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Help Kids Make the Transition to the Gluten-Free Lifestyle
A diagnosis of celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder is life-changing at any age. A child, however, faces different challenges than an adult who receives a diagnosis. As parents, it’s hard to tell our children that they can’t play with their (gluten-containing) Play-Doh anymore or that they can’t have cupcakes at a birthday party, no matter how tempting.
While there can be challenges to raising a gluten-free child, with a few lifestyle changes and a positive attitude, we can make the transition as smooth as possible for our kids. Since founding the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), I have met so many people who are raising gluten-free kids. Based on their stories and my personal experiences, here are three tips for helping your kids make the switch to a healthy gluten-free diet:
Maintaining a gluten-free diet is hard work, especially right after a diagnosis, but remember that many good things come from taking on a challenge. If you stay positive and upbeat, your child will follow suit. Instead of focusing on what they can’t eat, show them all the delicious foods they can eat. Try new foods with them and make one new recipe each week with them so they (and you) never get bored with the same old meals.
Teach them the way.
This advice will vary based on your child’s age and maturity. For children who are a bit older, get them involved in the cooking process. Have them help you read labels in the grocery store. Show them how to cook their favorite meals. Let them order for themselves in a restaurant (while keeping a watchful eye, of course). Give them the opportunity to ask their doctor any questions they might have. By offering a degree of independence in managing their gluten-free diet, you’re giving them the confidence they’ll need to stay gluten-free in the future.
Get them involved.
It’s natural for us as parents to want to shelter our children forever, even though we know this isn’t possible. What we can do, however, is arm them with enough knowledge to take control of their health by getting them involved. Encourage them to join a gluten-free club or get involved in local awareness efforts in your community. Attend conferences or seminars so they can learn more about the importance of living gluten-free. Send them to a summer camp where they can have the chance to manage their diet on their own. (If you’re nervous about letting them go away to camp, check out NFCA’s upcoming free webinar, Kids Central Special: Planning for Gluten-Free Summer Camp.)
How have you made the transition to the gluten-free lifestyle easier for your child? Tell me your story in the Celiac Central community on Inspire.com. The conversation will be happening at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 7!
To your GREAT Health,
P.S. – Check out Cooks Corner below for more tips on cooking gluten-free for your little ones!
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With Easter right around the corner, I’ve shared two of my favorite recipes for this season.
LITHUANIAN SWEET EASTER BREAD
Many cultures bake special Easter breads as a holiday tradition. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, this gluten-free bread will be a hit on your dinner table.
SWEET CHEESE MOLD A.K.A. FLOWERPOT CHEESE
You’ll need something other than butter to top the Sweet Easter Bread. Break away from the traditional cheese block and try pairing it with my Flowerpot Cheese recipe.
About Chef Oonagh Williams
British-born award-winning chef Oonagh Williams has a culinary arts degree and was trained in London and Switzerland. Based in New Hampshire, Chef Oonagh began adapting meals to gluten-free versions after her son was diagnosed with gluten and lactose intolerance two years ago. To learn more, visit Chef Oonagh’s website at www.RoyalTemptations.com or ‘Like’ her at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on Facebook.
By Silvana Nardone
Get your gluten-free cooking and baking questions answered by the expert! Have a question for Silvana? E-mail Alicia at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question could be answered in a future NFCA newsletter.
When a child is diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder, parents can be nervous or intimidated by the need to safely cook gluten-free food. What are your tips for parents whose child was recently diagnosed?
Attitude is everything.
It’s not an easy adjustment for you, so imagine how challenging it is for your child. For my son Isaiah, accepting that his school lunch would forever look different than every other kid’s lunch, was his toughest transition. He rebelled by not eating lunch at all and instead hiding it in his desk drawers at home. When I found the lunch bags, I was heartbroken, but I had to take a deep breath and move forward with a better plan: no lunches that had to be eaten with a fork or a spoon, just lots of finger food snacks.
Give yourself a break.
At first, preparing meals can seem overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Get rid of everything your child can’t eat so there’s no temptation or stress. Then, start slowly with naturally gluten-free foods, like basic proteins, vegetables and starches. In the beginning, French fries were Isaiah’s favorite starch and I was okay with that.
Be inspired by other moms.
Once you have a handle on daily life, gradually move to blogs, cookbooks and most importantly—your community of mom friends—for recipes and menu planning ideas. Moms are also great to talk with about which store-bought gluten-free foods score high with their kids, which will save you money at the supermarket.
