Let’s be honest, when we find out that we need to remove gluten from our diets, or our kids diets, it’s overwhelming. But don’t fret. There are so many incredible resources out there now that you will be able to find everything that you need. You’ve got this!
We discovered that our girls were gluten-intolerant when they were 3 and 4 and it took us a while to adjust. I’ve put together a quick resource on supporting gluten-free kids, and I hope you’ll find at least one thing in this article helpful.
This list applies to kids with food allergies in general, not just gluten-intolerance or Celiac. If you do something different or want to add to this list please leave me a comment and if it applies, I will add it. Also, if you have any questions on how to handle a situation please ask. I will do my best to help.
Tips for supporting gluten-free kids:
Bake or cook food in batches and freeze as necessary- I guess this is more for parent sanity 🙂 The more that you can prepare in advance, the easier it will be for you throughout the week or month. I like to make batches of Gluten-Free Waffles, Gluten-Free Pancakes, and Gluten-Free Donuts to help us get through mornings.
Emphasize fresh foods- Fruits, vegetables and lean protein are key, especially because some people with gluten sensitivity or Celiac also can’t tolerate dairy products. You’d be surprised to know that all meats, veggies, fruits, rice, quinoa, potatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free. Focus on whole foods and you’ll find great recipes for everything else.
Offer as much variety as you can- Children with gluten sensitivities or Celiac tend to get bored with their food, and as a result, they sometimes stop eating. Rotate meals and snacks as much as possible. Let them pick out safe snacks while at the grocery store and have them help prep in the kitchen.
Be prepared with substitutes- When kids attend birthday or school parties, ask exactly what treats or snacks will be served and then send the equivalent. I once sent my daughter to a party with a gluten-free vanilla cupcake, then learned after that the host had served chocolate cupcakes – my daughter, feeling left out, didn’t eat her cupcake.
Respond calmly to criticism- I’ve had to cope with a few parents who took offense that my daughters wouldn’t eat food they had provided. Each time I responded with something like this, “Her intent was not to offend you; she’s learning about her dietary restrictions right now and she knows there are certain foods she can’t eat. The best thing to do in such situations is communicate and then move on.
Travel- When traveling, always do research ahead of time and identify safe places to eat. Also, pack your own snacks just in case a meal isn’t safe or plans fall through.
Other great resources for parents supporting gluten-free kids:
- 3 Tips to Prevent Snack Sharing
- Sending Your Gluten-Free Child to Camp Safely
- 10 Tips: How to Handle Children with Emotional Fits/Tantrums Due to Gluten Exposure
- A Guide to the Gluten-Free Diet for Kids
What tips do you have for parents? Anything else I can add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.