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Proud 4 year old Vegan and mom with loads of questions!

From the title I am sure you've grasped that the lil bean is 4 and that I am the mother, who is lost!

I couldn't seem to find a search function for the forum, so I am sorry in advance if I've totally asked a question that has been asked 100 times this week alone!

Any how,
Our daughter just decided to go vegan, and while I'm vegan, I'm obviously more open to new things, tastes, textures etc. At 4...yea she isn't down, to say the least!
I did what everyone has suggested, easing into a vegan diet, I started with making vegan versions of things she knows, like macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, ravioli and sauce etc.
But I am so clueless as to what else I can do for her!

Todays menu is right here and went like this:

Pre-Breakfast:
Vitamines with diluted OJ and meds.
1/2 apple with 4 blueberries and 3 almonds.
-(ate 1/4 of the apple offered, one blueberry and all the almonds)

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with slice of bread, vegan butter and jelly
Soy Milk with mix.
-(ate oats w/ trace of ground flax, protein powder, soy milk and brown sugar, refused toast, and drank half of milk)

Snack: 2 stalks of  celery with peanut butter, 3 cherries,
1/2  granola bar.
-skipped all togeter and had pretzels because of tummy issues)

Lunch: Soy Dog, salad w/ beans, tom. cucumber &
beans with chips.
-(offered salad with extra tomato per request, new "ranch" dressing wasn't a hit, only ate half/ about 1/4 of a cup and a couple of chick peas)

Snack: Carrots, cucumber and celery in "ranch"
other half of granola bar, soy milk.
-(tummy issues lasted into the evening, finally slightly better after enema)

Dinner: "chicken" nuggets, mixed salad again,
almonds, and fries.
-(asked for ravs with speg. sauce instead, ate 4 of each kind and some sauce, feeling a bit better.)

Snack: vegan chocolate chip cookie, pretzels etc.
-(had one chocolate chip cookie)

Today she was having issues, you'll notice in the AM she gets meds, which is mirilax, has undiagnosed IBS-C, she has been seen by a GI doctor from birth, yet they still have yet to nail it down and keep saying she's holding it, which is odd to me, we're soon driving 4 hours one way to a new GI doctor, any how, today was a bad day for her, I've tried off and on over the course of 4 years to slowly ween her from her medication, and it always seems to be working and then bam, it'll take three days for the poor girly to poop :(
Today was that day, so she was lazy and bloated and not wanting to eat, so a lot of that she didn't get in her, understandably. Last thing I want to do is shove more in when none will come out!

I'm good about sneaking in healthy things, like I made the cookies with spelt flour, dashed in some protein powder since she missed some food today and some ground flax. I did the same thing this morning to her oats.
She hated the vegan ranch dressing, ugh, I don't blame her. Anyone have a good recipe for one? This one was vegan mayo and soy milk with some additional spices add in and parsley, but was still yuck, she ate about half of the small portion I gave her.

Any how, my questions, what recipes work for you moms with little ones who are newer to the life?

I'm worried about her not reaching all of her nutritional needs and surely that wont happen if the food doesn't taste good!

Thank you so much in advance!

Well, it sounds like you are already doing an excellent job! So give yourself a big pat on the back and take a deep breath. Raising vegan children is much easier than our society makes us believe. Really, if you feed children a healthy diet with lots of whole foods, fruits, and veggies (and an occasional B-12 source) you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

I've been vegan for about 18 yrs and have an incredibly strong, healthy 6-yr-old who has been vegan since birth. I don't even try that hard to make sure she eats well--I just educate her and offer her healthy choices.

I have a blog (www.rhiw.blogspot.com) which also links to my website. There is a lot of information on both, much of which is from my holistic health/vegan healthy cookbook.

Good luck and keep up the EXCELLENT work!!
:)

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Well, she eats better than my sons, that's for sure.  Keep offering lots of choices, and continue to offer them even if they aren't touched, it can take dozens of tries before a new food gets tasted, and more before it is liked.  I always try to offer some of whatever we are eating along side whatever they might want, so they have the chance to try new foods.  Yogurt, soy, rice or coconut are good for kids, and can be a great "dip" for fruit or grahm crackers.  Try using other nut butters, too, my kids like cashew and almond for a change from pb, which is their staple. 

