Category Archives: Food Kids Love

Should Kids Have Gluten?

Gluten has been shown to have deleterious effects on the average adult’s digestive system. But our dietary needs differ from childhood to adulthood. Could gluten-rich foods be an important part of a child’s diet.

An Analogy: The Role of Dairy in our Diets:

It’s a well known fact that the majority of humans cannot digest the main sugar in dairy products (Lactose). While a majority of people of European descent have developed a mutation that enables them to break down dairy, people of African and Asian descent almost universally cannot.

But most of us can digest lactose when we are children.

As we become adults, we lose this ability to digest milk. The evolutionary reasons seem obvious: as babies we are nourished by breast-milk, but we no longer need that nourishment as we become adults. Evolution didn’t count on us making cow’s milk a regular part of our diet.

So the question is: does gluten play a similar role in our diet? Perhaps wheat products are great for when you are a child, at home, growing food and eating it while the adult hunter-gatherers head out to capture meat and nuts to feed their families.

If this were true, then we’d see a pronounced different in gluten-intolerance in adults as compared to children. Unfortunately there isn’t much known about gluten and how it affects the body. While we know about Coeliacs and their life-threatening allergy, there are other forms of gluten allergies that express themselves via inflammation and hives.

Of course children’s sensitivities to gluten were one of the reasons it was first discovered in the first place. In the 1940’s a Dutch Paediatrician noticed that a bread shortage led to the improved health of several children who were chronically sick.

Why I Hate Kids Menus

My son was a picky eater.

No, let me rephrase that, because “picky” is a gross understatement.

My son practically didn’t eat from the time that he was about 18 months old until he was about 5.

It sucked. Getting him to try foods was a joke and getting him to eat the five not particularly healthy things that he would eat was an epic battle most of the time. I would put his food in front of him and in an instant it would be on the floor after he would perform a dramatic swipe with his tiny arm. I suspected that perhaps he was a spoiled prince, reincarnated, and imagined him bellowing, “I SHALL HAVE NONE OF THIS!” before demanding a beheading or a court dance or something.

I figure I should just give him some splendid kona coffee or something like it.

The foods that he would (sometimes) eat were frozen waffles, ham, these packaged noodles with a powdered sauce that probably contained a lifetime’s worth of sodium and chemicals, Spaghettios, and, of course, chicken nuggets and French fries. No vegetables, no fruit, no “real” food. He was in, like, the negative 20th percentile for his weight and he had to start drinking (expensive) PediaSure to supplement his nutrition. It was maddening. It was very much this (NSFW language ahoy!):

As frustrating as it was to hear, the advice that we just needed to be patient and to keep offering new foods no matter how staunchly he refused them was correct. After many tears and many skipped meals, he eventually got over it. I’m happy (read: relieved as hell) to report that at 10 years old he is now a healthy eater with a varied and healthy palate.

All of this is to say that I get the utter exhaustion that comes with parenting a picky eater and the eventual point of just wanting a picky kid to eat SOMETHING.

However.

I hate kids menus at restaurants. Hate them.

Let me explain.

Eating out at a restaurant is (or should be) a treat, an event, a special outing for a special meal. I’m not talking about hitting up the drive-thru on the way home from a recital, but a place that has, say, flatware not made out of plastic. My son is starting to exit the kids’ menu demographic, but he still is offered one from time to time, and I’m always disappointed to see the same old tired offerings of pizza, chicken fingers, fries, and hamburgers, especially when that is not the fare of the restaurant.

I can understand that desire to just have the kid eat something so that the parents can enjoy their meal, too, but kids’ menus are such a great opportunity to introduce or reintroduce (again) foods to kids. I’d really like to see kids’ menus be smaller versions of the regular menu. That way, there’s no option of a chicken finger fall-back and kids start getting the idea that their pickiness isn’t okay.

I realize I’m being idealistic here, but there’s no way that my kid would be cool with eating sushi now if he had always been allowed to just order some fries instead.

When you take your kids to restaurants, do you let them just order from the kids’ menu? Or do you urge them to try something that the restaurant offers to regular diners?