Children are notoriously finicky when it comes to food, and most of what passes for kid-friendly in restaurants is loaded with gluten: chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, burgers and hot dogs or spaghetti and meatballs.
Although there are gluten-free versions of most of these kid staples readily available, Kelly Dorfman, a nutritionist in Potomac thinks the focus of a gluten-free diet should be on whole, unprocessed foods. Load up on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, meats, cheeses and other healthful foods, instead of focusing on the gluten-free versions of your favorite processed foods, Dorfman said.
Dorfman suggests making a different vegetable every night for two weeks and telling your child that she has to have at least two bites, to help her get acclimated to eating a variety of foods.
“They don’t have to love it; they have to tolerate it,” said Dorfman, author of “What’s Eating Your Child”. “Eventually, if they eat it often enough, they do start to like it.”
Do it as a family
Going gluten-free with your child, at least for the first month, can ease the transition to a new diet, Dorfman said.
“You don’t want the child to feel like something’s wrong with him,” Dorfman said. “This is just a crazy thing about modern living. Doing it together, and helping the family bond that way, is really important.”
Epstein said that although her husband, Brian, was celiac, the rest of the family didn’t eat gluten-free until Jeremy was diagnosed last summer. Now they all eat gluten-free at home, and she and her daughter Lauren, 5, eat gluten only when they are out.
“We couldn’t have ‘This is Daddy and Jeremy’s food and this is Mommy and Lauren’s food,’ ” Epstein said. “I can’t let my daughter have one thing and not let him have it, because that’s not fair.”
Join nutritionist Kelly Dorfman, author of “What’s Eating Your Child,” for a live Q&A about transitioning children to a gluten-free diet. Submit your questions.
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