How to navigate a party with a Coeliac Child

Parties, how do you navigate a party with a coeliac child? 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?

managing a party with a gluten free child

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

  1. State that you’d love for your child to come but that they have a special gluten free diet.
  2. Keep it simple.  That they can’t eat gluten that’s in wheat/barley in food/drinks (cheap cola)/some sweets/cakes etc.
  3. 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
  4. Is the party at their home or a venue?
  5. 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?
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Party bags.  Now they are a mine field.  Most 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
  10. 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’d 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 is overwhelming in the beginning. It’s hard I won’t lie and it’s lonely. Friends and family don’t get it. 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 in a short while. If you need extra info, help and a gentle guide to getting it right from the beginning, here’s a link to the ebook download I wrote to get you on the right path – Coeliac Disease & What you need to know. It’s coming soon in printed form…. so exciting.

Coeliac Disease – where to look for information on going gluten free

Getting Diagnosed & the Next Steps

You’ve got your child through the blood tests & now the results are in. But what do you do next?

You’ve had the call from the GP to say they have results & for you to book an appointment.

You’ve a further 2 week wait.

Finally, you find out the results. Your child is positive for Coeliac Disease, and you’ve to be referred to a consultant.

Don’t give up gluten yet!

You’ll need to see the consultant and for them to run their tests first. Please, don’t give up gluten. They’ll want to run a second blood test to confirm the initial diagnosis, and potentially an endoscopy. This is a procedure where they put a camera down the child’s throat whilst under general anaesthetic to look at their intestines to see if there is damage, and how much.

Once the consultant has completed their tests & they say to cut out gluten, you can begin your gluten free journey.

Getting diagnosed & the next steps – how & what to do?

You’ll be given leaflets by the consultant. Read them.

You’ll be referred to a dietitian to help with your child’s diet. You should have regular checks in the first year. I think ours was 3, 6 & 12 months.

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.

Getting diagnosed & the next steps – how can I help?

4 years ago I didn’t know about the disease in any great detail.

Now, I can 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 still so very overwhelming & quite frankly a little lonely. I remember my first food shopping trip. A hundred pounds on very little in the Free From aisle. There had to be an easier way. So what do you do once diagnosed & the next steps?

I found a way to make it easier for you. I put together an e-Book and an online course taking you through stage by stage, helping you find your way, get confident & help your child.

Covering topics in : What to look for, how to read labels and minimise cross contamination.

e-Books & online digital materials

I found everything focused on adults. Not alternatives for children.

Where would you even start.

It’s confusing in the beginning as there’s much to take in. Things to sort, and to make changes. Changes for you as a parent, the child and the wider family. Getting everyone on board and to understand is key. Just one crumb could cause problems.

The e-Book guides you at the start; organising your kitchen, learning about labels, cross contamination & more. All written from the perspective of a parent helping a child. Me, helping you.

The online course you can work through step by step, at your own pace, walking through it with me as I guide you. It’s on an introductory rate this week until Saturday. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

How to read labels download is a straight forward work book to guide you through how to accurately and confidently read labels. It will get you to understand how labels work. That if a label says it is gluten free, it is EVEN if it says it has barley or wheat in it. Labels can be confusing at best, but a ‘gluten free’ statement will always be gluten free.

For further information on Gluten Free Little Cook click here.

Living in a Coeliac World

The Coeliac Bubble

.You can only really understand what it’s like when you are in the coeliac bubble.

Coeliac Disease & your child

You don’t know unless you are in it. Seeing the problems that my daughter & your coeliac child could face when out and about in normal daily life. It can be a lonely place for your child.Sitting round the lunch table at school.

A friend sitting there, accidentally knocking over the friends pasta bowl, sending it spilling, sauce & pasta flying.

Someone sitting there munching away on their gluten cake, making crumbs, spreading them around as they munch & talk. Normal everyday things to them, but they put my child on edge.

What if that pasta or sauce got into her lunchbox?

