Here are some tips to help you live out going gluten free with kids.
- Make sure you plan ahead and bring snacks with you for the day: Instead of little fish crackers and all the carb-based foods for snacks we now take carrots, hard boiled eggs and fruit with us while out and about. When kids are hungry I don't have to throw away our diet because I have the snacks with me and lets face it it's hard to find gluten free, dye free healthy snacks at the local gas station.
- Have your whole family do the change together:
We all went gluten free together so no one is tempted to eat something they're not supposed to. I personally don't have the same reactions to gluten as my husband and kids do, but I know it's beneficial so I do it with them. There are times when this doesn't work. My youngest has more dietary needs than anyone else in our home. She shows significant behavior problems with foods that mimic acetylsalicylic acid. These include real fruits and vegetables like spinach, cucumbers, strawberries and legumes. In our house we still let the other kids have strawberries and cucumbers. She knows she can't eat strawberries. So when I have a case of strawberries in the fridge I make sure I also have a case of blueberries so that she can easily pick out a yummy fruit snack too. She also can't do cucumbers, so when we everyone else has cucumbers I cut up zuchini the same way and she eats it. It looks very similar, but she's not having the thing that will case her a behavior explosion.
- Bring your own food and switch out the things you can't have:
If my kids are going to a birthday party I find out before hand what kind of foods they are having, what kind of cake or treats. I then make my child their own gluten free, dye free version to take with them. Recently we did a Bible club where snacks and treats were given out daily. I made sure to have things my kids could eat. I saw that all the prizes being given out were candy related. So I went to the dollar section of a local store and bought some pencils and bubbles and things and gave them to the club leaders and asked if they could give those out as prizes too. The prizes were not just for my kids, but that way my kids had a choice of something other than the candy they couldn't eat. There are times when they've been given candy or things they can't eat and they bring them home, we put it in a bag on top of the fridge and when we fill the bag we trade it in for a fun day. We've traded it in for bowling or arcade games before. It's our way of helping our kids to not feel like they are left out. There are dye free candies my kids can have, so we also have traded it out for the non-toxic kind.
- Do one recipe at a time:
Don't overwhelm yourself with all the things you have to change. Go easy do a meat, veggie and potato. Throw out the casseroles for a while till you figure out how to switch out the ingredients for the allergy free version. We have found that when we baking we like to use gluten free oat flour with coconut flour and tapioca starch to replace the flour it calls for.
- Use the Web for recipes:Years ago there were not tons of resources at your fingertips. Today you can find allergy friendly recipes all over the web. Use your resources and try out recipes. Have fun with it. Do a bake off and have your family pick their favorites. If you're brave like me, make up your own recipes and pray they turn out and you didn't just waste a bunch of ingredients.
- Make if FUN: Don't stress too much. Have fun with all these new food options. If you make it more enjoyable it won't seem like such a burden and remember you are helping your child! The way you present it to your kids will also help them to take to it better. Platters with fruits and veggies, or making a face on their plate with these new foods can make it more presentable and fun for the kids too.