Children have very particular palates. One day they love something, the next day they act like you are trying to poison them with the same food they said they loved. Feeding your child becomes even more challenging when you need to place your child on a restrictive diet for medical reasons.
About a year ago, we had to put one of our twins on a restrictive diet. Starting off was a bit challenging, but overall I think she made a fairly smooth transition. Here are a few tips that helped us all adjust to her dietary needs:
Talk to your child. Don’t underestimate how much your child understands. Being honest with my daughter about what we would be cutting out and limiting in her diet was one of the best ways we helped her adjust. Once she started feeling better and her symptoms were going away, she was able to understand more fully how her new diet helped her. At 4 years old she knows what she is allowed to eat and what she needs to stay away from.
Seek reputable medical advice. When your child is not feeling well it is easy to turn to the Internet to find a cause and cure. But let’s face it, the Internet cannot “lay hands” on your child. Be very cautious of the advice doled out online. Consult your physician before you try anything. If your child is required to follow a diet, request a visit with a nutritionist. We were fortunate to have been able to consult a pediatric nutritionist. She not only had dietary advice, but was able to counsel us on shopping and behavioral issues that might arise with a young child on a restrictive diet.
Find support. During a casual conversation I learned my friend’s daughter was going through the same medical issue. Her biggest need was help with grocery shopping. She didn’t know where to begin. Many medical conditions have support groups or mentors. If you are unable to find support, ask your medical provider if they can connect you with a resource.
Rally family and friends around you and your child. Our entire family was well aware of my daughter’s medical issues and bought into her diet “hook, line and sinker” – so much so that we have all restricted our diets to support her. This very small sacrifice from all of us has made it easier for my daughter to accept her diet and stick to it. Also, remember to educate extended family and close friends.
Inform the school. Don’t forget about your child’s school! If there is any institution that is accustomed to dealing with diet restrictions, it is your child’s school. Get them on board as soon as possible. We have been very fortunate that our school has been so accommodating to our daughter’s needs.
Do you have a child on a restrictive diet? How did you and your child handle the change? What worked best and what didn’t?
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