|Feeding gluten-free bread to the cockatoos
I belong to this club, well, my kids do. They are both extremely picky eaters, feeding them supplements are still a challenge till this day. So my membership is by default, though not by choice. Even with the GFCF diet, my girls still refused to eat the gluten-free bread so easily available in supermarkets when we were in Sydney recently. In my opinion, those breads were yummy! And the GFCF food choices available were plentiful, not just in supermarkets, but even in small cafes and food courts, as more and more Australians are lactose intolerant or have celiac disease. But even then, the girls preferred to feed the ducks, swans, geese and birds in the park with the gluten-free bread.
Many biomed parents face the difficulty of giving their children the many supplements, most of them tastes awful. Until the day my girls can swallow capsules, we’ll still find tricky ways to smuggle them in. The TACA website had lots of suggestions on how to give supplements to fussy eaters like mine. I’ve smuggled supplements into spoonfuls of food eg. rice, sandwiches, peanut butter, GFCF ice cream. Most commonly, I add them to rice milk, though it took some getting used to. I even feed them rice milk filled with supplements and feed them at midnight when they are sleeping so they are less aware of the strong taste. I even made agar-agar, but they don’t like the texture. Some supplements taste fruity so you can add to juice, fill it in a non-clear sippy cup and encourage him to drink bit by bit throughout the day. I buy fun cups and glasses, even curly straws to encourage them to drink. Our favorite was to have drinking competition, where mummy, daddy, sister, maid and Maya race to drink from our colorful cups and curly straws:-)
|Yasmin eating rice with chopsticks
We went out for a Chinese lunch with our Australian family recently, Yasmin gamely ate 2 mouthfuls of plain rice with her chopsticks, though Maya refused to eat anything except a few GFCF biscuits we brought along as an emergency snack. But guess what? I was so incredibly proud of both the girls, for they both sat quietly in their seats, they didn’t scream, cry, fuss or fidget in the crowded noisy restaurant. They chatted away to Grandpa and Grandma, they were well behaved and happy. And they only played with the iPad and iPhone in the last 20 minutes of the long 2.5 hour mealtime. A huge change from 1 year ago. We usually try to feed them a good meal at home before or after an outing so that we can make sure they eat enough as well as be able to get the supplements in too. It’s a bit harder to add supplements into the food when we’re eating out, also the girls don’t eat much at all so all the supplement would go to waste anyway. Though I usually fill a little pill box with a few capsules of certain supplements and label them, so I can easily add the supplements into the milk bottles when the girls ask for milk when going out.
|Notice the broccoli… yes, she will eat it if distracted enough
I also have other unconventional methods which would be frowned upon by parenting experts. We have all met judgemental parents who give us oh so helpful advice on how to encourage healthy eating in our kids, on how to teach them to feed themselves. I have not been successful in getting the kids to feed themselves a complete meal just yet, the best we could do is 3 spoonfuls then they run away from the table. I also find it helpful when we feed them in front of the tv or when playing a game on the iPhone. I am always offered unsolicited advice on how to encourage our kids to eat vegetables, fruits and salads. Yes, there are little kids who eat salads!! Even sushi rolls and other disgustingly healthy wholesome foods, how do these parents do it?
|Note the girl next to Maya eating carrots and celery sticks
One mum I met at a kids birthday party has a 5 year old healthy neuro-typical daughter who refuses to eat birthday cake, instead she was happily tucking in to the carrot and celery sticks, strawberries and rock melon!the mum has obviously done something right, but I did not want to sit and chat with her. Especially when my girls refused the fruit platter and sausage rolls, yet were begging for a 3rd helping of the birthday cake. Respect to those mothers, but this mama is sticking to spoon feeding her kids chicken rice in front of the tv. Even though my girls didn’t eat fruit and crave birthday cake, I was more proud of them especially Maya. Considering that exactly 13 months ago, she couldn’t even be able to attend a birthday party, much less make friends with the other kids, join in the games nor enjoy the puppet show. I’d rather have the Maya I have today over a girl who would eat fruits and vegetables but not able to enjoy a birthday party.
