Awareness of Celiac Disease and the increase need for gluten-free foods has made it more accessible for parents when preparing gluten-free meals. Having a child that needs to be on a gluten-free diet can be very challenging, but luckily more and more grocery stores carry these products ready to eat and pack up in your child's lunch box.
Here are a few stats on Celiac Disease:
*1 out of every 133 Americans are diagnosed with Celiac Disease (thats 3 million people!)
*It takes an average of 11 years for a person to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
*It was only in 2006 when the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act became law allowing for easier reading of food labels!
Here are some tips when preparing your kid's lunch box:
1. First and foremost, consult with a Registered Dietician. It's so important to get all the nutritional background and education needed to make the right choices and pick the right foods. Did you know that just because it states "Gluten-free" does NOT necessarily mean it is. There are hidden gluten ingredients such as wheat starch, barley syrup, and soy sauce. Celiac Disease can cause damage to the digestive tract, thus causing nutritional deficiencies. It's vital to get the correct information to be able to address such nutritional deficiencies and heal the intestinal tract.
2. Ya gotta learn how to cook! Children with newly diagnosed CD make a mistake by thinking they can have a GF diet while eating the same fast food and restaurant items. This is not so! It's important to make the food at home, especially in the beginning of learning how to eat Gluten-Free. A lunch box filled with appetizing GF foods are a must to keep your child healthy!
Children who need to avoid gluten miss out on all the great kids' classic favorites like mac n cheese, pizza, and chicken nuggets! Not anymore. Now there are ways around it so that your child can enjoy these foods gluten-free!
To modify the mac n cheese, all you need to do is make this simple type of cheese sauce and add it to a bed of cooked rice pasta. To make the sauce, add 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of white rice flour to make a smooth roux. Add 3 cups of milk and 2 cups cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth enough to mix with the cooked pasta.
For chicken nuggets, dip the chicken tenders in beaten eggs and in finely crushed tortilla chips that are gluten-free. Bake at 350 degrees F until browned and the chicken is cooked through.
For pizza, there are Gluten-Free pizza crust. Add other GF items to the top of the pizza and...wha la...you got a pizza for dinner!
LUNCHTIME MEAL OPTIONS FOR YOUR CHILD'S LUNCH BOX
The following items can be used either for snack time or lunch time. Foods such as plain popcorn, gluten free yogurt, pudding, fresh fruit, and rice crispie treats (made with GF brown rice cereal) are just a few suggestions.
Bread made gluten-free can be used when making a deli meat or nut butter and jam sandwich. There are also gluten-free cheeses available to add on to the sandwich as well or as a snack. Left overs from the night before are also good to pack in their lunch box (make sure that you add a cold pack in there to keep the refrigerated items cold for safety purpose, if your child does not have a refrigerator to put their lunch in at school).
SOME EXTRA TIPS:
*Get your child involved in the process of making a correct gluten-free lunch menu.
*Emphasize the importance to your child not to share or switch lunches with friends.
*Teach your child the importance of a gluten-free diet.
*Talk with your child's school dietician. Are there GF items offered to kids in the cafeteria? If not, you may want to start an awareness program in your child's school about the importance of such a meal.
*And lastly, change up the menu to make the meals appetizing and fun for your child. The same ol' meal day after day in the lunch box would make any person not interested in eating. Add new and different GF items in your child's lunch. There are so many recipe books strictly dedicated to GF foods. Try those recipes out. You may be surprised at how yummy the foods really can be!
It can be challenging as a parent having a child with Celiac Disease. There are support groups available as well as nutritional counselors in helping to keep your child healthy and happy on a Gluten free diet.