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7 min read

Raising Gluten Free Kids

Gluten Free Kids Nutrition

Finding out that one of your children needs to go gluten free can feel rather overwhelming. And daunting. Gluten free this and gluten free that… where to even start! What is gluten and how do we go about dodging it without feeling miserable.

 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It acts like a glue or binder in baked goods like bread and pasta. It’s what gives the elastic texture to dough- giving it a stretchy quality.

 

Some people react to the gluten; and the reactions range from a mild intolerance to a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms of a gluten intolerance often include bloating and abdominal discomfort or sluggishness after eating gluten. Some people develop skin rashes and tiredness. An allergic reaction to gluten, called coeliac disease, is far more serious. Eating gluten can damage the intestinal tract causing inflammation and pain. The damage caused can affect nutrient absorption which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. A coeliac needs to avoid gluten completely.

 

The good news is that going gluten free these days is a lot easier than it used to be. There are many gluten free products available on the market that are accessible and convenient. There is also a greater awareness of both gluten sensitivity and gluten allergy out there.

 

There are, however, a few traps some people fall into when adopting a gluten free lifestyle. Just because a label says its gluten free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Some gluten free products are poor quality and very refined. We still want to eat food in its more natural state, not heavily processed, refined and devoid of nutrients. Gluten is only found in wheat, barley, and rye (or in cross contamination with food handling). Everything else is gluten free, including fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, other grains like rice and quinoa etc. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, look at all the quality food options you can. This can help you avoid feeling limited and deprived- you really aren’t limited, and you don’t need to feel deprived. Use gluten free breads, baked goods and treats on occasion- the exception, not the rule. Look for quality ingredients and more wholefood options.

 

Mindset is key. We often just need to take a little time to wrap our heads around what going gluten free means and realise that there is a whole array of beautiful food still on the menu. This is an important point to get across to our littlies if they need to be gluten free. Understanding that gluten is harmful to a coeliac; and living gluten free can mean a happier, healthier life with less discomfort and few limitations.

 

What does gluten free look like for our little ones?

 

Excluding wheat, barley and rye. Careful with cross contamination where products are processed on the same equipment as gluten containing products. Some people can eat oats and others can’t- consult your healthcare professional on this one.

 

Breakfast:  

  • Scrambled eggs and spinach on gluten free toast
  • A gluten free cereal with Kids Good Stuff milk (choose your favourite Kids Good Stuff flavour, mix it with your milk of choice and pour it over your gluten free cereal)
  • Smoothie with banana, berries, nut butter, milk of choice and Kids Good Stuff

 

School lunch box:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetable crudites with hummus or pesto
  • Sandwich on gluten free bread (Most gluten free breads need a bit of toasting for them to taste yummy. Thoroughbread do an amazing range of gluten free breads soft enough, when fresh, for a sandwich).
  • Salad
  • Popcorn
  • Bliss balls
  • Cheese and gluten free crackers
  • Homemade gluten free banana bread

 

After School:

  • Smoothie with banana, berries, nut butter, milk of choice and Kids Good Stuff
  • Kids good stuff and a cookie
  • Frozen Yoghurt bark

 

Dinner:

  • Pizza on a gluten free base. Topping options are endless- just make sure they are gluten free. A great combination is a tomato base, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, fresh tomatoes, basil leaves and cheese of choice (this can be a dairy pizza blend, dairy free mozzarella or even a vegan cheese)
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise with gluten free pasta
  • Homemade hamburgers with gluten free buns and wholesome burger ingredients
  • Roast chicken with roast vegetables
  • Fish and steamed vegetables
  • Soup

 

Dessert:

  • Chocolate- always a winner!
  • Frozen Yoghurt
  • Black bean brownie
  • Gluten free apple pie with custard

 

Play dates and parties:

 

Nobody likes to feel left out, limited, or deprived. A way to get around this is to plan ahead. If it’s a play date, does the parent/s know your little one is gluten free? Are they able (and willing) to accommodate?  The same applies for a party. Where need be, pack snacks and goodies- get your child involved with this. This provides hands on learning about gluten free living for them and they get to choose foods they enjoy. Pack extra so that the food can be shared

 

Eating Out:

 

Once again, plan ahead. Have a look at the menu and even call the restaurant and talk to them about your needs. Most (good) restaurants and cafes are already accommodating special dietary requirements. For younger children especially, it’s always a good idea to pack food and bring it along.

 

Cook and bake with your children. Get them involved in meal planning, meal prep and the fun of baking. This empowers them with knowledge and tools and makes the gluten free lifestyle easy. Get the whole family (and friends) eating gluten free meals and baking. Just because you can eat gluten, doesn’t mean you need to. The world is your oyster.

The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Kids Good Stuff

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