Children can be picky eaters even under the best of circumstances, but when they are allergic or sensitive to certain foods, feeding them right becomes twice as hard. Certain problems, such as lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivities, can cause a complete alteration of their diet, and you may be concerned they are not getting all the essential nutrients in what they eat.
Focus on What They Can Eat
Too often, diet restrictions are centered on what kids can’t or shouldn’t eat. This negative mindset is discouraging for both kids and parents. Instead, try to emphasize those foods that your child can tolerate and that they like.
Sit down with your child and make a list of their favorite foods that are not restricted. Separate those foods into nutrition groups such as high-protein, high-fiber, vitamin-rich, and so on. Then, discuss how to make meals from those foods that provide sufficient and balanced nutrients.
Many times you can find substitutes that are just as tasty and satisfying as the restricted food. For example, if the child is lactose intolerant, you may be able to find lactose-free yogurt, which is high in protein and probiotics. Non-dairy milks can make sure your child gets enough calcium.
There are many gluten-free substitutes easily available at the supermarket for breads and baked goods. A child with nut allergies may be able to substitute sunflower butter for peanut butter. It is also high in protein and healthy fats.
It’s better if kids can get all they need from food, but that’s not always possible. Children with diet restrictions are often deficient in key nutrients such as potassium, selenium, magnesium, and iron. Talk to your pediatrician about using supplements wisely to fill the nutrition gaps your child might have.
Taking too much of a vitamin can have harmful effects, but carefully administered supplements can provide your child with missing nutrients. A simple multivitamin or fiber supplement may do the trick, at least until your child adapts to his new diet.
Diet restrictions can make it tough to plan meals that will give your child all the nutrients needed to carry through the day. It’s a new way of eating and cooking. But by working together with your child, and with the help of your physician, you can make mealtime both pleasurable and nutritious.
Check out this article on what to limit in your child’s diet!