Adrienne came to me when she wanted to try getting her kids on the GAPS™ Intro Diet for the second time. She had attempted once before and now they were following what she called the Full GAPS Diet. When I had her explain to me in detail exactly what her three children were eating, she described a lot of sweets, and what I consider GAPS-friendly junk food. What other people might call kid food.
The biggest problem I saw with her approach was that she was trying to make all of her food “kid friendly.” Since her kids only liked things that were sweet, that meant she was adding honey in great quantity to pretty much everything, including the broth. In addition, she was spending all kinds of time in the kitchen creating food in “fun” shapes, like dinosaurs, that she thought her girls would more readily accept.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t really seeing much progress with their sensory issues. She came to see me out of frustration, because for all the work she was putting into these dietary changes she didn’t see great results like she expected.
While the GAPS Diet is a lifestyle change and requires a lot more cooking than most of us are used to, Adrienne was making it even harder on herself by trying to live up to some notion of foods that kids prefer to eat. I’m not saying that food should never be made into creative shapes, but that should not be the norm!
I want to set the record straight about one thing today: there is no such thing as “kid food.” Children are human. “Kid foods” are a marketing invention. For 100,000 generations, children ate the same foods as their families after they were weaned from breast milk. Your children need to eat nutritious whole foods, just like you do. Kids are developing and growing like crazy so they need whole foods more than adults! Children need a steady supply of animal protein, and plenty of fats, to fuel the development of their brain as well as the growth of all of their organs, bones, and tissues.
It’s perfectly normal for your kids to not like a certain food the first time they try it, but it needs to be offered again and again. It takes somewhere between 8 and 12 tries before we decide that we like most things.
If your child has sensory issues you may need to adjust to their texture or temperature preference at first, but don’t fall in to the trap of making everything a “nugget” for the next 6 years. Keep offering normal foods again and again so they have the opportunity to adjust over time. Use food therapy strategies for sensory issues in conjunction with nourishing foods, so the nutrition and the therapy work together to get better and quicker results.
Let’s get real – how many 30 year olds do you know who still love McD’s chicken nuggets, fries, or macaroni and cheese, and don’t really eat vegetables? Lots! The sooner you break your kid out of this pattern the easier it will be for them to accept more food in its natural state, which sets them up for a lifetime of vibrant health.