Watch out for cross-contamination.
The easiest way to avoid this would be to remove all gluten-containing foods from your kitchen, wash down all surfaces and start fresh. My son Isaiah has his own cabinet of grab-n-go snacks, which makes it easy and fun for him. If other members of your household eat gluten, then you may need to have separate sets of dishes, utensils, cutting boards, toaster ovens, etc., depending on your child’s health issue.
Believe in the impossible.
You can do this. If you believe, so will your child. And, remember that the instant your child starts to feel better, so will you. Give yourself some time and you’ll be surprised at how many foods your child can enjoy—food you’d never thought he or she would eat again. Recently, for Isaiah, this was Girl Scout Thin Mints. He asked for them and with some trial and error in the kitchen, I made what we believe is the best thin mint cookie we’ve ever had.
Visit Silvana’s Kitchen for the recipe for my gluten-free, dairy-free version of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies.
About Silvana Nardone
Silvana Nardone is the editor-in-chief of the all-digital, gluten-free magazine, Easy Eats. Silvana is also the author of Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals and publisher of Silvana's Kitchen, a blog that takes the guesswork out of how to feed a family with food allergies. Previously, she was the owner of a Brooklyn-based bakery, Fanciulla Specialty Foods, and the founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray.
By Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD
Maddie is 16 years old and is worried about her weight. She’d like to lose at least 10 pounds. It seems like all her friends are on diets. She also has bloating and diarrhea after she eats. Her mom takes her to the doctor who diagnoses Maddie with celiac disease. She is told to go on the gluten-free diet. Suddenly, Maddie is even more concerned about what she is eating. She finds she is spending almost all her time thinking about food and weight. Is this a healthy way to live?
In the U.S., an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men develop an eating disorder (i.e. anorexia, bulimia) at some point in their lives. And, even more people struggle with extreme dissatisfaction with their bodies, and exhibit disordered eating behaviors and attitudes. We know that eating disorders have many causes and triggers, including genetics, media pressure to be thin, frequent dieting and low self-esteem. Research also shows that having a chronic medical condition (like celiac disease) may also increase your risk of an eating disorder.1
How does your favorite gluten-free pasta brand stack up against the rest?
Registered dietitian, celiac disease expert and Allergic Living columnist Shelley Case has created unique and incredibly helpful nutritional comparison charts of the most popular gluten-free pasta brands.
Find out which ones are enriched with vitamins, fiber, iron and protein in the charts found on AllergicLiving.com.
Have a gluten-free recipe to share? It could win you $100 worth of gluten-free products!
Put your cooking and baking skills to the test in the Gluten-Free Spring Recipe Contest! You don’t have to be a cooking pro to enter this contest, sponsored by The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. All you need is an original gluten-free recipe using a product from one of the seven brands of Gluten-Free Choices: Arrowhead Mills, DeBoles, Dream, Gluten Free Café, Hain Pure Foods, Imagine or Terra Chips.
If your recipe impresses the judges, you could win the Grand Prize: a gluten-free prize pack from Gluten-Free Choices, valued at $100! (We’re having not one, but two Grand Prize winners!)
We won’t keep all these gluten-free recipes to ourselves. Click here to sign up for an advanced copy of the free e-Cookbook, featuring the top recipes submitted to the contest!
Looking for gluten-free products and recipes for Passover? Look no further! Here are some links to get you started:
Get more timely recipes in NFCA's Gluten-Free Seasonal Recipe Box!
*Be sure to check the label on your Worcestershire sauce, as not all brands are gluten-free.
On the hunt for gluten-free Easter candy? NFCA will be posting an update to the popular Gluten-Free Easter Candy List this month. Created by myGlutenFacts.com, the annual Gluten-Free Easter Candy and Chocolate Lists will be published for two versions: US and Canada. The lists are free to access and print, with information on hundreds of Easter treats you’ll find in stores.
Congratulations to Anna Littlejohn, the winner of NFCA’s Gluten-Free Pantry Raid!
On February 19, 2013, NFCA took Anna on the first-ever gluten-free shopping spree at Walmart. She was accompanied by NFCA Founder and President Alice Bast and registered dietitian Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD. The trip was filmed for an upcoming educational video series on gluten-free grocery shopping!
Back home, Alice, Amy and Anna reviewed gluten-free kitchen safety tips, which will also be part of the video.
