The Key Lightbulb Moments That Changed Our Life As A Gluten-Free Family.
Recently Genius Gluten-Free contacted me to become a brand ambassador which I was delighted to do, given that many of their products are a firm favourite with my young coeliac son. Over the next few months there will be several Genius related posts. From recipes that are ideal for school lunch boxes to ones that are perfect for parties and family gatherings. During a conversation with Genius Gluten-Free, they asked what we have learned so far in order to make our family life easier, so I thought I’d share the following.
Discovering that our 18 month old son had coeliac disease was a big shock to me and my family, huge. We had never heard of it let alone know how to manage it. Cue the internet to begin our initial research, where we sifted through a myriad of advice, facts and statistics surrounding this incurable autoimmune disease.
We, like all, needed to embrace the disease immediately as a strict gluten-free diet must be adhered to from the outset and secondly, Will was due to attend a birthday party the very next day no doubt laden with mountains of enticing party treats that screamed, ‘eat me’. So we were in at the deep end but where do you go from there? We did not want Will to feel excluded, different or alienated and so our challenge began.
That was 6 years ago but since then we have found the following lightbulb moments proved invaluable and continue to do so to ensure that Will leads a happy and healthy gluten-free life without compromise.
Whilst it may seem obvious to say communication is key. What ever age or situation you face diagnosed coeliac, communicate, communicate and add another big spoonful of communication. Whether it be connected to the 1st day of nursery, 2nd year at school or the 3rd birthday party of the year, it is essential to reinforce the gluten-free dietary requirements. You may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first as we did, but needs must. Many a time we have appeared like over-zealous, neurotic parents but have found it to be essential in building up trust within every avenue of experiences so far.
Buy small bright personalised stickers including the words “GLUTEN-FREE” to place on items such as water bottles, lunch boxes or snacks to avoid cross contamination and the mix up of popular character branded lunch accessories with loveable Pixar characters which appear to be a huge magnet! Equally, we put them on Will’s separate butter and food items at home that are not necessarily used everyday such as jam or peanut butter.
Purchase a second toaster to use in a designated gluten free area at home particularly if everyone in your household is not following a gluten-free diet. Cross contamination is one of the biggest concerns to a gluten-free household, so again mark clearly with personalised stickers in the event of a family member or friend mistakenly using it without thinking.
Play dates and sleep overs can also cause enormous stress so we decided to take the bull by the horns and invite Will’s friends over first so that it felt easier to approach the parents in a less accusatory way of finding out their knowledge of coeliac disease, thinking ahead for return leg play dates.
Whether holidaying in the UK or venturing abroad, both need a bit of considered preparation. After experiencing delays at airports and forced to rely on the unpredictable options for gluten-free dining , we always carry a generous amount of gluten-free snacks just incase. Also when dining out ring or email ahead to prepare them. Hungry kids are not too forgiving in these tummy rumbling situations! Ultimately trust your gut feeling and don’t be afraid to walk away from a restaurant if you have the slightest doubt they may not be able to meet your requirements.
P.S: Never travel without gluten-free stock cubes, soy sauce, cereal, pasta and an emergency pack or two of biccies, you never know when or where you might need to whip up a quick meal or snack!
This post was sponsored by Genius Gluten-Free.
- lunch box
- party food
- sweet treat