If you’re watching your kid’s diet so that they don’t eat food that will make them melt down, you know how tricky it can be if you are not affected by those same foods. Errors will happen, mistakes will be made, your kid will have a serious diet infraction. Like what happened to us last month.
On my 50th birthday, my husband surprised me by buying me a beautiful cake based on the insanely delicious chocolate orange cupcake from our local cupcake vendor. It was FABULOUS but much bigger than he thought it would be. We ate it, shared it, froze it – whatever we could do to make the cake disappear without gaining a billion calories overnight.
But when I woke up the next day, my little minion had gotten up in the wee hours of the morning, defrosted the cake, cut a slice and ate the top half.
She was glutened but GOOD. The dairy didn’t have nearly the effect of the gluten. I’ve always wondered how gluten affects her, since I didn’t see much response when we removed it. I now have an answer:
IT MAKES HER NUTS!
And did I mention:
While we were still reeling from that, the NEXT morning, she ate a whole box of my husband’s cookies – the ones she never touches. And just like that, I became a Food Nazi*! By Thanksgiving, I had (again) mastered the art of food contamination prevention and not a single illicit crumb was swallowed. (Although, yea, I did yank some cheese out. See my note below.)
If you have lots of family, friends and school events looming ahead of you, here is how to get prevent a diet infraction from taking place in the first place, at the holidays and beyond:
How to Prevent a GFCF Diet Infraction
1. Make a list of your upcoming meal-centered events.
In the winter, I’ve found it helpful to actually list which days they will be exposed to foods between Halloween and the end of the year: 3 school event parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, possibly a New Year’s Eve party and possibly one church event. When you count them out, for me that means 6-8 food events. Not as bad as my mind always makes it out to be! Listing out events that you know will be cropping up will help you plan.
2. Stock your pantry well.
This is not just so you can have a holiday baking frenzy. Stuff happens. Bags of flour tumble from top shelves. Children dump all the eggs, chocolate and random junk into a bowl to make sludge that stiffens. Vanilla evaporates. HAVE EXTRA ON HAND! Buy extra flour, extra chips, extra vanilla – whatever it is to craft the foods they are most likely to cheat with: rolls, pasta, cheese platters. It’s time to substitute.
3. Rule with an iron fist.
You have kids with special needs so it’s TOTALLY OK IF YOU HELICOPTER ON FOOD. You can give them some room in other areas, until they are wise, smart and mature enough to understand how those foods help them. It’s the only way to be vigilant enough to do whatever you need to do.
4. Stop eating the restricted foods yourself.
My husband and I are SO bad at this but to be honest, usually their diet infraction takes place in our own home with restricted foods we haven’t stopped eating. I’m more vigilant at outside events and I have a crafty child who wakes up hours before us. Must. Resist. Glutens!
5. Make free-from foods that are irresistible.
Let’s face it: home cooked almost always tastes better, so make cleaner versions of what they love. You might have a tough time with Goldfish, true, but you can do other items! Get super creative and work out a substitute they still lover. Around here, if it looks and tastes chocolate, the kiddos are happy, like the time I made carob sunflower seed butter cups. (They were an epic fail in looks.)
6. Find clean brands you trust.
If you’re like me, a non-cook, you don’t like tip #5, so instead find brands that sell kid-friendly foods that you can approve. For us, that means Enjoy Life, Daiya, So Delicious, etc. Keep researching and re-reading labels, so you can expand your options and give more choices to your kids.
7. Know ALL your sources of restricted foods.
Did you know that Rice Dream uses barley to process their product? They claim they are gluten free to required US levels for the label (20 parts per million), but there are tales of people getting “glutened.” We tried both Rice and Almond Dream early on but learning about this turned me off of their product. Cross-contamination and dairy in some products are the reasons we don’t eat the very delicious Pamela’s brand. You need to make sure you know every trace of what’s in what when buying those brands – and that includes processing and other products they make, whether they share equipment, etc.
8. Recommend alternatives to a grade school holiday party.
This year we are so grateful that rather than a Christmas party, the kids will see a Christmas movie to end the year. YAY! I can handle sending in goodies for that, even hot chocolate, and I’m way less worried about a cheat if there’s no cookies and cakes. I didn’t even have to recommend it, but I’ll be keeping that idea in my back pocket.
9. Get some help.
At a crazy time of year like the winter holidays, preventing diet infractions will fast track you to the land overwhelm, so get as much help as you can. For this Christmas, I took a pre-emptive strike and have already ordered a dozen GFCFSF cupcakes from my trusted baerk. Without a 4th grade party, this is even MORE helpful. All I have to do is make Christmas food, yay! And we might make cookies, because last year, that was fun. So take those shortcuts, enlist the kids’ help, buy pre-made foods, engage bakers – whatever it takes to make your life easier!
The point, moms tend to take all this stuff on ourselves. It’s time to let a few things go so you can enjoy your life – and are not too stressed out to parent properly. That’s the key, right? Enjoying your family. Before you know, they will be adults and you’ll wonder why you spent so much time stressing over cake.
Those are 9 steps you can start RIGHT NOW to prevent a diet infraction – and keep your calm before an infraction wrecks your month. If you do have an incident, here are my tips on how to detox your child from holiday food cheats.
*A Food Nazi is a person who will go to extreme and insane lengths, to prevent someone from eating something. With a kid with food sensitivities, this is the mom who will stick her whole hand in a child’s mouth, at great risk of personal injury, to get the offending food item OUT before it slides down the gullet. It’s not fun and not pretty but it has to be done!