With Halloween out of the way, it’s time for some top tips for a gluten free bonfire night and how to be ready. We’ve had an extra hour in bed since the clocks have gone back, we’re heading into winter, darker nights in the search for the best gluten free hotdogs.
Not my favourite time of year, I’m much more a summer girl, but as long as you’re wrapped up well and you get to see and hear some fabulous sparkling fireworks, it’s not so bad.
Whilst watching the fireworks, what will your child be eating? Will you be at a family event or a public one, where, lets face it, it’s less likely that there’ll be someone who is catering for a gluten free diet. But you never know & I forever hold out hope!!
So what will you do?
Bonfire Night Food
When it is cold, and you are outside, you want easy, fun food that is pleasing to eat and definitely warming.
As a child on Bonfire night, we had sausages, baked beans, chilli & baked potatoes. But typically, my GF child doesn’t like baked potatoes. If its not a potato disguised as a chip or a crisp, she isn’t going to eat it!
So it will be about hotdogs for us. As she loves a hotdog. But what about the buns? Gluten free bread is so hit and miss. So here are our top tips for a gluten free bonfire night so you are ready and prepared.
Now hot dog buns are currently few and far between I find. It’s a limited choice.
Gluten Free Bread is very divisive at best. But here are some that I’ve found suitable in our search for the best gluten free hotdogs.
Now £2.45 for a pack of four. They are best warmed, so it softens the dense bread. Heat for max of 15-30 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave. They are slightly smaller than the Promise ones. I’m sure with all the trimmings and some ketchup they’ll do the job.
Schar Baguette Rolls
Schar do make hotdog rolls – they are yet to be available over here in the UK. I saw them on an Instagram post from the USA. Hopefully they’ll be available one day!! I’ve not seen the baguettes about recently, but they don’t need cooking, just maybe a reheat/refresh in the microwave & you’re good to go.
Hot dog sausages
But what sausages are you going to use? Proper butcher sausages with a high meat content or more processed meat ones?
Again, it’s down to preference. I prefer a high meat content but my daughter’s favourite ones are from the Co-Op.
We’ve tried lots of sausages over the past 3 years looking for the best gluten free hotdogs. The Co-op ones are a good value, as are the bulk packet from Tesco which are now labelled as gluten free BUT still in the regular freezer section. If you like fresh ready to cook sausages, then these Tesco pork ones are good too.
Many of the processed frankfurter type hotdogs have wheat in them so you need to always read the labels. If you’re looking for a frankfurter type, Aldi have some in the fridge section that are like the Herta frankfurters (which are not GF) & they’ve no gluten containing ingredients.
Now, when you’ve had your fill of hotdogs, what will you have for dessert? If you’re short on time, I highly recommend the gluten free chocolate cake from either the Co-op or M&S. Either go well with some vanilla ice-cream & if the cake is warmed for 20s or so in the microwave, well, delicious. Or make some cupcakes then decorate them as mini bonfires – details here
Here’s hoping that my top tips for a gluten free bonfire night make the right spark with you. for more info, follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
Your child has a coeliac disease diagnosis. What do you do next? Until you see a Consultant, firstly, keep gluten in their diet.
GP’s in the UK cannot diagnose coeliac disease alone. Your child must be referred to a Consultant for additional tests. They arrange for the second blood test and potentially an endoscopy.
Throughout this time, until the Consultant says so, don’t give up gluten!
Coeliac diagnosis and next steps
If you’re lucky, you get a leaflet. Equally you might not receive anything. And that’s why I wrote my book. With coeliac disease, you are often left to find out your own information.
Once diagnosed, your child should be referred to a dietitian for diet advice and monitoring.
They’ll have yearly checks going forward; measuring height, weight and a blood check for iron, calcium and other checks.
Coeliac UK are the main charity and you should consider joining one of their subscriptions – you can choose from a digital option or have a handbook sent to your home. Subscribing gives you access to their 2 apps. One to check food and one to find venue.
How can I help?
5 years ago I didn’t know about the disease in any great detail. Now, I could stand up and speak about it quite happily for 30 minutes if I had to.
I’m mum to two teens; one was diagnosed as having coeliac disease in 2018.
