Gluten-Free? Help Me.

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually written about this here before, but Caroline has some serious GI issues.  I know I’ve written about her reflux in the past because it nearly killed both of us (her from aspiration pneumonia and me from pure stress), but I’ve probably never mentioned her extreme constipation because a) I keep forgetting to and b) talking about poop on the internet is super gross, you guys.

But here we are because, as in the past, I need your help.  Ready?  Caroline’s dermatologist suggested that her combination of severe eczema and constipation might be due to a wheat sensitivity, so she recommended we try going gluten-free.  When I was a kid, I technically tested positive for a wheat allergy (which I have ignored completely and proceeded to eat carbs like it is my job), and she’s seen kids with these issues have them completely clear up when gluten is removed from their diet, so… we’re giving it a shot.

I have to admit I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect.  Caroline, like most three-year-olds, is already an extremely picky eater.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get her to eat a balanced diet without gluten, since I have to put wheat products in most things in order to get her to eat them without a huge battle (i.e. macaroni and cheese with peas, blueberry pancakes, broccoli nuggets with bread crumbs, chicken nuggets, etc.)

In summary, here are the things she likes to eat: things with gluten in them.  Here are the things she doesn’t like to eat: things without gluten in them.

You see my dilemma.  She might starve and I might lose my mind.  (And yes, I am being dramatic.  I’ve been told I have a flair for it.  I don’t think it was a compliment.)

Despite the difficulties, I guess it can’t hurt to try, right?  Going gluten-free could be good for me, too.  I mean, I do technically have an allergy, and at the risk of sounding like a 14 year old teeny-bopper, I heard Miley Cyrus recently went gluten-free and have you seen girlfriend’s abs lately?  I’m just sayin’.  (I know she’s like 19, tops, and has never had a child that we know of but please just let me live in my fantasy world, okay?)

So, gluten-free parents out there, what’s a girl and very picky preschooler to do?  Any recommendations for recipes, websites, blogs, and/or gluten-free substitutes for wheat products?  How do you handle a child who has to go gluten-free when all they ever want to eat is carbs?


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  1. by Katie H

    On July 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Check out Snikkidy Snacks – found them at babies r us originally but now I’ve seen them in grocery stores too. Also veggie straws/chips . I’ll think of more as we are going through similar stuff with B.

  2. by Erica

    On July 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Do you have her on a probiotic? If not, get her on one, ASAP! I recommend Jarrow Baby or Florajen for kids–they’re refrigerated and you can get Jarrow at health food stores and Florajen at some pharmacies–they solve pooping issues fast! Seriously–google it!

  3. by Holly

    On July 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    i feel your pain. my daughter who is 2 is gluten free as well for autism and i have the same diet as well for celiac disease. first and foremost the healthiest gluten free diet is one where most processed foods have been cut out and you eat primarily fresh produce (organic if you can), lean meats,dairy if tolerated and legumes. also, you may want to supplement with vitamins or a kid’s supplement drink that is gluten free such as pediasure sidekicks, but be aware that there are medications over the counter as well as prescription that may contain gluten. to find out read the ingrediants carefully as well as call the manufacturer when in doubt. knowing your little girl is a gluten lover, i recommend these brands that are gluten free and can pass as “normal” food. gluten free bisquick is my quick fix for breakfast. it can be used for pancakes, biscuits and other things. for pasta, tinkyada brand is fabulous. udi’s bread is good and is found in the frozen food section. Ian’s brand is decent and general mills brand Chex cereal has a few flavors that are awesome (i like the chocolate, cinnamon and honey nut flavors). king arthur has good baking mixes, but make sure you grab the right one as they make “regular” mixes as well. bob’s of red mill brand is good too for a gluten free all purpose flour. and one magazine i cannot do with out is called Living Without. it’s a magazine for people with food allergies and they have a website as well. they include in their issues recipes, cooking/baking advice when working with gluten free foods, and health issues that can happen with food allergies. and don’t forget to totally clean your kitchen and avoid cross contamination if you choose to eat gluten and make your little girl eat no gluten. hope this info helps. if you have questions, feel free to contact me. good luck.

  4. by Lauren

    On July 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I’m gluten free (and vegetarian and eat very little dairy) and have to say it was not as hard as I thought at first. Pasta, bread, crackers and just about anything made “normal” is available on store shelves and can be made gluten free. For pasta there is corn and quinoa and rice pasta, bread and pastries, pancakes and waffles made with non-wheat flours, baking mixes. We even have a gluten free store in our town, but I rarely need to go there as our local supermarket has a great selection. Many foods are also naturally gluten free, but definitely read up on label reading for hidden gluten (soy sauce was a surprise to me). Fruit, veggies, dairy products are gluten free in their basic forms. My go tos are apples and peanut butter for breakfast and oatmeal (not everyone who’s gluten free can tolerate oats). I read Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book and learned most of what I needed to know. (P.S. I dropped about 10 pounds in the process without any other changes). Good luck!

  5. by BK

    On July 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I have a friend who is gluten free. She finds recipes on some amazing gluten free blogs, and her kids eat everything she makes. I think you’ll find that, if you’re open to researching and to trying new foods (like almond flour), you’ll be able to make similar and tasty foods that you’ll both love.

