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 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.
The beginning of our coeliac journey
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!
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.
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.
How will you help your gluten free child survive a Halloween party? It’s time for Halloween, parties & trick or treating.
Just when you think it’s sorted, another challenge comes along.
It was easier when my GF child was slightly younger. As a parent you can control most things. But heading to teenage years, they want to be like their friends, join in, go out.
It starts getting tricky.
This year it’s about Trick or Treating and Halloween parties. Trick or Treating I’ve got covered for next week. Today it’s about parties. Halloween or otherwise.
If it’s a party, you’ll need to talk to the hosting parent (see our ebook with handy hints & a printout for hosts). We’ve always had good friends who have gone out of their way to accommodate my GF child. It’s probably easier to supply food for your child to take, so find out what they are planning & send the GF equivalent. Hot dogs (highly recommend the Promise hotdog rolls). We seem to go through a fair few of these nowadays and keep a pack in the freezer.
If they are having oven chips then if they could use normal chips without a wheat coating & if they are mindful of cross contamination, those would be suitable for your child. Ideally they need to be served first – especially if they chips are out on a buffet table where everyone helps themselves.
They need to check what they are drinking too. They mustn’t share a drink, can’t drink shop own cola (often contains barley) so a cup that is labelled or different may help minimise cross contamination.
Gluten Free Cupcakes & Treats
And for a treat, for the Halloween party my GF child is attending, it’s going to be cupcakes galore. Spooky monsters, with Halloween sprinkles & some cake picks that I’ve got stored away. They’ll go with her to the party. The party host has enough going on, so I’ve offered rather than them have a practice on making GF items when they are baking everything else.
Our few remaining baking kits are in the Shop for some Halloween family fun. All you need in one box; simply add 2 eggs & butter to get your mini monsters making their own.
The cupcakes can be kept in a sealed box until everyone is ready to have one. The GF child should go first before any other potentially gluten fingers get in there. Then, at least, my GF child knows that she can have one if she wants
Then hopefully, there won’t be any accidents or glutening. It’s a daily challenge, & a party raises that challenge, but it’s one we have to embrace & work out so that she can be like her friends and join in.
How will you help your gluten free child survive a Halloween party?
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.
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!
Like any other illness in life, you don’t choose to have it, be ill or have a member of your family be sick. At least with Coeliac Disease you can manage it by diet alone. You can help your body heal and watch the person in front of you turn from being a poorly individual to one that is full of health.
Seeing the difference in my daughter took a while; in fact 3-6 months before there were real signs she was improving. Her system had to go through what felt like a detox. She craved the very foods that made her ill. Her taste buds had to adapt to new flavours. Yes, there is a different taste to some gluten free foods – especially bread. If you’ve been eating normally for a long time, then you and your body adapt & accept those tastes and textures. Going gluten free means that you have to get used to new tastes.
Gluten Free Bread
She was never big on bread, but I tried to find something that she could have as an alternative if she wanted something. Her diagnosis had just come when she finally liked having a homemade hamburger… typical! So we tried various gluten free buns and sandwich slices. Warburtons GF squares won her over for a short time, but they were soon discarded. We tried other types in other supermarkets, some were liked, some were given a quick “no, I’m not eating that”.
Schar have been our go to for the longest. Their hamburger buns (McDonalds use them in Europe – I won’t go into the why can’t we have them over here debate…. yet..) and they are a top favourite in our house. They are hard to find, but well worth it. Asda seem to have them in the most. Their other bread rolls in the freezer are worth a look too. They remind me of continental rolls. Morrisons & Sainsburys stock them regularly & I actually prefer them now to regular bread rolls if we are having burgers. That way, I don’t have to worry about cross contamination, constantly washing my hands, remembering what I have & haven’t touched. It makes life easier!