What if some of those cake crumbs end up near her, flicked into her crisp packet or anything she’s eating, which could then make her ill.

That they just don’t get ‘it’ however good or bad a friend. It puts my child off her food & raises her anxiety.

  • Makes her worry more:
    • if the next time she gets glutened will it be as before or worse?
    • that her friends whilst doing normal things, have no idea the effect it has on her.
    • they just don’t understand as it’s normal to them but no longer normal to her.

Unless you live in the coeliac bubble, you don’t and wouldn’t understand.

Why would you.

You don’t need to think about those extra things, minimising crumbs, cross contamination, has this touched that, which spoon did I use, did I wash my hands, again…

But it is part & parcel of my day, as it is yours when you are a parent to a coeliac child. The constant wiping down. Washing hands & remembering you’ve washed your hands…again Thinking ahead, planning, checking. Finding the GF foods they like.

It’s not simple or easy but it is manageable. There are steps & strategies you can put in place, but it comes down to being aware, keeping safe & away from the muggle food & crumbs.

If you have a child at school, check out the school pack on Coeliac UK.

For more detailed help in managing cross contamination, head over to the website & check out my new printables & e-book – Coeliac Disease & Your Child – What every parent needs to know.

There’s no need to struggle on your own.

Best Gluten Free Pancakes

Don’t miss out on pancake day even if you’re gluten free!

Gluten Free Pancakes with Nutella and Ice Cream

My child loves pancakes. But when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease 4 years ago, just before pancake day, we all panicked as to what we would use, how we would make them. Would they taste ok.

I searched & googled like crazy. What was the best recipe. I don’t remember where I found this one on Facebook, I’ve never seen page again much to my disappointment & I didn’t screenshot it as I normally do. But whoever it was, thank you. Because it works.

And it’s the one recipe we’ve used ever since.

When posted my pancake post in a few groups & the video on the GFLC Instagram page. I was asked if it would work with cornflour and recipes for that are at the bottom of the post. I tested mine against the current measurements & I’d adjust it to 150g GF SR flour & 200 milk. A couple of of other suggestions came in from two ladies who use different recipes & I’ve posted their recipes at the bottom.

If you have a go, tag me using #glutenfreelittlecook into your Facebook or Instagram posts. Definitely not missing out on this event!

250ml Milk – your preferred dietary choice

125g GF SR Flour

1 egg

1 tbsp melted butter or oil

It makes around 4-6 medium sized pancakes.

It makes around 4-6 medium sized pancakes. Double the mixture for more (we do!!)

Method

  • Weigh the flour in a large bowl
  • Add half the milk and egg.
  • Whisk until combined. Add remaining milk.
  • Continue to whisk until smooth, no lumpss and the consistency of single cream.
  • Heat your frying or crepe pan. I picked up a new crepe pan last year to give it a go but a regular frying pan works just as well.
  • Lightly brush with melted butter/oil when hot. You aren’t frying it so it doesn’t need to be swimming in oil. Wipe on, wipe off!
  • I use an American 1/2 cup measuring cup to pour the mixture into the centre of the pan. Use a ladle, jug or a small cup for a similar amount.
  • Lifting the pan, rotate it to spread out the mixture evenly.
  • Put back onto the heat & cook. The edges will change colour first from less opaque to a more solid pale white/cream. Takes 1-2 minutes.
  • Loosen the edges with a palette knife, spatula working your way into the middle
  • Flip the pancake if you are feeling brave or use the palette knife to turn it.
  • Cook for a further 1-2m until the second side is golden brown.
  • Serve whilst warm, cover with lemon & sugar, nutella, fruit, whatever takes your fancy
  • And repeat……. and enjoy your gluten free pancakes!

Gluten and Dairy Free Pancakes

200g GF SR Flour

200ml Cashew Milk (your dietary preference)

4 tbsp apple sauce.

Gluten Free Cornflour Pancakes

100g Cornflour

300ml Milk

2 eggs

If you have a go, let me know how you get on.

