Suggestions for providing children with a positive transition to a gluten-free diet.
Starting a gluten-free diet can be challenging for anyone, but kids can have an especially tough time when faced with social situations. It’s hard to tell your little one they can’t have the cake at their friend’s birthday party or that Play-Doh is off limits. With a little imagination and creativity, though, you can get your child excited about the gluten-free diet.
Set Aside Time to Cook Together
Dedicate a few hours a week to trying new gluten-free recipes with your child. The recipes don’t have to be complicated or take a long time to make. Not only will this give you some quality one-on-one time with your little one, but you’ll also teach them how to manage their own gluten-free diet and identify possible gluten sources.
Get Them Involved
Depending on how old your child is, they might be embarrassed about the gluten-free diet or having special dietary needs. Get them talking about celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and help them meet other gluten-free kids. Social networking sites can help them connect with their peers, and you might even get a few new gluten-free recipe ideas from other parents. Miranda Jade Turbin shared tips for social networking in NFCA’s September e-newsletter.
In-person meet-ups can be beneficial for kids because they give them a chance to meet others on a lifelong gluten-free diet. Groups like Raising Our Celiac Kids (R.O.C.K.) host meetings and activities across the country. They’re another great place to get activity ideas.
You can get them talking about the gluten-free diet through NFCA’s Awareness All-Stars fundraiser. Awareness All-Stars gives kids the opportunity to share their experience with celiac and help raise funds to support NFCA’s free programs and services. Plus, every All-Star earns prizes for participating and the top 3 fundraisers (we call them MVPs) get an extra special gluten-free prize.
Gluten-Free Show and Tell
Many kids have special show-and-tell days at school. Why not send them to class with delicious gluten-free cookies or cupcakes to share with their classmates? This will give them a chance to tell all of their classmates about celiac disease and show them how a gluten-free diet can still be tasty. Plus, this lets kids become more comfortable with talking about celiac disease and their dietary needs.
Arts & Crafts
Traditional Play-Doh contains gluten, but that doesn’t mean your gluten-free kid can’t enjoy the fun. Spend a Saturday afternoon making gluten-free Play-Doh with them. You’ll be giving them a safe alternative while showing them trying out new things can be fun! Check out this recipe for gluten-free Play-Doh from Parents Magazine.
Give Them a “Pep Talk”
Kids Central has a section dedicated to Pep Talks, which features tips from gluten-free kids and NFCA’s staff and Athletes for Awareness. The Pep Talks cover everything from “Being Gluten-Free and Confident” to “Awesome Things Done by Gluten-Free Kids.” In short 5-tip segments, your kid is bound to get a major confidence boost from Pep Talks!
So how do you help your child maintain a positive attitude about the gluten-free diet?