Our two-month gluten and dairy-free experiment went well. We noticed some positive changes in health and behavior. However, a negative is that we discovered we were eating a ton more processed food: crackers, cereal, energy bars, gluten free cookies.
So this month we’re trying to move back toward what I’ve decided to call a “sane diet.” Not one hundred percent gluten-free or dairy-free (although I have to be totally gluten free), but instead focusing on eating real food. Food we make from scratch. Food whose ingredients we can pronounce. Food without lots of added sugar. The kids can have bread sometimes, but right now it’s David’s homemade sourdough bread.
Then when we’re out we let them out whatever is served. We’re going to try this method for a couple months and evaluate.
My focus for now is on healthy snacks. Snacks are hard: not just for my kids, but for me. I’ll be the first to say I’d way rather reach for a rice cake with peanut butter or a Pamela’s Whenever bar than veggies or fruit. David and I both know snacks are our weak spot, so we’re trying to work on keeping them out of the house. And if I want something sweet I can pick a recipe from one of our grain-free cookbooks.
There’s no magic way I’m going about this except for telling the kids that when we have snacks at home, they’re healthy snacks. Yes they hate it. Yes they complain. But in the end, if they get hungry enough, they eat it.
I found this snack tray idea somewhere online, and so far it has worked great. Okay, not great in that Judah and Amie eat everything in here, but great in that this is their morning snack option. I make up a batch of hummus at the beginning of the week, then chop veggies for the snack tray around 9:00 a.m. and keep it in the fridge. There’s no arguing, no requests for me to make a snack; this is it.
Afternoon snack has been great fun. I got this sliced apple idea from Against All Grain, and the kids love it (so do I). Amie and I like crunchy almond butter spread on apples and Judah prefers peanut butter (just make sure your nut butters don’t have corn syrup or added sugar). They add their own raisins. And yes, sometimes I’m definitely too lazy to make fancy slices and the apples still taste great.
Here’s today’s snack tray with grapes and almonds. I always wondered why my stomach hurt after eating almonds, but then learned about soaking them to remove the phytic acid. Now I feel great and since they’re a little softer, Amie gobbles them up by the handful. The other positive side of snack trays is that David and I end up munching on whatever’s left over at the end of the day instead of picking up chips and salsa.
A friend sent us this cookbook: Eat Like a Dinosaur, and Judah especially has latched onto it. There’s a story you can read to kids about why it’s important to eat healthy (or to “eat like a dinosaur”) and somehow it just clicked with him. He still asks for treats, but is much more positive about eating veggies and fruit than before. Lots of great ideas in the book too: it has transformed our lunch habits. But more on that another time!
I hope all this isn’t overwhelming. I’m just trying to take baby steps, but take them consistently. A friend told me she made the goal of making afternoon snack a healthy snack for her kids. That’s perfect. Just start somewhere, one thing at a time and don’t feel bad about not overhauling everything at once. It’s way better to make a small, lasting change.