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Ragu - Sos For 3 Yo
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Hello all. My 3 yo son, Ethan, was diagnosed last week (endoscopy / biopsy). We are having a very hard time. He was already a picky eater and now things have gotten crazy: I've purchased many (many, many) types of gluten-free pasta and sauces mac and cheese and cookies and crackers and bread crumbs and protein bars (in desperation) and, well, suffice it to say he's been eating a lot of vanilla yogurt (gluten free).

Here's the immediate problem: I think I found a pasta brand he'll eat (Goldbaums). But he's rejected several sauces (and the butter and salt approach). The only sauce he's eat is Ragu Old World Style flavored with Meat (and, sometimes, just traditional w/o meat flavoring)(this Ragu thing must be genetic - I grew up on it). But of course I can't tell if it's gluten-free. The label isn't clear. Nothing obviously bad but includes "spices" and "natural flavoring." I've checked all over the internet, including older posts here, and the most anyone can say is that the company, which won't specifically confirm or deny gluten, (merely) maintains that any gluten containing ingredients would be listed. I spoke to them today and got the same story. Not too comforting.

But since it's the only sauce he'll eat, I have to try to get an answer from people's personal experiences:

Is Ragu Old World Style, flavored with Meat, gluten free?

What about Ragu Old World Style traditional?

Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.

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The response from the manufacturer is typical for a mainstream product.

They (Unilever) said they would identify any intentional gluten on the label. They won't make a "gluten-free" claim because they do not test. I trust products by Unilever, Kraft, General Mills and ConAgra, among others.

Wheat must, by law, be clearly disclosed. No grain product, and thus no gluten, can be labeled as "spices."

Here's a list of companies that have a clear gluten policy. If you don't see "wheat, rye, barley, barley malt, oats" on the labels, its not there, or hidden in "flavors, starches, etc."

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On a recent trip I determined the Ragu I wanted was gluten free, nothing on the label was on my list of things to check for. Terribly awful practice, especially to start 2 months in, but I know my Classico sauces are gluten free and just pick them up without checking every time. If I had the potential to make my kid sick it would probably encourage me to be more vigilant.

It sounds like you're pretty on the ball already checking labels. While not an avid couponer I do carry a 3-ring binder with me to the store so I added a few sheets at the front of the binder with lists of things to watch for and my "trusted" brands. (Which is the list Peter so kindly shared.) I just like the reassurance that I don't have to remember every little thing.

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Thank you very much. The list(s) are helpful. Today my son's nutritionist gave me other lists too. Interestingly Ragu isn't listed under Unilever (the maker of Ragu)(on the above linked list).

And by the way I feel startlingly under the ball (rather than on it). Just about every "gluten free" food I've gotten for my son doesn't meet the nutritionist's exacting standards (actual certification or extremely well-known company with stated policy / practice on gluten free labeling).

So I told the doctor that Ethan may be his first patient to subsist on breakfast cereal alone. He said Ethan could make it on that for a while. Which makes me think that he thought I was kidding.

Anyway, thanks again.

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I use Ragu and haven't had any bad effects. Not saying there isn't a chance of cross contamination but I'm fine with it.

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What about making your own? Would your son eat that?

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Will your son eat soup? Progresso has a bunch of gluten-free soups that are labelled on either the front or back of the can. some of the ones I eat are the clam chowder (I think it's the New England - check because some versions of their chowder do have gluten), corn chowder, lentil and chicken and wild rice.

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I've never had issues with mainstream pasta sauces (until I started reacting to tomatoes :lol:). They generally don't have wheat ingredients at all and I have never even seen a "shared machinery" label on a jar. I would feed him the Ragu.

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Thanks so much. So, a few things:

Ethan (again, picky 3 yo) eats (ate, until diagnosed 2 weeks ago): pasta, Ragu sauce, chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate sprinkles, pretzels, tortilla chips, chef boyardee pasta w red sauce and meatballs, occasionally mommy or grandma's meatballs, the occasional bite of yam, wontons (completely removed from the offending soup), an occasional fortune cookie. He has once or twice tried my home-made sausage pasta sauce (the best thing I cook, by far) and strongly prefers Ragu Old World Traditional w/ meat. I believe he once tried broccoli on a dare. Also, he eats bananas, dried apricots, and sometimes apple slices. And he eats bread and bagels and fruit spread and (very occasionally) peanut butter. He drinks milk, apple juice and water. Oh, and vanilla yogurt.

I know that seems like an insanely limited diet. Irresponsibly so. How could I have let him get away refusing most meat and nearly all vegetables? I don't have a good excuse. But what I tell myself is that I've been very, very busy with my boys. Ethan has developmental delays and has been getting therapy for years. His older brother had physical delays and then his diagnoses became more pervasive, plus ADHD. Things have been tough for the older one in school this year and, well, it just seemed like there wasn't any time.

