By Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed., C.H.C.
So you’ve decided to go gluten free with your kids. Maybe it’s because they’ve had a diagnosis of Celiac, or maybe you’ve found they are just so much better behaved and happy off the stuff. Either way, you’re pretty sure going gluten free is right for them, and now you have to figure out how. Here are three tips to help get you started!
Gluten Free Kids
1) Go Back to School: Study up on all things that might contain gluten. If you’re new to the gluten free world, you might be surprised at all the places it can lurk. We have a very comprehensive primer on our FAQ Page to help get you started.
2) Create a Go-To List: Divide a paper into two columns. On one side, list the foods your family eats that are already naturally gluten free. Rice or milk, for instance, would go on this side. And of course all fruits and veggies. Read labels in your home and fill in foods that work. This will serve not only as a reference, but might make you feel a bit better about all the familiar foods that can stay on the menu.
On the other side, begin to build a list of products you know you’ll need to replace For example, gluten free bread and snack foods might go on this side. Start with just categories, such as “bread”. Later you can start to fill in favorite or recommended brands.
Take this list with you each time you go shopping until you get very comfortable with your go-to sources for all your grocery needs.
Bonus assignment: Explore the reviews on this website find restaurants local to you that you want to try!
3) Talk it out: If your child is new to going gluten free, you’re going to want to have lots of conversations! Be prepared to begin teaching them at an age appropriate level how to seek out gluten free foods, and self-advocate in social situations.
In addition to teaching your child how to navigate the outside gluten free world, you’ll also want to help them with what’s going on with the inside – their thoughts, and their feelings When a child is asked to make major dietary changes, be prepared for them to have something of an emotional response. Asking a child to give up his or her favorite foods, and eat differently than their friends, can be a lot at first. Listen as they express any frustrations, acknowledge the hard feelings if they are there, and brainstorm together to find safe and healthy solutions.
I’ve been at the beginning of this journey with my own son (read our story HERE), and while it does take some adjusting, you can totally get there! I wrote my upcoming children’s book, “Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not be Stopped: A Food Allergy Story” to address tip there – talking it out, and working it out together. I can’t wait to preview it with you at the upcoming Gluten Free Expo. In the meantime, check out my Indiegogo campaign to find out how you can get a first copy!
In my next blog, I’ll start talking a little bit more about balanced nutrition for kids who go gluten free. In the meantime, you’ve got this!
Colleen Brunetti is a best selling author, certified health coach, and educator. Her work is centered around empowering people to define a life they love – no matter what curve balls may come. Colleen is currently launching her new children’s book, “Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not be Stopped: A Food Allergy Story”. This book is designed to empower kids to find their superpowers by feeding their bodies just what they need, and uses fun and whimsy to encourage them to accept food allergies and differences in themselves and peers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org