It was overwhelming & lonely at the start. I remember my first food shopping trip. I spent just under £100 on very little in the Free From aisle. And she hated most of it. There had to be an easier way. What should you do to help your child when diagnosed with coeliac disease?
An easier way
I found I was sharing information with others. Mum’s asked questions to help their kids diagnosed with the disease. There had to be an easier way. A way to help others easily. I wrote a book to help you. They say everyone has one in them, and nowadays, I’m an expert in an average room for coeliac disease. And now I’ve written two! One to help parents and one to help kids.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, lost and a little confused, then you need my book. It will help you get confident in what you need to know, what to do and how to do it.
The book guides you from the start, so you know you aren’t alone, there’s lots of mums out there just like us. How to sort through your kitchen, how to read labels, what you’re looking for, cross contamination and much more.
All written from the perspective of a parent helping a child. Me, helping you help your child.
Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more helpful hints and tips, as with this disease, just when you think it is in control, it provides a challenge. My DM’s are always open & it is always me, not a robot!
How could I make fun, educational gluten free baking kits for kids?
Baking Kits for Coeliac Kids?
Baking Kits for Coeliac Kids? Could it be possible?
This thought popped into my head one Saturday morning early in 2021 having been bombarded by Facebook ads after clicking on a random advert. You know, you click on one, and then suddenly the powers that be read your mind and you are inundated with every bake box that is currently available online. But they aren’t suitable for my family or maybe even yours, as I have a child with Coeliac Disease.
I know how hard it is on a day by day basis, just wanting to be ‘normal’. I never wanted her to miss out so I had started a Gluten Free cake business in 2020 but, it took up too much time, cleaning down a family kitchen twice before starting. How hard could it be…..
With a coeliac child myself, I know what must be done, what must be excluded (items that contain barley, rye, oats* or wheat/gluten). Regular baking boxes just aren’t suitable for us as an option or a treat. *Oats can be suitable for Coeliacs, but need to be specifically stated as gluten free. 7-10% of Coeliacs still can’t tolerate oats in their diet.
You need something specific for your child’s needs, those diagnosed with Coeliac Disease & those dairy free. We want our children to have special treats, as they typically miss out on having that cake at a birthday party or when in a restaurant. On normal everyday things.
I didn’t want to be ‘oh, you can’t have that, lets read the label, lets see or check’. I want to be safe for both my daughter and your sons and daughters too.
We’re 6 months in. I’ve worked out the solution, I’ve refined the boxes, they’ve become fun, creative boxes that make tasty treats as well as combining a learning fun facts about seasonal UK vegetables, along with an activity to undertake each month; colouring/word search/dot to dot. Activities to get their fingers and brains working. And yes, I did train as a nursery nurse so its finally harnessing that knowledge too.
Whilst the ingredients are provided, your child is learning to bake from scratch, read a recipe, follow steps. Key life skill, especially if you want your child to be independent when older.
Baking lessons for big and small are coming too – when I feel confident enough – as everything is new, a huge learning curve & little steps before big scary leaps. Watch the website for details.
Baking is just science in another form, and at least with these experiments you get to eat the outcomes! And they are very tasty!!
It’s winter, what are the benefits of homemade chicken broth? Helping to boost your immune system & ward off those colds and flu symptoms?
And the best bit?
If you’ve had a roast chicken, it’s effectively ‘free’ from what you’ve already purchased. You can use any type of bone (simply Google) but I tend to mainly use the leftovers from a roast chicken that we’ve had.
It couldn’t be simpler.
Remove all the chicken meat from the carcass, break up the bones (yes, I know it doesn’t sound great but needs must) and pop that into a slow cooker. The trick to a good broth is a long, low and slow cooking time. 24hrs or more.
A slow cooker is a big winner for winter, you can pick them up reasonably cheaply and their cost effective. Based on reports from September 2022, it costs between 73p – £1.33 for 8hrs. So for less than a fiver you can make some broth to add to soups, sauces and more.
We use ours as it is. Once cooked for 24hrs, its dark golden qualities not only make the house smell delicious but it’s a handy go to for lunch adding other ingredients, including gluten free spaghetti or rice noodles, vegetables and some of the shredded chicken.
