Celiac disease affects one in every 100 children in the United States and is characterized as an auto-immune disorder. In short, children with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten in their diets.
Gluten-free is a common phrase found in many food products nowadays. But what is it, and should our kids eat it? If not, what are some gluten-free foods for kids that we can incorporate into their diet?
Keep reading to learn more about gluten and its place in your family’s diet.
When you bite into a piece of bread or pizza crust, and it tastes chewy and soft, you can thank gluten. A protein found in many different grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and others, gluten keeps everything together; otherwise, you’d have a crummy pizza crust – literally.
Medical professionals and other experts debate over whether or not gluten is harmful. Some state that gluten causes inflammation in the body leading to a variety of problems. Others say there’s no reason to fear gluten and it can be part of a healthy diet because wheat contains vital nutrients like fiber and vitamin B.
For those who have celiac disease, gluten is to be avoided. The body views gluten as a foreign substance and inflames the lining of the stomach. Some symptoms of celiac disease may include stomach pains, vomiting, bloating, and children may stop growing because of their inability to absorb nutrients.
Aside from celiac disease, there is gluten-sensitivity or gluten intolerance. While gluten-sensitivity is similar to celiac, it’s not as damaging. Some of the same symptoms arise, but celiac disease destroys the lining of the stomach.
It’s essential to get tested by a medical professional to rule out celiac disease before making any dietary changes.
The only way to manage celiac disease is by eliminating gluten from your diet. There is no cure for celiac disease.
Despite the disagreement among professionals, some parents decide to feed their children a gluten-free diet as a personal choice, but a challenging one. For families with children with celiac disease, it’s also hard. Before doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Be aware that your child might encounter some nutritional deficiencies. Wheat is an abundant source of vitamins and minerals. When eliminating these foods, you’ll need to find another way for them to get the nutrients they need.
Many gluten-free products, to make up for lack of taste, have lots of added sugar or other ingredients. So gluten-free foods are not always a healthier alternative. Always read the ingredients before you buy a product.
Even with all the controversy surrounding gluten (not considering those with celiac disease!), some families have chosen not to eat gluten for personal reasons. There can be benefits to forgoing gluten in your meals.
1. When you cut out processed foods that contain gluten, you’re more likely to choose fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and meats.
2. Some people notice an increase in their energy levels.
3. Since you’ve increased your intake of whole foods, you’re less likely to get sick as often since you’re eating more vitamins and antioxidants.
4. There is some evidence that claims children on the autism spectrum might benefit from eating a gluten-free diet, though these findings are conflicting. The idea is that gluten produces chemicals that cause children to display autistic behaviors, so cutting out foods with gluten could improve their condition.
5. People notice less bloating and clearing of ‘brain fog,’ but this could be due to gluten intolerance.
If you’ve decided to go gluten-free in your family, there are plenty of foods and snacks that your children will love. Many of them are relatively easy to put together.
Here is a list of healthy foods that don’t contain gluten.
Enjoy baking? There are a variety of flours and baking products that are gluten-free and make cooking enjoyable and easy for families with gluten challenges.
Look for these flours for baking:
Since these flours do not contain gluten, you’ll need a different emulsifying agent to keep everything together, like xantham gum.
If you’re unsure whether or not a packaged food is without gluten, look for a label that indicates that it’s gluten-free.
Avoiding gluten can be challenging, but knowing what you cannot eat is just as helpful. Here are some foods to stay clear from if you’re going gluten-free.
Several processed foods contain gluten as an ingredient, such as stocks, dressing, marinades, condiments, and spices. Make sure you read the packaging before using it.
There are many reasons why a family might choose a gluten-free diet for their children. With the rise of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, gluten-free foods are abundant for kids. What changes are you planning to make to your family’s diet today?
Are you looking for convenient gluten-free foods for kids that your family will love? We’ve got you covered! Visit our page to learn about snacks that kids love.