Occasionally a child may have intolerance to the gluten in wheat (which irritates the intestinal walls and can lead to tummy upsets, cramps, diarrhoea, reduced nutrient absorption and anaemia). Commonly referred to as coeliac disease, it can be diagnosed by a doctor via a blood test. Don’t be tempted to place your child on a gluten-free diet if you haven’t had confirmation of a problem with gluten as it can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
A gluten-free diet means avoiding grains and foods containing wheat, oats, rye, barley and triticale. Obviously bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies and pasta are out, as are foods that are less obvious such as those that contain stabilisers and thickeners. So as you can see, wheat represents a large food group making a gluten-free diet a tricky balancing act.
But don’t despair. Improved labelling laws and increased gluten-free options make things easier. Meat, produce, legumes and dairy are fine. Gluten-free grains and products, such as those made from rice, corn (maize), potato, tapioca (also known as arrowroot), buckwheat, millet, sago, soy, quinoa, amaranth and lupin are generally fine. This provides a wide range of flours, breads and baking products.
This information has been provided by Leanne Cooper Director of Cadence Health and Food Coaching Courses, Leanne is a registered nutritionist and mother of two very active boys.
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The information presented is not intended to replace medical advice.
Updated July 2014.