How to make it
There are lots of recipes out there. Everyone has their own signature dish for homemade chicken broth. Mine includes the following: fresh ginger & turmeric, garlic, peppercorns, fresh herbs, onion & carrot. Often it’s what’s left at the bottom of the fridge. Put it all in the slow cooker, bring it back to a boil and then simmer slowly for the next 24hrs.
I’ve my ‘recipe’ as a download which you can grab here FREE if that helps for you to work your way through to making your own basic broth. You could add fresh chilli too – I add it after cooking, for an individual choice. Wouldn’t want to make the kids run for the milk as it was too spicy!!
What are the health benefits of homemade chicken broth?
Need a reason to make it? There are many health benefits and knowing makes a difference to doing it!
Apple Cider Vinegar – helps drawer out the valuable nutrients from the bones into the water that you’ll drink
Cloves – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & anti cough properties (I add a clove to hot honey & lemon drinks – just don’t eat it!)
Ginger – Great for colds & fevers. Contains over 400 natural compounds!
Turmeric – Anti-oxidant, may help fight infections, may help inflammation
From less than a fiver, with bones that you were going to throw out, you can make the basis of a soup, meal or hot drink to help improve the health of your family – for free!. That’s something definitely to consider. For me, it will be going into a sauce to make chicken pie too (gotta use up that leftover chicken too!) and all the goodness I can get into it will be all the better for.
Grab your free download here & if you make it, well, tag me in on Instagram or Facebook as I’d love to see what you create.
Looking to keep your kids entertained in the run up to Halloween over half term?
With kids activities, a recipe for the easiest gluten free cupcakes or cookies, as well as my top tips to survive Trick or Treating without any stress you need my Halloween download. Only £5.99. Click here to purchase your copy today.
Why write a Coeliac Survival Guide for Kids? When I looked back to my child’s diagnosis, there wasn’t much to show my child about her diagnosis, what it meant, how we were going to live going forward. She didn’t even get a sticker or a colouring sheet. Just adult conversation. Being talked about and to.
So what is there to help your child when diagnosed with Coeliac Disease? I had a quick look, and there are some story books but not what I would’ve wanted for her. It had to be something different.
So, we, myself and my two teens, one who has Coeliac Disease, decided we’d do something about it.
There are three books when I searched on the big online store. All fab I’m sure, but I wanted something for my child that was a bit different, that would give her clear and simple information in a fun way.
It all started one Friday night about 4 weeks before her diagnosis anniversary. 5 years on the 8th Feb since we’ve been gluten free, living with Coeliac Disease. We’ve learnt a lot, put all our knowledge into my other book Coeliac Disease and your Child – What every parent needs to know, so now we’ve created one to help the kids too! In a fun, positive way!
So we all hit the office to thrash out what we thought we could put into the book. Cross contamination, what it does to the body, how it makes you feel, how to survive parties, food to eat, as well as fun activities. Making Coeliac Disease positive but acknowledging sometimes it’s hard, not fun & a few activities so that they can find a way to talk to you, their parents.
Fun Getting Creative
It started so well. But as ever, there are challenges, just like life with Coeliac Disease. After hitting the computer for 3hrs solid, it looked fab. But, for the first time ever, Canva crashed and 3hrs work disappeared. There were some choice words, and no matter what Canva did (they were very helpful) it was gone. So round two commenced.
What is in it?
Pretty much everything that a child needs to know. I wanted my child to be informed. She was 9 when diagnosed. I had the great pleasure of seeing her questioning the staff in our local Tesco to see if a lolly had gluten in it. She was confident enough to ask the question was it safe, to make sure she wasn’t ill.
There are lots of sections, all light with a bit of humour weaved through it. Such as:
It has space for children to write or draw, to fill in simple information about themselves, some pages to colour, bright colourful pictures to catch their eye, discussion about farts and poo! Hints and tips on how to attend and enjoy parties – as they can be tough especially when others are tucking in around the table and you are eating out of a packed lunch box.
It managed to get uploaded and onto Amazon on Wednesday 8th February. 5 years to the day that she was diagnosed officially by a consultant in Cambridge. I must send her a book! Two blood tests to get a diagnosis, with results of 128 & 238 – my daughter’s consultant said there was no need for an endoscopy, the results spoke for themselves.
