Food is admittedly a tricky issue around here. Between a dairy/soy allergy, gluten intolerance, and sensory issues that make textures and flavors a HUGE part of a food's palatability, feeding Josiah has been quite the challenge. And Malachi also seems to have a gluten sensitivity, so while I'm nursing, I've joined Josiah on his special foods diet.
It all began when Josiah was only a few weeks old and we discovered he had an allergy to dairy products (even through breastmilk). I eliminated obvious dairy products from my own diet and that stopped the projectile vomiting, but it was only once I started reading food labels to eliminate every trace of dairy proteins that he got rid of the goopy eyes and skin rashes. And while he was nursing (and I was avoiding dairy), he did fine.
When we began trying to introduce solid foods at about 6 months, he gagged on everything we tried. At first I just thought he wasn't ready -- it's not all that uncommon, especially among babies with food allergies and no teeth (he didn't get one until he was 10 months), for 6 months to actually be too early for solids. We tried about every two months and it was always the same. When his first birthday rolled around, and he was two months beyond his first tooth, I started to wonder whether there might be something keeping him from eating. At 14 months, we finally had him evaluated and discovered his SPD (though at the time we thought it only affected his eating, not everything else as well).
He started getting sensory therapy, where he conditioned his gag reflex to tolerate holding food in his mouth. Then we had to teach him to chew, and eventually to swallow, rather than just pocket, the food he had chewed. He continued to nurse for his nutrition, and finally, shortly before his third birthday, he was able to eat enough variety of foods that he could get adequate nutrition without nursing. Certain textures were more successful than others, strong or salty flavors went over best as well. The sensitivity to taste and textures continues to this day. No matter the food, if the texture AND taste aren't just right, he won't eat it.
In trying new foods, we discovered that he had the same allergic reaction to soy as to dairy (again, not uncommon as the dairy and soy proteins are very similar in structure) so all soy-based foods were also off limits. And as we discovered just how pervasive his sensory issues were, we decided to try the GFCF (gluten-free, caesin-free) diet that is often recommended for sensory processing disorder. After all, he was already halfway there with no dairy, all we had to eliminate was gluten. A few months, and a couple trials, later we decided the gluten was making a significant enough difference to keep it out of his diet permanently.
At first I just tried to substitute gluten free versions of foods we were already eating (pasta, for example) but recently I've done more GFCF-specific recipes, thanks to the help of this site and this site that both have some great ideas. Last week it was corn dogs, and what a great success! I actually used the Bob's Red Mill corn bread mix instead of going from scratch, so it was super easy -- and Josiah loved them! "They taste just like the ones with gluten in them, mom! These are great! I love them!" I know better than to think they'll get such rave reviews every time I make them, but for that night, dinner was a blast! And they froze and reheated very well, for some instant lunch options . . . :)
Between the sensory issues and the allergies/intolerances to dairy/soy and gluten, I've had to completely re-learn how to grocery shop and cook. And the learning curve has been steep! I have quite a few flops for every success, and even the successes don't always stick -- anyone with an SPD kid can tell you that what worked yesterday isn't at all guaranteed to work today, so even when I did find a good recipe and could replicate it consistently, it didn't always have a consistenly positive reception. So I've learned to revel in any successful meal without worrying about whether it will work again another time.
Perhaps it is because I'm having to be gluten-free myself while I'm nursing Malachi, or maybe it's just that I've adjusted a bit to the options that exist for gluten-free cooking, but I'm definitely starting to branch out to more creative ideas in the kicthen. I'll keep you posted on other new things I try and how they work out :)