So no, Ethan doesn't eat soup. And he might or might not eat home made Ragu sauce. (I snuck browned chop meat into Newman's Own Marina the other day and that seemed to go OK, but then today he wouldn't eat it,). He ate home made pork rib sauce the other day but seemed outright offended at the suggestion that he eat some meat.

And the there's the extremely strict dietician at the doctor's office telling me that my standard should be foods that are actually certified as gluten free. That's not too many pastas on the shelf at the local market ( now including 3 nature / health places and a few supermarkets). I told her about how Ethan loves Ragu and how hard it is to introduce new things to him and that I was thinking that while I'm introducing new pastas I'd just stick with Ragu -- her response was that if the company won't even say it's gluten free, it's too risky. But then I told her that Ethan likes la yogurt and that says gluten-free on the container and she said she wouldn't trust that unless it was from a big manufacture (which la yogurt is not). So I didn't bother telling her about the stop & shop yogurt Ethan loves, that also says gluten-free (bc I know what she'd say). And I contacted the company that makes stop and shop sprinkles (very good) and they said gluten-free full stop, but again now I'm afraid. (I also contacted stop and shop about their chocolate ice cream (excellent) but the manufacturer's answer felt like a food labelling "we're not really sure what's in our products" run around, so we switched right away to haagwn daz.

And then there's the gluten free pasta fiasco. Pasta is, again, the main staple in ethan's diet so it's very important that it be actually gluten free and edible. So I've tried many different brands and types and of course the few that Ethan is willing to eat are not certified and, in the case of one of the manufacturers, clearly a local-ish brand. But he likes them and, with respect to the local-ish brand, they go to great lengths to say that the facility is gluten free, etc. So do I not feed him this because they're not national yet? That seems a little strict.

But, and finally, I don't have a great gauge for when ethane's eaten something containing gluten. In the few weeks before bloods and biopsy he had stomachaches, but they were intermittent, not directly responsive to any one food, and he had no symptoms like some I've heard where immediately upon ingesting gluten the person's innards begin to spasm.

So. The short question is still about that g-d forsaken Ragu w meat. But the broader one is about what standards to use in determining what's gluten free. I'll refer to the above-redden Ed lists, of course, but any further insist would be most welcome. Thanks!

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Wow, your dietician doesn't have a foggy clue about picky little kids, does she? My nephew's list isn't much longer than Ethan's. He'd rather go hungry than eat something that tastes funny to him.

If I were you, I would not lose my mind about certification. It's good that your dietician understands that not all celiacs tolerate traces of gluten, but there are many, many people with celiac disease on gluten-free diets doing perfectly fine on mainstream food. I was a student when I figured out I needed gluten-free and I sure couldn't afford certified gluten-free food! I ate whatever brand of pasta sauce was on sale and sometimes had it over a potato rather than gluten-free pasta to save money. Your son has antibodies so you can monitor his improvement with blood tests to be sure you're doing OK on the diet.

By the way, try Glutino pretzels. They're very good. Also my hyper-picky nephew shocked me by declaring my rice cakes edible when I came to visit. Put a little jelly on them. Ore-Ida Tater Tots are a nephew-approved gluten-free food. Amy's frozen gluten-free macaroni and cheese might work too.

The Ragu will be fine as long as there are no wheat ingredients. Feed him the local pasta. It sounds like they are taking good care. I agree with your choice of Haagen Dazs over Stop & Shop when you had a choice and got a better answer from one manufacturer over the other. With the Ragu w/meat, Ethan is not giving you a choice and you have to get some protein into the child. Trust your common sense - you seem to have plenty. :)

You might have a look at GAPS diet for the long term. It's one of the diets that's supposed to help kids with developmental problems, especially when done gluten-free/casein-free. Another issue for some kids with ADD is food chemical sensitivity. http://fedup.com.au/ There is a chapter in the GAPS book on helping picky kids transition diets if you decide to go that direction. A lot of parents find the pickiness improves when they can get the kid on a diet that suits them better, since it's often partly sensory in origin.

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Back when we used to eat out a lot (pre-celiac diagnoses) people would stop and gawk at my two boys, happily munching on loads of vegetables and salad. I have heard the question "How do you get them to eat that?" about 100 times. My answer is "I don't give them any alternatives." It sounds overly simple, but it's true. I gave in too much when they were little. If they didn't like it the first time I labelled that a food they didn't like and then left it off their menu. But over time I have found it takes way more than just a few tries to get a child to attempt to eat a new food. I read somewhere that there's an average of 21 tries before they will finally begin to like something new. I have found that to be true with my kids. When we're trying a new food, they MUST taste it. If they really hate it they don't have to eat it, but I will keep offering it again and again and I've noticed that over time they begin to really like the foods they initially hated. I would say keep at it. Keep trying to get him to eat the veggies. Offer them over and over. Maybe he'll warm up to it and you'll have a more varied menu to offer him. :)

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My mom did that with me and my brother. We always had to taste anything she cooked. She would not force us to eat a meal of food we hated but the one bite was a requirement. Sure enough, something that tasted bad at first eventually tasted OK. As an adult I eat just about any normal food short of calves liver. I never could get used to that stuff! :lol:

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What about making your own? Would your son eat that?

