Gluten Free Fun

Mother teaching children how to cook

Article by Sandra Rascon

Living gluten free for both adults and children can be an exciting time to discover the simple joys of fun foods and happier days ahead.  While many persons newly diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergies may initially find themselves lost in an unknown food world, there should be no fear. Today we have more awareness and a plethora of gluten free sites, local support groups, recipes, and products to guide us toward a healthier way of living.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the digestive system is unable to digest gluten. This damages the small intestine responsible for absorbing nutrients into the body, making the consumption of gluten like starving your body while causing severe intestinal damage. Over time, severe damage to the lining of the stomach and lack of nutrients can present stunted growth in children due to malnutrition, diabetes, thyroid problems, anemia, intestinal cancers, neurological conditions, and other diseases. However, the cure is simple and fun once we understand the idea of eating gluten free.

The first step toward a healthier life after a diagnosis of CD begins with permanently removing gluten from the diet. This means no wheat, barley, rye, and usually oats from the diet. The only cure for CD is a gluten free diet. This enables the body to heal itself and function properly. Perhaps the greatest challenge for parents of children with CD is transitioning into becoming educated and in turn educating their children.

Some helpful places to begin are the Celiac Sprue Association (www.csa.org) and the Celiac Disease Foundation (www.celiac.org). These sites also list foods safe to eat. It is worth noting that many condiments, sauces, by-products and even Play-Dough contain gluten. Fortunately, these sites and others have compiled a list of safe foods and restaurants worth knowing.

The next way to make living gluten free fun, healthy and safe is by introducing fresh foods into the diet. Safe foods are all fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood, assuming there are no other complications in one’s diet.

There are many good GF baking mixes on the market today. Indeed, one can even make gluten free baking mix at home using three to four ingredients choosing from the following flours: potato, tapioca, arrowroot, sorghum white or brown rice, and others. Best of all, making batches of your own GF flour at home is a terrific way to involve children in learning math through measuring and in learning more about what is healthy for their bodies. Once children understand the basics of eating gluten free parents can feel a bit less stressed.

For small children, attention must be given to places the child frequents such as schools, cafeterias, day care centers, sitters and so forth. Talking to teachers and your child’s friends’ parents is necessary to ensure no one gives the little one a cookie filled with gluten.

Some wonderful sites providing excellent recipes and ideas can be found at www.glutenfreeclub.com as well aswww.glutenfreefaces.com, the latter providing through an online forum access to others sharing your same concerns.

Another up and coming site providing yesterday’s kitchen recipes within the context of creative expression using GF ingredients is www.sheelatime.com. SheelaTime is a special site home to a blog of fun recipes, imaginative ebooks and other interactive media. Both adults and children will enjoy their time here.

Next time, we’ll share some great, simple recipes that are fun to prepare with gluten free children, as well as some reliably tested GF products on the market that make life a little easier, especially at snack time.

Feel good. Gluten free.

To find more gluten free recipes and info about Sandra, please visit her blog at: http://sheelatime.blogspot.com

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