It began the first time my daughter learned to say “no.” Around 12-14 months, she started forming a few words, but none of them came out with more vehemence than “no.” And from that day on, autonomy became a struggle. It’s no different with food. No one likes to be told what they must or must not eat. Eating can produce immediate joy and instant gratification. So when you remove casein, and then gluten from your child’s diet, they might stage a revolt. Did I say “might?”
When autonomy is taken away from a child, their first order of business is to try to regain control - over anything: how loud they protest, how hard they launch their toys at the wall, how fast they spit that very expensive gluten-free, casein-free treat out of their mouth.
I get it. I like to be in control too. It makes me feel safe and it’s no different with kids. Enter the Goodie Drawer. It’s a drawer in my kitchen which contains snacks and treats that are safe for both of my kids. From it, they are free to grab all sorts of goodies including trail mix, organic corn chips, Nana’s individually wrapped cookie bars and homemade Cinnamon Chocolate Snack Bars. On the counter is a bowl of fresh bananas, apples, oranges and grapes. In the fridge is hummus, turkey and rice tortillas from Trader Joe’s for a quick wrap.
I finally stopped asking my kids what they want, because I tend to get answers like, “a cell phone and a chocolate shake.” Now, I’ve learned to ask, “Would you like hummus and chips, a wrap, fruit or something from the goodie drawer?” Wow. Four choices. Who gets four choices? At school it’s usually one choice. Going to bed? One choice. But for food, you’ve now given your child a virtual cornucopia of options. Some are sweet, some are savory and most require little effort from you.
The good news is that your child’s palate can be developed and changed. Removing gluten and casein often times means removing many processed foods that are chock- full of the the refined carbohydrates, sugar and salt our kids have learned to crave1. So it’s important to have attractive, delicious alternatives, especially when they feel persecuted and you, the parent, feel like the perpetual bad guy. Let’s face it, there are days when you want to send the kids to grandma’s and get them back when they’re 18. Those are exactly the days they need to stick to the diet that promotes their health, demeanor and focus.
Being a good parent is like being a good hunter. You just have to outfox your kids. Remove the items from the house that they can’t have and entice them with safe, healthy food that is delicious and convenient, and eventually, they’ll come around. Just don’t blow your cover by yelling “Gotcha!” when you see them pulling from the goodie drawer.
Amy Waczek writes a gluten-free, casein and soy optional blog featuring a recipe index and resource guide at www.amysglutenfreepantry.com.
Cinnamon Chocolate Snack Bars
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 12 small bars
1/4 c. butter substitute (Earth’s Balance is a good choice)
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1 1/2 c. organic quick oats (buy at your local health food store; make sure they’re organic)
1 1/2 c. puffed rice (also at the health food store)
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s brand is GFCF, Enjoy Life brand is GFCFSF)
1/4 c. agave nectar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
Oil an 8×8 glass pan.
- In a large saucepan, add butter substitute and grapeseed oil. Melt over low heat and add all remaining ingredients.
- Stir until chocolate is completely melted and remove from heat.
- Pour entire mixture into glass pan and press flat and uniform with spatula.
- Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Cut into 12 small bars and store in an airtight container.