Food management and the butterfly coeliac teenager
Over the last four months since diagnosis, food management has become our biggest issue. Tamsin is a standard teenager – getting up late, doing everything by the seat of her pants, following her whims and never planning more than a few hours ahead. Eating follows this pattern, which means we end up with half-eaten foods sitting around going mouldy and soft, which it seems to us happens faster with gluten free foods – we definitely find they don’t last as long as equivalent foods with gluten.
I’m far too embarrassed to list everything we’ve had to divert to our hens recently but suffice to say that they and local garden bird population ate well over Christmas. Once or twice this led to something only just short of a lecture but although Tamsin says all the right things and means well, at the moment she couldn’t plan her way out of a paper bag, much less apply effective food management to her vast stash of food.
Tamsin’s next lot of prescription food comes round startlingly fast and is building up in our pantry. We now put bread in the freezer, and in future I’ll be splitting loaves and packs of rolls before freezing, as I’ve had to throw away more mouldy bread and rolls than I can remember. The issue is that Tamsin doesn’t eat to a routine of any sort, particularly in the school holidays, so she’ll start a loaf for breakfast, have toast for two days, then eat granola for the next week. In the meantimer it doesn’t cross her mind that there’s a loaf in the cupboard that will be inedible within a few days. I’ve taken to keeping open loaves in the fridge. They dry out a bit even well-wrapped but Tamsin finds gf bread so dry anyway that it doesn’t make much difference, epecially toasted.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Tamsin doesn’t eat a great volume of food. She definitely ate more pre-diagnosis, but counter-intuitively she’s putting on weight, which is long-overdue. Although she’s eating less she’s getting the benefit of it now, or more of the benefit of it, which wasn’t happening before. She’s noticed that gf foods can be more filling but this doesn’t yet inform her portion sizes, so she’ll cook or toast or take a large helping of something then leave 1/3 of it on the plate, completely stuffed. As a parent this is maddening, but I would never insist a child eat once they’re full so depending on what it is it either goes to the hens or is put away for later. It concerns me that Tamsin’s appetite is affected by her new diet but there’s little I can do about it.
Eating what’s easy
One element of Tamsin’s non-existent approach to food management is that she will often eat whatever’s to hand. She has a very generous and well-meaning relative who often rolls up with gf cakes and biscuits and of course Tamsin falls on them, initially at least. I’ll find the packet days later, under a sofa or in her bed, soft and horrible. She’s forgotten about them, there was far too much in the first place and after the initial thrill her appetite has fallen off. I’ve always hated the children eating too much sugar but there’s a path to tread between healthy eating and ingratitude to well-meaning people.
I’m hoping that once the children go back to school Tamsin will fall back into a routine with food and wastage will drop off to negligable.