I’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth bringing up again, especially here at back to school time. Carrie is on the GFCF diet, or the “autism diet.” It was recommended to us by a major university, it doesn’t involve any weird supplements or gaggingly disgusting foods, and it really seems to help her feel better. Note that: I didn’t say it cured her, which is something I’ve heard from a lot of people. It just seems to make her feel better, so much that she won’t touch an unknown food without checking with me first.
When we started the diet and I ordered this giant 3-ring binder book on it, there was an odd form in the book. It was a letter I could take to Carrie’s school that stated the law under which the school would be required to provide a gluten-free and casein-free meal to my daughter.
Why in the world would I do that? As if the school doesn’t have enough going on (and we’re one of the few peanut-free public schools in our area that any child with a life threatening peanut allergy can attend, regardless of where he lives…which is really brilliant, when you think about it), now I want them to jump through my crazy dietary hoops? Have you tasted cafeteria food? It’s disgusting! And then I’m going to demand that they provide a GFCF meal as well? School cafeterias can barely handle getting a hot dog and some french fries on a tray without turning it into bland, greasy slop.
So I pack Carrie’s lunch each day, along with three small snacks (she attends the after school program for an hour, hence the third snack!). I’ve found divided containers on Amazon that are very similar to flat bento boxes, and I’m able to pack those for the entire week and put them in our extra refrigerator, speeding up the school morning process a lot. I also have similar containers for her breakfasts, which I also premake and pull out of the fridge as needed each day.
If there has to be a silver lining to autism, it’s that Carrie is happy with the same foods over and over, making lunches a lot easier to plan. I don’t have the headache of my child getting bored with her lunch, as long as I break it up from time to time.
The most important thing to remember about school lunch for any child is to pick your battles. I make Carrie eat broccoli at home from time to time, but lunch is not the time to fight. The goal of a school lunch is to get her well fed and ready to continue with her school day, which because of my work schedule is going to last until after four o’clock. There are snack foods, the occasional GFCF cookie, finger foods that she can eat without assistance. I want her to eat and have a great rest of her day.