Raising Gluten-Free Kids

by Maggie on July 23, 2010

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Raising gluten-free kids is a lot easier than you might think.

My husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease six years ago, so we’re pretty used to living gluten-free. In fact, I’d say we’re almost pro. We’ve learned how to eat out, travel, and wade through the gluten-eous world we live in.

Our 3 year-old son Callum, was diagnosed with a gluten, egg, and dairy intolerance eight months ago. That changed life a lot, because now we had a child with a gluten intolerance. Although this wasn’t a big surprise (celiac disease and gluten intolerance are genetic), it was still a shock because we knew we’d have to make some major changes.

Our 1 and a-half–year-old daughter, Liv, has never had gluten. We decided early on to keep her off of it until she was at least two. And now that Callum has been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, it will be even longer before Liv tries gluten.

So we’re a gluten-free family. I eat gluten-free too.

We don’t want to risk gluten crumbs in the toaster, in the oven, or in the almond butter. It’s just not worth having the ever-present risk of accidental gluten ingestion, so we’ve eliminated it from our home.

It is so much easier for the whole family to be gluten-free rather than to have two of us eating gluten, and the other two gluten-free. Imagine the sorts of questions we’d encounter as our kids got older…

“Mommy, why can Livvie eat that cupcake but I can’t?”
“But Mommy, why are you allowed to eat those cookies?“
“Mommy, why do Livvie’s waffles look different than mine?”

It’s one less battle to fight, and everyone’s happy!

Here are 8 things we do to make life easier:

1. We’re teaching Callum and Liv the lingo. Callum already knows that he can’t have food with gluten, dairy, or eggs.

2. We talk a lot about using food as fuel. We want our kids to grow up knowing that their little bodies need lots of healthy fuel for energy and for growing. And we talk about how gluten, dairy, and eggs make our tummies feel.

3. We bring snacks wherever we go. I always leave the house with rice crackers, fruit or veggies, homemade snacks and water. It doesn’t matter where we’re going, I have a lunch bag with me.

4. We use the give and take model when it comes to treats. If we’re out at a café or the health food store, I don’t hesitate to let Callum get a special drink. It’s usually chocolate soy milk or a juice of some sort. There are enough things he’s not allowed to ingest when we’re out and about. I’m pretty lenient when it comes to this sort of thing.

5. We have a go-to cupcake recipe for birthday parties. I always bring a couple of cupcakes with me when we go to a birthday party. They freeze really well so all I need to do is thaw them, make some icing, and we’re ready. There’s a link to one of my recipes below if you need one!

6. We do a lot of baking. Make sure you get a good bread recipe and a good gluten-free all-purpose baking mix. Consider buying a quality mixer, like a KitchenAid. You will be able to make much healthier, whole foods at home. Check out my So Many Blogs, So Little Time section for links to more gluten-free and dairy-free recipe blogs. You can never have too many recipes!

7. We plan ahead when traveling. We always bring our own almond milk, bread, crackers, and snacks when we’re traveling. We also check online for gluten-free friendly restaurants.  Check out my post about traveling with gluten-free kids and dairy-free kids.

8. We always bring our own food when we go to someone else’s house. I even send bread when Callum goes out for breakfast with his Gramps. Most of our family and friends know about our allergies, but it’s still something we do. Nothing is easy when there’s a hungry child around!

Raising gluten-free kids is much easier than most people think. Instead of fretting over the food you or your child can’t eat, try considering all of the food you or your child CAN eat. Instead of worrying about how to handle all of the changes, try focusing on how much healthier you or your child will be.

Here are few more kid-friendly recipes you can find on my blog:

Chocolate Pudding Sandwiches
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Quinoa Banana Muffins
Bagels
Granola Bars
Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bread: The Nutty Version
Cupcakes

You can also find this post at Your Green Baby.

Any tips you can share to make life easier for those of us who are raising allergic kiddies?


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

momma vej July 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

Thank you so much for this! Just over a year ago our 22 month old was diagnosed with a wheat, dairy, egg and barley allergy. Although the allergist has said she is confident our daughter will grow out of all of these allergies in time, we have had to really change how we do things. Now that we also have a 6 month old, I am starting to think about how I am going to feed her, and I think that until our toddler grows out of the allergies, our baby will be wheat, dairy, egg and barley free as well. Like you, I am just used to bringing food everywhere.
I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and recipes. Thanks so much!

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Maggie July 25, 2010 at 4:47 am

@Mommavej – Thank you! I am so glad that you found this helpful. Sounds like you’re a busy Momma! I’m really glad that you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for the comment – I love hearing from my readers.

