My Kid Is Too Picky For GF

Same with mine!!  I can so relate to this sentiment.  And all the other reasons I told myself that GF was not a viable option for us.  At one point she was too young (she wouldn’t understand whys he couldn’t have her goldfish crackers anymore – and lose her mind) then, she was too old (she will cheat when she is with friends so what’s the point?!).  It’s too complicated, too expensive, too restrictive on and on.

But her level of PICKY about food was the #1 reason it was never going to happen.  At its worst (when she was 10) she was only eating 3 things Yogurt, ice cream and Pediasure.  At it’s best she had a list of just under 60 “safe” foods that she would eat.  We wrote them down at the advice of her O.T.  Sixty foods actually sounds like a lot but 10 of those were potatoes just done in different ways.  Five were pasta and that list also includes condiments and drinks.

As well, even those 60 foods came with issues.  She was brand specific and no substitutions would be tolerated.   Chicken was dissected like she was a well trained surgeon.  Pasta could be dismissed if it was over or under cooked.  The very few fruits and veggies that made it onto the list were the most vulnerable.  They had to be pristine.  No blemishes and nothing “yucky”.  I can’t give you specifics about what was yucky because the flaws were invisible to the untrained eye.  If fruit was cut and was delayed in getting to her (by say…4 minutes) it was unacceptable because the edges were already starting to go soft and she couldn’t tolerate how mushy it was.   Worse, almost everything on there was filled with Gluten and/or Dairy.

I won’t lie, I didn’t just take THAT kid and drastically change her diet.   But, everything happens for a reason and two and a half years ago she gradually became unable to swallow.  As I said, at her worst she was only eating yogurt and ice cream unable to tolerate or manage anything else.  Sometimes she struggled to swallow her own saliva.  We were fortunate enough to find the most AMAZING Occupational Therapist who specialized in food issues and was the highest certified Canadian Occupation Therapist in the world.

Initially she assessed the areas of weakness and therapy consisted oral motor exercises.  When she finally regained the strength we moved on to learning how to like food again and that was what really broke down the anxiety and fear that she had about food.  It was fun and she was always in control and never forced to go further than she was comfortable.

By the end of therapy she was willing to taste virtually anything.  She sampled pickled fish, pickled eggs, exotic meats and other strange foods from around the world.  As we progressed I often shopped in international food markets to find unique foods to try in therapy.  All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to visit on food therapy day (and we let them!) and having other kids there motivated Sara to be brave and  try things like them.

Hands down this previous experience was what made switching over to Gluten Free possible for us.   Then, by giving her complete control over what she ate, we were able to prevent those feelings of being deprived and made the process less daunting.  Ultimately the results are what keeps her going.  She now knows how it feels to feel better and she is motivated to stick with it.   Again, this is not a diet that will work for everyone but it is a diet that is worth TRYING.  Best of luck!


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