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Special Diets: Finding Balance
February 2, 2010
I know that when you pick one foot up, your body works to balance all its weight on the foot remaining on the ground. Then, if you close your eyes, your inner ear and brain work to re-balance you. What I’m working at is trying to re-balance my mind-body and family food issues.
How do you balance the cost of special diet needs against the family’s food budget? How do you balance the dangers of mixing foods and contamination with the need or desire to let everyone in the kitchen and have everyone help with food preparation and chores? How do you balance the desire to entertain and be a good host or hostess with the needs of family members or guests?
I know that some families only provide gluten-free baked goods to the celiac family member, because of the cost of buying prepared gluten-free goods. One family has only gluten-free baked goods and snacks in the house, most of them prepared by a “stay at home mom” - but does that teach the celiac child responsibility for choosing his own foods and understanding that sometimes his choices must be different from those people around him?
One mom had a great solution--only “whole foods” were in the house. Want a wrap? It’s turkey and cheese and mayo--wrapped in the turkey. Snacks are fruits and cut up vegetables. She explains it simply, “I cook pretty much like my grandmother did. Three meals a day, balanced, few desserts, few snacks. The difference is that I don’t put biscuits or breads on the table. We finish or meals with fruit, sometimes ice cream. Dessert isn’t a big deal when you’ve had plenty of the basics. And fortunately, my boys seem to be able to really load up on the basics.”
Another friend confided that when she was first married she had no trouble at all with the “safe area” in the kitchen. Her husband was respectful of her needs and they easily worked together in the kitchen when preparing meals. Now with youngsters, she says it’s a whole new ballgame, especially since one has special food needs, one does not. Cross contamination becomes a real issue in this family.
And of course, entertaining is a whole other area! Is it better to simply ask friends with special dietary needs to please bring something they are sure they can eat - although this certainly is not hospitable unless you are strictly doing potluck? Do you make everything “safe” for everyone and simply ban problem foods from the house?
Or is this perhaps the best solution to this whole issue - simply ban problem foods from the house. Tell you non-celiac kids, “You want gluten? Eat it elsewhere!”
Am I being too harsh? Maybe a little un-balanced?