Do you have a young child or teenager that is fighting you on staying on a gluten-free diet, or doesn’t even want to try it? When it’s not their idea, sometimes they need coaxing to get them onboard. Below I include an easy step-by-step plan that I created for you to follow. It’s nothing more than a sales technique, in this case, a diet. Good luck and let me know how it goes by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.
KIDS & THE GLUTEN-FREE DIET
How to Convince Kids That Eating Gluten-Free is the Right Choice
There are multiple reasons you may wish to place your kid on a gluten-free diet. They may have celiac disease and it is not a choice, but a necessity. They may be experiencing digestive issues which you think may benefit from a gluten free diet. There are a host of other reasons from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) to autism and wheat allergies to gluten intolerance. No matter the reason, there are a few simple steps to implement to get your kid(s) on board.
If your child has celiac disease, explain what the intestine is, a pathway for the food to travel. Nutrients are absorbed into the intestine to feed the body. Then the body rids itself of what it does not need, indigestible protein and junk, through the colon. Explain that gluten damages the intestine of people with celiac disease, but a gluten-free diet keeps them healthy and even repairs it.
There are four simple steps to convincing a child to eat gluten-free:
- ADDRESSING BAD EXPERIENCES: First, you want to address any considerations they have in this first step. If they have ever tasted any bad gluten-free food, tell them you have a plan to prevent that from happening again and that you’ll be doing this together. Explain that you’ll be using this cookbook that includes recipes that adults and kids have tried and enjoyed. A matter of fact, that’s why the title includes the word “best”.
If they’ve had other kids make fun of them for being on a gluten-free diet, explain that those kids will be begging for their food once you make some of the recipes in this book.
- FIND OUT WHAT SYMPTOM(S) THEY WISH WOULD GO AWAY AND PRESENT THE SOLUTION: Next, have them discuss their symptom(s). Through good communication, get them to the point where they admit that they want a particular symptom to go away. Sometimes you can simply ask them, “Do you want this to go away?” Then tell them, “There is a diet that may help [their symptom].” If necessary, explain what a diet is, eating special food to either improve a medical condition or to lose weight. Explain that in their case it may help their condition. Actually use the name of their symptom as they described it earlier. Provide them with the solution, a gluten-free diet.
- EDUCATE: Explain that something called “gluten” may be making them experience that symptom. Then explain that gluten is wheat, barley, rye, and most oats. Show them photos of those grains. Give them examples of common foods containing flour: cookies, bread, noodles, crackers, and cake. Get them to name a few more foods that are made with flour. Be sure to tell them that all of these foods can be made with a flour that doesn’t contain gluten and it will still taste great.
- PRESENT YOUR PLAN AND GET THEM INVOLVED: Next, make a gluten free diet sound fun. Explain how you’ll be trying new food from the store as well as making new recipes at home. Get them to agree to the diet. Then deliver. Don’t promise and not deliver. If you expect that you cannot deliver, it’s best not to promise at all. Kids are amazing. They tend to take us at our word, and then if we don’t keep our promise, they tend not to ever trust us again. Remember, kids are uneducated adults in young, little bodies.
SUMMARY: (1) Address and handle any of their bad gluten-free experiences. (2) Find out what are the symptom(s) they wish would go away and ask them if they want help with getting rid of it. Explain that a gluten free diet may help get rid of their symptom(s). (3) Define gluten (something you cannot see that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and most oats). Use photos of grains or food to show examples. List some foods containing gluten. Get them to list food containing gluten. (4) Make a fun plan to implement the diet and get their agreement to start the diet.
You don’t have to do all of the steps in one day. Just remind the child where you left off by asking something like, “Remember yesterday when you said that your stomach was bothering you?”
EXCEPTIONS: There are always exceptions to the rule. If you child doesn’t like to be told what to do and has huge control buttons, there are additional steps you may have to take. Comment below with any questions. It will help me to create further articles on the subject.
An Easy Way:
Don’t forget to keep your child involved in the decision-making process as well as cooking. And follow through on what you promise.
How to Teach Kids to Make Healthy Choices
The best way to teach kids to make healthy food choices is providing them with great-tasting, healthy food. They usually only care about taste and texture. Educate them about the nutritional values and the food groups on a level appropriate for their age and comprehension level. Next, explain the different choices that are available to them. As an example, in the protein group, using oat flour is smarter than using white rice flour. Why? Oat flour packs a full 7 grams of protein for 1/3 cup while white rice flour only contains 2 grams. Provide them with an analogy in which they would be interested. For a child interested in robots, you may wish to explain that our bodies do not store/save protein. Therefore, we need to recharge our bodies with more protein, just like robots recharge their batteries.
Knowledge really is power. Power yourself and then your kids.
How to Interest Kids in Gluten-Free Food
Cooking gluten-free with kids is no different than any other style cooking. Depending upon their age, lay out the rules for what they can and cannot have. Most young kids won’t even believe that they can get hurt by touching something hot or sharp. So, you have to bring this point home by providing real-life examples: a girl you read about or something you read on Facebook, to name a couple of starters. Just be sure not to scare them. You want to make things light and fun, if not funny. Concentrate on what they can have.
The Internet is full of gluten-free blogs and websites with amazing food photography. Show them photos of food and give them some choices. Tell them you will place the recipe in a binder to make a cookbook. When using a cookbook that doesn’t have a photo of a recipe, show them a photo from a similar item online and tell them you hope to make it look like that. Then, together, make some of the simpler recipes. When choosing recipes to make with kids, choose ones that are super easy if the child has a short attention span. Younger children often do.
Remember to add new ingredients, especially grains, one at a time.