Recently my 17-month-old son was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. He must avoid all foods with flour, unless they are prepared with a special kind of flour. I have been buying his food at a health food store, but it is getting expensive. Can you suggest things that he can eat?
Gluten is found in the protein of certain grains, especially wheat, but also in oats, barely and rye. When eaten, the gluten can damage the small intestine of sensitive individuals and will interfere with the absorption of all nutrients. As you have discovered, lots of foods contain gluten and you will have to become educated on what to avoid. This means becoming a very careful shopper and an avid ingredient panel reader.
The following is a list of some foods that contain gluten and should be avoided:
- Cola Drinks
- Graham flour
- Prepared Mustard
- Root Beer
- Rye seeds or flour
- Salad dressings (many prepared types, read the ingredient panel)
- Soups and sauces that use flour as a thickener
- Soy sauce
- Wheat and wheat products
- Worcestershire sauce
- Distilled white vinegar
Some grain's flours are fine to eat, such as corn meal or corn flour, rice flour, potato flour, and soy flour. You can use these flours in recipes to make your own breads and crackers. Because your son will not be able to eat a wide variety of breads and cereals, which are an excellent source of many nutrients, particularly fiber, B vitamins and iron, you should supplement his diet with a child's multivitamin supplement.
Because a gluten sensitivity excludes so many foods from the diet, I advise you seek guidance from the American Celiac Society at 58 Musano Court West Orange, NJ Phone: 201 325-8837 Fax number: 201 669-8808. They will be able to provide you with information on wheat and gluten free products that you can buy, as well as offer appropriate recipes. Hopefully they will be able to steer you to less expensive alternatives that can be found in the supermarket. You may also get help from a dietitian recommended by your pediatrician or allergist, or you can locate a dietitian in your area by visiting eatright.org.