the cracker conundrum

When I first became a mom, I was determined to get it right! I knew that I would follow a holistic path to introducing new foods, and I wouldn’t feed my little bird any junk whatsoever.

Then he turned two.

This cutie could EAT! Not only was he still breast fed and having plenty of fruits and veggies, soups, meat and gluten free grains, but he would whine and gripe in between meals so consistently that eventually I was forced to either loose my sanity, or find him the crunchy, munchy snack of his dreams.

Enter the Elmo Cracker.

They’re organic, they don’t seem like they have a lot of junk, and they’re made in cute elmo shapes. What can possibly go wrong?

Check out the ingredients for yourself and see what you think:

Wholesome Organic Elmo Crackers
Ingredients: Organic Wheat Flour, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Sea Salt, Organic Invert Cane Juice, Organic Wheat Gluten, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, MonoCalcium Phosphate), Organic Barley Malt and Corn Extract, Natural Butter Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Vitamin Mix [Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Folic Acid, Niacinamide], Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide, Papain (Enzyme).
Contains: Wheat and Soy.

Except for the crackers, which he LOVED, my little bird didn’t have much in the way of wheat, added gluten, sugar, salt, or flavors. He ate some oatmeal in the morning sweetened with prunes, and veggies, meat and a little gluten free quinoa, corn pasta, or rice.

When his behaviour started to change, I put it down to the terrible two’s. My friend would come over and comment “look how he’s manipulating you”, and I started to receive those dreaded calls from preschool informing me that my little darling had whacked another kid in the head with a toy car… again!

It took me a while to put two and two together, but eventually I decided to experiment with a gluten free diet. I’ve always had issues with gluten and let’s call it my stomach’s comfort level, but I had hoped my little bird would be more like his dad who can eat any old junk and feel fine.

It wasn’t easy at first, because he was in preschool and they provided a healthy snack of fruit, crackers and cheese every day (when I thought about it, what a lot of crackers the little guy was ploughing through each week!)

I had to send in a snack, and he had to be the only one to be different. That was a little sad, I had hoped he could just join in all the time – but really the junk eating only gets worse as they get older, so I guess they might as well get used to it.

I sent the same thing every day – organic rice cakes, and humous or goat cheddar. Luckily that hit the spot for him carb wise so he didn’t go around snatching the other kids snacks!

I should also mention that the orange in the “marble” cheese the daycare was feeding the kids, is red food coloring that is well known to cause behavioural reactions in sensitive kids. So yeah, I took him off that marble cheese too!

So how did it turn out? Surprise surprise, after about a week there was less of that sense of urgency about him. He didn’t have as many frustrated outbursts, and eventually he even stopped crying for Elmo crackers all day long!

His stomach deflated a little, just like mine does when I’m off gluten.

He started to get better in his social relationships, and the preschool teacher was able to see him for the sweet and lovely little boy he really was. And at home, it felt as though a layer of yuck had been scraped off our lives, and we could breathe a little deeper, love a little better, and best of all, sleep a little longer!

I’m not saying that every kid is sensitive to gluten. But when frustration and urgency start to rule the day, it’s definitely time to have a closer look at the possible triggers – they could be emotional of course, but the foods kids eat can also have a huge effect on how they feel, act, learn and develop. Especially in these tender years where the body’s so fresh and clean that even an organic cracker can wreak its quiet havoc.

That week I cried for the kids who are given goldfish crackers every day. The sensitive ones don’t stand a chance, and when your school labels you as a troublemaker, that stuff sticks!

So it’s a gluten free diet for us from now on, with the exception of birthday parties where my lil guy gets to join in just like everyone else :)