We’ve come a long way, we’ve made mistakes, we learnt lots, and we’re glad that we can help others to understand it’s hard, but doable from a child’s perspective.
Grab your copy today – it’s on sale at £12.99 until Monday 13th February then reverts to its regular price of £14.99.
It will help give your child the confidence he or she needs to tackle what is ahead of them. Knowing there are others like them out there, and they’re doing it together.
How do you manage with a coeliac child when they’re diagnosed? It’s all a bit of a shock.
It’s nearly 5 years since we had that one blood test that started this our journey which has led us to this point. Our diagnosis with coeliac disease.
We’d had so many GP appointments, antibiotics, seen consultants, and each time it was “she’s growing, her bodies still fighting off the infection, inflamed lymph glands, she’ll grow out of it”.
OMG, she’ll grow out of it.
In January 2018 I was at my wits end. I’d literally had enough.
We’d battled through September 2017 when yet again she was struck down with another horrendous ear infection. It’d go from one side to the other, antibiotics given that didn’t do the job. She’d then go deaf. Yes, deaf, in one or both ears. For no reason. Her ears would just go pop. Then about 3 weeks later they’d pop again, and she’d have to wear ear defenders to school and in the classroom as she was so sensitive.
We were both exhausted. School pressure, work pressure, family life. We were both at breaking point.
But it was Christmas 2017 that things really took a turn. I looked at my child and she looked so very ill. This time I was so worried. She looked like a ghost. Now, she’s a child that is pale, always has been but give her 5 minutes in the sun and she catches the sun like no ones business. She literally gets sock marks!
But this time, I was panicking. She was drinking water (and she hates water) like no ones business. That had me thinking that she was beginning to develop diabetes. But the fact she was as white as a sheet made me think that we had bigger problems. But what they were, I’d no idea.
So January 2018, we had a doctors appointment. We saw our fabulous locum GP, who she’d already taken a dislike to as he’d swabbed her ears previously & it had hurt. She wasn’t impressed! But he listened. He looked and he agreed that we needed a blood test. The diabetes test was negative, but she was obviously not herself and didn’t look well either.
It was a Monday, so as we were already late for school, we set off to the hospital for the blood tests. I tried to explain the procedure to her as we were on route. But she didn’t listen!
Whilst it was an entertaining blood test “why are you stabbing me”, “mum” “i want chocolate”. After 7 vials were filled with blood, yes for sure our GP was being thorough & one bar of chocolate later we were heading home to await the results.
This was before the pandemic. I was sat in a meeting in London when the phone ran. It was just 3 days after the blood tests were taken. I was told that the tests had shown something and I needed to make an appointment. Ok great, when? 2 weeks time was the earliest phone call. 2 weeks? Really? Receptionists need to appreciate the panic that we go through when we don’t have information & worried about our child.
Two weeks went by, and a different GP dropped the bombshell of Coeliac Disease by phone. What? I’m not sure I remember the rest of the call, but luckily our first GP called regardless as he’d wanted to discuss it in person. We went in & lucky for us he had experience with coeliac disease. Our first blood test TTG results were 128. Depending on your local lab, a normal range is 0-7 (or 0-20). Either way, we were 10x the normal limit. Sufficient to say she had coeliac disease.
Don’t change the diet yet
I’m going to fast track a referral for you
Keep eating gluten until you see the consultant
We left in a bit of a whirlwind, but at least we now had a diagnosis. But what did it all mean. I’d vaguely heard about the disease, it was covered in college when I trained to be a nursery nurse, but how was this going to affect her life or ours? We were going to have to find out.
Official diagnosis with the Consultant
We were lucky enough to have private health care at the time. We were going to have to wait at least 6mths to be seen so on the NHS, so I called them, found 2 specialists based in Cambridge at the Nuffield Hospital and we had an appointment on the 8th February.
The Consultant took one look at her test results & said, I can categorically say you have coeliac disease. As your test results are so high, I don’t need to do an endoscopy but I do need to do a further blood test which will confirm your results, and a gene test to see your markers there too. It will show up if it’s hereditary & you’ll be likely to pass it on. Her blood test results this time were 238 & she’s positive for both markers. The whole family were tested & negative on the initial blood test.