Nicky

*The crepe pan links to Amazon where if you do purchase I will gain a small commision.

Coeliac Disease and your Child.

What you need to know

If you’re here, welcome to the club. It’s quite a small club, but as more testing is done earlier on those that have various issues, well, more join.

Your child might have had symptoms, they might not have had any, it’s a tricky disease to determine, but easily done with a quick blood test.

Once your child has been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, and the consultant has told you to go gluten free, then you can start making changes to your daily lives, their diet and getting everything sorted.

In the early days, it can be overwhelming and quite lonely. Your friends, whilst being supportive, won’t probably get the changes you have to make. I remember mine understanding the cutting out the wheat, but not understanding we couldn’t just grab a bag of chips from the chippy. But they are gluten free….. Yes, but it’s how they are cooked, if they are cooked with other gluten items….. In the beginning it’s a bit like putting a very tricky jigsaw together.

Coeliac Disease Symptoms.
Copyright Gluten Free Little Cook

So what are YOUR first steps?

My first points are this:

  1. Join Coeliac UK
  2. Learn what you need to look for
  3. Learn to read labels well
  4. Allocate a cupboard /shelf to your GF child
  5. Check everything in your kitchen / storecupboard/fridge/freezer including stock cubes!
  6. Grab my ebook to help guide you through easily – don’t struggle

Where to go for help

There are lots of different Facebook groups – my Coeliac Child – What you need to know opens this week, so have a search in groups to see which one fits best with you. A place for parents to ask questions & get answers. Helping to reduce the overwhelm that comes with having a child that has coeliac disease.

Coeliac UK – they have a website and you can call them with queries too. Very handy when you just want some reassurance.

Your GP/Consultant/dietitian. As it is your child that is diagnosed, you should be allocated a dietitian that sees your child on a regular basis in the first year of diagnosis, and then ideally yearly. Yearly tests include blood work, height and weight measurements. It’s to make sure that they are growing well, catching up if their body has been malnourished. The blood tests are to ensure that their TTG numbers are dropping adequately and heading to the ‘normal’ range.

Join my FB group for parents with coeliac children

Coeliac Disease & your Child – What every parent needs to know

When my daughter was diagnosed 4 years ago, I didn’t know what was required. What we needed to do, how it was all going to work. The overwhelm was incredible, but, as ever, I had to find the solution to the problem. I researched, I read, I learnt. Whilst we had good support, I’ve read so often that there are those that don’t. So many of the groups on FB are adult let, making suggestions that don’t appeal to a child. Adult taste buds are different to a child’s. They don’t want to drink peppermint tea if they are glutened. They want to be normal, be like their peers.

So I wrote an ebook to help parents like you, help their child and family. Full of helpful hints and tips, with printable posters and help sheets to make your early days much easier.

From stories that will resonate with you from other mums, to ideas on how to organise your kitchen cupboards, keep items in the fridge and cross contamination, a coeliac’s biggest risk.

It doesn’t have to be hard. There is an easier way.

Join me for a coffee morning live in the Facebook group soon to ask questions, share with fellow mums. Together we are stronger!

Nicky

Sometimes it’s all about the cake

Gluten Free Birthday Cake of course!

Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Cake with Jam & Cream

Whether it’s a family celebration or birthday cake, sometimes you just don’t have the time or inclination to make your own gluten free birthday cake. Even I can’t be bothered sometimes, so, what are your options?

There’s good cake and bad cake out there, so it’s about picking the right one for you, and what you fancy, of course.