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Trying to think of other things my kids like:  Anything they can "dip", so salsa and salad dressings, yougurt, both sweet and savory make great dips, also refried beans.  I cut their sammys into strips and they use those to dip, like grilled "cheeze" into tomato soup or quesadillas into tortilla soup.

also, any type of finger foods, little falafles or meat balls, made with tvp.  Tofu fish sticks from this site are great, or take tofu dogs and cut them up, make up a  cornbread batter and mix in the dogs, then bake in muffin tins.

I like the web sitehttp://blog.fatfreevegan.com/

she makes great recipies and has a daughter who rates all her meals, there is even a list of her daughter's favs.

and get your child into the kitchen to help out, even little ones can use a butter knife to spread  and cut soft things,  also stirring and measuring.

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It sounds like you are doing a great job! I have a three-and-a-half year old. She's been vegan since birth, and luckily she isn't a picky eater. I don't worry too much abut certain nutrients, and try to just offer a variety of foods throughout the day and the week, like Quintess said. I also agree with GFmom that kids love to dip.  She love love loves tofutti cream cheese, and will often have it in a sandwich with veggies, avocado, tofurky, etc. She likes guacamole, sweet potatoes, squash, tofu. And I think every child likes peanut sauce, either on rice and veggies, or pasta with tofu and peas. Maybe I'll post what she's eats tomorrow, but may I suggest:
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=12720.0 (the yummiest sandwich)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7884.0 (stuffed shells)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=24913.0 (crescent rolls have a million uses)

In related news, I found these: http://www.amazon.com/Seas-Gift-Korean-Seaweed-0-69-Ounce/dp/B000HVREQU
sweet seaweed snack, and she super loves it.

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I realized when I finally cut out almost all the animal products from my daughters' diets (2 yr and 10 mo) that it wasn't as difficult as everyone makes it out to be and not as high maintenance as I thought.

We go raw as much as possible during the day, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Fruit is usually eaten with nothing else on it, but veggies usually require a dip, which is a great way to sneak in nutrients.  I used to just make hummus but I'm more adventurous now.  There's lots of great recipes on this site to get your imagination cooking!  Both of my girls will eat avocado slices with nothing else and that's practically nature's perfect food.  Beans and rice are very popular too, esp. with homemade tortillas and salsa.

If she's having digestive problems, something with probiotics might help alleviate some of her distress.  Yogurt is the most popular source, but there are others.  Fermented foods are good sources.  We like to drink kombucha tea, which is available at HFS and provides other alkalizing nutrients.

If I may give my unsolicited opinion, I would be concerned about giving your 4 yr old prescription medication on a daily basis (as I know you are from your post) and would look to the medication as one of the aggravating factors of your daughter's condition, rather than a help. I think it's a little outrageous that a doctor would find it acceptable to keep a young child on a daily prescription medication to treat symptoms rather than investigating the cause.  I don't think a different GI doctor would offer much of a differing view.  Would you consider consulting a naturopathic physician?

I think it is AWESOME that she asked to be fed a vegan diet and even more awesome you're respecting her wishes in this.  This is just my personal belief, but I think all disease or health afflictions stems from what we consume and your daughter seems to understand that.  I have a feeling as her diet and appetite improves, so will her condition.

I am not a doctor, but if one of my daughters was experiencing that, I'd first eliminate any questionable items from her diet.  Looking at the menu you posted, I would eliminate the soy (which can be very troubling to some tummies - try rice, hemp or nut milk), anything refined (no breads, crackers) or prepackaged, like the soy dog.  There's often an obscene amount of sodium (not to mention all sorts of sneaky trace ingredients!) in packaged foods, which can also contribute to or aggravate many health problems.  Making your own (which can be more time-consuming but ultimately more rewarding and more delicious) is a good way to circumvent this problem.  You're doing great offering her fresh produce!  Keep doing it, even if she doesn't eat it.  She will eventually.  My kids caught on pretty quick that the banana was the only item on the breakfast menu and if they didn't like it, they didn't eat.  I don't offer different foods if they refuse what I've given them.  If they don't eat, they don't eat.  (They always eat within, like, an hour)  You can slowly add those suspect foods back in and monitor her bowel movements and you'll find the culprit sooner or later.

I hope you're not offended by my butting in.  And please, please know that this is in no way a judgment on your job as a mama, because you're obviously an awesome mama, I can tell from your post.  I'm just concerned for your daughter as you are, and worried for you and the burden this places on you and I'd love to help in any way I can.