She explained about the villi in the small intestines that shrink. I still have the envelope she drew on in a file. She said that whilst prescriptions for GF items in the UK are being taken away, we’re still lucky in the fact that it’s an auto immune disease that can be treated by diet alone. That’s amazing in itself.
Then we started our journey into coeliac disease. Much is documented on the website, Facebook and Instagram posts.
The first shop of over £100 spent on GF foods failed miserably. She either didn’t like it, it tasted differently, it just was awful.
So we did it our way. I learnt to cook anything and everything gluten free. Whether there was a recipe for it or not – I just converted it to be safe.
I changed everything we’d use as a family – breakfast cereals, pasta, condiments, soy sauce (often forgotten about!), stock cubes. So anything I reached for was safe, I didn’t have to double think.
But don’t get me wrong, it was hard at first. The first pizza attempt was a total disaster. They and the tins ended up in the bin.
It got better & easier. Parties and sleep overs were harder but manageable, the last year of primary school was good at the time, the secondary and upper have been harder. Literally no options for her other than a jacket potato. And she believes potatoes should only be chips!
And the point of it all? To help my child and her health improve. You only learn about the things that affect you. It’s how it goes. When you are at the centre of the storm, it’s all you see, feel & breathe. When you are outside of it, not affected, you can’t see the dangers that I see when eating out, or at family events.
Now, 5yrs in, we’re winning. And from our journey, helping other mums like me. Helping mums understand what they need to know and do to help their children adjust and adapt to their new lifestyle through my book. First, in 2021, I set up Gluten Free Little Cook, creating baking kits for kids with coeliac disease. Making kids smile, have fun and make safe tasty treats. One family tells me ‘I bring joy to their family’. That’s enough to make me cry!
Surprise IcingMothers Day GF baking kitGF cookies & cutters
I wrote the book as I saw that the help given to us mums, parents, is different. You might get a great GP who knows the processes, you might not. You might get information in the form of leaflets, you might not. There’s no overall standard. And I feel that is a huge area that needs a change. You need to have a reference point without searching the internet or Facebook groups.
In the UK we’ve a great charity, Coeliac UK, who everyone should always refer to in the first instance as their guidance is for the UK specifically. They’ve a school pack you can download and pass onto your school. But as a mum, I wanted something different, I wanted to ask questions, talk to someone that had been there, done that, who’d have answers so I’d know what to do, how to do it. I just couldn’t find it.
So, I wrote it myself. Me! Write a book! Goodness. I truly didn’t see that one coming. Would it win a Pulitzer Prize? Nah! But that’s not the point. But, it is doing what it needs to do.
It’s helping give mums confidence, help them not panic, to lessen their overwhelm in the beginning, by giving them simple and clear explanations as to why you need to do what you have to do. The book helps you understand the what, why and how. It makes it easier to get your head round everything. It makes life easier. That’s what it’s all about.
Oh, and remembering to ALWAYS have a snack in your bag as a back up!! And a water bottle specifically for them as they can’t share!!
I can help you too – click here to grab your copy of my book, direct from Amazon today. It will help make your life so much easier and your first steps into your coeliac journey, that little bit less overwhelming. I’ve been there, I totally understand.
Children’s parties; how to survive a party with a coeliac child is a challenge, but totally doable. It’s tricky but with a bit of planning it is absolutely possible.
Parties for children are part of growing up. Fun, noise and goodie bags!
To get dressed up, play party games, having fun, dancing. Eating their body weight in sugar!!
But what if you’ve a coeliac child? How are you going to manage keeping them safe?
You want them included, be involved, have fun but how do you ensure they don’t run the risk of getting glutened?
So how can you manage it?
First, speak to the party host. It’s not an easy conversation to start, you feel you are causing a fuss, being difficult, but it needs to be done. And the earlier the better. People are more likely to be adaptable, make the changes to include your coeliac child if they know early.
Keep it clear and simple. Your child can’t eat gluten. It makes them ill. That you’d be happy to supply their party tea on a separate plate or in a lunch box to keep your child safe. What are they having so that you can arrange to have the same similar foods.
