:

In Pursuit has a great meal plan
Meals Matter
Fruit and Veggie Guru.com

Food on the Table

If you found these strategies helpful please subscribe/like/pass this blog along.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Creating Good Restaurant Behavior

Red Lobster

Image by courosa via Flickr

Good Morning,

Growing up, dinner at my house was not always a family event.  With four kids, school work, sports, and two working parents, there were many crock-pot, “eat when you are home” meals.  On occasion, we would all sit down and eat as a family.  From as early as I can remember my parents would encourage us to use good table manners by telling us that we were “practicing for the prom.”  I remember thinking this was really stupid.  What was prom, anyway, and why did it matter that I chewed with my mouth closed?

Like all other behaviors, public behavior takes practice and doesn’t always go as planned.  All parents have been there, embarrassed by a screaming kid or an object being thrown to the table next to them.  Relax.  It happens.  The good news is that with a few simple changes in your approach and some time, your child will be easy to take out to dinner.

  • Talk to them on the way to the restaurant.  Have a conversation about how to behave in a public place.  Practice using inside voices, keeping food on the table, and sitting in your chair.  With time, kids grow to understand what is expected, but often need reminding before they are in the moment.
  • Start small.  Whether you are just starting to take your child out to restaurants or trying to start over, start with casual family places that are fast.  Most of the time the issues start because the kid is bored or hungry, and there is no relief in sight.  Going to a “kids eat free” night is a great way to be around other families and see some other ways parents are teaching their kids about public behavior.
  • Have a bag of goodies ready.  Travel games, coloring books, crayons, and snacks are all ways to pass the time and keep your child focused and in their seat.  To really make it special, have these toys only available when you go out.
  • Remove your child if necessary.  If your child becomes loud, aggressive, or needs to get out of their chair, remove them from the restaurant immediately.  Other patrons should never need to sit and hear crying or screaming from another table.  Nor should they need stop their conversations or meals because a child is under their chair.  Going outside for a minute and taking a break until the issue has passed is helpful for your child, yourself, and the other people around you.
  • At the table remind your child of the conversation you had in the car and what their behavior should look and sound like.
  • Reward them.  The importance of positive reinforcement cannot be overstated.  If your child is doing a good job, reward them.  Tell them that you like what they are doing and to keep up the good work.  A special treat at the end of the meal is another good way to reward a night of good behavior.
  • If your child goes out with other family members, let them know what you are working on so they can take part in encouraging and rewarding good public behavior.
  • Give it some time.  A child’s behavior is not always easy to predict nor is it initially consistent.  You may have a few great experiences followed by a rough patch.  Be patient and try again.  You may have to leave a few places before your child knows that you are serious about their behavior.  Keeping your cool and staying in control are always the best ways to handle a frustrating situation like this.
  • Practice the ideal situation.  Take time at home during meals to practice restaurant behavior.  Set a timer and set up a similar situation to going out where your child has to wait for their food, sit in their chair, and use a quiet voice.  If they have practiced what this behavior looks and feels like, they are more likely to remember it when the real time comes.

What are some ways you have prepared your child to dine out?  Have you struggled with this type of situation?  Please leave a comment below.

Great ideas from other parents:

The reality of it from diapersanddiatribes

Going upscale, no problem.  Check it out at Fork & Bottle

Should kids be allowed?  An interesting look from Mom Land

Quick tips from babycenter

Check out this great video from DadLabs

Good Luck,

Katherine

Building a better diet for kids

vegetables

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

I believe that most parents, at some point, have struggled with their child’s diet.  Whether facing a picky eater, allergies, or a child just digging in their heels, everyone has been there.  Often times parents are afraid that their child will not eat.  As a result, they give in and provide whatever the child wants at the moment.

I know that kids need to slowly ease into eating adult foods and that naturally they will have preferences and tastes.  I also know that it is your job as a parent to offer the most nutritious foods to your child as possible.  You are paving the way for their eating habits for the rest of their life.  It sounds like a big job, and it is.  Eating habits are nothing to take lightly or overlook in the bustle of being a busy parent.

Trying to make the most out of meal time with your family?  Desperate to add veggies to the mix on their plates?  Here are some straightforward, easy ideas to put into practice early and often.

  • Offer your child the family dinner.  This is the best possible scenario, so why not start here?  You may not have to go any farther.
  • Some kids like choices.  Give them 2.  Both of these choices should be well-rounded and nutritious.  They can also offer a suggestion, but if their suggestion does not meet your standard then it should not be considered.  If none of the choices are picked, wait and try again in a few minutes.  If a child knows they cannot win the battle they will give up the fight.
  • Set some boundaries around meal time.  Use a timer for a slow or non-eater.  Limit quantities of bread, fruit and drink.  Make sure that eating food is the main goal of meal time, and that expectations can be accomplished within the boundaries.  Set meal times and stick to them.  Cut down on snacking between meals.  If they do not choose to eat at meal time, let them know when the next meal will be offered.
  • Be realistic with yourself.  If they do not choose to eat a meal or stop before they are full, allow them to feel the natural consequences of that decision.  Lots of parents are nervous that their child will wilt away in the middle of the night.  Be honest with  yourself.  You know this will not happen and that the lesson learned is worth a little pain and suffering.
  • Introduce healthy fruits, vegetables and meats early.  More exposure at a younger age will increase the chance your child will enjoy them.
  • Model good eating habits.  Practicing a healthy lifestyle and getting your child involved is a fun way to spend some time together cooking and trying new recipes.  Kids are much more likely to try new things that they have helped cook.
  • Do not engage in fighting or negotiations.  If your child does not choose to accept what is offered, they should quietly sit with the family or be excused.
  • Everyone likes a burger with fries now and then, but save it for a special occasion or as a reward for good behavior in a restaurant.

If you are already struggling to introduce healthy foods, here are a few ideas:

  • Popsicles – add things like fresh fruit, greens, flax seeds, yogurt, and vitamins, blend and freeze.  No need to add sugar.
  • Homemade Sauces – create sugar-free tomato based sauces like ketchup, or fresh pesto, or cheese sauces.  These are easy and can go on almost everything
  • Filled Pastas – wheat pastas that are filled with meat and veggies, covered in sauce, are delicious.
  • Smoothies – similar to popsicles, you can add just about anything and blend it up.  I like to add bananas or peanut butter if I need to mask another flavor.
  • Homemade Breads – grains and seeds are easily added to breads, plus you can use whole wheat and other top ingredients.
  • Spaghetti Squash – easy to make and very fresh, a perfect replacement for pasta in any recipe.
  • Mashed Potato Substitutes – there are several replacements for potatoes like cauliflower, turnips, beets, and carrots.  Just steam or roast, mash and serve.

Setting the stage early helps your child make good decisions about diet later in life.  Explain to your kids why they need to eat healthy and how they can help keep the family on track.  Making food at home is always a great way to watch what goes inside your child’s body.

More great information found on these blogs:

Just one great page of many at Eating Healthy for Kids

Useful ways to develop good eating habits at Healthy Eating

The Homestead Company has some honest answers about kid’s diets

Healthy Lifestyle examines The Clean Diet

Good Luck,

Katherine