Gluten is the major type of protein found in products made from wheat, rye and barley. For a variety of reasons children may be unable to cope with digesting and/or absorbing gluten, and are advised to avoid eating it.
Living gluten free may seem like a life condemned to reading labels and analysing ingredients, but in reality there has never been a better time to live gluten free.
Better packaging and greater alternatives mean that dietary restrictions may not be so strict after all!
Living Gluten Free
- Gluten free diets may be recommended for a variety of reasons, including:
- Coeliac disease – an autoimmune disorder of the small bowel prompted by gluten.
- Gluten intolerance – another name for coeliac disease.
- Wheat allergy – a condition in which the body misrepresents wheat as harmful and releases histamines to deal with it.
- Dermatitis herpeformitis – gluten induced skin sensitivity.
Gluten Free Feast
When a gluten free diet is first attempted, it may seem as though there is nothing left to eat. Actually, a variety of options exist including:
- Nuts, Seeds, Beans, Lentils (Although read the labels of baked beans.)
- Fruits and Vegetables (All undressed fruits and vegetables.)
- Dairy and Eggs
- Golden Syrup
- Some chocolate and sweets – read the labels
- Cereals and Flours (including foods made with either)
Gluten Free Lunches
One of the hardest parts of cooking for children on a gluten free diet can be preparing a healthy lunch that is “just like everyone else’s.”
No child wants to be marked out at lunch time as different, but with a little planning a gluten free lunch can contain many of the same items as any other healthy meal. Shop ahead and send your child with:
- Fresh, whole fruit or fruit slices.
- Cheese sticks or string cheese.
- Lettuce wraps of ham and cheese, turkey or roast beef.
- Tuna or egg mayonnaise.
- Fruit rolls.
- Hard boiled eggs.
- Apple sauce.
- Crisps, though read the labels to be sure.
- Fruit snacks, but again, read the labels.
While it may be easiest to cook every meal from scratch to ensure that no gluten enters your child’s diet, sometimes this won’t be possible.
The rule of thumb when eating out is to choose meals with little sauce and that are heavier on meat and vegetables.
If choosing pre-packaged foods, including yogurts, read the label to be sure of the exact ingredients.
And as with all things, variety is the spice of life so be sure to vary the dishes and snacks in your child’s gluten free diet to ensure not simply a healthy diet full of the necessary vitamins and minerals, but one that is tempting and tasty as well.