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Transitioning children to gluten-free diets doesn’t have to be scary with these resources and recipes

Elaine Taylor-Klaus took her daughter Bex off gluten 8 1/2 years ago after a nutritionist suggested the irritable and sensitive girl might have a gluten sensitivity. Within two weeks of eliminating gluten from her diet, Bex, now 18, was a different child.

Melissa Berardi’s son Anthony, 5, was wasting away two years ago. He was extremely small for his age, she says, and throwing up constantly. It turned out he had celiac disease. Berardi changed his diet and says Anthony has become a healthy child.

Whether it’s for diagnosed celiac disease or suspected gluten sensitivity, many parents are switching their children to gluten-free diets. Busy parents might feel overwhelmed by the thought of a big dietary overhaul for kids already picky about food (and change in general). But going gluten-free doesn’t have to be scary.

What’s the deal with Gluten?

Gluten. Gluten-free. Gluten-intolerance. We’ve been hearing about Gluten more and more, but what does all this really mean? Today’s guest blogger, Jolene Park, founded Healthy Discoveries in 2001, and with a passion for health, Jolene inspires her audiences to create balance in all areas of their lives. She promotes individual responsibility and believes in the power of information to provide options for choosing healthy lifestyles.  We asked her to share some information about Gluten-Intolerance. Check it out!

(Stock photo provided by maqarts.)

One in seven Americans is estimated to be gluten-Intolerant. People who are gluten-intolerant experience symptoms as a result of consuming gluten, and symptoms disappear when gluten is removed from the diet; however, they do not have full-blown celiac disease.

Gluten- Intolerance Symptoms:

  • Abdomen – recurring intestinal problems such as:  diarrhea, constipation, gas, acid reflux, cramping, stomach pain, stomach upset, bloating, problematic stools.
  • Headache – headaches, migraines, brain fog
  • Skin – Itchy skin, rashes or blisters, eczema, mouth sores
  • Circulatory/Blood – Anemia, malabsorption
  • Skeleton and Muscles – Osteoporosis, osteopenia, bone/joint pain, muscle cramps, enamel problems, stunted growth in children
  • Reproduction – Infertility, irregular menstruation, recurrent miscarriage
  • Energy – Chronic unexplained fatigue, weight loss, irritability
  • Mental/Neurological – Behavioral issues, depression, psychiatric problems
  • Autoimmune System – Diabetes, thyroid disease
  • Nervous System – Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer – Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer in the small intestine

Where is Gluten Found?

  • Anything that uses wheat flour – Breads, pasta, cereal, pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, pastries.
  • Virtually any packaged, processed or prepared food has the potential for containing gluten.

What Should You Do If You Think You or Your Child is Gluten Intolerant?

Schedule an appointment with your physician or pediatrician to discuss testing, diagnosis and gluten-free diet options. Statistics show that people go from doctor to doctor with vague, “it must be all in my head” type symptoms for an average of eleven years before realizing gluten may be the culprit.

Which Whole Grains Can You Eat?

  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Rice (brown & white)
  • Amaranth
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Potato and Tapioca Flours for baking

Gluten-Free Companies – Many companies are making gluten-free products a few of the more popular companies are listed below.  Grocery stores also make note of which aisles and shelves have gluten free products.

  • Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods – cornbread mix, biscuit & baking mix, gluten-free all purpose baking flours
  • Pamela’s Products – gluten-free all purpose baking flours, pancake, baking mixes
  • Namaste – bread, cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, pizza crust and pancake mix
  • Eden Foods- buckwheat flour and noodles
  • Tinkyada Pasta- pasta
  • Arrowhead Mills- baking flour,
  • Lunberg Family Farms – rice and pasta
  • Barbara Bakery- cookies, cereal
  • Nature’s Path- cereal
  • Larabar- nutrition/energy bars featuring dried fruits and nuts
  • Amy’s Kitchen- frozen meals, soups
  • Van’s International- frozen waffles
  • Health Valley- cereals, graham crackers

Some Local Gluten-Free Restaurants

  • Blue-Bonnet
  • Zengo
  • Steuben’s
  • Root Down
  • Melting Pot
  • Le Central
  • Duo
  • City O City
  • Beau Jo’s Pizza

Some Gluten-Free Chain Restaurants

  • PF Chang’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Maggiano’s
  • Bone Fish
  • Kona Grill

Snack Ideas For A Gluten-Free Child

  • Peanut, almond, cashew butter on apples or celery
  • Any fruit with low-fat string cheese
  • Larabars
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Snack size applesauce