In all, Anna won more than $3,000 in gluten-free products and services.
See more photos from the video shoot on NFCA’s Facebook page.
The Gluten-Free Pantry Raid is sponsored by Cabot Cheese, Crunchmaster, Glutino and Udi’s. A big thanks to Digital Cut Productions for their on-set work and to the Littlejohn family for welcoming us into their home!
Our volunteers here at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) are always helping us to raise celiac disease awareness and increase diagnoses. Brittany Kinka is our new Volunteer Coordinator, and we want you to meet her!
Can you provide a brief summary of the role you play as the Volunteer Coordinator?
The Volunteer Coordinator serves as a link between NFCA, volunteers and community resources. My involvement is to coordinate and organize all NFCA’s volunteers, both locally and nationally, and work directly with volunteers to plan, organize and execute all efforts that support NFCA, and meet volunteer needs to help foster a growing community as we continue to raise awareness of celiac disease. With the help of volunteers and the community, my role as the Volunteer Coordinator will continue to evolve and ensure all community and NFCA needs and efforts are met.
Why did you get involved with NFCA?
On November 1, 2011, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I realized then that my life would change. I was relieved that after the endless doctor appointments and tests, my symptoms finally had a name. It was not all in my head and I finally had an answer and explanation for the past three years of my life. I thought, “I have celiac disease, so now what?” For me, the aftermath left me with so many unanswered questions and very little knowledge. I was starting to face the social hardships of having celiac disease and the lack of awareness there was within my own community, which left me feeling isolated.
Joining the NFCA team has allowed me to become a part of the community and take value in fostering an atmosphere of growth. By cultivating this atmosphere, I have been able to transform my own life. I want to be able to build and strengthen the relationships within the celiac community by providing continued support and furthering education.
What has been your favorite project/experience so far in working with NFCA?
The best part has been seeing first-hand that the volunteers are so eager to have the chance to become involved and work together to raise awareness of celiac disease. My hope for the future is to work together to present and execute our ideas at hand, from hosting more events and fundraisers in the community to creating more outlets for support and resources.
Want to become a part of NFCA’s volunteer force? Learn more about getting involved!
As celiac disease continues to be diagnosed among all age groups, it is important to recognize the different needs of each diagnosed population. Join NFCA as we initiate a three-part Webinar series for kids and teens living gluten-free. This Webinar will assist parents of children with celiac disease as they begin their search for the perfect gluten-free summer camp.
Jeffery Lewis, MD, Children’s Center for Digestive HealthCare, LLC, Founder, Camp WeeKanEatit, and Jill Waddell, Director, Camp WeeKanEatit, will discuss important topics such as training kitchens and camp staff, communicating with peers and developing a list of go-to gluten-free snacks and recipes.
Sponsored by Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery, this webinar is free of charge!
The expanding spectrum of gluten-related disorders is a clear indication that the gluten protein can cause an immune response in bodily systems other than the small intestine. Interestingly, research has found that different gluten proteins are the source of the various abnormal immune responses. Join NFCA as Armin Alaedini, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center discusses the current research on the role of gluten in popular areas of interest, such as schizophrenia, ataxia, autism and ADHD.
Sponsored by Mary's Gone Crackers, this webinar is free of charge!
Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) for the 6th Annual Celiac Awareness Night with the Philadelphia Phillies! Watch as the Phillies take on the Los Angeles Dodgers while enjoying an expanded selection of gluten-free food and drink options at the ballpark.
Get more details and purchase tickets here.
Just because you’re gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Look for these gluten-free options at your local restaurant or bar:
Redbridge by Anheuser Busch
Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer
New Planet Beer
New Grist Pilsner Style Beer
Dogfish Head Tweason’ale
Green’s Gluten-Free Belgian Ale
Ramapo Valley Brewery Honey Beer
Magners Irish Cider
Do you have questions on gluten-free alcoholic beverage labeling? Visit NFCA’s webinar archives and download “It’s Not Just Food Anymore: An Update on Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverage Labeling,” featuring expert dietitian Tricia Thompson, MS, RD.
Gluten-Free Labeling Rule Heads to the White House
The gluten-free labeling rule is one step closer to being finalized. On February 25, 2013, the rule was sent to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review. When finalized, the much-awaited rule will provide a standard definition of “gluten-free,” which will help to address the widespread confusion over labeling and which products are considered safe for celiac and gluten sensitive consumers.