Getting ahead – make your own garlic bread
Our latest bread that she likes is garlic bread to serve alongside her regular gluten free pasta and homemade chicken soup. I buy Schar ciabatta rolls, slice & fill them with garlic butter made from softened butter, crushed garlic & chopped parsley, maybe a little salt to bring out the flavour. Wrap each individual one up in silver foil, pop in a bag & freeze. Then when she does have pasta & requests a garlic bread, I can grab one straight from the freezer, pop into the oven & 10-15m later, one warm garlic bread to go. Simple & easy.
If only everything in life was as easy as that. There’s a ‘How to’ post on our Instagram account under Top Tips which (I think) is about to be renamed Hints & Tips…. something tips anyway!
Head on over & follow us there to see what we get up to, what I’m making next and what is in our next box.
The October box countdown begins at the end of the week. It’s all about having spooky fun, making chocolate spider cupcakes complete with googly eyes, legs and crunchy bodies. All totally gluten free and edible! Head over to our website to subscribe.
Sometimes it’s embarrassing to ask the question “is that gluten free” when you know you’ve already ordered a dish that is supposed to be just that.
But what if you have doubts about the safety of the food that has just been put in front of you?
You don’t want to seem pushy
You don’t want to be dramatic
You don’t want to be that problem person in the restaurant, have people looking at you like your fussy.
Well, sometimes, you have to do that just that, you have to be that person that asks lots of questions as you don’t want your child to be ill.
I don’t mind asking questions, but, in normal fashion, I tend to blush and go bright red when doing so, it’s just one of those things. I didn’t like asking questions as a child because of it, but as an adult I tend not to worry, especially if it involves the safety of one of my children. But if I doubt a dish is safe as I did this weekend, I know I have to.
And worse still if I’m lunching in a well known restaurant that is particularly good at catering for Coeliacs. A place that I trusted & had specifically booked for being so.
Why would I question a dish that I’ve specifically ordered to be gluten free so that my child is fed safely?
But I had to as despite constantly stating my child was coeliac & required gluten free food, she’d been served a regular burger & chips.
What if I hadn’t questioned it? The family afternoon would’ve been ruined & my child would have been in pain and ill. And more worryingly, as she hasn’t had gluten in such a long period, would her symptoms have been stronger, different, worse?
It was only by chance as I looked at the dishes in front of us that an alarm bell went off in my head. I’d read on the menu that the regular burgers came in brioche buns. I’d forgotten, as we haven’t eaten out in so long, that any GF foods coming out of the kitchen normally have little flags in them. But I was definitely staring straight at a brioche burger bun on a plate sat in front of my hungry coeliac child.
As the waitress looked at me, I know for a fact that my face changed. I’ve an expressive face and a look can convey a thousand words as most mums can.
“Is that gluten free?” came shooting out of my mouth as I was about to say “tuck in” instead. The look on the waitress’s face told me all I needed to know. “I’ll check” she said. She was back in seconds & the plate was taken away.
How in the ordering process and me stating several times that my child was coeliac and needed gluten free food that it got missed I don’t know. Everything is automated once the order is taken & put through at the front desk and sent to the kitchen. One plain (very plain) gluten free burger & chips. No thorough explanation was offered as to the oversight. The meal was replaced with a suitable gluten free offering, but there was no reason as to why it was not as ordered in the first place. Even the waitress at the end apologised and said it shouldn’t have happened.
I understand human errors occur, but eating something that isn’t gluten free could cause your child much pain and damage it’s an error that shouldn’t occur, specifically when orders are taken electronically and checked again before going out. When it is your child you must question any food item that you don’t prepare yourself.
Do question your server that they have the right gluten free dish
Does the restaurant use a specific way to highlight gluten free dishes?
Does it come with a flag showing its gluten free?
Is it on a different coloured plate?
Is it uncut to avoid contamination?
As I’ve learnt this weekend, it is always best to double check. I wasn’t being rude, fussy or awkward. I was being a mum, protecting my child, so that she didn’t miss out on the family event that afternoon by being made ill from a simple mistake.
So whether you are fine asking questions, or blush bright red like me, don’t ever think you’re silly for questioning anything, even if you are in a fully GF restaurant.