    Here are a few blogs:

  6. [...] Gluten free? Help me. ( [...]

  7. by Julie G.

    On July 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Julia,

    I work for the gluten free food company Garden Lites and we make delicious and convenient vegetable souffles. We hear all the time how difficult the early days of a gluten free lifestyle shift can be, but by stocking your freezer with quick, easy to prepare products you can save yourself in a pinch. Our souffles are low calorie (to help with those Miley Cyrus abs)and filled with 2 full servings of vegetables. Your daughter won’t even know she’s getting her nutrients! We have many savory flavors to try, and even a sweet Butternut Squash souffle that kids love!

    You can find us in a store near you using our store locator

    And you’ll probably find that gluten free food can get a little expensive, so here is a link to a coupon for our products:

    I hope this helps, and we wish you well! You can find out more about Garden Lites on our website

  8. by Melissa Lientz Green (@mocookies)

    On July 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I just saw that my brown rice Rice Crispies are gluten-free. There’s got to be a way to make gluten-free rice crispie treats, right?

  9. by Meg Mitchell

    On July 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Quinoa and rice! I have a wheat sensitivity that used to give me horrific heartburn so my whole family went just about totally gluten free. I don’t have Miley Cyrus abs but I do feel lots better and my 1 year old eats whatever I put in front of her (as of right now anyway). Quinoa is a great alternative to pasta and it tastes good hot or cold. I haven’t been able to find a good straight-up pasta alternative though. All the noodles I tried get slimy. Asian food doesn’t use much wheat so I find myself making lots of stir fry. Instead of a sandwich, try some meat and cheese on a spelt tortilla. Blue Diamond makes a huge line of delicious crackers made from nuts. I’ve tried making breading with almond flour and it’s even better than breadcrumbs to me. Especially on fish. Buckwheat flour makes great pancakes/waffles (not quite so much for breadings though.) Google “gluten free muffins” and there are lots that use rice flour and still taste great.
    The comment a couple posts ago about probiotics was right on too. I make a smoothie for my baby and I every morning with probiotic liquid, spinach, almond milk, greens powder (for extra vitamins), flavored fish oil, and lots of fruit. My one year old sits her butt right down in the same place every morning and eagerly awaits her smoothie that she sucks up with a straw. I can email you some of the recipes i’ve made up if you like. I love to cook.
    Good luck! Giving up wheat isn’t so bad and you’ll both feel much better.

  10. by Julia

    On July 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much, everyone!! You guys are awesome! :)

  11. by andrea frazer

    On July 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Looks like a lot of the GF sites are mentioned. I can say from my own experience in having to go Gluten Free/Caesin Free for my son, it really isn’t that bad once you set your mind to it. I saw HUGE improvements in everything from focus to overall health. Our issues are different from yours, but I can’t say enough about picky or not picky eater, if you can slowly introduce stuff and not have other options, they get used to it. Good luck!

  12. by Casey

    On July 10, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Two weeks ago my 18 month old went dairy free (autism like symptoms) so this week we decided to go g-free. I read through all of the above mentioned blogs, although they look amazing I’m not going to lie. I need things I can get at a regular grocery store and at least hold us over until I get all the special flours and a little extra time to do some heavy duty cooking. I tried to keep things on toddler level and what she usually likes to eat anyway… hope you enjoy my lazy mom suggestions.
    Rice crackers with peanut butter, Van’s frozen waffles, gluten free pasta in pasta sauce and vegetable broth, I found a loaf of g-free bread in the frozen aisle which opens the dooor for pb&j and toast, lots of scrambled eggs, quick thai meals she seems to love (toddlers and noodles… ) sweet potato frozen fries and I’m sticking with the gerber graduates with the hidden veggies. I do plan on making her favorite, chicken nuggets, later this week with finely ground cornflakes. Maybe in the weeks to come I will get a head start and start baking/freezing. And even more maybe I will get her to actually enjoy fruits and vegetables… good luck to us both!

  13. by HippyFitMom

    On July 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Check out my post, Eating gluten free can be difficult but trust me it gets much easier. There are so many options nowadays and they taste great. I prefer buckwheat waffles over wheat any day and so do my kids. Just takes time to adjust.

  14. by Rhett Datcher

    On July 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Great, thanks for sharing this post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.

  15. by Brittany L

    On July 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I have a friend that has a gluten allergy and she does not like the cook books she has read for it so she is starting to write her own. She is also going to try to get it published by weight watchers. Here is what she had to say to me when I asked her about helping my mother-in-law with her gluten allergy: I don’t recommend using a “gluten free” cookbook though for a couple reasons. The first is that most gluten free cookbooks have you make your own flour blend. That gets REAL expensive, REAL fast. The second reason is that I have yet to find one that cuts down on carbs at fat. I DO have one that’s “healthy” but it really isn’t healthy. It’s just healthier than the author’s first book. Eventually I would like to write a gluten free weight watchers cookbook and actually get it signed by the company, but with all of my research right now I just don’t have the time for a big project of that size! Anyways, here is the guide that I wrote for now (some of it might be geared towards children or other random groups, I’ve shared it with quite a few different readers).

