Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Does it Mean to be Gluten-free + Lunch/Snack Ideas for Kids

In recent years, gluten-free foods have gained popularity due to the increased number of people with wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease. Moreover, recent reports have indicated the incidence of Celiac’s in children may be as high as 1 in 80. Individuals that suffer from these conditions must avoid gluten, the protein found in wheat and other grains. This is because consuming gluten triggers an inflammatory response that breaks down the absorptive villi in the small intestine. As the villi begin to breakdown, they flatten and food digestion and absorption is significantly decreased. Many health issues result such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, migraines, joint paint and fatigue. However, it is possible for an individual to exhibit no symptoms, or simply become accustomed to the symptoms if they have suffered throughout their life.

Adapting a gluten-free diet helps the intestine reduce inflammation and heal. Symptoms lessen and eventually may disappear. This change happens in only a few weeks for children, but may take years in adults due to more extensive intestinal damage. Avoiding treatment may be dangerous because more serious health conditions can develop over time .

It can be challenging for parents with children that have a gluten sensitivity, allergy or Celiac Disease to think of healthy gluten-free lunch and snack options. Just because something in the supermarket is labeled “Gluten-free” does not mean it is healthy for your child. To help ease the burden, here are some ideas:

  • Wrap sandwiches made with corn tortillas
  • Brown rice pasta with meat sauce
  • Deli sandwich or peanut butter and jelly on gluten-free bread like Rudi's
  • Homemade soups packed in a heated container
  • Carrot, celery sticks or cherry tomatoes with gluten-free salad dressing or hummus
  • Whole grain corn chips with salsa
  • Fresh fruit or fruit salad
  • Fruit and nut bars like Larabar or Kind bars

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