Guest writer Margaret Conner of The Wellness Pantry shares her story of their third grade son going gluten-free.  I just love how mature he is about his journey and why he’s happy to be allergy-free. It sounds a lot like my little guy too! So read on to see what it’s like to live gluten and dairy free, straight from a 3rd graders mouth! 

The Truth about Going Gluten-free, in the 3rd grade. Yep, we are taking you behind the scenes and heading to the source: the gluten-free 3rd grader. Since I often get asked by clients what it’s like to transition your kid to a gluten-free diet, I decided to interview my son a year or so after he’d gone gluten-free in the 3rd grade.


Here is what he shared:

 1.    What was it like to switch to a gluten-free diet?  Was it hard to change what you ate?

           Well it was hard at first with my sister in front of me eating stuff I couldn’t. It takes some getting used to, I think the worst part was that I had already tasted the Ice cream and the Pizza. Our house is gluten-free and pretty much dairy-free so its easier to not feel bad about missing gluten if I’m at home.

Though it also took some time and they developed more food that was gluten-free my mom found a lot of it. So now it’s a lot easier because I can get my gluten-free pizza and etc., though I still want some gluten once in a while.

 2.    What is it like at school and around your friends when you may not eat the same sorts of food they do?

               Well it was really similar to my family, it took some getting used to. It started out terrible with all my best best friends eating not gluten-free things and then you’ve got to tell them. Thinking they’ll think you’re some weirdo. It’s very tempting to not mention it and eat all gluten things, but it actually went down well with my friends instead of thinking that I’m a weirdo they actually had sympathy that I became gluten-free.

 3.    What are some of the things that have made you stick to eating this way?

           Because they make me feel bad

 4.    What are some of your favorite things to eat now?

                Usually types of meat and fruits + vegetables. I also like these special chicken fingers but if you look around in small special sections in grocery stores you may find some good things.  

 5.    Is it hard to stick to eating this way?  Why or why not?

Well it usually is kind of difficult but most of the time it depends more on where you’re eating and the options. If I eat at my house it is really good because my mom has all these good healthy gluten-free + diary free* foods and she will cook them and serve them very fresh as opposed to a fast food place where really all I can have is a burger no bun and maybe fries witch is not at all fresh nor healthy and you really get sick of having it after a while.

6.    What advice would you give to other kids who are changing to a gluten-free diet?  Is there anything that might make it easier for them to make the change?

                There is a lot of advice I could give them but I’ll start with something that’s very important witch is you have got to hang on, you have got to listen and take it seriously, you have to wait a year with the diet because trust me it will get better.

 7.    Did you notice any changes with your body or your behavior when you changed how you ate?  What changed?

              Yes, I did. I got a lot happier because I had no more problems with my stomach. My math brain also got faster and it took a lot more to get me angry.

So there you have it, the straight dope. There are a lot of good tips and tricks for getting your kids gluten-free in a painless way. I’ve done it for my own kids and now countless other families. For starters, here are a few of the more popular gluten-free treats my clients like (treats are a biggie for kids changing to a GF diet and nice to have on hand for birthday parties, etc.) and a basic recipe or two to get your started.

You can learn more about how the Wellness Pantry can help you by visiting her site here

Dry, crumbly gluten-free bread spoiling your school lunches?

Recently I was talking with some other moms who are raising gluten-free kids, and they both commented that every time they open their children’s lunch boxes at the end of the day, the sandwiches are still there. Untouched, as if mocking them for trying to raise an allergic child in a healthy way.  Their kids complain that the bread is hard, crumbly and doesn’t taste good. They look up at their moms, sadly, and she can picture visions of fluffy white bread running through their heads.

Since they know my son eats his gluten-free sandwich every day, they wanted to know what my secret was. How was it that I was able to get him to eat this hard, crumbly, less than ideal sandwich every day? Was it just good luck? Did I just have the least picky kid on the planet?

Not really; it turns out I’ve just had a bit more time trying different gluten-free options, combined with living in the right place at the right time.

Several years ago when my son and I were diagnosed with a gluten allergy I hit the health food stores and taste tested every gluten-free bread I could find. From Ezekiel sprouted to rice bread, and all the more ‘mainstream’ gluten free breads on the market, and here’s what I found out; most of them are hard and tasteless. My son wanted something like the bread he was used to. A sandwich that was soft, yet held together by the time his lunch break rolled around, and that didn’t taste uber-healthy. And to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to find anything, so when he was unhappy with all of those, I bought a Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread maker and took to making our own blends.  I tried almond flour, coconut flour and rice flour blends. We bought storage containers, bread slicers and gave it the full whirl. In the end, while he loved them, I found it to be a lot of work for a little reward.

And here’s where the luck part comes in. One day we were at our local farmers market in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, and stumbled upon a stand for Udi’s Artisan Breads. Turns out they weren’t kidding about the “Artisan” part. I stared, longingly at the fabulous looking baguettes and fresh loaves that I previously would have happily purchased. And just when we were about to walk away, we overheard someone ask for a loaf of their gluten-free bread. The Udi’s employee reached underneath the booth and pulled out a prepared, pre-sliced loaf of gluten-free bread. I listened to them chat about how soft and delicious this bread was. I moved in closer while they talked about how light and fluffy the bread was. How to store it, how to cook with it and shared their favorite recipes ideas. When they were done, I asked for a gluten-free loaf, paid the $6 (the sticker-shock on these prices fades as you realize that’s just the deal with gluten-free goodies) and off we went to see if Udi’s would live up to the hype.

The idea that I could pick up a locally made, gluten-free loaf of bread that my new-found gluten-free farmers market friend raved about was so exciting, yet I worried that my expectations would differ from hers, and my son might once again be disappointed.  So we headed home and gave it a whirl. Though the bread wasn’t frozen, the girl from Udi’s advised us to freeze it to preserve freshness and said it only needed to thaw for a few minutes before you can make a fresh sandwich. So we took out a couple of slices, and put the rest in the freezer. Our son was excited to try his new bread, and since I wanted to see how soft it truly was, we prepped a turkey sandwich with lettuce and jam (his fave). He took one bite, then another, and finally a smile – he was thrilled. So there you have it – luck had us happen upon Udi’s farmer market stand, at the perfect moment to overhear a conversation about their gluten-free breads.

I tried a few ways of making his sandwiches; I toasted them from frozen, toasted from thawed, and simply let it thaw before making the sandwich. As it turns out, toasting it essentially turns it into a crouton, no matter whether it’s toasted from frozen or thawed. The only version he happily ate every bite of was the thawed version. Simply remove the bread from the freezer, let it thaw a minute or two, then prep your sandwich, wrap it in foil or cling wrap and send your kiddo off with a sandwich they will eat!

So there you have it – not overly impressive, I know, but hopefully our experience will help save you some time, headaches and tears and help your kiddos learn to love eating gluten-free sandwiches!

How to make a soft gluten-free sandwich that will hold together by lunchtime (no crumbles, just soft, yummy bread!):  

Step 1:

Pull out 2 slices of frozen gluten-free bread from the freezer, allowing them to thaw for a couple of minutes.

Step 2:

Prep the sandwiches (here’s one of our son’s faves: turkey with lettuce and strawbery jam)