There is a wide range of cakes, but the ones that came out on top with comments on my cake post were the following:

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

  • Galaxy – now this retails at around £11 which is pretty pricey for a cake but it is also quite a big cake so will feed a fair few. But apparently it’s a good one & lots of people said it is their go to cake. Available from Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys & Morrisons. I was recommended to try it with some Bailey’s pouring cream! I think warmed up too it’ll be delicious with a good vanilla icecream.
  • Co-op GF Hand Finished Chocolate Cake – £3.50-£4. This is our family go to cake when I just can’t be bothered, haven’t had time and we fancy a little treat. Definitely good warmed with icecream.
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Belgian Chocolate buttercream & cake – £3 I’ve not had this one but it is another alternative if you are trying to track one down!
  • Tesco chocolate cake – belgian chocolate buttercream & chocolate swirls.   We had this one a long time ago, maybe we had a bad one – we thought it heavy, but it was in the early days of diagnosis, so we should give it another go! £3

Gluten Free Caterpillar Birthday Cakes

After the Aldi vs M&S caterpillar cakes, well there are still more out there & they keep coming. Even better that these three are all gluten free

  • Carl the Caterpillar from Tesco – £6
  • Eric the Caterpillar from Sainsburys – £6
  • Frieda the Caterpillar cake from Asda – £6.25

Which one have you tried?

Best Kids Gluten Free Birthday Cakes

  • Tesco’s Confetti Cake was highly recommended by one reviewer.  It comes covered in a white icing, with bright coloured buttercream swirls in yellow, blue & pink, and confetti sprinkles.  All you need to do is unbox it, maybe add some extra GF sprinkles, a unicorn or suitable equivalent, a sparkler, candles even a special cake topper and you are good to go. £9
  • White fondant iced cake – there are a couple of options.  Morrisons have one with coloured stars for £6 and Asda have one for £6.50

So if you have a birthday coming up, and haven’t the time as you are busy working, there is a cake within your budget. All you have to do is track it down – that sometimes is the hardest thing to do! But it is possible. It’s ok to cheat and not slave away in the kitchen late at night after work. Take the pressure off and buy it instead. Just add those candles, a few sprinkles and it’ll all be fabulous.

And if you don’t fancy cake, this month the baking kits are all about biscuits this month. The children are making animal cookies and there’s a secret surprise in the ‘white’ icing. Can’t wait to see the kids faces when they add the water. Definitely not boring white icing!!

Happy days.

Coeliac Disease – What you need to know going gluten free

A starter for 10!

So much to take in

Just diagnosed with Coeliac Disease? Yes, 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 little calm approach, and then everything will be ok.

With a little knowledge, you can tackle anything.

So many times now I see in groups lots of people newly diagnosed, asking questions, can I have, is this ok, I don’t know what to do…..

Help is at hand!

I’ve pulled all the info you need as a parent into an e-book to help you help your child in the early days Coeliac Disease & Your Child – What you need to know, But I was asked to have the below poster available on it’s own. That’s now part of a 10 page printable download that you can print out or save to your phone.

Download, print a copy, laminate it and stick it on your fridge. No one will be confused again.

It will help you in several ways to take the overwhelm out of the early days.

Coeliac Disease & Your Child – What you need to know

The poster guide isn’t the be all and end all of everything, but, it is a great start that you can use to help guide you in the early days, whether you are a parent of a coeliac child or an adult who has just been diagnosed.

When you have the basics, you can do anything.

And when you don’t know, you can ask. There are Facebook groups, Instagram accounts all with lots of information, hints, tips and more. Or if you fancy baking up a storm, our previous kits are available on our shop page.

Fancy subscribing? Head over to look at our baking kits for an hour or two of fun baking with your child.

Got a burning question? My DM’s are always open (in working hours!) Just drop me a message from our Facebook or Instagram accounts.

Going gluten free for Coeliac Disease doesn’t need to be difficult.

Did you survive a Coeliac Child’s Christmas?

Survive or thrive this Christmas?

Did you survive a coeliac child’s Christmas? How did you make sure your coeliac child had enough to eat, enough treats and avoided cross contamination whilst staying away?

We were lucky enough to be covid free and stayed with my parents over the Christmas period. My parents are geared up to having us, knowing the requirements of my GF child, but it still shows up glaring problems.

Did you survive a coeliac child’s Christmas?

Problems don’t occur in your own house (mostly) as you have control over the situation and how food is prepped. This in turn brought up a conversation with my now 13yr old about how she gets anxious eating around others – but that’s next weeks blog.

