I am going to be sending my Paleo toddler to preschool next year. Most parents care about the curriculum that will be taught or whether the kids get to play outside everyday. I just want her to have fun and not eat grains or legumes. One of my most burning issues has been how to navigate school offered foods, birthday treats, and other food based learning activities. I am really firm on her not eating any grains at least until she is closer to three. There is a lot of research that the digestive system is not mature enough to handle grains before this age. I also want her to be exploring other foods and developing a broader palette than foods that come in a box. I don’t want to be hyper vigilant and crazy with worry, but I am firm that we don’t eat certain foods. Just like a vegan who doesn’t want their child eating animal products or a kid with nut allergies who can’t be exposed to nuts. Gluten is gaining plenty of awareness as an allergen, but all grains is pretty much uncharted radical territory among the toddler sect.
I looked at a few different school options. One of them provides all organic meals and snacks, including a breakfast porridge every morning and they make bread daily. This was going to be too much for me to tackle. Making bread every day? I didn’t feel there was any way to avoid her having exposure in this environment. I continued my search; you’d be surprised how many preschools there are in Seattle.
I finally found a school that seemed like the right fit- the teachers, the environment, the energy all felt right. However (sigh), they too provide a snack which usually includes a grain. On the day I was visiting, this processed animal shaped grain product came from a large warehouse store and not only contained cane sugar but also cane juice. I was greatly disappointed. Not so much in the school for offering such a snack, but that in general this is considered the appropriate fuel source for small children. By providing a cookie for a pre lunch snack, we are missing such a huge opportunity to introduce foods to kids in a social setting where they are more likely to try the food if their friend does and they are hungry enough to eat something new after running around all morning.
I don’t want my Paleo toddler’s dietary requirements to be a hindrance for the teachers, who didn’t seemed fazed or bothered by our grain free status. I am willing to provide anything, including homemade grain free animal shaped biscuits if need be, to make it easier on them and to provide my toddler with a snack that looks similar to what her friends are eating, while still providing the quality of food that meets my standards. I am hoping that a greater dialogue can be started with the other parents, as well as the teachers regarding sound nutrient dense foods for growing bodies and brains.
I’d love to hear from other Paleo and/ or grain free parents on what has worked for their families.