When health reasons dictated that our family would transition to a gluten free household, I thought our days of eating “tasty” foods were over. I remember what it had been like when my dad was first diagnosed with Celiac disease seven years ago and had to go completely gluten free. It was really tough finding things that he could eat and enjoy. It was difficult to find “snacks” and processed foods that were gluten free. (I say processed because clean, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and animal products are naturally gluten free.)
Now parents who don’t want their child to be completely deprived of what the other kids are eating can find gluten free breads, crackers, yogurts, snacks and cookies fairly easily. Additionally, websites dedicated to gluten free eating have exploded, providing thousands of delicious recipes. But a quick warning: just because something is gluten free does not mean it is healthy.
1. Technology can help you find gluten-free foods. My sister-in-law (who also has a child with celiac disease) recently introduced me to a handy dandy app called the ShopWell App. This app lets you scan barcodes and then spits out a formulated score based on your personal health profile to let you know whether or not you should eat something. And it’s not just for those with gluten issues – anyone that is diabetic, lactose intolerant, or suffers from a variety of other conditions can use this app.
2. Make it colorful. Not just the containers you pack the lunch in, but also the variety of foods. Carrots, sliced red and yellow peppers, cheese blocks, blueberries, cherries… whatever your child likes to eat in the fresh food – cut it up and provide a wide variety.
3. Make it fun. Use vegetable, cheese, and other shaped cutters to add some fun to their lunches. This can be time consuming, so do several days at once and keep on hand in the fridge.
Tools you might want for creative and fun lunches:
4. Add variety. Sneak in something they don’t normally eat. Maybe some broccoli florets or cucumber medallions. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t eat it. Keep trying. Just make sure the whole lunch is not filled with things they won’t eat – it should be mostly things you know they will eat, and one or two new items.
5. Send things that other kids are eating, too. No one likes to be totally different than everyone else. Send them sandwiches on gluten free bread or just buy snacks you know are gluten free that other kids like – yogurt, pudding cups, chips, and so forth.
6. Gluten free chicken nuggets are perfect for school lunches. Tyson and Applegate, along with other brands, now make gluten free chicken nuggets. You can also find some easy homemade gluten free chicken nugget recipes. I pack nuggets, ketchup, and plenty of their favorite fruits. I like to get veggies in with some “veggie fries” or veggie chips.
7. Simply google “Gluten Free Kids Lunches” and you will find endless websites and suggestions. If you are not creative, trust me, there are plenty of moms out there with all kinds of ideas!
About the Author: Alexa Bigwarfe is the mother of four beautiful children, three on earth and one in Heaven. She began the blog No Holding Back (http://katbiggie.com) as an outlet for her grief after the loss of one of her twin daughters to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Alexa is a wife, mother, writer, advocate, and sometimes political activist. She recently published a book for grieving mothers entitled “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother”. She can be followed on Facebook (http://facebook.com/