For years, parents of kids diagnosed with celiac disease, or those given a more obscure diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, have spent time and money restructuring their meal plans to ensure that the food they eat only includes gluten-free ingredients.
It’s easier for some people to understand the term “food allergy” than it is for them to understand having to avoid certain foods because of a disease like celiac. Unlike those with a wheat allergy, kids with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can have symptoms like the inability to properly digest gluten; bloating or pain in the abdomen; vomiting; constipation; irritability and behavioral issues; pale, foul-smelling or fatty stool; delayed growth and puberty; and many others, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Eating gluten-free — for those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy — is a medical intervention for conditions to which there is no cure.
For many, ingesting even a crumb due to cross-contamination can cause excruciating pain and a debilitating recurrence of symptoms. The only way to avoid these complications is to remain on an entirely gluten-free diet.
Shop for Gluten-free food Anywhere
Reading (and understanding) labels on food packaging is paramount to maintaining a 100 percent gluten-free diet; however, there are ways to assist beginners in identifying what food is gluten-free. Remember, it is a good idea to always read the label, even if you have purchased an item before, because ingredients and ingredient sourcing can change. Just because an item is gluten-free today doesn’t mean it will be gluten-free next year.
Here Are A Few Tips To Set You On The Right Track:
- Download an app like The Gluten Free Scanner and scan the barcodes of products to see if they are gluten-free. This is helpful because other gluten-free consumers are sharing information and adding new products to the app.
- Do an internet search to research foods that you normally purchase.
- Look for labels that say “Gluten Free,” “Naturally Gluten Free,” and “Certified Gluten Free.”
- Buy whole foods. Shop around the outside perimeters of the store, sticking to produce, protein and dairy.
- Shop at a store that identifies products throughout the store that are gluten-free.
- Buy products online at gluten-free stores.
- Identify local retailers that consistently offer a quality gluten-free product line.
Finding Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants
Breathe easy. Your child can eat out at a huge number of restaurants on a gluten-free diet, and that doesn’t mean ordering a salad — unless that is what they want to order.
The key to a worry-free meal out is research. This is as simple as doing a quick search online of “(restaurant name) gluten-free menu.” Alternatively, you could browse around on a restaurant’s website or call the restaurant directly.
Trial and error is not something that you want to play around with when it comes to dining out on a gluten-free diet. Know before you go and enjoy a stress-free dinner out.
Going Gluten-Free at a Friend’s House
Just like parents of children with a food allergy, parents of children with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should take care to educate the parents of their children’s friends about their child’s diet. Don’t forget to mention cross contamination. When in doubt, ask what food is being served and send along something similar for your child to eat.
Parents should adjust their involvement depending on the child’s age. When a child reaches the teen years and fully understands the importance of adhering to a gluten-free diet, parents can relax a little bit. However, at any age, it is always a good idea to send a gluten-free snack that can be shared.
Research gluten-free restaurants in that location. NEOhioCeliac.com serves as a local resource for this. For example, Aladdin’s Eatery has several locations, all offering a gluten-free menu. Pura Vida, The Greenhouse Tavern, and Phuel Café are other local restaurants that have a gluten-free menu.
Jessica McCoy is a freelance writer and the blogger behind All She Cooks. As the mother of a teenage daughter with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Jessica is constantly researching gluten-free products and offerings.