A new diagnosis of celiac disease and initiation of a gluten free diet can be overwhelming. Despite an increase in the availability of gluten free options, adapting to a new lifestyle is still challenging, especially for kids. Education from an experienced dietitian is highly recommended to help navigate dietary changes, discover new foods to try, and learn how to incorporate these changes into your everyday life. I’d like to share my top five tips for making a this diet more manageable:
5 Tips for Making A Gluten Free Diet More Manageable
Explore alternative grains
One misunderstanding about celiac disease is that you can no longer consume grains of any kind. Luckily, that is not true! Wheat, barley, and rye are the grains that have to be eliminated, but there are still plenty of other whole grains that are allowed. Rice, potatoes and corn are more familiar gluten free gains, and generally well accepted by kids. Be adventurous and explore other alternatives like quinoa, millet and amaranth. These grains can be cooked and eaten whole, or may be used to make gluten free breads, pastas and cereals.
Don’t break the bank
Specialty products tend to be more expensive than traditional wheat based products. However, there are plenty of foods that are naturally without gluten and are easy to incorporate into your family meals. Consider using rice or potatoes as a replacement for noodles. Corn based products like chips and tortillas are delicious and readily available at grocery stores. Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free and can be used in many ways to add flavor and color to recipes.
Think outside the loaf
Packing lunches can be particularly difficult when sandwiches are no longer an option (gluten free bread can be a tough adjustment). Try making turkey and cheese roll-ups using corn tortillas or lettuce as a wrap. Make a homemade “lunchable” using cheese slices, sliced ham and gluten free rice crackers.
Stock up on snacks
Having gluten free snacks readily available for your child will make busy schedules run a little more smoothly. Try some of these simple combinations:
- Rice cakes with peanut butter
- Hummus with carrots
- Trail mix made with gluten free cereal, nuts and dried fruit
- Fresh fruit and cheese
- Corn chips and guacamole
- Popcorn and peanuts
- Apple slices with almond butter
Utilize your resources
There is no shortage of gluten free diet information available to you via the internet. This can be both good and bad! Be sure that your sources of information are reliable. These are some apps and websites I recommend:
Transitioning to a diet without gluten is a process. Learning the ins and outs of the diet, along with finding gluten free alternatives your child likes, can take time. Hopefully these tips will help to make the transition a little less stressful.