For some reason, every time I open a magazine or website lately, I see articles on gardening. It got me thinking about how cultivating a garden is very much like healing a child with dietary intervention.
You have to be willing to get your hands dirty.
Gardening is a messy job – dirt, water, uncomfortable squatting positions. Changing diets is a bit the same! It won’t be a clean process and you’ll have to roll up your sleeves to get the job done. There will be figurative mess (emotional stress and anxiety) and literal mess (food being thrown, the kitchen in upheaval). Like all worthwhile achievements, there is usually some chaos in the process of the creation.
You have to pull out all the weeds before your garden will grow.
So too with dietary intervention. You need to take out the foods that are causing irritation so you can create the right environment for healing to happen.
You have to sow the right seeds.
You wouldn’t plant seeds that require a lot of sun in a garden that gets no light and expect them to bloom. There is no one size fits all with dietary changes so you need to take into account your child’s situation to determine the right combination of foods that will help them to thrive.
To grow a prosperous garden you have to tend to your plants – water them, nurture them. You need patience.
You don’t expect to plant seeds today and wake up tomorrow to a blooming garden. Plants take time to grow. We need to give them a lot of attention and keep the environment optimal so they will flourish. So too with our children. Dietary intervention is not a miracle. You won’t take away gluten today and wake up with a healed child tomorrow. It’s a process. It takes time, love, nurture, persistence and patience.
You have to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Rain, drought, snow and wind will all come along at unpredictable times and damage your plants. Inevitably, your child will eat something they shouldn’t at a party, a relative will give them a forbidden food, a manufacturer will change ingredients and a particular food isn’t legal anymore. All of these things will happen when you are managing special diets for your child. You have to accept that’s how life is, minimize the fallout and get back on the bus.
You have to continually mulch, prune, trim and water your garden to keep it in tip-top shape.
This is true for your dietary journey. What your diet looks like today is not how it will be in a year. Bodies will change. Hormones will change. Some foods that were OK won’t be anymore and some foods that were off the list will be able to be re-introduced. As your child grows and progresses, the right diet is a moving target. You need to be prepared to continually monitor and react to what is working for them NOW in order for them to continue to grow and bloom.
And after all of that, you can sit back and quite literally smell the roses when you see the happy, thriving child your efforts have produced.