Thanks to Zac’s food intolerances and all of the ‘exclusions’ and ‘challenges’ he has been faced with, we have been left with a very fussy child. It wasn’t always this way. Before he got ill with swine flu, he was a joy to feed. A happy little one year old who would eat and could eat everything I put in front of him.
I love to cook and eat and have always been determined that my children would grow up to love food and be healthy! I did all the things we are encouraged to do. We did a bit of baby led weaning, we also did a bit of ‘Annabel Karmel’ and I threw in my own recipes and did all I could to make sure his diet was varied, interesting and balanced.
It is only when I look at photos of him as a baby in his high chair, that I remember there was a time when he used to eat a babybel or a petit filous and not throw up or explode out of his nappy a few hours later. He used to eat Shreddies for breakfast and he loved Marmite and cream cheese sandwiches, garlic bread, crackers, any pasta and pizza. He loved his fruit and veg too and would eat them so happily.
Now we have a daily struggle. He is great with his breakfasts and will eat a variety of the cereals, some fruit, yoghurt, his special toast and spread or any combination of the above. Lunch is more of a challenge, as that bread is a bit rough and there is not much you can actually put in a gluten free, wheat free, dairy free sandwich. Zac likes marmite, but actually seems just as happy with just plain ‘bread’ and ‘butter’.
Dinner is a huge challenge. He loves ‘pasta’, and will eat most sauces I cook up, so long as they are quite well whizzed up. He is ok with rice. Sometimes loves it, sometimes won’t even touch it. Not a lover of potatoes. But he does enjoy potato waffles and I have now added ‘pizza’ back on to his list of favourites.
It is a real ‘cheat’. The ‘free from’ pitta breads or pizza bases are safe for him and I just buy a jar of ‘normal’ pizza topping off the shelf in any supermarket. Most are safe, but I always double check before buying. Just smear a spoonful on to the base and bake in the oven. You can make it more interesting by decorating it with various vegetables, e.g. peas, sliced tomatoes or even some olives to make a face. But Zac is very happy with just a handful of sweetcorn carefully arranged to look like a big smiling face.
As Tom has found a ‘fake/safe’ mozzarella in Holland and Barrett, I decided to give it a go today. I discussed it with Zac and showed him the cheese before we put it on. He was keen so we went for it. Less than five minutes later and it was done. Looked like a ‘real’ pizza and smelled great too. We cut it up into little triangles and arranged it in a fun way on his plate. He took one look and burst into tears – ‘cheese is ‘begusting’ and gives me the tummy ache’. He pushed the plate away and begged for a a new one with only tiny cheese – by that he means tiny sprinkle of the fake parmesan we recently discovered. It is called Parmazano, made by MH foods and available in Waitrose and Sainsburys. www.mh-foods.co.uk
So another £2 wasted on the fake mozzarella. I will try again with the cheese, most of the bag is still left in the fridge and it looks pretty good. But this episode just highlights the problem I face with feeding my intolerant child. All that ‘good work’ I did when he was a baby was for nothing.
Now thanks to a horrible illness he has been left unable to eat and enjoy many foods. He is old enough now to understand that he cannot have a lot of foods because they make him unwell. He is so good at checking with me before he bites into anything. But the flip side of that is he is now so anxious about trying any foods that look new that we are stuck in a rut. I know we will get there in the end, but it feels like we still have a mountain to climb and it is going to be hard work and so costly.
But for those of you with less fussy ‘intolerant’ children, it is definitely worth trying the fake cheeses and making a pizza face. It is super quick, looks fun at the very least and is a nice way to involve them in the preparation of a meal, which everyone says is the key to ‘fixing’ fussiness in kids!