Follow updates on the gluten-free labeling rule at www.CeliacCentral.org/fda and @CeliacAwareness on Twitter.
Is Wheat Breeding Responsible for the Increase in Celiac Disease?
Wheat breeding has been a primary suspect in the mystery of increased celiac disease prevalence, but new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests this may not be the case. Instead, researcher Donald Kasarda, a physical science collaborator for the US Department of Agriculture, believes that an increase in wheat consumption may actually be the underlying cause.
Read more from Food Navigator USA.
US Department of Justice Agreement with Lesley University: What Does It Mean?
News of the settlement agreement between Lesley University and the US Department of Justice broke in December 2012, but its implications for other foodservice industries were still unclear. The Department of Justice released a Q&A to provide more information on how the settlement agreement does and does not affect these foodservice providers.
Read more from Celiac Central.
Going Gluten-Free Without a Diagnosis of a Gluten-Related Disorder
This informative article provides facts about the gluten-free diet from expert Dr. Daniel Leffler of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Leffler explains that the gluten-free diet goes beyond removing only wheat from the diet and stresses there is no medical reason to go gluten-free unless a person is living with a gluten-related disorder, such as celiac disease.
Read more from Harvard Health Publications.
Why is the Prevalence of Celiac Disease Higher than Ever?
We know that celiac disease is on the rise, but why? From more diagnoses to increased wheat consumption, many theories have researchers digging into the possibilities. In this New York Times article, researchers including National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Scientific/Medical Advisory Council Member Dr. Alessio Fasano discuss what they know about celiac disease and the new research bringing them closer to understanding the increase.
Read more from the New York Times.
Advice for Parents of Gluten-Free Kids
Sure, switching your kids to the gluten-free diet is a life-changing thing, but it doesn’t have to be as scary as it may seem! The Washington Post offers quality tips for parents of children with a gluten-related disorder, from how to get their school involved to “playing detective” to make sure the foods they’re eating are truly gluten-free.
Read more from The Washington Post.
FITzee Bars aren’t your typical snack bar. These are meant more as a meal replacement instead of a something to tide you over between lunch and dinner. I’ve found that most meal replacement bars are too sweet, but this bar kept the sugar content within reason. They still have a dessert-like taste, but they’re more chewy and soft like a cookie. I tried the Chewy Chocolate Chip and the Apple ‘n Oats, and while both bars broke in half when I opened the packaging, it didn’t matter once I took a bite. They weren’t gritty or hard and they didn’t crumble. Gluten-free athletes will probably find these to be a yummy snack to help them refuel after a hard training session. Check out the three flavors over at www.fitzeefoods.com.
Jennie’s Gluten-Free Macaroons
I had barely finished trying the gluten-free Chocolate Drizzle Macaroon from Jennie’s Gluten-Free when a fellow NFCA staff member came up to me saying how delicious they are. She and another colleague tried the Chocolate and the Coconut and gave them “5 …maybe even 6 stars.” I have to say, I totally agree. They’re a bit high in fat, so they’re definitely an occasional treat, but they’re super sweet and super tasty. No gritty texture here! Other varieties of Jennie’s Gluten-Free Macaroons can be found at www.MacaroonKing.com.
EnviroKids Organic Crispy Rice Bars
These rice bars taste exactly like a Cocoa Rice Krispies Treat. EnviroKids Crispy Rice Bars have always been gluten-free, so they don’t leave you feeling like something is missing or that there are too many additives to make up for the lack of gluten. The rice bars are the perfect lunchbox companion for the kids, but they’ll make a great emergency snack for adults too! You can find other gluten-free products at www.NaturesPath.com.
Handy Gluten-Free Crab Cakes
“Handy” is such an appropriate brand name for these crab cakes. They come with six in a package and are pre-made and frozen so all you have to do is heat them up however you like. These are perfect for busy families looking for a delicious gluten-free dinner – and fast. Handy Crab Cakes are handmade lump crab cakes and they’re certified gluten-free. Some of the NFCA staff has tried these out for lunch at the office and they’ve received great reviews! There’s really no way to describe the crab cakes other than they taste just like a crab cake should. Check them out on the Handy Crab website. (Not all Handy Crab products are gluten-free, so be sure to double check!)
Want more Hot Products? Visit www.GlutenFreeHotProducts.com for reviews of the latest gluten-free products.
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