I second this. You control the ingredients.

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Hey Mommy,

I know it's not easy, getting a healthy 3 year old to eat is a huge task. Many years ago my one son would only eat mac and cheese the occasional chicken cutlet. Children's appetites change and so will his. All you can do now it stick to gluten-free.

You don't have to make excuses (your saying) or beat yourself up, running a household and caring for several children is a task in itself. If you have the time, try and experiment with homemade tomato sauces with and without meat, homemade mac and cheese and sneak in some veggies. If he won't eat it so the rest of the family will and on to the next meal. If he likes the gluten-free pastas try different homemade sauces.

Van's make a delicious gluten-free waffle, try it with any of his favorite toppings. Keep making his favorites, gluten free but try fresh homemade and not jarred processed. Like I said his appetite will change with age, and remember your doing your best. Good luck Mommy.

Cathey

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Ok, so I'm so grateful for the helpful responses. Here's where we are now:

It turns out the answer to whether he'll eat my homemade Ragu sauce is no. I even browned the meat and out it in a blender before adding it to the rest of the sauce, lest there be offending chunks to contend with.

I now own the vans waffles and the tater tots. Also some rice cakes. He hasn't tried those yet. I bought some chicken-FREE nuggets by mistake the other day and he actually ate them! (Actually i tried them and they were pretty good - health is wealth brand, of course gluten-free). Today I bought many more (so I'm sure he'll never eat them again). And supposedly my housekeeper got him to eat lentils w rice today but, even though it was really good, I'm positive he only did it for her and she's not here frequently enough (or, even when she is, cooks enough) for that strategy to work.

So, we're making a little bit of progress but are still limited to yogurt and pasta w Ragu sauce for lunch and dinner. He doesn't like pizza. Doesn't like meat.

As for the not giving him any choice option: yes, in theory, but think it's to some extent child specific. Of course no child should be able to reject any food without trying it. Mine certainly aren't. But I don't make Ethan eat something he doesn't like b/c (a) it's impossible and (B) seems mean. But what I don't do, that you're right, I should, is to repeatedly expose him to the rejected items. I need to do more of that.

But in the meantime I need to get something other than yogurt and pasta w Ragu. Maybe hot dogs...?

Anyway, thanks for all your thoughts. I'm going to keep checking in.

- Mommy (or, if you were reading the "I hate mom" note on my 8 yo's door tonight, apparently demoted to "Mom")

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When my daughter was 3, we didn't know about her food intolerances yet. She was not nearly as picky of an eater as a lot of other kids were. I used to fix meals for two of her friends, one of whom was a very picky eater. Most nights I made them plates that consisted of macaroni and cheese (they would only eat Kraft), breakfast sausage links, canned green beans, baby carrots, black olives and apple slices. Those kids would consistantly eat those same foods night after night after night. Once in a while I would make pierogies instead of the mac and cheese. Oddly the one kid who hated potatoes (unless they were French fries) would eat the pierogies.

When I was cooking for just my daughter, I could provide her with more variety. It's just for a period of a few months, those other kid's mothers could not always be there to cook dinner and the dads asked for my help because they didn't know how to cook and/or just couldn't be there either. We lived in miltary housing at the time and the weather was almost always 70 degrees and sunny. There was a play area outside of our apartments, complete with little kid picnic tables. I had some divided dishes. I would make up plates for the kids and put the rest of the food in some little rectangular plastic containers that I bought at an Asian store.

Those kids were fine even though they ate the same foods day after day after day.

Now that I know better, I realize why it is important to have a varied diet for people like us (my daughter and myself). We do not have celiac but food intolerances and anything we eat too frequently can cause us to become intolerant to us. If your family is not prone to this, then you don't need to worry about that.

I do think it is best to eat all colors of the rainbow to get all of the nutrients from our diet. My daughter and I also take a lot of supplements to make up for what we can't get from our food.

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I just wanted to say you will feel so much better about this soon! My son was diagnosed last June at the age of 16 mos. We are doing much better now than we were then! I would personally think that Ragu is ok - my son ate it tonight, which is how I found your post. We typically eat Hunts - the garlic one seems to be safe for him, but I happened to have a can of Ragu and always do a little google-ing before I feed him something new. He's not nearly as picky of an eater as your son seems to be, but his favorite pasta is Tinkyada brand - they even have one with fun kid shapes in it. For snacks he loves Snyder's Gluten-Free pretzels, Happy Baby fruit/veggie pouches, Pirate's Booty cheese puffs, fruit snacks (he does fine with Betty Crocker and Target brands but not Kelloggs)and he loves when I make gluten free Rice Krispe treats. It is pretty hard to tell if they are having a reaction to gluten at these young ages, but I try to do the best I can and once in a while I notice some changes that make me think something is bothering him. You'll get there!

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