I answer SO MANY questions about Gluten Free Challenges, Elimination Diets, and Food Sensitivities, I can’t even tell you. The biggest challenge is when children need an elimination diet – parents need recipes & resources (a plan!) to get the family through the diet, and to identify the issues their kiddos have. When I heard about Gina’s story and her Feed our Families blog & book – I knew I had to check it all out. (And not just because I once attended a WWF Wrestlemania with her husband.)
What I found was amazing: Gina’s book is the single best resource for taking children though an Elimination Program that I have ever seen. I asked her to do an interview, to contribute to G-Free Foodie, and to be my friend (that part was inferred, but I’m pretty sure she’s all in. I’m fun.) She agreed and shared her Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Steal Cut Oats recipe too. Read more about my new friend Gina Rau, our shared love of Salted Caramel, and score a 50% discount on her book. KC
1. Food Sensitivities – How many are you working with and what are they?
My son is highly sensitive to artificial food dyes and we suspect other artificial ingredients. His reaction is so severe, that he has willingly avoided them since kindergarten, even passing up candy and other treats (though we do a good job of always bringing alternatives for him). He is also sensitive to dairy. We kept it out of his diet completely for over two years, and now he can have some cheese about once every two weeks and seems fine.
2. Is squirminess and ADHD like symptoms the only reason you took your family members through elimination diets?
We realized that artificial food dyes were a big issue after he drank a clear sports drink one day and totally “spazzed out” – jumping, waving his arms, etc. until he ended up begging for me to help him stop – because he couldn’t on his own.
His kindergarten teacher noticed that he simply couldn’t sit still and we knew he had always been super active. After talking with our naturopath, she suggested a food challenge to see if food sensitivities were contributing to his activity level. We took blood tests prior to the food challenge but dairy didn’t show up as an issue, and citrus and eggs did! They were so wrong.
My husband has a dairy sensitivity so it’s no surprise that my son would. After doing my own food challenge, I learned that I have a gluten sensitivity so I’ve removed that from my diet and feel a million times better. The reality is that most of us have a food sensitivity or are intolerant to something but we often ignore the bags under our eyes, inflammation, moodiness or tummy troubles because most times we’re sensitive to the things we love most.
3. Are there specific ingredients that you think everyone should eliminate from their diet?
While I’d love to recommend we all eat a real food, organic diet with mostly plant-based foods, I know that’s not realistic or even possible for most of us. I do believe that artificial ingredients, like food dyes made from chemicals in a lab, should be banned from our food system due to the harm they can do to our most vulnerable consumer: our children. Unfortunately, they’re in almost everything children love!
4. We are so excited about your new book “Is Food Impacting Your Child’s Behavior?” – It’s incredible! Tell me why you wrote it.
Thanks! When we set out on our food challenge, our naturopath told us what to remove for three weeks and how to reintroduce foods but we had no plan for what we’d eat! I spent so much time online researching recipes and my husband spent what seemed like days in the grocery store reading labels. We’ve seen the benefits of determining what our child was sensitive to and want to help other parents do the same – but without all the hassle of putting the plan together!
We’d also love to see more families rid their child’s diet of artificial ingredients. Trust me, if we can do it, anyone can! The kid-friendly recipes in the book like macaroni and cheese, smoothies, and Silly Dogs (my daughter’s favorite!) make it easy to do it!
5. I grew up with your husband, Justin, in Central California. How have his roots influenced your cooking?
I’m fortunate to have a book of his grandmother’s recipes, and some of his other grandmother’s recipes that are his favorites. We’ve had to adjust some of the ingredients, but we both like knowing we can pass along family traditions to our kids. We also point out when we eat things that his grandfather grew on their farm like raisins and almonds – two of my kid’s favorite snacks, especially together.
6. OK, I’m asking…Tell me about your food tour that included everything from McDonald’s to Whole Foods.
Ah, yes, interviews always go there! Well, the first fifteen years of my career were spent at a few ad agencies working on big brands in my pursuit of a Madison Avenue career. One of those brands was McDonald’s. I’m proud to have that experience on my resume because during that time I brought healthier foods to restaurants in the northwest. We launched a Salads n’ More menu with a veggie burger and premium salads with Newman’s Own dressing (I even got to meet Paul Newman!). I felt like I had positive impact on the food offered. I went straight from McDonald’s to work on a local grocer account and helped tell the stories of the local growers they bought food from. Definitely work that connected to me on a deeper level.
7. If we opened your pantry right now, what would we find?
Well, we just went to the market today so you’d find trail mix, salad toppings like dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, lots of gluten free flours, Pacific Foods lentil soup, a variety of dried beans, chickpeas for hummus, Mom’s Natural cereals, and Bob’s Red Mill popcorn, steel cut oats and bread mix. We also went to the farmer’s market this weekend so we’ve got hood strawberries (best in the world!), beets, rainbow chard and lettuce for salads this week.
8. What’s your favorite food indulgence?
Ooh, I can’t say no to pretty much anything with salted caramel and a good chai latte.
9. After a long day, what’s your favorite easy meal?
We plan our meals each week so it’s pretty rare that I’m in the position of having to figure out “what’s for dinner” and we use our slow cooker a ton – because I’ve learned that I’m often struggling to gather enough energy to cook a full meal after a long day of work. My kids also love Snack Lunch (or dinner), which is really a combination of a bunch of random things on hand to make up a meal. As long as we cover the bases in terms of a protein, grain and fruit or vegetable, they can choose what they want. They love it, and it’s incredibly easy!
10. Anything else we should know or mention?
Thanks for helping us spread the word about our new book! We really want to help more parents like us and every share helps. We’d love to give your community a 50% Disocunt offer on the book for the next week. Just use coupon code: gfreefoodie through June 10 and the guidebook with the three-week meal plan, all the recipes needed and tons of extra tips is yours! Buy the book here.