I have melted dairy free chocolate and mix with crunchy GFCF breakfast cereal and mix with supplements then fill into tiny paper cups and chill in the fridge so they look like chocolate.
You can mix into milkshakes/smoothies- mix rice milk, fresh banana and maybe strawberries and blitz it in the blender. If u have a good blender, u can even add ice cubes in, they are incredibly simple to make and YUMMY! I have made cocoa with real cocoa (not Milo or Ovaltine please!) rice milk and a bit of sugar, xylitol, organic honey, maple syrup or your choice of sweeteners. Then mix a few supplements in, though we call them Milo at home:-) Alternatively, there are chocolate flavored soy milk, even vanilla and chocolate rice milk as an occasional treat. Though soy is ideally eliminated from the ASD child diet, personally I do give them soy based treats occasionally. When my priority is to ensure they take a particular medication eg. a course of antibiotics, or additional minerals during chelation rounds, then the soy-free diet is temporarily lifted.
A sure fire way to make sure my girls finish their supp
lements is to mix it into GFCF ice cream. Singapore has different brands and flavors of GFCF soy as well as rice ice creams, in KL you can buy soy vanilla ice cream from the Country Farms Organic shop in Bangsar Village 1, only costs RM10 per 1/2 litre tub if I recall. When we were in Sydney, we found so many brands of GFCF ice creams. Hopefully through growing demand, our supermarkets will start stocking them in Malaysia. I would mix a small portion of ice cream with one or two supplements, then place into small pretty bowls and chill them for 5-10 minutes back into the freezer as by this time the ice cream would have become a bit runny. When adding supplements that are grainy into ice cream, I usually top the ice cream with some colorful sprinkles, the kind you use for baking. I usually get the girls to help with the sprinkling. Then the girls think that the grittiness or crunchy bits are sprinkles:-)I save ice creams only for certain very important supplements, not for daily use otherwise the girls get too much sugar and additives. Worse, they’ll start expecting it daily and it’s no longer a special treat.
My girls loves juice in small popper boxes, so I would usually empty out a small box of her favorite juice, then mix a small amount of juice with water and whichever supplement, mix it well, then syringe it back into the box. Usually I fill it up only 1/4 full, to make sure she finishes it. That way, she’ll ask for more juice. I save the leftover juice for another time and supplement, so the 2nd round I’ll dilute the juice again and add a different supplement in. Syringing it back into the box sounds like a long slow process, but we have done it with great success and have become quite an expert at it, it only takes 5 minutes. Using a syringe with a pointy bit works quite well when adding the juice into the tiny straw hole. You can even try it with small Milo popper box and adding your own homemade cocoa or GFCF chocolate milk, with supplements too.
Advice to parents new to Biomed- this mostly applies to members of the Picky Eaters Club:-)
Starting the GFCF diet- change only 1 thing at a time, you already know how to mix a tiny amount of rice milk with the formula and gradually increasing the ratio. Next step is to choose one other option. For example, if your child LOVES biscuits and cookies, then change that one first with a similar GFCF option. if he’s a bread lover, then change the bread. if she’s a roti canai addict, then try to make your own homemade GFCF roti canai. In the meantime, cut out the MSG, preservatives, additives, food colorings, flavor enhancers and artificial sweeteners. Doing this alone improves your child’s diet and health IMMENSELY.
Giving supplements- introduce only 1-3 supplements a week, forget about the 12 other supplements first. Otherwise the task would seem monumental and you’d be completely overwhelmed. I recommend to start with a quarter of the dosage, firstly to get the kids adjusted to the taste gradually rather than bombard them with the full strong taste. Secondly to determine any bad side effects.
Get your ABA and special education team to help- start the compliance program for taking supplements or medicine by syringe or by spoon now! If your kids are slightly older or more compliant, then get your team to teach your child to swallow capsules now. I just wished I had started sooner, who knows, it could be easier than you expected. You may not even have to resort to smuggling in the supplements, it is possible you could end up with a child who will happily swallow capsules, have faith!
