I’ve recently found out that my child has food allergies. He’s five and and has high food sensitivities. We have to eliminate dairy, gluten, eggs, and citrus 95% for the next 3-6 months. My son is very sad to see his favourite foods go. How do I help him process this? We have talked about what his body likes and what his body doesn’t like, but it is still hard. Thank you. Amanda
Focus on the positive!
First, I’d find things that he can eat. Take a night off and go on a health food hunt. The area of natural foods has really grown over the last few years and there are some surprisingly yummy things that would fit his new dietary requirements. There are at least four great natural health food shops in Calgary (as I understand that’s where you are), so I’d firstly I’d try and find things he can eat. I’d go on your own though because you’ll be doing a lot of label reading and that would just be frustrating for him.
Remember how you handle it will determine how he handles it
But no matter what way you play it, he’s going to have to give lose his favourites. Remember children base their perceptions about the world on your perceptions. If you take this news in stride and try and make the best of it cheerily, he will too. If you look at him with sad eyes, every time he spies the cheese, he will believe himself to be denied and act accordingly.
You could help him by perhaps giving up something too. If that’s the case though it’s best to do it in a way that looks as though you have naturally run up against some food barriers yourself. You can say to him, “You know my doctor said that (whatever treat) I have at night isn’t good for me, so I’m going to have to give up….. too.” Just removing one thing is really all that’s necessary. It’s just nice to have him feel like he’s not attempting this all alone.
I think the discussion of his body’s like’s’ and ‘dislikes’ is an excellent idea of yours. You also suggest this isn’t necessarily long-term ie. it involves the removal and then gradual introduction of foods. It might be fun then to buy a calendar and mark on it the dates when foods can be re-introduced. It might give him something to look forward to. Perhaps you can have ‘way’ points with the odd treat he can eat.
Other than that, when he’s been a good boy, surprise him on occasion with a gelato. I think that you can get non citrus flavours and it’s not made out of milk. Unfortunately, that’s really all you can do. For more information to help with any other behaviours, please check the services page.
Hope that helps.