We made it through the first week of attempting an elimination diet with my 6-year-old. After a week of wracking my brain for food ideas, fighting with my son and feeding him fruit while he was distracted watching Power Rangers, I have definitely noticed an improvement in my son’s mood and listening skills. He has been more pleasant to be around, with less whining and tantrums. He even has developed a sense of humor unlike before, cracking jokes and using goofy sayings that he never has in the past.
I shouldn’t really call what we are doing an elimination diet. My son is at summer camp during the day, where they serve a free lunch three days a week along with snacks. I picked him up last Tuesday and he was eating a Ritz cracker. That’s pretty much everything we are trying to avoid baked up into one buttery crunchy snack. At his point, perfection is pretty much impossible. I tried to pack him lunches which were fairly clean: sliced cucumbers or celery, bison burger with no bun, Happy Squeeze fruit and veggie pouches... most of this came back uneaten. One day he was physically sick because he had not eaten all day. As the week progressed I started including sandwiches made with one slice of Ezekiel bread or a gluten-free waffle, blue corn tortilla chips and gluten-free cookies. The main reason I gave him foods which are not part of the diet was to make sure he eats something, however this is his first experience at summer camp and I want him to have amazing memories. The other kids at camp are eating Lunchables, cookies and goldfish crackers. While I won’t give in that far, I was willing to offer gluten-free options so we both felt happy at the end of the day.
The real difference has been at breakfast and dinner. We have stuck to meat, veggies and fruits while he is at home and we can watch help him eat. He still seems to be having problems swallowing dense or fibrous foods like meat or fruit, so I have to sit with him and ask him to chew still. It can be frustrating, but the results I have seen are so motivating.
Here are some ideas on clean meals that my kids have enjoyed:
- Tea with gelatin stirred in. Every morning with breakfast my son enjoyed Egyptian Licorice Tea with a little grass-fed gelatin and raw honey stirred in. He loves it!
- Fruit! Fruit is in season right now so we are enjoying everything from watermelon to peaches to berries. I make sure to give each of my kids a large serving of fruit while I cook up something denser with protein.
- Nitrate free sausage. Ideally, I would get sausage from a local farm. I used a delivery service called Irv & Shelley’s Fresh Picks, which only delivers in my area. Farmer’s Markets often carry meat products from local farms but they can be pricey and hard to come by. We also purchase the brand below from our local grocery store, which does not give me migraines like most processed meat. To me, that says it’s not too bad although it is super processed. Sausage is a great way to get some protein in my boys at breakfast, so the brand below is better than nothing.
- Leftover Breakfast Cakes. I’ll admit that is the worst recipe name ever, but these are delicious and another great way to sneak some protein and veggies in at breakfast. This morning I used a bit of leftover salmon and three egg yolks. (I threw the whites away because my youngest is allergic and egg whites are definitely banned as part of our elimination diet.) Season with a little salt and pepper, then cook up like a pancake. They come out pretty well and taste delicious. You can use left over steamed veggies or even diced up spinach or onions. It will come out looking more like a mini omelette but tasty and nutritious nonetheless.
- I try to provide a protein, a fruit and a veggie in each meal along with a treat of some form. Here are some photos of what I sent for lunch:
Again, he did not eat the fruit or the vegetables unless they were in pouch form, so those have been a life saver. The jello and pepperoni he ate as long as I included an ice pack in his lunch to keep them fresh. He will eat crackers and bread any day… of course the thing I am trying to eliminate he loves the most. I started throwing in these or these cookies as well.
- Bison burgers. I made my own recipe and did not use egg so it was safe for all.
- Crock pot whole chicken. See my recipe here.
- Soup! I made my son drink soup or broth every night. I would put about a cup into a coffee mug and he drank it like tea. (He likes it that way.) I used the broth left over from the chicken. Check out my recipe for delicious green soup here.
- Burrito bowls. I sautéed the leftover chicken from the crock pot with some onions, cooked up some white basmati rice, added some cilantro, fresh tomato and avocado. With the right spices it was really good! Read about why certain types of unprocessed white rice are a better choice than brown here.
- Salmon. I was hesitant to serve my kids salmon for a really long time, but recent studies are coming out showing the natural selenium in salmon aids in mercury detoxification to the point eating salmon once a week is definitely more beneficial than not. Read this article by Chris Kresser to know more.
- Veggies from our garden. So far we have gotten wonderful green beans, tiny little onions and fresh basil. I just threw the onion seeds in a large pot, so I am having to thin them out as they grow. It’s really nice having the freshest organic produce ever to eat at home. If only we didn’t have sub-zero winters here!
Dessert & Snacks
- Nectarine ‘Yogurt.” Get my recipe here.
- Homemade Jello. Get my recipe here.
- Banana Ice Cream. The best version is just frozen bananas and a little almond butter. We added frozen strawberries last night… oh my GOD. You can also check out a super healthy ice cream recipe here.
I have spent a lot of thought and effort into food preparation this past week and I really feel it paid off. My son seems to be feeling better already. We did not eat out at all and I really focused on providing gluten, dairy, egg white and nut-free options for him. We are still avoiding as much as we can, but if he eats a cracker or two at summer camp it is not the end of the world. Life is about having fun, after all! We will see if anything changes with Week 2, as we approach the 4th of July holiday!