Baking Can Soothe The Soul
As we face our third or maybe fourth snow storm in about 10 days, and second ‘blizzard’ warning anxiety was in high gear in our house. MJ doesn’t like storms of any kind, especially not after Hurricane Arthur crashed her birthday party last summer. Her anxiety takes over and she worries about everything from power outages, to how the animals and trees outside will fair all the way to being concerned about getting into car accidents and fires. So it was no surprise when she came home after school/daycare with the snow already falling that she was on edge.
We have also been struggling with MJ’s eating as of late, not at home or at daycare, but at school. She has lost nearly 5 pounds since starting school and trust me when I say she didn’t have 5 pounds to lose. MJ told us that she really is still quite anxious at school and feels the ‘green liquid’ (aka her reflux) pretty much all the time, she just doesn’t tell anyone because she doesn’t want people to know. She went so far as to be proud of the fact that she can ‘hide’ how she’s feeling and pretend like everything is ok, she just doesn’t want to eat as a result of all that pretending.
Uh oh… Needless to say we have a doctor’s note and are working with the school on strategies to address this.
The other challenging part of MJ’s eating issues are her allergies and food intolerances that trigger really bad reflux episodes. She’s on meds for her reflux, but even so has to eat a pretty restricted diet as a result that cuts out all dairy and soy, as well as citrus from her diet. It means essentially no processed foods (not a bad thing), but it’s yet something else that makes her different. It wasn’t a huge deal until school started, but as she sees her classmates coming to school with all kinds of things she can’t eat she has begun to ask questions. And at times she express her sadness and disappointment that so many ‘fun’ looking foods are not MJ friendly (a term we coined that she knows to ask before eating something if mommy or daddy are not around and she is offered food.)
Today in amongst the concerns over power outages and worrying that mommy was going to die one day, she told me that one of her classmates had a cinnamon bun for snack and it looked so good and that it made her sad. Immediately my hubby reminded me we had an aunt’s awesome cinnamon bun recipe that I’d tried to make MJ friendly previously but had failed at. Since that time, I discovered a dairy-soy free margarine that has made substitutions easier and 95% of the time you honestly can’t tell the difference.
I’ve been trying to get her more involved in cooking with me, hoping that if she helps she might be more inclined to eat. It has been going really well for the past few weeks, so well that MJ has decided that she wants to have a cooking show with me one day called ‘Scratch – Cooking for kids with allergies’ and has had me videotaping her as she ‘prepares’ food with me for the week. (For reference, we only started letting her watch MasterChef Junior AFTER she came up with this idea of having a show).
So tonight, after dinner, I decided to suggest we make our own batch of MJ-friendly cinnamon rolls so she could try one and if she liked them, bring them to school with her. She was game! And it turned out to be the most positive experience:
– It was a distraction from the storm, reading a recipe and measuring ingredients for baking is exact and requires focus
– Kneading and rolling out dough is sensory and as she worked that dough, she talked less and less about power outages or ‘what if mommy dies’ scenarios
– She couldn’t wait for them to come out of the oven and eat one. We struggle with positive food associations because of her reflux and as I noted above, her diet is pretty limited (although healthy).
– She liked them! She can’t wait to take them to school and show her classmate that she made an MJ friendly cinnamon roll too – and (in her words) ‘be just like everyone else’
The only problem? They are so good they might not last that long! Here’s a couple of our videos and of course photos of the finished product!