Even though there’s been a recent upswing in the amount of information and exposure explaining gluten intolerances, it’s still a subject that most people don’t know a lot about. It can be hard to distinguish what’s acceptable to eat and what isn’t. Because of this, children who are dealing with a gluten intolerance have an even bigger hurdle to tackle, and it’s of the utmost importance that they understand what they’re going up against, especially because their parents can’t be on the lookout for them all day every day. Helping your child understand their intolerance is the first step to arming them with the appropriate ammunition to successfully avoid any foods that could trigger a reaction:
1. Immerse yourself in information – Becoming knowledgeable about gluten intolerance yourself is the first step to ensuring that your children know and understand what gluten intolerance is. You have to do the prep work so that you can give them informed answers to their questions, which they inevitably will have.
2. Take them grocery shopping with you – As you navigate your way around the grocery store point out foods that contain gluten and explain why they can’t eat that. Let them pick out different foods and then read the labels together to see if they contain gluten or not. The more comfortable they get with understanding the types of foods that contain gluten and the types of foods that are safe, the better equipped they’ll be when they’re on their own.
3. Talk to teachers ahead of time – While you can do your best to get your child ready for going to school and avoiding gluten filled foods, they can’t do it alone. Talk with teachers together and explain the intolerance, and then give them a list of foods that your child can and can’t eat. With everyone working together there is a better chance at successfully avoiding any foods containing gluten.
4. Cook with your kids – Show your kids that gluten-free meals don’t have to be restricting or unsatisfying. Preparing delicious, safe meals together can help your child get another perspective on acceptable foods and better understand which foods are OK.
5. Find children’s books and other visual aids that explain gluten intolerance – Having books and other visual aids that are geared towards your child’s level of learning will help them understand the intolerance better and give them reference points.
It’s important to approach understanding the gluten intolerance in as many ways as possible so that your child is constantly surrounded by information that will help them. The more information they have, the more likely it is to stick, and when you’re dealing with a food intolerance making it stick is of the utmost importance.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to become a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.