Whilst I know that I’ve got it in hand most of the time, when you are in someone else’s house or kitchen, you have different worries. Even though my parents (my mother mainly) she has a large plastic box filled with separate equipment for her grandchild, there’s still only one place to cook. And in the most part it’s ok, we manage.

But on this occasion, there were 3 of us around the hob & in the kitchen pulling together leftovers etc. One was making up a regular gluten pasta dish. And another reheating the bread sauce. In a separate frying pan, bacon was cooking for Grace. Contamination is always at the fore front of my mind for my Coeliac Child. You’re used to seeing problem areas, events that will happen in front of you that you need to avoid.

Being Careful

Stirring was going on of both dishes, so I whipped the pan up out of the way & waited until they were finished before replacing it to finish cooking. I get a quizzical look, a “I’m just stirring” which is fine, but to ensure that my child is safe, I want & need to remove the pan up and out of the way whilst that is done. It made me anxious. They didn’t clock it then.

It wasn’t until later that it registered with either person as to why I was moving my pan out of the way. “I was being careful”. That I understand, but, at the same time, one little flick of bread sauce or pasta sauce could easily go in the wrong place. which I can’t risk.

Is there a right or wrong answer, I don’t know. But when your used to spending time in your own house with everything geared up for catering for your coeliac child, I guess it is so much harder to go somewhere else & have to ‘make do’, expecting others to pay attention & second guess themselves when they aren’t used to doing so.

But I saw too that she was bored with food. Fed up of hotdogs or bacon for lunch, wanting to be the same as everyone else if the chance allowed. So this week, she’ll have to adapt further & it may be a shock to her system. She’s got too used to having chips, nuggets, sausages when I’ve been busy or unprepared.

This week I’ve a menu plan. (if only I could remember where I’ve put it!!).

She only eats chips….

New recipe book to test

I treated myself to a new book by Dr Megan Rossi who I follow on Instagram. It’s called Eat more, Live well (affiliate link) & we’ll be trying out recipes. I’ve the the Thai salmon fishcakes, Reinvented chicken burger & the baked oat slice on my list. Recipes aren’t specifically for a GF diet but they’re adaptable as are most recipes. The breakfast muffin in a mug needs trying too but not 100% sure I’ll get away with it. We’ll see.

That’s the challenge for the week. Keep your eye out for pictures on Instagram as to what happens & whether the chip eating fiend will eat it! The deadline to subscribe to our baking kits this month to make the best ever Flapjacks is Saturday 15th January. Fun to make, tasty to eat with a little twist to make them just the more moist and healthy!!

A belated Happy New Year, may all your dreams come true in 2022 and the year be AWESOME.

Learning whilst baking

Enhancing & developing your child’s fine motor skills through baking

Baking

Baking? What’s that got to do with enhancing your child’s fine motor skills? And what are they anyway?

Firstly, they are turning pages, holding spoons, picking up sprinkles, googly eyes to put onto a cookie, they are all fine motor skills.

In other words, the ability to make movements using the small muscles in your hands and wrists, enabling your thumb and index finger to make pincer movements.

Enhancing Fine Motor Skills

Above all it’s the finger time table at nursery, picking up, holding a pencil like a frog, putting beads on a lace.

Similarly, it’s the turning of pages on a recipe book, a leaflet, a magazine. All the little movements are designed to enhance your child’s fine motor skills through baking.

For instance, our December gluten free baking kit has all you need. Your child will have lots to do that’s fun this month. In addition to baking tasty treats, they’ll be learning skills to encourage those neurons to get fired up and connected whilst making gluten free gingerbread men or reindeers.

In addition to the Fine Motor Skills

There’s Math – weighing the butter and golden syrup, counting how many gingerbread men or reindeers you get from the dough.

Hand & eye co-ordination from mixing, wrapping up the dough, rolling and cutting it out. Lots to get those little brains and fingers connecting. Learning about time – how many minutes to for them to cook, how long to cook before the decorating. That’s where the fine motor skills come into play.