Here’s a few ideas on how my girls would take some of their basic supplements-
Calcium- add to rice milk in the bottle or sippy cup. Kirkman’s Calcium powder tastes very mild, virtually undetectable in rice milk. My girls hate Kirkman’s Cal/Mag Liquid.
Magnesium- Kirkman’s Powder Magnesium Glycinate Biomax dissolves well into any liquid, if added to water it just tastes like sugar water. Contains stevia, but my girls have no issues with it. Just about any brand of Magnesium Glycinate we tried in capsules when opened are gritty and tastes HORRIBLE!
Zinc- both my kids cannot detect zinc capsules when opened and added to rice milk. Zinc picolinate tastes slightly better than normal zinc. But lately, Maya’s taste buds can detect it, so we changed to Kirkman’s Liquid Zinc berry pomegranate flavor. Can be added to juice and tastes fruity.
Fish oil- I have tried many brands, initially when both girls were milk addicts, after I have successfully converted them to rice milk, they can tolerate half teaspoon of fish oil in the milk. As long as the fish oil is added into the milk at the last minute and they must drink it immediately, otherwise the taste turns bad. For the past one year, both girls prefer Prothera Eicosamax. However, experiment with different brands, many comes in lemon, orange and strawberry flavors.
B6, P5P,B Complex and Super Nu Thera- no matter what I do, my girls hated the taste of B Complex and SNT. All of these turns milk yellow. However, B6 and P5P are slightly more tolerable taste wise. For a while, we could add tiny amounts to spoonfuls of strongly flavored foods eg spaghetti bolognese. But now, I find mixing B6 or P5P with TMG in water makes it taste like plain water! But this is only possible once we were ready to introduce TMG. Before that, I would give it in rice milk mixed with magnesium powder, provided the room was dark so the girls can’t see the colour of the yellow milk.
Probiotics- can be added to rice milk, or mixed into food, mild taste. Again, Probiotics are live cultures, so make sure the milk or food aren’t too warm. Culturelle too tastes mild and ok in milk.
Sacchromyces Bouardii- Kirkman’s S.Boulardii capsules when opened smells yeasty, makes milk slightly cream colour and slightly grainy. My girls are fine when added to rice milk. Some kids can’t stand the taste. Klaire Labs’ S.Boulardii capsule when opened are white, fine textured, dissolves well in milk and doesn’t have any strong smell or taste. This is a crowd favorite.
Medicated antifungals/ antibiotics/ antiviral- Diflucan capsules when opened and Augmentin suspension tastes fine in rice milk. For much stronger tasting medications, I would mix into GFCF ice cream.
Vitamin C- usually in tablet or capsule forms, my girls can usually tolerate it in juice, though with Maya, we usually have to keep encouraging her to drink small sips all day long.
As part of the Picky Eaters Kids Club, I have cried over spilt milk, spat out food and wasted expensive supplements. I’ve had to wipe down tables, chairs, floors, walls, furniture and even my beloved iPad when the girls suddenly spat out something where they find the taste offensive. Note to self, never ever feed them yucky supplements when playing with the iPad!
One amazing mum I know mix huge amounts of supplements into a spoonful of coconut oil several times a day, mix it to a paste and feed it to her child by force. Not only is she an amazing and determined mum, she is also a brave woman, for her child is big, strong and is known to be a biter! I nearly choked when I saw her mangled finger which was so badly bitten that she nearly lost her finger. By hook or by crook, this resourceful mother finds creative ways to stick to the strict diet and complex protocol, even when on holiday in a remote 3rd world country whilst on a house boat in the middle of a river in freezing 4 degree Celsius weather! RR, I’m proud to be your friend, you inspire and lead by example every single day.
We all have many different methods that work for our children, you too will find what works best for your child. With lots of patience, imagination and a willingness to experiment, you can find the best ways to feed the supplements to your child.
Happy New Year everyone, may 2011 be better and brighter to us all. Just maybe, by New
Years Eve next year, we’ll no longer be members of the Picky Eaters Club. Say no more to smuggling supplements by 2012, who’s with me?