Both of my boys are in soccer. This is the first year that my 4 year old is getting to play and they are both having a blast! I am also helping coach one of the teams. It is an adjustment while we are in after school activities because we have to plan ahead and have snacks before practice and dinner planned for when we get home. Of course there is also the after game snacks. Our family actually looks forward to signing up for snacks because we make them together.

You see I usually get the "look" when I tell parents my children are gluten free and dairy free as if it is taboo. My kids love to eat whole foods and go to the fridge to grab carrots, cucumbers, apples, and banana's without me harping on them. Now don't get me wrong, we do have some go to processed snacks that we keep on hand for the kids that are gluten free and dairy free. We buy Annie's gluten free granola bars, gluten free pretzels, and Smart Pop popcorn. My kids would LOVE to eat all that junk all the time if I let them, but we learned early on that wasn't an option for us.

You see, when my oldest was only 6 months he started getting ear infections and they didn't stop. In fact, we were at the doctor's office every 2 weeks sometimes. I couldn't stand him being on antibiotics all the time and it seemed as soon as he came off a round he got sick again. So at the age of 1 we asked about out options. We ended up getting tubes in his ears. Even after that the infections didn't stop. I started doing research and found that removing dairy could help clear up infections. My doctor wasn't really supportive and said that dairy creating excess mucus was just a myth. My husband and I decided that it was worth a try and wasn't going to harm anything so we went dairy free. We switch my oldest to coconut milk and no longer gave him cheese snacks or yogurt. If I made any recipes that called for cow's milk we just used coconut milk instead. It really wasn't very hard. No matter how much your child likes a certain snack, if it is no longer an option in your home they are going to question you. Just give them another option.

After a couple of months of being dairy free the ear infections slowed and then stopped. He would get an infection any time he was exposed to dairy so that confirmed our decision to remove dairy and stick with it. Logan knew that if he ate something he shouldn't that his ear would hurt really bad. He has had 7 ruptured ear drums and 2 sets of tubes. So we have learned the hard way that our food choices matter. We later decided to remove gluten because my youngest had eczema and that cleared up his skin completely. We don't feel it is fair to allow one family member to eat these foods when the others can't have it so we do it as a family.

The other food choice we decided to make a change on very early on in parenthood was to remove all foods that had artificial dyes. These dyes are derived from coal tar. Synthetic alternatives have proven to have a lot of problems with the behavior of children. I first noticed this after taking my son Logan out for a treat for going an entire week without any accidents when we started potty training. He of course chose the multi colored ice cream. Oh boy, was I in for a treat! He was not only bouncing off the walls, but wouldn't listen to a thing I said to him. It was an absolute nightmare. I started looking at some of the foods we had and noticed that his cereal bar had red dye in it and so did his gummy snacks. If you do some research you will find that dyes are in all kinds of products, toothpaste, vitamins, cough syrup, chap stick, as well as your drinks and food.

So now you can see my decision to make these changes in our diets really benefits us greatly. It has nothing to do with me trying to show up other parents or make you feel bad for bringing chips, gatorade, or candy. I just don't want my kids to end up with another ear infection or their skin to break out with eczema. So they will always bring me the food they were offered and ask if it is something they can eat. I don't try to push my lifestyle choices on others, but I do offer food my family can eat when we sign up for snacks.

The other kids love our snacks! I haven't had one turn them down yet. The best part of we often have parents asking if we have extra for them to have. Our biggest hit that we make are our Little Frankies. We just buy organic grapes and organic marshmallows (these are free of corn syrup). Put the grapes in the cup with 2 large marshmallows with a couple grapes on top and put some seal and press saran wrap on the top of the cup. We then draw some eyes, a mouth and some hair on the cup to make them fun. The kids love it!

What I find important is providing nutrients after an hour long game of running back and forth, sweating like crazy in our hot, humid, Florida weather. Gatorade was created for replacing electrolytes, but it is full of sugar and artificial coloring so we opt for water. There are dye free juice drinks that you can bring if you want to get those as well. My kids love those little bottles of water for some reason so we buy those when it is for the team.

Some other cute snack ideas are:

- banana dolphins

- Tangerine pumpkins

- Ningxia turtle apples


The kids are sure to love these when you put a little extra touch to them. I hope this sparks some interest to make some healthy options and get your kids involved as well.