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In regards to the poop issues....does she like juices? If she does, mix in some prune juice (I'm thinking a 1:4 or 5 ratio of prune to other juice(s) should work). Have you tried subbing pureed prunes for oil in baked goods? (I'd hope baked prunes would have a similar effect....) I also agree w/ Moonkeymama about the soy....processed/refined soy and tofu products do have a tendency to aggravate IBS/constipation issues, I'd recommend trying rice or almond milk....if you're concerned about protein intake, try finding hemp milk instead. Also, instead of high sodium items like pretzels, try feeding her (brown) rice (brown has more fiber) or mashed potatoes. I'd imagine a dish of cooked brown rice, raisins, carrots and a vanilla flavored mylk to make a type of 'rice pudding' could work nicely.

For an upset tummy and movement inducing snack, how about apple sauce? Apples are a good source of fiber, and in sauce form have a good amount of fluid, which is also important in such matters!!

I'm a nanny by trade, and study 'special needs' nutrition as a hobby.... If you need any other suggestions, feel free to let me know.

Also:

here's a thread on toddler foods

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Your doc may or may not have suggested this, but have you had her tested for Celiac disease?  Many docs won't unless they exhibit "typical"symptoms, but studies have shown that the majority of celiacs, I and my brothers included, don't have typical symptoms.  Over 300 different symptoms can arise from celiac, and the treatment is so simple, although not easy at first.  It is simply a lifetime diet free from all gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains.  Many grain are GF, like oats, as long as they are not contaminated in the growing or harvesting process.  It can take away all tummy pain, joint pain, headaches, constipation, diahreah, and a host of other problems.  Many people who have chronic IBS have undiagnosed celiac, which can be diagnosed with a little as a blood test, and often confirmed with an upper GI series, not fun but really not painful.

Celiac is as common  as 1 in 300 persons in some parts of the world, including the US, and some docs, even GI specialists forget to test for it.  My doc actually thought my mom was making me sick, and refused to test my brothers, I have 2, saying there was no way it could be that common.  But the tests prove it.

Strict adherence to the diet can be life altering, for the better, but get the diagnosis, if there is one, before removing gluten, otherwise the tests will come up false negative.  You have to have gluten in your system over a period of time for the tests to be accurate.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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First off, thank all of you mama's for the awesome ideas, tips and suggestions!

I'm in a rush so I don't have the time to respond to each of you (but I am coming back to!) but I do realize I forgot to post about her potty issues, when they came about and where we're at now with them.
It's a winded story, so sorry for the long post :P

She was a breastfed baby (and still cuddles my chest and said if we have another baby she is going to steal their milk, she's very much a boob girl, ha) fully until around 6 months old, where we started introducing her to slight solids, her first real food was avocado, but before this she had generic rice cereal, that one moment with cereal is what lead us to no cows protein.

She was  about 6 months old and I was out of town with her, it's stressful enough to travel alone with a baby, so I tried to make things easier on myself and her, I packed "normal" rice cereal in a box from the store and grabbed the container of formula the hospital had given us when she was born, this way I could make a small amount of her cereal in a pinch (even though looking back it was just stupid, I hand expressed milk all the time and could easily get 8 ounces out in less then 3 minutes!) well such a situation came up, she was chomping at the bit and seemingly wanting something more then mama's milk, so I whipped up a serving of her cereal using the formula.
In about 5 minutes, if that, after eating a small bit, she started to throw up (of course if you have a breastfed baby you aren't used to this, she never spit up, let alone threw up!) the next minutes went fast and her condition quickly went from throwing up to loose bowels/Diarrhea, low grade fever etc.
I of course sped her to the hospital, well the next moments there didn't go by as fast, 13 hours to be exact, in the waiting room no less.
Her condition stayed the same, low fever etc. but then it seemed to get even worse, this is an attached baby, she was always in the sling on me, in my arms, and being nursed, yet here she was, eyes half open sitting in her carseat for 13 hours!
I of course wasn't sitting idly while my child almost slips into a coma, I was paniced and begging to be taken in etc until finally my screaming got her seen.
They of course wrote all of this off and tried to give her a suppository to ease her diarrhea, I refused it, wanting to know the cause before treating any symptom, her body was ridding her of something and surely I wasn't going to suppress it!
They asked me to not nurse her and to give her electrolites, one tablespoon at a time, one every hour, this sounded ridiculous to me, so I continued to nurse her and give her the tablespoon, they didn't do any more, just offered the suppository, then, as if it wasn't insane enough, they said they were giving her apple juice, and that if she kept it down she was going home, well she was 6 months old, we hadn't done juice yet, and surely while she is sick from something I am not going to introduce new food, and for sure not hospital apple juice, so I declined, got our discharge papers and went back to where we were staying, packed our stuff and drove her an hour to the next hospital, ironically the one she was born in.
I took her to the first hospital at night, sat for 13 hours, had her "treated" and waited back in triage for god knows how long but ended up at the next hospital before the sun came up again.
When we walked in and walked to the counter, the nurse didn't even pause, she quickly took her and I and signed us in, Raigen was there for 3 days in pediatric ICU for severe dehydration, do you have any idea what sort of parent I looked like to them?!
Luckily I brought all of our paperwork from the previous hospital, the current one was outraged that they didn't treat her with anything other then what they suggested, didn't test her for anything and then discharged her with orders not to be nursed.

