My guest blogger today is my daughter Michelle. As many other children, she has been on the receiving end of the well-meaning advice by her mother to eat her greens, then a conscientious change from white bread to wholegrain, cereal bars to school, “don’t eat that chicken skin” and many others in her 9 years. Over the last year we have managed to turn it 180 degrees and finally indulge her love of red meat, ribs, eggs and sausages. Along the way we have discovered that wheat, even in a tiny amount, triggers her eczema. This has been both a curse and a blessing. A curse because we realised that even a piece of battered salt and pepper squid can set off the dreaded red spots (funnily enough, even gluten-free products given to her by the well-meaning family members cause a breakout). A blessing because it gave Michelle extra motivation to avoid processed food.
I know I might have been a bit harsh on parents in one of my previous posts. Saying “no” to junk food has never come difficult to me. But I was little prepared for the onslaught of wheat-, sugar-, preservatives-, colours- and refined-carb industrial-strength garbage called ”kids food” and the incredible temptations faced by Michelle every day. I know that she feels different. And sometimes being different is a lonely place to be, especially coming up to your teenage years. I did not want to medicalise this into a “condition”: you can’t eat wheat because you are allergic. I wanted to teach her that all these kids around might not have her skin but shouldn’t be eating what they are eating anyway. In an attempt to show her that there are other children out there who believe in eating real food that doesn’t come in a box I introduced her to Paleo Parents website. Reading the stories of Cole, Finian and Wesley was eye-opening for Michelle. I recommended that she should write down her experiences and her thoughts and maybe it will make it easier for another child (or adult) to say “No, thanks” to the sugar-in-the-box cereal in the morning or a sugar-in-a wrap snack bar.
So without further ado, here is Michelle:
Before I changed my diet I believed the government which was encouraging the point that wholegrain is best. Now I know otherwise and so does my family.
Nowadays when I go to school I notice a lot more about what my fellow students eat. Everywhere there are children stuffing themselves with chips, cookies, cake and donuts. The healthy options for lunch are a sandwich, a wrap, a bagel or some sort of batter. All my friends ask why I don’t eat like them and they offer some of their food to me because they think I’m missing out. Other children who follow the same diet as I do know how hard it is to skip the temptations, even my parents do.
After I changed my diet I noticed that an average child’s daily meals consist of:
Breakfast: Toast, pancakes or cereal, sometimes sprinkled with malt or sugar
Morning Tea: Packet of chips, brownie, donuts or any other sugar treat with one serving of fruit
Lunch: A sandwich, wrap or bagel/bun with sometimes a chicken schnitzel, low-fat yoghurt, serving of fruit or veg and some more chocolate and lollies
Afternoon tea: cake, biscuits and fruit
Dinner: Pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets, garlic bread with soup
Desserts: Waffles, ice-cream, chocolate and milk
As you can see every meal has at least one serving of wheat or sugar in it. Every day I go to school I yearn to say to my friends: “You shouldn’t eat that, it’s unhealthy”. But I know I can’t do that because nobody will believe me. It is difficult for a child like me to explain the matter that big.
I like the way I eat now because I don’t get “sugar crashes” anymore. I don’t get tired and have naps after school like I used to. I find that when I used to have wheat I was always hungry. Eating cereal for breakfast made me starving before recess, and then lunch. Now eggs and sausage make me full for hours. I also like that I get to try things I would never have tried before which I never thought I’d like. I even tried chicken hearts once. The other day I tried baby octopus and it is now my #2 dish after osso bucco. I bring prosciutto to school and dare my friends to try it. If I had never changed my diet I would not be enjoying such great food.
We took some photos for you of my average day diet. Hope you like it.
Here is my breakfast.
I hope this helps some children and their parents to make better food choices.
I do too. Please feel free to share your journey across the muddy water of nutrition, conventional advice and real food in comments. Michelle and I would love to hear yours or your children’s story.