It’s always best to be safe & not sorry. It’s not worth the risk
The children will be home all the time (almost)!! They’ll be constantly hungry, raiding the cupboards and snacking all the time!! And managing a child’s coeliac diet is a trial at the best of times.
Constantly eating us out of house and home! And never full……
What do you do? How do you manage with a coeliac child?
We have packed lunches for school – whilst I’ve had conversations with the catering staff at the school, I’m just wary. It isn’t worth the risk, but sometimes it would be nice to just not have to prepare a lunch box in the morning. I’m fed up preparing them, and by now my coeliac child has had enough eating them too. And I wish my lunchboxes looked like the picture below, but they don’t. I’m just a mum doing my best on a daily basis. It’s all we can do. Just like any other mum.
She doesn’t like sandwiches – never did pre diagnosis either
Occasionally has a pasta salad….
She did like sausages in a Schar bun – the frozen ones are just divine – even I eat them too, Found in Morrisons, Sainsburys and Asda. They were down to £2 last week in Sainsburys!!
She prefers to just have bacon pieces – that I must cook in the morning or in advance.
So, her lunch contains a FreeFrom Oat bar from Tesco for her snack, bacon pieces, an Innocent smoothie pouch, fruit, FreeFrom digestive biscuits, yogurt & a FreeFrom chocolate snack bar.
Not the healthiest of lunches as she’s now decided she won’t have yogurts either. Her calcium intake has severely dropped the past month – more on that later in the week.
So how do you go about feeding your coeliac children for the school holidays, keep them entertained & ‘full’. Ever noticed how hard it is to keep a coeliac child full!!
So how do you go about keeping them full?
I have no magic answers, as I’ve taken my eye off the ball slightly with life going on in the background, but with the end of school, its time to try new things, however hard that is and sometimes it’s really hard to just get them to try new things.
Obviously, fresh fruit is a good thing for them to snack on, but how hard is it to get kids to eat fruit? They are drawn to the snacks, the biscuits, colourful packaging, the sugar that pre-teens and teens seem to be drawn to.
10 Snacks options to try:
Yogurt – a great source of calcium & protein to help their growing bones
Popcorn – the plain types (not covered in sugar) are a nutritious snack & full of antioxidants– mind when giving to young children due to choking
Nuts* – a handful of nuts can be beneficial (not salted ones!). Almonds are actually seeds and have a great source of fibre, protein & contain vitamin E, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium & other B vitamins. *Dependant obviously on age/nut allergies etc.
Raisins – contain iron. I was told a long time ago that after eating raisins you should eat some cheese which will help neutralise the sugar?? No idea if true – must Google!
Cheese – a piece of good cheese with lunch will boost their protein & calcium too
Carrot/celery sticks and hummus – hummus is made from chickpeas & contains fibre & plenty of antioxidants.
Energyballs – try making your own? Not one I’ve tried, but think we need to give it a go. Normally made from oats (use GF ones), ground nuts, dried fruits & honey. I had a look online & this one is simple enough by using Gluten Free Oats in the recipe and suitable GF chocolate. Tesco chocolate chips (80-100g) are suitable. Check the ingredients for any changes. No Bake Banana Energy Balls
BellPeppers – naturally sweet. Dip them in guacamole (make your own by mashing an avocado with a fork, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little garlic & even a couple of teaspoons of yogurt to soften the texture further). You get good fats from the guacamole, vitamin c from the lemon and antioxidants from the garlic!
Nut butters & Apples – almond butter, cashew butter. I’ve come to recently like peanut butter on apples too.
Frozen fruit popsicles. Pick up some refillable/reusable lolly moulds and make your own ice lollies with fruit. Puree fruit in a blender, add a little water or fruit juice & freeze. I’ve seen some in Home Bargains & Sainsburys.
Rice Cakes – plain or with nut butter/peanut butter
What are your top snack tips or who do you follow for handy hints for food?
My top one to follow is the The Batch Lady on Facebook – if one of her recipes takes my fancy, I just convert it to a gluten free one. She has some great ideas to prep for food in advance so you always have something in the freezer and are ready for anything.