The first few weeks of being a gluten free family can be very daunting, especially when it comes to making lunch boxes for kids, even more so if you are used to sending sandwiches every day. It can take some time to get used to gluten free bread, and a gluten free bread slice often doesn't do so well in a lunch box because of crumbling. After a year and a half of being gluten free I am sure I am close to being an expert now. It has become almost a 'sport' to see how many days I can go without sending bread! My older child used to be nightmare when it came to eating at school, we have used every trick in the book to get him to eat.
- Forget bread. Don't miss it, don't think about it. You don't need bread for a lunchbox. If the lunch is appealing enough, your kids wont even ask for bread.
- Decide in advance how many foods you are sending and what they should be. By having 'rules', making the lunch will be faster and easier, as you are always following the same 'rules'. I send 4-5 foods for my older child, and 3-4 for my younger. Each child has a vegetable or fruit food, a 'main' food, a dairy food, and a snack.
- Sending one big portion of something often means it goes uneaten. Smaller portions are less daunting for a fussy child, and usually there will be less waste. If your child doesn't eat, send less foods (less choice) for a week and you may be surprised.
- Let your child choose within the food rules that you have set. 'Do you want yogurt or cheese sticks today?', 'Do you want pasta or pancakes today?', 'Cucumber with hummus or an apple?' etc.
- Prepare some foods in advance. While I always do the fruits and most veggies fresh on the day, many of the 'main foods' can be prepared in advance and kept for a few days in storage containers in the fridge.
- Experiment! Don't be afraid to try new crazy things, get the kids involved too. Very often the crazy stuff is what works.
- Become best friends with your muffin tin. Really. Im serious. Its amazing what you can do in it, and its just the right size for a child! Try Spanish Omelette, baked eggs, pancakes, quinoa bakes, pasta bakes, crustless quiche etc etc.
- Try to stay away from pre packaged gluten free stuff, more often then not its not very nutritious, and it probably cost more then dinner in a fancy restaurant too! Make things yourself if you can, or use mainstream products that are naturally gluten free.
- Don't give the same food every day, even if your child requests it. The last thing you want is for your child to stop eating the one thing he always eats! Its also not very good from a nutritional stand point. A varied diet is usually better (unless you have managed to get your kid to eat a superfood of some kind).
- Keep an emergency (non perishable) lunch box with the teacher! You don't want your child to go without food if his lunch box becomes contaminated, dropped on the floor etc. Our emergency box has 2 muesli bars, some raisins and gluten free crackers. It's sealed shut, with my child's name and gluten free stickers all over. Its kept with the teacher and I check the box regularly to see if it needs updating.
-by Linda Forster Founder of Gluten Free UAE and mum of 2 in a glutenfree house
Edit to add: You can find lunch box ideas
in our recipe section!
Tips for Coeliac Disease sufferers
By: Parviz Rashvand, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases including Coeliac result in extensive inflammation and tissue destructions. As a result, digestion and more importantly, absorption of nutrients become compromised and therefore, nutritional deficiencies always play a major role in the long-term outcome of such conditions. Details checkups reveal large amount of toxins in the body, extensive vitamin and mineral deficiencies and microbial growth in the body as a result of immune system disturbance and weakness. To help the patients, controlling the inflammation and excessive destruction is imperative. Detoxification actions must be supported and microbes should be eradicated by balancing the immunity. This is what I recommend:
- A complete avoidance of any gluten containing food, including not just wheat, rye and barley, but also soy sauce, modified food starch, ice cream, soup or alcoholic beverages. This will reduce the production of the toxins and will give a chance for cleansing the body!
- Abstain from milk or any milk product until the healthy intestinal function is restored.
- Regular intake of high quality raw veggies and fruits will supply plenty f enzymes to our body and enzymes will not only help digesting gluten, but they also digest inflammatory proteins and markers.
- A comprehensive supply of the RIGHT probiotics to carpet the inner lumen of the digestive system
- Stimulation of a more efficient pancreatic function in a key issue since pancreas is one of the most important digestive organs responsible for manufacturing of many different enzymes. We do this by using very specific nutritional supplements.
- Although vitamin Bs (esp B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6) and omega 3 fats (the essential fatty acids) are mainly deficient in those patients, supplementing them in the beginning could cause more problems due to the presence of active microbes in the body. They will also feed the bugs!!! In the later stage of the treatment, they will be totally fine but not from the beginning!!!
- Avoiding fried foods, large amounts of red meat, stimulants such as coffee or very spicy food, and sugar will help the body with the excessive inflammation
- Botanical preparations of marsh mellow (Althea officinalis, not the candy!), Silica as Horse tail, Burdock, Slippery elm, pure Aloe Vera gel, and medicinal clay (Bentonite) is always helpful
- To follow the Rules of Stomach will ensure less pressure and more comfort in the digestive system promoting healing
- Addressing stress as the most important debilitating factors for our health is a major point to consider. Long-term stress, whether physical, emotional or others will compromise immunity and digestive functions in everyone! It is, therefore, very important to recognize the source of the stress and address them properly to suit the individual. Quantum technology in medicine not only could detect the possible allergies and sensitivities in people, but also it could desensitize the body and address stress parameters in them.
Dr. Parviz Rashvand is a pioneer in many areas of Naturopathic Medicine in the UAE. He is trained both in conventional and natural medicine and has studied dentistry partially. Dr. Parviz is extremely passionate about helping patients suffering from cancer, MS, autism and other severe auto-immune and degenerative conditions.
DR Parviz practices at Synergy Medical Centre in Dubai. Click the logo on the right to go to their web page (opens in new window).
- Eat 3 meals a day, never be tempted to skip a meal even when trying to lose weight. Skipping a meal does not help with weight loss.
- Ensure that you eat carbohydrate with each meal. It can be tempting to miss these off the menu but they are essential as they help provide your body with energy – they should provide at least 50%. They also provide our body’s with essential vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates include – millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, oats – confirmed gluten free, potatoes, sweetcorn, pulses such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans etc. and the gluten free products made from them.
- Eat a variety of foods. This can be harder on a gluten free diet but as shown on the carb list above there are lots of different choices available. Eating variety provides your body with essential nutrients, prevents boredom and ensures that your body does not become sensitive to foods that are repetitively consumed.
- If you don’t necessarily react straight away to eating gluten free foods don’t be tempted to have small amounts – damage will still be occurring.
- When buying ready prepared gluten free foods opt for those with the least amount of added ingredients and watch out for artificial flavours, colourings and additives too.
- Don’t be tempted to over compensate on sugary and high fat foods as these can add extra unwanted calories to your diet. High fat foods can also contain saturated fats which can increase cholesterol levels within your body.
- Always carry gluten free snacks on you. Unsalted nuts, seeds and dried fruits are perfect. This will ensure that you will not leave long gaps between meals or be tempted to eat sugary snacks.
- Don’t be tempted to cut out food groups from your diet such as dairy, soya etc. without consulting a nutritionist or dietitian as you may limit your nutrition status too far – a gluten free diet can sometimes be a harder to follow and you do not want to put extra stress upon yourself.
- Try a different food or recipe once a week so as to increase your repertoire.
- Know your ingredients list. Every now and again manufacturers change their product ingredient so keep abreast of changes. Also be aware that product ingredients do change from country to country so when travelling always read the ingredients list.
-by Sarah Queen
Sarah Queen, the consultant director of Nutrition Matters Arabia in Abu Dhabi, has more than 19 years' experience working as both a corporate and personal nutritionist.
Click the logo to visit Nutrition Matters Arabia on Facebook (opens in new window).