So, has anyone else got a bit too caught up in this food intolerance journey? Been super vigilant and strict with food, to the point of compulsion? I understand, there is so much to digest (pun intended) and so many foods that could be a culprit! But seriously, maybe it’s time not to take it too seriously. We all know shit can happen in life, kids can get sick and they can misbehave – for many reasons. So, it’s probably not the end of the world if we’re a little flexible and let them try something yummy as an experiment – and if it backfires miserably, and they have a really bad reaction, we just don’t do it again!
Being a bit flexible with diet, especially with kids, is a really good idea. It will make it easier to stick to long term, and lead to less conflict. I’m not suggesting let them eat crap! I’m recommending moderation. Let them try a little of the foods they’re intolerant to, every once in a while, so they don’t feel like they’re missing out, so they continue to build up a tolerance to it and to help you gauge how much they can eat before reacting.
There’s also the issue of anxiety. Being too strict and regimented with food, or not providing tasty alternatives, may lead to psychological issues with food later on. Many people have underlying unhealthy relationships with food. Food should be a source of enjoyment and nourishment, so we don’t want to foster anxiety around what can and can’t be eaten. Kids should learn to love food, enjoy sharing it with family and never feel deprived. There should always be alternatives, and a little flexibility, especially at social gatherings, as everyone likes to feel included.
Also, the narrower their diet remains, the more intolerant they’ll stay. The only way to break the intolerance cycle is by healing the gut, then gradually reintroducing foods. Some foods may cause a lifelong intolerance, and they may always need to be avoided, to keep the gut well. For us, it’s cow’s dairy – I still react with itchy eyes for days if I have a little bit of butter. Other food intolerances may be a symptom of compromised gut function, and so can be reintroduced once the gut is healed, slowly to test the limits. It’s important to keep pushing the boundaries and living through the (literal) highs and lows.
I say, give them a little piece of chocolate! Just a small piece, with no additives (not a whole Mars bar!) and then wait and see. If there are no problems, then next week you can do the same (and you have a very grateful little person). Don’t test all their intolerances at once. If you know that a small amount will cause a really bad reaction, then don’t do it. Wheat is something I don’t experiment with, but I do try other gluten-containing grains and many of them are fine for my kids. But you can only find this out by experimenting, so maybe being a bit flexible along the way is the best path. If you’re like me, and peace and freedom are pretty important, that is definitely the case.
Focus on nutrition, healing the gut and getting well and then exercise a little flexibility in their daily diet. It will keep everyone sane, help you monitor the changing situation with your child’s food intolerance, and most importantly, make for a much happier home.