Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing their child with food allergies to any restaurant for fear of exposing him/her to an allergen that could make them horribly ill or worse. Yet, according to Restaurants USA Magazine, Americans eat out for 4.2 meals per week! Dining out with our families and friends is part of our social routine. It’s possible to enjoy this time together as a family, but it requires a bit of planning. One strategy that may soothe some fears is assembling your own “Restaurant Backpack” filled with everything you need to create a safe and fun dining experience for your entire family.
In a nutshell, BLW centers on the philosophy that babies are developmentally capable of reaching for food and putting it in their mouths at about 6 months of age. As stated on the BLW website “You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t.” Please note that the word “wean” is not referring to weaning from breast or bottle, but instead refers to a term commonly used in the United Kingdom for adding complementary foods to the baby’s current diet of breast milk or formula. According to the BLW website, ideas for first foods include “chip size” steamed vegetables such as a broccoli spear with the stem as a handle, roasted potato wedges, meat in large enough pieces for the baby to grasp and chew, rice cakes, cucumber, celery and dried apricots.
One particular family was memorable because both parents were security guards and they seemed to bring an element of their jobs to the family dinner table. They contacted me because their 5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, wasn’t gaining weight and was a “very picky eater.”
Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching, the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.