Parental advice: A balanced diet? think again!

We all want the best for ourselves and our school aged children, naturally, and I am not going to patronise you by informing you that that involves giving them a balanced diet [1]. I am going to enlighten you in the same way that I was recently enlightened when my health deteriorated. It was then that I realised that my healthy balanced diet wasn’t as healthy as I thought it was!

So let’s think on our child’s typical daily menu..

Breakfast:  shredded wheat and milk (after all Nanna says they keep hunger locked up til lunch!) and one nice glass of fresh juice.

Snack: Chrisps and chocolate will never do.. so let’s have healthy baked snacks. Or maybe Rivitta with cream cheese.

Lunch: Well a ham, salad sandwich with mayonnaise instead of butter. Carrot sticks and maybe some mini sausages with ketchup.. they always fit nicely in a packed lunch. Then fruit afterwards of course.

Snack 2: Ok so just a small chocolate bar.. no one’s an angel!

Dinner: Veg filled homemade spaghetti bolognaise; no fish fingers.. perhaps mediterranean couscous with pizza your choice.. it makes no difference on what I am about to say… It even wont change the response if you finish it with a bowl of fruit and ice cream, or even substitute that ice cream for yoghurt. 

That is not a balanced diet!

I know I was confused at the dietician’s too.. so let’s look again at the two things every single snack or meal contains. You’re right! Wheat and dairy.. Is that balanced? Wheat or dairy have been linked to many digestive, pain and hormonal conditions, been blamed for most food intolerances and linked to conditions such as eczema and asthma. I realise this statement isn’t referenced, but just ‘google it’ and you will see countless examples.

I think it is unfair to say that we have suddenly become less tolerant of wheat and dairy, or that they have become more toxic. I believe that they affect more and more people because they are in everything we eat.. any prepared ‘healthy’ meal (when you don’t suspect it.. dairy) Supermarket Spelt and oat bread (contains wheat), mayonnaise (contains dairy) ‘healthy’ equivalent to crisps (no longer potato, but wheat), vegetable fresh soup (contains dairy). If you don’t believe me start picking up things in the supermarket and check their labels. Don’t forget Dairy is also ‘casein’ and ‘whey’.

Then when you find something without ‘dairy’ or ‘wheat’ think to yourself.. what would I eat with this? Couscous (wheat) pasta (wheat) maybe with a bit of Feta (dairy) Hallumi (dairy) or cream (dairy).

Dairy is a known pro-inflammatory that is not easy to digest and worse still it interrupts the uptake of other nutrients. It also triggers constipation. Like non organic meat it is also full of hormones [2]. How else do they get the cows to produce milk when it’s not calving season? Ever wondered why us girls are starting our periods earlier and earlier each generation? Or why even the slimmest of men are getting man boobs? What if the cow gets mastitis? Well a little bit of pus in the milk is ok, just not too much otherwise it wont pass government standards.

What can be done?

There is no need to give up wheat or dairy if you don’t want to.. in fact please don’t stop your young child drinking their required milk intake without further research, or the help of a dieitician. Soya is not the best subsititue either [2] But you can try making some subtle changes to the families diet to make your bodies happier? Then that chocolate cake, or tub of Haagan daas (strawberry cheesecake is my favourite) is just a nice change and not more wheat and dairy on an already overloaded system.

Here is a real balanced diet and everything mentioned can be bought in your local metro supermarket.

Breakfast: Porridge really does keep you full for ages; oats are cheap and quick to mix into warm milk.  If you make the milk rice milk then it is naturally sweet. If you prefer goats milk (I know it’s dairy, but it’s a change from cow’s for once) then plain maple syrup is a natural sugar and better for us than refined sugars.

Snack: How about hummous and carrot sticks instead of pretend sausages? Baked ready salted crisps don’t contain ‘whey’ or ‘casein’ unlike most other flavours, or better still fruit. Fruit takes ten minutes to be digested, but eat it after a meal and it will sit in your stomach behind the main meal and slowly rot. This causes a build up of wind and may cause heartburn.

Lunch: Your choice! Children like their packed lunches at room temperature [2] so how about potato, salad, whole grain rice that was once cooked with chopped tomatoes and peas or just swap the bread in their sandwich for rye bread and the mayonnaise for salad cream. This has sugar but no dairy. The perfect dressing though has to be a spritz of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon which is healthier than vinegar and much better than any bought dressing which are all  full of sugar and dairy (even the vinaigrettes).

Have you tried Quineo.. it is simple to make and almost the same as couscous. Pulses are also cheap and easy to prepare [1]. Then there  are taco shells that are made of corn and can be filled with things like tunafish (that way children get their fish intake without having to eat wheat from the breadcrumbs on the fish fingers). There is even wheat free pasta in all shapes which makes a nice cold meal for children with shredded smoked mackerel and cucumber.

Dinner: You could have your child make their own pizza from buckwheat flour and cut them in star shapes. Or perhaps there are some vegetables that need eating.. why not throw them together with lentils or buckwheat?

If your child likes colourful food in the health food shop you will find purple noodles made from buckwheat or orange ones made from sweet potato and they don’t contain the sugar that tinned ones do, or require the sugary ketchup on top.

I hope I have got you thinking and maybe even looking at labels. I have not suggested any meal or snack that I have not watched a child devour! Make some changes and you will notice a difference. Maybe your child with autism has a longer attention span; perhaps your daughters eczema has eased up?

Why not comment here on what changes you have seen? If you click ‘follow’ you will be sure not to miss out on the very quick (I hate cooking) and tasty tried and tested wheat free, refined sugar-free and dairy free recipes I have.


1) Dare, A and O’Donovan, M (2002) A practical guide to Child nutrition: 3rd edition. Nelson Thornes: Cheltenham

2) Levett, C (2008) recipes for the endometriosis diet. endo resolved


3 thoughts on “Parental advice: A balanced diet? think again!

  1. Pingback: Inclusive activities: Star Pizza’s (wheat, dairy and sugar free) | Honey, I'm lost with the kids!

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