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Stephanie July 23, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I think there’s some great info here! The key to being successfully gluten free, I think, is to be prepared. Like you said, never leave the house without something, and take the time to have food in the fridge so you don’t get frustrated or desperate.
I’m really not worried about having kids (at least, as far as feeding them goes!). Right now, while it’s just me and my hubby, we kind of have a line drawn down our kitchen/fridge/pantry, so he can still enjoy his favorite foods, and I’m safe from contamination. However, he knows that as soon as we bring a child into the picture, we will be going gluten free completely.
We’ve agreed that eating out will still be free game, and one of my requirements for our future home is a second kitchen in the basement (we’ve talked about building it into the office, just a small area with counter space and a fridge). He’s a hermit, and loves spending all his free time in his “cave,” so this way he can have a sandwich station down there with his office/bonus room :) I told him that’s the only way I could deal with having gluten in the house.

P.S. We’d probably keep it locked up or something so that it doesn’t get raided when parents aren’t looking. Haven’t thought that far though…

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Maggie July 25, 2010 at 5:18 am

Hey Stephanie – Thanks! I’m glad you like the post. Sounds like you’re prepared already! I like the idea of a separate kitchen. I bet that your husband will notice a difference once your whole household is gf! I don’t need to eat gf but now that I do 90% of the time, I don’t even bother eating wheat when I’m out. The bloating just isn’t worth it! Have a great day!

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gfe--gluten free easily July 25, 2010 at 10:34 am

Fantastic post, Maggie! You are doing this whole thing logically, but lovingly. Teaching your kids the lingo, showing them what they can enjoy while eating out … all smart, smart things to do. The combinatoin of those three intolerances definitely makes it harder to just pick up and go, without some supplies. Personally, I’m not much for taking stuff with me (especially on the motorcycle!), but I know that trying to eat both gf and df will be harder when I go on travel soon. I think we can all get along perfectly fine without bread though, even bread that meets all our requirements BUT I am not vegan, so I’m sure that makes a difference.

Please forgive me, but have to comment on your statement that you don’t have to eat gf, but the bloating when eating wheat isn’t worth it? Hmmm, don’t you think that’s a sign that perhaps you do need to eat gf. Just food for thought.

Again, great tips and discussion post, Maggie!

Shirley

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Maggie July 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Thank you Shirley – your feedback means a lot! It’s difficult when you’re just sort of going with your gut! Don’t know what I’d do without my gf bloggers! And I do appreciate your comment about the bloating I get. I do know that I am wheat intolerant for sure. I’ve never felt better and been more aware of how food makes me feel. It always amazes me how positively our children change our lives.

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Kim - Cook It Allergy Free July 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Great post, Maggie! We are a lot alike! I never go anywhere without snacks. The size of my purse has grown with my efforts to keep my kids well-fed, allergy-free, when we are out and about. After all, I have to have a place to keep the meals and snacks that travel with us wherever we go. LOL
Now it is all second nature. If i do not have food with me when i leave the house, it almost feels like I forgot one of my children -that is how ingrained it is in me!! :0)

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Maggie July 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Thank you Kim. I had to get a bigger purse too! LOL. I’m constantly finding cracker crumbs in there! I agree about not leaving the house without food. I don’t know the last time I did. It’s so much easier to be prepared. Makes for more preparation but happier kids and parents!

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Aubree Cherie July 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

So I don’t have any kids (you’ve probably figured that out by now :)), but this list was still really helpful to me! I find that whenever I’m not prepared is when things get nasty. I need to get better at packing food wherever I go. And I like the idea of taking your own treats instead of feeling deprived when all your friends are eating glutenous cake! :)

~Aubree Cherie

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Tanya October 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

Hey Maggie,

I came across this article Via your sisters facebook wall. My son also follows a gluten free diet to support his control of his ADHD. I always feel empowered to know that on this journey he is not the only child we “can’t eat that”. I look forward to making some of your recipes and sharing some of my finds as well with you.

To good gluten-free health!!!

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Maggie October 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Hey Tanya – Thanks so much for checking it out! I look forward to hearing from you and chatting about all the goodness that comes with this diet. I might even have to get you to do a guest post one day! Let me know if there’s anything you’re looking for, I’d be happy to help. And how do you know Katie!?

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Ian February 10, 2011 at 7:10 am

What a fantastic outlook to have/approach to take. Completely agree that preparation in advance is the way to go!

Thanks for posting such an inspiring read! :)

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Maggie February 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Thanks Ian. Glad you liked it! I took a look at your products, can’t wait to try them next time we’re in the UK!

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Cindy February 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I am completely new to the GF and DF thing. My son has seizures that his drs are saying cannot be caused by an allergy but the meds aren’t working either. I am completely overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to feed him (and convince him to eat) things that he’s not used to. He’s 4 and a really picky eater. I am trying to keep an open mind about the whole thing and I’m actually excited to try some of the recipies but I just don’t know where to start.

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Maggie March 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Hi Cindy – Thanks for leaving a comment. Let me know what you’re looking for and how I can help in any way. Hold on to that open mind, soon enough this will be easier and your son will be healthier.
Keep in touch!
Maggie

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Cindy February 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I also forgot to mention that we just met with an allergist/naturopath who seems to think that he has a gluten and dairy intollerance that could be aggrivating his seizures.

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