But what if they are at a venue? Does the venue cater for your child? Do they understand about cross contamination?
I had this for one party not long after her diagnosis. It was a roller-skating party. One she really wanted to go to. How would I negotiate it? I chatted to the mum when we got the invite as she had to choose what she’d eat – fish fingers or nuggets & chips. I said I’d have to send her with a packed lunch as I didn’t know if the venue could cater for her. But I knew she wouldn’t like sitting there eating a packed lunch when everyone around her was having nuggets & chips.
Contact the party venue
I got the details from the mum & gave the venue a call. I had a surprise. They knew about the disease. They understood and catered for various allergies. GF nuggets, fish fingers and chips were on the menu. They’d need to cook it in the oven as their fryer was used for other gluten items but would serve hers on a separate platter.
They skated their hearts out for an hour or so and then time for tea. Her little face lit up so bright seeing she was having the same as everyone else. Don’t underestimate the difference it makes. Watching her sit round the table chatting to everyone, whilst munching on her chips was fabulous to watch.
Now obviously they can’t have the cake, something that lots of children look forward to so go prepared. I often made cupcakes & would supply one in advance to come out with her party bag, or for to have when she came home.
My Top Ten Party Survival Tips
State that you’d love for your child to come but that they have a special gluten free diet.
Keep it simple. That they can’t eat gluten that’s in wheat/barley in food/drinks (cheap cola)/some sweets/cakes etc.
That they can’t share due to the risk of contamination – fingers that have been holding a gluten sandwich dipping into the crisps/cucumber sticks etc
Is the party at their home or a venue?
If at a venue – give the venue a call so you speak to them direct.
Ask questions: Do they cater for a gluten free diet.
Do they know about the disease, about cross contamination.
Have they a separate fryer for chips, gf nuggets, fish fingers or can they provide oven cooked ones?
Do their responses make you feel ok about the venue itself?
Is it at the parents home? Ask what is the theme, what are they planning food wise? Is it a typical party spread, pizza or a BBQ? By finding out what they are having, you can plan.
Can you find similar suitably safe gluten free alternatives? Or do they offer to supply them? You’ll need to explain to them about cross contamination. It’s probably easier to send your child to the party with a lunchbag or plate covered in clingfilm & named, to be unwrapped when sat at the table. If your child understands and gets the risks about not eating gluten, that’s great. If not, you may have to stay at the party and watch them like a hawk.
Cake – who doesn’t like a slice of birthday cake. But that’s no longer an option for your coeliac child. So source an alternative. Either shop bought cupcakes or homemade ones – pop in a bag tied with ribbon or a cupcake box/tuppaware & give it to the party host to give out to your child instead. Then they aren’t left out.
Party bags. Now they are a mine field. Most sweet party cones are out, but I’ve had parents make special ones for my child based on the sweets she likes. Ask them to leave the sweets in wrapping for them. Easier for you to trust, and you can read the ingredients if needed! Have a swap box at home too – just in case. Helps avoid disappointment
Always be prepared. Have snacks in your bag, gf biscuits, gf oat bars etc and ALWAYS send them with a named water bottle. Something they know is theirs so they can go back to it when needed. Drinks bottles/cups are always getting muddled up & they always seem to end up all drinking from one cup!!
Need more help?
Need more help? I had to find my way, just like you. I didn’t want other parents to struggle at the beginning. I’m just a regular mum like you who happens to have a coeliac child.
It’s overwhelming & definitely lonely in the beginning. Friends and family try, but don’t often get the lengths we have to go to.
I do as I’ve been there & it will be part of our life forever. It’s second nature now, and it will be for you too. If you need extra info, help and a gentle guide to getting it right from the beginning, here’s a link to my book on Amazon that I’ve written to help get you on the right path – Coeliac Disease & your Child – What every parent needs to know. Find out more here.
Helping mums help their coeliac child
Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for more hints and tips on how to manage with your coeliac child. Just when you think you’ve got it all in hand, something comes up to challenge you. An experience shared, is what it’s all about.
Time to find a new restaurant locally that does gluten free & is coeliac safe.
Ahhhh such fun!