Well her and I stayed there until she was allowed to go home, this hospital also not testing for anything, just treating the dehydration, which was of course needed, she seemingly sprang back after that, so I started trying to figure it all out, for some reason the formula being the last thing from my darn mind! Ugh!

Well, about 2 months later, the symptoms come back just as fast as the first time, this time I'm home with my husband so we rush her to the children's hospital here and wait and wait and wait, finally the symptoms ease up and as we're sitting there I'm going over everything in my head, what could be the link between the two?
And finally it dawns on me, she had a teething biscuit today and the last time she had formula, both have milk.

I called her GI doctor from there and got her in the next day to run a panel, they tested for milk,soy,wheat and egg allergy and milk it was.
(She was going to the GI doctor because she has a cyst on her liver that was found on her while I was 5 months pregnant)

So I dump everything milk based, and get her on soy.

Well then she starts having potty issues, of course I go for the natural things first, treating her with juices and baby yoga, and like one mom suggested, I got her into our wellness center etc.
Our GI doctor ordered a barium enema (dear god never allow me to be okay with that again okay!?) and they found nothing.
Our healer did get her to make a poop on her own though, via energy, oils and acupuncture (kid friendly, not our traditional.)
But I am still puzzled as to what the heck the cause is!
They say she is holding it, but holding it from before she could talk? I don't know.
And of course I hate hate hate giving her medication daily, god I do.

In the past we have done all sorts of juices, oils, movement etc and right when you think "Aha, we found it, she's doing it on her own" Bam, she stops going on about day two/three :(

Then we go into her GI doctor for another appointmet, I dislike the usual doctor, for one I can't understand what she's saying and there seems to be a lack of communication or something, another, because there isn't anything going on aside from "give her meds."
Well we go in and it's the male version of her, we can't understand him, he can't find her file because it's in storage, apparently they store the files they don't see for 6 months, even though we're not even to see them but once a year!
So we talk and he's saying that the milk allergy is false, if she doesn't respond to beef then it's not the cow protein they first thought it was, but this time around she is older, and while you never grow out of an allergy as apposed to an intolerance (her father has an undiagnosed one to milk) I have read that food allergies in older children show diffrent signs then those of babies, like older children can often seemingly be adhd, but upon a closer look it's really a food allergy!
He wants no part of this and even though he can't find the file or the test results he's convinced it's not that. Ugh.

That is the reason we're taking her to Holts Childrens Hospital they have a whole team of specialist for gastrointestinal issues in children, so if it is that, I am hoping they can find it and we can be done with this.

It's a horrible feeling, first the cyst on her liver and now this, youcan't help but feel horrible as the mother, I hate it and I wish nothing more then for her to be able to not take medication and not have to care about pooping! The poor child, it's always a huge deal when she does, when she doesn't etc. I don't want her to be this way for life, but if she is going to I want us to at least know why and not just be treating a symptom to something worse or diffrent.

Any how, sorry about this huge post, I was focused on her eating habits in my first one, I didn't even think about posting about her pooping (lack of!) issues.

Thanks again mama's, I'm going to be back tonight to comment to each of you because you all gave some awesome advice!

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i don't have a lot of time to give right now, but I just wanted to say: YOU ARE AN AWESOME MOTHER!!!!!!!  I feel such empathy for you, and I know it's got to be horrifying to go through this.  I hope me and the other mamas on this forum can give you some ideas and help to make life a little easier for everyone!

I'll respond back later when the kids aren't as energized. ;)

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I'm not sure if you're giving her so many raw vegetables for her bowel issues, but if she has some IBS issues that might exacerabate them.  Just based on what I've read over the years and my own experiences raising my 3 veg kids--they don't need the same amount of fiber as adults and too much can fill up their tummies too quickly so they might not be eating as much as they should. A 4 year old doesn't have that big a tummy anyway.

