Teaching children to advocate for their own health and to know which things they can and can't eat can be extremely challenging. In the end though, it will empower them and create a stronger sense of self esteem rather than a fear of food or social gatherings. The greatest thing you can teach your child is to not be afraid to speak up. Teach them to ask the same questions you would in any social situation (Can you please tell me more about the ingredients used? Since I have to be very careful and avoid cross-contact, can you please explain to me how this was prepared? etc.). Then you must also teach your child how to understand the responses and from there, determine if a food is safe. Once they have done this a few times with you there, when you can jump in to help if they get stuck, they will feel confident with the questions they must ask on their own and how to determine what they can and can't have.
For really young kids, this can only be done to a certain degree. However, teaching them to be confident in themselves and giving them knowledge to understand how they live and why, even at a young age, is one of the greatest things a parent to a child with celiac disease or food allergies can do.
- Chandice Probst
Thai Kitchen Tip
If your children are old enough, have them assist you in preparing gluten-free dishes. That way, they will learn which ingredients are safe and it can reinforce their label reading skills. For some dishes to try cooking together this holiday season, download the 2013 Gluten-Free Holiday eCookbook.
Thanks to Thai Kitchen for making this series possible!