Wow, you’re thinking, this mom got her kid to eat Wendy’s instead of
So on to the point, it’s that the changes to her diet came at an excruciatingly
slow pace. BUT, so did her speech and most other things we were working
on. I needed to place the diet as important as I did the others.
Once I did that, I changed her diet in ways I never imagined possible. The
girl who didn’t eat anything but processed meat now eats beef stew with real,
whole vegetables (not hidden) and her ‘dessert’ is a pear. That’s right, call
the Patron Saint of Eating because we witnessed a culinary miracle.
So, how did it happen?
I developed a plan. A LOOOONG range plan, that was broken down into the
smallest steps imaginable. Most of the time, I felt as if I was getting nowhere
and wanted to give up, give in and quit, but by reminding myself of the
importance of the goal, I forged on. Plus, as her diet improved, so did her
behavior. And that was all the motivation a desperate parent needs.
Through it all, trickery and deception were my best friends. With them, I
slowly morphed one food into another until her original diet was
unrecognizable. For example, hamburger became beef stew meat -
beginning with one strand of beef stew sitting on top of a burger, beef stew
eventually had sauce and finally vegetables... the transformation spanned
The best part was that once her sensory issues and yeast (causing the sugar
cravings) were under control - as the result of removing gluten, casein, soy
and sugar - the rest was fairly easy. Kids really do become open to healthy
choices if you can fix the gut issues causing cravings for unhealthy foods.
What about supplements?
To give her supplements, I realized I had to treat them as if they were
medicine and use the same vigilance. I would usually allow her to watch a
favorite tv show and come up behind her and just put it in her mouth. If she
spit it out, that’s was ok, I’d try again later or the next day.
Over time she's gotten so accustomed to taking nasty tasting things (usually
mixed in pear sauce) that she will feed them to herself. And I know, if your
child will barely take a multivitamin, you're saying, My kid would never do
that... but I WAS you, and not long ago, I swore my kid would never take X,Y,
Z or even eat a Green Gummy Bear.
If you’re looking for good ideas on hiding and giving supplements click here
The Bottom Line.
Full disclosure time... I had the luxury of working with her when she was still
fairly young (age 3), which made it easier... so if your child is young - start
The deceptive tactics I used were what worked for Caroline, I'm not
suggesting they will work for your child, I’m offering it more as encouragement
that the seemingly impossible just might be possible.
As a parent, you know your child best and can use your creativity to make
small changes. Over time they can add up and amount to something
incredibly significant. The most important thing is that you don’t give up!
One last piece of advice I offer is that not until we modified Caroline's diet,
was she able to maintain focus during therapy. A lot of time and money was
wasted on ineffective therapy for a child who couldn't pay attention. If your
child has attention issues, working on the diet and supplements might very
well pay off exponentially.
And Caroline now?
This week, when we drove past the renovated McDonald’s, Caroline was
happily eating her chicken breast cubes and butternut squash. As I glanced
at her in the rearview mirror, I realized that although I miss the adorable (but
essentially non-verbal) 3-year-old she used to be; I much prefer the almost 5-
year-old who's singing songs in the backseat… and thankfully, the food guilt
Two summers ago, Caroline lived on McDonald’s hamburgers, chicken nuggets,
pizza, french fries and cookies. No wait, that’s not right, she also ate giant
She blatantly refused fruit snacks, ice cream, anything with frosting and most
other things that even the pickiest eater would usually eat. Offer her a frosted
cookie and you’d swear you were dangling a spider in front of her face.
I tried all the usual tactics and even enrolled her in feeding therapy, where they
spent months trying to get her to move from a green M&M to a green gummy
bear, all the while I sat there, usually enviously eyeing the candy, wondering how
any child of mine could refuse sweets.
Two days a week, we went to Easter Seals for speech, OT and PT. During the
lunch break, we’d race over to the nearby McDonald's drive through. As we sat
and ate our burgers and fries, the guilt was nagging at me with every bite she
took, but I had no idea what to do.
And then, one day, it happened, the unthinkable… I noticed a sign at the
McDonald’s telling us “This location will be closed for renovation…” Literally I was
mortified. Thinking back.. mortified... about a McDonalds being temporarily
closed.. really?! But it was THAT bad. Caroline would literally starve herself
rather than eat something not on her short list of acceptable foods.
The Wendy’s sign across the street was calling us, but I knew Caroline’s
answer would be “EEEEEW!” and more starvation.
And so it began, the road to healthier eating began with Wendy’s. Talk about
As I disguised a Wendy’s burger in a McDonald’s bun and wrapper and snuck
a few Wendy’s fries among the McDonald’s fries, I wondered if deception was
the best way to solve this issue. You bet it was, because IT WAS WORKING.
She gave them a strange look, but ate them and eventually we were Wendy’s
May 14, 2011
Changing your Child’s Diet… one French Fry at a Time
When faced with the daunting task of changing Caroline’s diet, I was practically
certain I would fail. So sure, that I put off trying time and time again. Being up
against one of the worst eaters of all time was not a battle I wanted to partake in.
Yet still, I kept hearing how greatly a child's diet can affect their behavior and I
knew it was a battle I was going to have to choose.
Today, Caroline will eat almost anything and take a slew of yucky supplements.
People often ask how I did it. I wish I had a one-size-fits-all answer, but I don’t. All
I can do is tell you our story and hope it might help.
|For Regarding Caroline Blog notifications
|Since February 2010, Caroline's been on
the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
It's completely grainless and generally helps
children more than the GFCF diet.
Her language, attention span and behavior
remarkably improved and the SCD has
been critical in her recovery.
|Her sensory issues were so severe, she
would not touch the muffin. And notice
the duck... he was never far away!