How To Go Gluten-Free Without Giving Up Your Favorite Comfort Foods

6 Lessons Easy

About this course

As any mom can attest, feeding kids can be a real challenge.

You have the picky eaters who try to secretly toss their untouched food to the dog; the kids whose taste preferences change as fast as they change their muddy soccer shoes; and the children who just want sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Throw food allergies or intolerances into the mix and creating a meal kids enjoy starts feeling like an impossible task.

In my family, we all eat a gluten-free diet—including my four kids, who range from 5-16 years old. We adopted a GF lifestyle before my two oldest sons even reached school age, and my youngest kids have been eating gluten-free since the time they were born  (The only exception was one trip to Paris when my daughter got to experience a gluten-laden croissant … she still talks about that croissant sometimes).  I must admit, though, I’m proud to say my kids are all good eaters and understand the importance of smart food choices.

So How Can You Get  Your  Kids Excited About GF Meals?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Keep reading for my top tips and tricks:

1. Educate & Keep An  Open Dialogue

When kids are really little, you get to control everything that winds up on their plate and in their mouth. But, at some stage (and before you know it), your kids will be big enough to open the fridge and eat whatever they want. There will come a point where they’ll go off to school and watch their friends dig into a tupperware container filled with a sandwich and some mac and cheese. They’ll attend birthday parties where pizza and ice cream are aplenty.

These are all just facts of life.

The best thing you can do as a parent is educate your kids about the importance of good nutrition when they’re young. The younger, the better!

I do this by turning cooking-time into a game, where my kids have to guess which ingredient is healthier. I have an open dialogue and teach them that healthy foods will make them feel good and give them lots of energy to play. In other words, I make “gluten-free” and “healthy” fun for them! It’s a message that I push almost every day.

Whether your kids need to eat gluten-free for medical reasons or you’re encouraging this lifestyle for other health reasons, it’s your job to make gluten-free friendly, enjoyable, and important to your little ones.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Do

Before your kids reach the age where they view you as embarrassing and un-cool, you are their role model and hero! If they see you doing something, they’ll want to do it too. This starts when children are just babies, as they imitate facial expressions and hand movements. Research shows this same “monkey see, monkey do” behavior, carries into eating habits.

Here are two key things to keep in mind:

  • Model good food choices by showing your kids what healthy foods are loaded on your plate and offering to feed them the same thing.
  • Research shows children can actually pick up on your attitude toward food. So take things one-step further and demonstrate a healthy attitude toward food as well.

3. Let Them Help In  The Kitchen

Kids love to feel included and needed. Getting them involved in food shopping and meal prep has actually been proven to get kids more interested in healthy eating. Makes sense, right? When they’re proud of their creation, they’ll want to dig in.

4. Make It Taste Good

As you’ve learned in this course, nowadays, you can easily whip up gluten-free versions of the traditional comfort foods kids love and crave. And the best part? You don’t have to skimp on flavor. This may sound pretty straightforward, but if you want your kids to feel satisfied with gluten-free foods then you have to make them taste as good as the real deal. Play around with different recipes and experiment until you find the flavors that make your kiddo oohh and aahh.

5. Make Sure Your Kids Are Actually Hungry At  Meal Times

In the book  Nudge , authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein writes of an experiment they did in a school cafeteria to try and determine whether the placement of a particular food at the buffet line influenced kids’ choices. Sure enough, choices displayed at eye level, and the ones most accessible, were chosen most often. The take-away? Make sure your kids are really hungry when they sit down for a meal, and offer naturally gluten-free veggies or the healthiest option first. If healthy foods are the most accessible and their little tummies are famished, they will be more likely to eat what you’re offering.

6. Don’t Forget To  Let Them Indulge Every Now and Then

Remember back to Lesson 1 when I talked about the whole 90/10 rule? It’s where you eat whole foods 90% of the time and splurge on gluten-free treats the other 10%. Well, I my kids follow this same method. Allowing and encouraging kids to enjoy a gluten-free brownie on weekends or a little gluten-free, dairy-free ice cream with their friends will make a better way of eating sustainable in the long run. Remember: Kids are kids and the last thing you want is for them to feel denied. ( P.S people are often surp rised that we have a fully loaded  candy  drawer at home for the 10%!)

7. Don’t Stress About The  Things You Cannot Control

All that truly matters is that you try your best to give your kids a healthy start in life. Model the type of person you want your kids to become inside and outside the kitchen, and enjoy your healthy adventures.