    I have the word document that she sent, but I don’t have an option to attach it and it’s long so I don’t want to copy and paste it. If you would like me to e-mail it to you, let me know. It does have some good tips. I wish you the best of luck!

  16. by JJ

    On August 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Focusing on whole food meals is a really great way to eat gluten free. Serve meat a veggie and a GF carb (mashed potato, french fries, brown rice). For baked goods Bobs Red Mill has a really great line of cake/bread mixes. As for kid friendly connivance foods there are many brand of amazing GF noodles (i like the brown rice spiral ones, they have the best texture). Avoid sauces/condiments unless they are labeled as GF, many common condiments like ketchup are naturally GF.

    Below are a few of my favorites.
    WARNING: GF foods often have often have ZERO fiber and if eaten every meal can cause constipation. (for me more than once a day)

    Gluten free mac and cheese

    Gluten free frozen pizza crust

    Bobs Red Barn Chocolate chip cookie mix (what kid doesn’t like to make cookies?)

  17. by Christi Beechwood

    On September 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

    My kids and I are gluten free as well!
    I try not to spend all of our money on GF food (which is easy to do), so we eat as much naturally GF food as we can.
    The key ingredients to our diet are: rice, potato and corn.
    The kids live off of bean and cheese tacos (on corn tortillas). I also buy French Meadow Bakery’s tortillas and use them as pizza crusts to make personal-size pizzas.
    Shar and Udi’s are the best bread I’ve found, so I use that to make grilled cheeses, toast and sandwiches (the bread is better if you toast it).

    There are lots of brands of GF noodles, and most spaghetti and pasta sauces are GF as well.
    Annie’s Homegrown makes GF mac n cheese (but I usually add cheddar cheese to the sauce to make it a little more cheesy).
    If I don’t have GF noodles on hand, I usually just use rice. And brown rice is super healthy. Both kids will just eat it plain (I buy Riceland’s brown jasmine, I think).
    I also figured out that melted white american cheese mixed with cream makes a pretty good mac n cheese sauce. I buy a few slices on 10 at the deli.
    Chex, Brown Rice Krispies and Fruity/Chocolate pebbles are GF. They sell bars with Fruity/Chocoalte pebbles that are like rice krispies treats, but you can also make the old fashioned ones at home with the brown rice krispies.
    There’s also Cream of rice, which is kinds like oatmeal. My kids love it with maple syrup mixed in.
    Nut thins are great crackers that my kids love. We use them with hummus, cheese and sandwich meat. And PB&J crackers.
    I recently found some bread crumbs made from corn and made chicken nuggets.
    A lot of frozen french fries, tater tots and sweet potato fries/tots are gluten-free, but you’ll have to read the labels to make sure. Watch out for modified food starch – it’s in everything (even gatorade!), and usually contains wheat unless it’s specified that it’s from something else.

    Betty Crocker makes GF cake/brownie mix, and GF Bisquick is great for pancakes/waffles. Pamela’s GF Baking Mix is the best I’ve found for substituting regular flour in pretty much any recipe. It’s really good for pancakes, too.

    For fast food:
    Pretty much everything at McDonalds had gluten in it.
    You can get a burger with no bun and fries at Burger King, Wendy’s and Carl’s JR (They have a low carb burger wrapped in lettuce). Chick Fil-a has grilled nuggets that are GF (and their fries too). Most chains have allergy info on their websites. The main thing to worry about is cross-contamination in the kitchen, like workers handling your food after having held something gluten-ful. Also, if the french fries are cooked in the same oil as breaded food, they could cause a reaction.

    I hope this helps!
    If you have an questions, please feel free to contact me via my website.

  18. by Mrs. Voytek

    On September 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I also have a gluten free two year old, and there are so many options out there! Don’t freak out! Bisquick Gluten- free is super for pancakes, waffles, and also breading for chicken nuggets. Trader Joe have the best rice pasta Mac-N-Cheese which is closest to Kraft, and Jules flour is the best mix and closest to regular flour. Easiest for baking cookies, breads, and muffins… Good luck :)

  19. by Stephanie

    On September 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    If you’re looking for gluten free pasta, SPELT is the way to go! I’m not on a gluten free diet, but my husband has a wheat allergy and he tries to stay away from it, therefore we try to keep our son’s diet mostly gluten free too since it’s probably best considering how much the wheat has been genetically altered over the years and our bodies often can’t process it the way we should. Spelt pasta is a gluten free pasta that tastes better than any other pasta I’ve had, including regular pasta! I’ve tried other pastas and they’re not nearly as good nor do they have as good of a texture. Quinoa is a good food for kids too. I give my son quinoa with some shredded cheese in it and he loves it. It’s not too hard to find ways to make gluten free things. The gluten free areas in the stores are increasing and it’s easier and easier to find alternatives. As for bread, there are a lot of breads out there, again, I recommend spelt, but do a squeeze test because some of the spelt bread is really firm, but some is similar to regular wheat bread. Also, the Gluten Free Pantry (I found it at Walmart and Kroger) makes a bread mix in a box that is awesome!