From squeezing the icing pen tube, to picking up a googly eye or a red sparkly sphere sparkle to put on as a nose. Help keep those sprinkles in one place by putting them onto a plate. Helps not stepping on them later!!

As a child you learn to do this so you don’t have to think about it as an adult.

For instance, I’m not thinking about where my fingers go as I type. My fingers learnt (having been dragged to typing school) where the keys were as I bashed upon an old typewriter, returning to the home keys .

Enhancing & developing your child’s fine motor skills

We don’t realise how much we need our children to master these skills when little.

Playing with the dough, squeezing it into a ball, it all adds up to their neurons firing up and connecting.

Who knew baking could be so much & more!

Have you got your bake on? Ready for Christmas?

No?

Get your Christmas spirit roaring with fun and creative gluten free baking kits, delivered direct to your door. All you need to have some easy fun. Just add butter of choice & some golden syrup. No eggs required. Sorted. The smell alone is enough to get you feeling Christmassy!

See website for details www.glutenfreelittlecook.com

Gluten Free? Double check your labels.

Check, check and check again!

It’s coming up to the crazy time of the year. But you know what is safe. You’ve bought it a hundred times. But why do you or your child have a reaction this time?

Yes, the manufacturers have changed the ingredients. It happens so often, with little or no notice. It’s time to check your labels.

It’s hard work being coeliac or having a coeliac child. We start off well reading the labels, but then as its something you buy on a regular basis, you don’t double check. And we need to especially at this time of the year!

It’s always good to check your habits this time of year, to double check the ingredients on the label, just in case that they have changed. Better to check in advance before eating than find out afterwards and be stuck at home near a bathroom or in bed.

But what are you looking for?

Check your labels. You are looking for anything that contains gluten.

A great acronym to remember is B.R.O.W.S which is for Barley, Rye, Oats* , Wheat or Spelt.

Any of them can be put into ingredients for food or drinks and are to be avoided at all cost by an individual on a gluten free coeliac diet.

For instance, barley can often be found in own brand supermarket colas or wheat can be in soy sauce.

Oats* are safe as long as labelled gluten free. However, even gluten free oats can cause a reaction in some Coeliacs. They contain a protein called Avenin which mimics gluten.

Learn to read labels

You know what you are looking for and you know that you need be able to read labels well. This can save you a fortune, as not everything you eat needs to be labelled Gluten Free.

Reading labels is key to managing this disease.

Here’s a link to a more detailed info on how to read labels. A label is there to tell you what is in the product & what it is made up of. Do remember that whilst you can scan a label, the scanners are normally behind a few days/weeks/months. A label ‘should’ always be accurate, uptodate & says what is on the tin (literally!). For further details see Coeliac UK advice on food shopping.

Some products use ingredients that are made up of other items too. They will always be stated on the label and their ingredients will read after them within brackets. Think of it like a book. There’s a title, a chapter title & the chapter itself to tell the story.

Sushi was being discussed yesterday in a Facebook group. Sushi has a long line of ingredients, with lots of components making up each sushi roll. So how do you read those?

Break it down

The label states everything that is in the product. The ingredients work from the most to the least.

Starting with the Cooked White Sushi Rice. In the brackets afterwards you have ‘water, white rice, rice vinegar’. That is what is in the rice. After anything that has more than one component to make it there will always be brackets showing what is in it. Further down the list shows that the soy sauce bottle is safe as it’s made of ‘water, soya bean, salt & vinegar’. But since the rice has wheat flour in the whole product, it is a big no.

I know that we will all be busy rushing around in the coming weeks, gearing up to get ready for the big day but do get yourself into the habit of stopping, checking and double checking before you put your usual into the basket. Far better to check in advance or before you or your child have eaten something that could ruin the next 24hrs, put you on tender hooks, or see you missing out on something that you were looking forward to.

Keep warm & keep well.

Happy Baking!