Today I want to talk about the hard stuff. And, no, I am not referring to gluten-free bread mixes. That is called “the stuff that turns in to rocks.” I am talking about what makes being gluten-free difficult, especially for children.
1. School parties – Every kid loves to bring cupcakes to school for their birthday. Robert was in tears this last week because he knew one of his friends was going to bring cupcakes and he wouldn’t get one. (Work around: If you know of the event in advance, make a GF cupcake and drop it off with the teacher that morning. Or, make a bunch of cupcakes and ask the school if they can be stored in a freezer somewhere in case of an unexpected birthday treat!)
2. School lunch – Remember those pieces of square pizza that would be served every Friday and everyone got excited about them? Well, around here they still do that. And missing out of school pizza day is no fun. (Heck, even I miss those floppy pieces of pizza. They were delicious.) You can bring pizza from home, but we all know it’s not the same, especially on Lucky Tray Day. (Work around: Some schools are not able to accommodate kids who are GF and can even make them their own version of square pizza. But, many of them require a doctor’s note.)
3. Going out to eat – More and more restaurants have gluten-free options, but the kid favorites like McDonald’s do not yet have options. Even some of the ones that do, like Domino’s, offer gluten-free crusts, but they are made on the same cutting boards as regular pies and, unless requested without, will be made with cheese that contains gluten. So, depending on sensitivity levels, going out can be a real hardship. Especially when your gluten-free child is jonesing for a hamburger with a bun or chicken nuggets.
4. Hearing ‘no’ a lot – Especially when they are first learning their limitations with food, someone who is learning to live gluten-free hears “no” a lot. Everywhere you turn, there it is. It’s in all those tasty looking cookies, it’s in the boxed quinoa mix mom got on accident, it’s in unexpected places like Twizzlers and shredded cheese and oats. It can be a real downer because it starts looking like there is nothing yummy to eat anymore. This leads in to the last bullet point…
5. It’s expensive! To be fair, it is no more expensive than any other diet if you are focusing on whole foods. But, in the beginning, especially for kids, you have to kind of ease in to it. And with new lines of packaged gluten-free treats hitting the market what seems like daily, it’s getting easier to have a few comfort foods on hand for the transition. IF you want to drop a pretty penny on it. Robert loves Oreos and Poptarts. Those are super effective treats. So, I went and got some gluten-free clones of those products for him. Even though I have been living gluten-free for about 3 years, I had sticker shock when I was in the store. $5 got me 5 gluten free mock-Poptarts. Not 5 two-packs. 5 individually wrapped. (For reference, you can usually get 4 two-packs of real Poptarts for about $2.50 around here.) Same with the cookies. The package was half the size of a box of Oreos and twice the price. A small sack of GF pretzels is around $6. Convenience or packaged foods are all mega-expensive. You want to give out some familiar treats, but no one wants to break the bank on this so it sometimes turns back to number 4, and “no” is heard frequently even with “safe” foods because you could use a week’s budget on a few packages of snacks.