It’s approaching my eldest daughter’s 16th birthday. She adapted well to her sister’s diet over the past four years. Keeping any non gluten free items at arms length, eating in the garden in the early days with things that make lots of crumbs!
She dealt with us walking in and out of restaurants so we can eat together. She has felt left out & overlooked. That wasn’t the intention. It’s easy to feed a muggle; someone who can eat normal gluten foods. Food is available everywhere.
Or that sometimes it seems that I go out far more prepared for the gluten free child, than her with snacks, as you can buy anything non gluten free from anywhere without worrying whether if it is gluten free or contaminated.
Gluten Free Birthday Celebrations
Time to try a New Restaurant
I’m locating a carvery for her birthday lunch. A challenge to find one that’ll be able to cater for us all & be coeliac safe. But, when it’s your 16th birthday, you should get what you want. And she wants a carvery & lots of Yorkshire puddings. When I say lots, I mean lots!
I have booked a table at our regular safe restaurant, but it’s a drive to get there, and she doesn’t want to sit in the car for ages.
So we’re trying a new local restaurant to us.
After my initial chat, I’m not too sure. I’ll be dropping by to see and chat in person before the big day. The conversation went something along the lines of this:
Me: “Hi, I need a table for 6. Do you do gluten free food. I have a daughter that has coeliac disease”
Restaurant: “Yes, we do gluten free. How bad is her allergy, or is it more of an intolerance?”
Me: “Excuse me?, it’s not either, it’s an auto immune disease”
Restaurant: “Oh. We can tell you what is safe on the carvery, she can’t have the Yorkshire Puddings. Or we can prepare her food in the kitchen if she’s really allergic”.
Me: “It’s not an allergy. She doesn’t like a carvery, she likes chips. Do you cook chips on a Sunday?”
Me: “Are they gluten free?”
Restaurant: “Yes they are”
Me: “Do you have a separate fryer for the chips, or are they cooked with other items that contain gluten?”
Restaurant: “Yes. They’re cooked with other items”
Me: “Then they aren’t gluten free. Can you cook her oven chips?”
Restaurant: “Yes, would you like to make a booking. I’ll make a note of your requirements”.
So do we risk it?
Infuriating isn’t it. There is gluten free and there is gluten free that is coeliac safe. That takes extra care, precautions and thought.
To summarise, Coeliac Disease isn’t an allergy. It’s not a food fad or an intolerance. It’s an auto immune disease. It means that your body’s immediate reaction is to go into fight mode. That it attacks her body from inside.
One tiny crumb could gluten my daughter. That means she’ll have eaten gluten. And the longer that she’s off gluten, the more severe her reaction could be. She hasn’t been glutened in ages. I certainly don’t want that to occur, to make her ill in any way, so I have to ask these kind of questions & have these conversations on a regular basis, especially when we try new restaurants.
Before, she would have a sore tummy & then sleep. For a long time.
Coeliac Awareness Week 9-13th May
This week isCoeliac Awareness Week. A week to raise awareness on the wonder & challenges of a coeliac diet. A coeliac sufferer isn’t being difficult. They just don’t want to be ill from something so simple as one tiny crumb.
Gluten is in many things, not just wheat. Which is why it is hard for someone with coeliac disease to eat out. It’s in Barley, Rye, Oats & Wheat. It could be in anything. Drinks, food, sweets, crisps. Everything has to be checked & evaluated. Including the item it gets served with. If the tongs serving the gluten free chips were used to serve gluten items, that’s cross contamination.
Eating out is a risk. But we have to try so she learns its possible. I’m going to drop into the venue & have a chat so that I’m more comfortable that they do understand. If after that conversation they don’t show a level of understanding, well, it’s fair to say, I’ll be looking to find another venue this weekend!!
So much to take in. So what is coeliac disease and what do you need to know to help your child?
In the early days it can seem like an absolute whirlwind. Do this, don’t do that, you need this, you need that.
What you actually need is a calm approach, and everything you need to know in one place.
With a little knowledge, you can tackle anything.
There are always lots of questions. How, what & why along with how will I manage not to mention the extra cost of going gluten free.
Help is at hand!
