This is a follow-up to a previous posting, Coping with Food Allergies (Part 1).
As discussed in my last blog posting, it can be scary, frustrating and time-consuming trying to figure out how to manage your child’s food allergy, and understandably takes a big toll on the entire family.
3 Tips for Managing an Allergy
I would like to offer parents some tips for managing such an important aspect in your child’s life.
#1: Spend some time looking for allergy-free recipes, specific to the food you are avoiding. Building a collection of recipe’s your family enjoys will reduce cooking frustrations. Where would you find these recipes? There are many allergy-free resources available, such as allergy-free cookbooks, the internet, mobile phone applications, magazines, and your local library and county health department. Home life will become easier if you are able to prepare one delicious meal for everyone to eat. I discourage you from becoming a short order cook. As an additional time saver, purchase allergy-free, ready-made products so you don't have to make everything yourself.
#2: Meet parents who also have kids with food allergies and share tips with them. Support groups and allergy free blogs are both good avenues for pursuing this.
#3: Discover tricks for dealing with a “choosy” eater. It can be frustrating when kids want to eat the same thing every day, but it is not uncommon. Kids are often slow to accept new tastes and textures, so you may have to present a food 10 to 15 times before they will try it. Don’t give up! As the parent, also don’t forget the influence you have on your child’s food preferences. Children often eat what they see their parents eating, so try to be a good role model.
7 Tips for Navigating Your Picky Eater
Some children are simply less likely to try new foods, but here are some tips that may work for your child:
#1: Keep mealtime positive. Do not force your child to eat or make “deals” with your child (ie: “eat your vegetables and you will get dessert”).
#2: Allow your child to feed him/herself and offer safe finger foods.
#3: At each meal, make sure there is something your child knows and likes on the plate. Alongside the familiar food, place the unfamiliar food or food your child is typically “choosy” toward.
#4: When introducing a new food, encourage your child to touch, smell, lick, or taste the new food. Let them take their time “exploring” the new food.
#5: Kids love to dip! Use healthy dips such as yogurt, hummus, mustard, ketchup or low-fat salad dressings to encourage your child to eat fruits, vegetables, and meats.
#6: Involve your child in preparing the meal (like dropping cut-up fruit into a bowl for a fruit salad). Handling, smelling and touching the food helps your child get comfortable with the idea of eating it.
#7: Always offer your child what the rest of the family is eating, in toddler-sized portions. Over time, these choices will become as liked and familiar as their favorites.
For more information/resources on food allergies, please visit the following links:
1. www.mayoclinic.com, “Food allergies: Watch food labels for these top 8 allergens.”
2. www.eatright.org, American Dietetic Association
3. www.foodallergy.org, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Please stay tuned for my third and final blog post about food allergies!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods