When starting your young child on a gluten free diet, it can seem difficult at first. When my wife and I found out our son has Celiac Disease, we had never heard of it before. You might be asking yourself, what are the steps necessary to help my child live gluten free.
The good news is that when a young child starts out on a GF diet, they don’t know any better. I believe it would be much more difficult for an adult or teenager have to drastically change their diet.
The first step is to do your homework to see which foods your toddler can safely eat that do not contain gluten. Not all foods that are free of gluten will state it on the packaging. If you are unsure, most of the large food companies have GF lists on their websites.
Natural foods like vegetables, fruits, and meat (check processed meats) are safe to eat. Most spaghetti sauce (Prego), most salsas (Pace), dairy (shredded cheese may contain gluten), peanut butter (Skippy), and some cereals like Chex are GF.
Most large grocery stores will have a GF section. There are specialty organic stores and online grocers that cater to Celiacs.
The next thing to do is to make your kitchen gluten free. Make sure to buy separate strainers (there are rice noodles that are safe to eat), separate jars of peanut butter, and separate butter containers. We don’t use separate bowls or utensils, as long as they are washed really well or put in the dishwasher.
In my house, we have a separate shelf in our pantry for foods that are safe for my son to eat. For items in the fridge, we use bright colored stickers indicating which foods are gluten free.
Last, you will want to do your research when you go out to eat. Whether it is at a restaurant or fast food. Some foods that may not normally contain gluten could be contaminated by the way they are cooked. For example, french fries are typically free of gluten but they could be cooked in the same oil as chicken nuggets.
A lot of the employees at these places may not know what you are talking about so the more knowledge you have the better. Some restaurants are coming out with gluten free menus.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of the steps necessary to help your toddler live gluten free.