Just based on your sample menu, it seems like she is getting plenty of fats and protein, especially if she is drinking a cup or two of soymilk everyday. You might consider serving her steamed or sauteed vegetables and some easy to digest starches with lunch and dinner.  You don't want her to get bored--or tired of chewing--before she's had a chance to eat enough calories.

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You are doing everything you can for her. I know you are beating yourself up over seeing her so uncomfortable. But, please, please, PLEASE, remember this IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!!!!!!! Take her to the different GI team, also a pediatric nutritionist and a pediatric allergist. (If this is possible, of course - otherwise, your naturopath should be WELL read up on these issues.) Don't be afraid to scream an yell, if that is what it takes to get them to treat your daughter, then that is what it takes. If you aren't already, start a journal, documenting everything she eats and drinks (including water)  (times, quantities, etc) her behavior/pain/uncomfortability/mood/etc, bowl movements (or lack there of) times you checked, and when she peed.

Speaking from experience, children as young as 6 mo (possibly younger!) can control/hold their movements if they associate it with some sort of painful/bad experience....When I was that age, I put my parents through the ringer....(feberal seizures, coma....you name it!) It wasn't uncommon for the Dr to take a urine sample. I don't know if they still do it this way, but how they did it back then was basically adhere a baggy onto that area of the body. After a few times of that being done, I started holding my pee when I felt the baggy put on me, because I didn't want to feel the pain of them removing it. So yes, it is possible!

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all the parents here have good advice i think. i find my friends who are parents tend to be really hard on themselves even when they are doing a great job!

one suggestion i have in terms of helping her try new foods would be to get her involved in making/picking out foods to eat. i've read that kids who are involved in food buying/making are more likely to try new stuff. like you could find a cookbook with lots of pictures and she can look at recipes in there (not sure if there is a "kid vegan book" with pics, but something like vegan lunchbox might be fun) or even blogs if you allow her to use the computer with you. vegandad and veganlunchbox blogs have a lot of kid stuff. you could also let her pick out a new veggie or fruit to try when shopping. it seems like she has interest in what she eats (wanting to be vegan) and that a lot of the not eating is due to tummy upsets and maybe some pickiness. i think the small meals help. you can also try cutting food into fun shapes (or give her mini cookie cutters to cut it up herself! like she can cut up toast with a little cutter and dunk it in something). just some ideas from a mom of cats (who are not picky eaters!)

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all the parents here have good advice i think. i find my friends who are parents tend to be really hard on themselves even when they are doing a great job!

one suggestion i have in terms of helping her try new foods would be to get her involved in making/picking out foods to eat. i've read that kids who are involved in food buying/making are more likely to try new stuff. like you could find a cookbook with lots of pictures and she can look at recipes in there (not sure if there is a "kid vegan book" with pics, but something like vegan lunchbox might be fun)

Great advice! We do this. I have my daughter look at pictures and then she feels involved. Getting kids involved is HUGE and is also one of the recommendations in my cookbook (in the kid's section). It really works! My daughter also likes to help shop and cook.
I also agree with BP that parents (including myself) are too hard on themselves. It is so much work to raise a child and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job!!! Truly. :)

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all the parents here have good advice i think. i find my friends who are parents tend to be really hard on themselves even when they are doing a great job!

one suggestion i have in terms of helping her try new foods would be to get her involved in making/picking out foods to eat. i've read that kids who are involved in food buying/making are more likely to try new stuff. like you could find a cookbook with lots of pictures and she can look at recipes in there (not sure if there is a "kid vegan book" with pics, but something like vegan lunchbox might be fun) or even blogs if you allow her to use the computer with you. vegandad and veganlunchbox blogs have a lot of kid stuff. you could also let her pick out a new veggie or fruit to try when shopping. it seems like she has interest in what she eats (wanting to be vegan) and that a lot of the not eating is due to tummy upsets and maybe some pickiness. i think the small meals help. you can also try cutting food into fun shapes (or give her mini cookie cutters to cut it up herself! like she can cut up toast with a little cutter and dunk it in something). just some ideas from a mom of cats (who are not picky eaters!)

I also agree! I look at cookbooks and veggie magazines and stuff often enough that my daughter will see a picture of food and say, can we make that recipe? Or I'll let her pick the dessert from JOVB, or whatever. We gave her a little cheese spreader that she uses to cut up mushrooms or strawberries, and she always helps me bake, make smoothies, etc.

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