My child was diagnosed in January 2018. Quite a shock. Definitely not one I was expecting. But it explained the sore tummy’s, the ear infections, eye infections and the general run down feeling she had.
When I started out, the information wasn’t all in one place. Why not? You want to know fast how you will help your child. I didn’t want to search for information to help her. All the leaflets I had (yes I had a few, but many don’t) were all related to groups for adults. They wouldn’t help her.
Coeliac disease is the only disease that can be ‘cured’ by diet alone. That means removing all gluten from their diet in both food and drink. The small intestine is damaged with the villi retracting as the immune system of the body attacks itself.
To save you looking in hundreds of different places or groups, I decided to write a book. Not in a million years did I intend or expect to do that. But it’s helping parents across the world now that I managed to get it onto Amazon. It’s a book especially for parents, like me and you, who want to help their child.
My book Coeliac Disease & Your Child – What you need to know, is written specifically for parents to help you in the early days, right when your child is diagnosed. When you’re feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed. It’s a huge shock and quite a tearful time. Or it was for me.
It will help you to understand what it is you need to do to help you help your child.
How to cope with coeliac disease
When you have some basic knowledge, you feel more capable and confident in knowing what to do. My book does that for you. Because I had to learn too.
The first time you are faced with the Free From Aisle in any supermarket is daunting. Not to mention the cost. And it’s important to know too that not everything in the Free From Aisle is gluten free either! It’s a real challenge on some occasions and in the early days, through tears, it’s a bit overwhelming.
Got a burning question? A bit confused or lost? Then head over to Facebook or Instagram and send me a message. It’s just me, now robot, so I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Come over and say hi. It’s just another journey you have to negotiate. If you have the tools, information and knowledge, you can do anything. And you will, as it’s for your child.
Oh yay! Your child, your coeliac child has a playdate invitation. They are being treated normally, being included. Yay!
And then the dread & fear sets in…. or it always does for me.
Maybe your child has just started the school, joined the class, you don’t know the parents. But your child is excited & looking forward to going to play at their new friends house.
Maybe your child has just be diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease. And you have yet to explain to your friends, your child’s friends what they can and can’t have going forward.
You have to explain it all over again…. what they can and can’t have. You have to trust someone to not ‘gluten’ your child. But the smile on their face at being invited to a friends house has lit them up.
Well, you’re in the right place.
I’ve already negotiated those hurdles with my daughter who was diagnosed in 2018 with the disease. We’ve found the basics that you need to cover for a playdate, a sleepover and parties. At a best guess, you will receive at least 15+ party invitations in a year based on an average class of 30.
How to manage a party with a coeliac child
So how do you manage it all?
It’s exciting when your coeliac child has a playdate invitation.
First, they’ve been invited!! (Yay) In the second instance, meet the parent of the other child. Say hi, get the intros done. Then let them know that your child has Coeliac Disease & briefly let them know that they need special foods excluding gluten/wheat & that your happy to chat with them about your child’s needs to make it as easy as possible for them.
See, it’s easy! They don’t need to know straight off that it’s key to minimise all cross contamination. You can let them know gently.
My Top Tips
Inform the host parent gently of the requirements needed to keep your child safe. See what they are having, discuss foods, snacks and drinks so that you’ll know what to provide as suitable safe alternatives if you have to.
Give them a guideline on labels – what they are looking out for.
Suggest some suitable snacks – offer to supply ones for your child if that will help
Suggest that the children all have the same GF foods for tea & dessert so that will minimise any cross contamination issues, and at the same time keep them the same as everyone else. Fitting in is so important at a young age.
To make your life easier, I’ve put all of this information & more into an download covering Playdates, Parties, BBQs & Sleepovers with a two page handout to give to the host parent.
They’ve then a handy guide to refer to whilst your child is in their care so that they have some guidance as to what to do & how to manage keeping your child safe.
It shouldn’t be hard to let your child be normal, have friends over or go over to their friends houses. With this guide, both you and your host parent can manage it all together safely.
They’ll want to go to those parties, it can be done, armed with hand wipes, hand gel and back up snacks/lunch boxes. It’s how you manage their excitement, what they can & can’t have, and sometimes their utter disappointment in not joining in.
It’s not always easy, but it’s doable if you think outside of the box!