Acid Reflux Cookbook for Kids
Parents often ask me if there is a cookbook for kids with reflux. There is no such cookbook because it would probably be very short or just a book of blank pages. If I was writing a cookbook for kids with reflux, it would be one page long.
Page 1: Dear Parent, I wish you lots of luck! The End.
A cookbook for kids with reflux might need the following title:
How to Cook 3 Meals a Day, 7 Days a Week Using Only Chicken, Potatoes and Apple Juice. A sample menu would be:
Monday: Chicken Nuggets and Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday: Chicken Nuggets and Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday through Sunday: repeat
Note: serve watered down apple juice or plain water at each meal.
Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic. I am a bit scarred from feeding my refluxers over the years! The truth is kids with reflux have strong food preferences and a long list of dislikes. They often find common ground when it comes to carbohydrates. Do you see the problem? Combined with the typical trigger foods such as tomatoes, oranges and spicy foods, the recipe selection would be rather limited.
If you are a foodie parent, you might feel quite discouraged about feeding your child with reflux. My refluxers wanted the same foods over and over again. Chicken, pasta, bread, cereal and a slice of cheese thrown in was enough for them. When my refluxers were in the middle of the "white diet" years, I was not going to play waitress and make a separate meal for everyone in the family. At the same time, I wasn't going to eat chicken and carbohydrates every day so I started cooking a whole new way.
Taco Tuesday was my first big success in feeding a family of 5 including two kids with reflux. You are probably thinking that spicy tacos with hot salsa are not on the reflux diet and you are correct. But here is my secret: Taco Tuesday was set up with all of the ingredients in separate serving bowls so everyone could make their own version.
Taco Tuesday Dinner
Ground Beef: Plain, no seasoning, drain the fat. Put a small amount aside for the kids with reflux.
For the rest of the beef: add Taco Seasoning to taste.
Mom's Taco: A little bit of everything. Two helpings please.
Kid #1 with Reflux:
Plain tortilla, bite of plain ground beef, small heap of cheese and carrot (during the carrot phase when this was the ONLY vegetable she would eat, no exceptions or substitutions allowed, end of topic).
Kid #2 with Reflux:
Plain tortilla, ground beef. One bite, full.
Over the years, Taco Tuesday has evolved. As new foods have been added to the safe list, we have modified the sides. For a while, it was grated carrots. Now lettuce is popular. I have been able to add a hit of taco seasoning to the beef instead of having a plain beef option.
Taco Tuesday led to my next highly praised recipe:
Asian Chicken Your Way
Chicken: lean chicken breast, cooked in a small amount of oil or grilled.
Steamed Vegetables: broccoli, baby carrots, zucchini, or whatever is in your vegetable bin at the moment.
Sauce: Hoisin Sauce, Duck Sauce, Plum Sauce, etc.
Mom's Chicken Dinner: Chicken and vegetables over rice with a heaping serving of sauce.
Kid #1 with Reflux:
Kid#2 with Reflux:
Again, Asian Chicken your way is evolving. Some sauces do not trigger symptoms and can be used in moderation. Others are too spicy. Vegetables are still not high on the list but there have been some successes.
Saute meatballs and sausage. Set aside one serving for your refluxer.
Add sauce, tomato and spices to your favorite sauce recipe.
Pasta: cook according to the package direction and set aside.
Serving Suggestion: Serve each item in a separate bowl: plain meat, meat in sauce, pasta, cheese. Let everyone make their own version of "Pasta Dinner."
Mom's Pasta Dinner: All of the above. Two servings please (I'm allowed-this is my comfort food).
Kid with Reflux #1 (the early days):
Plain pasta, bite of plain meat
Kid with Reflux #1 (Now):
Plain pasta, small amount of sauce, meat.
Ok, so now you have three dinners that you and your child with reflux can share and eat together. As you can see, our eating habits have evolved over time. In the early days, I had to keep all of the foods separate. No "dump everything into one pot stews" or casseroles. Now the girls can eat many more foods as their reflux has improved and they are more familiar with the foods that trigger symptoms. I think part of their initial picky eating was a fear that all foods would cause pain and discomfort so there was a more global avoidance of foods. Now they are able to manage their symptoms through careful eating and good choices.