Have you been thinking of Starting a Dairy and Gluten Free Life With Kids? Maybe you have been told that your child needs to cut dairy and gluten from their diet for health reasons? It is becoming more common for families to recognize the issues surrounding food allergies and intolerances, but it doesn’t make it easier for you!
When you first get started in making diet changes, I highly recommend that you make it a change for the family. Why? Out of sight/out of mind is difficult enough – imagine having it in the home and not fully understanding why they can’t have something they used to enjoy. This will make it easier for everyone!
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases:
Allergy to cow’s milk is common in infants and young children and can develop within days to months of birth. The symptoms include abdominal pain, hives, and eczema. And, these symptoms are typically associated with immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to milk. Because abdominal pain is also a symptom of lactose intolerance, only your healthcare professional can determine if your baby’s symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction to cow’s milk.
In other children, cow’s milk can lead to colic and sleeplessness, as well as blood in the stool and poor growth. This type of reaction to milk is associated with immune responses that are not related to IgE antibody.”
Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, and some people develop an abnormal immune response to gluten. This isn’t necessarily a food allergy, but it definitely affects people.
If your baby pulls his or her legs up and cries often when everything else is fine such as having just been fed and should not be hungry, clean diapers and having burped after eating. your first thoughts should be is my baby allergic to dairy.
Paying attention to how foods affect you and your children is not being over protective!
Food allergies and intolerances are real. This post is meant to help you transition to a dairy and or gluten free life. If you’ve read my “about me” page, you know that I had my journey! Being raised on traditional German foods, then going vegetarian then mostly vegan to now being dairy free and gluten-free is hard!
My life has changed, and I want to share with others what has helped me along the way making dietary and lifestyle changes. My kids were in their teens when I was transitioning to this lifestyle for my health. My grandson from birth has had food allergies ( dairy, soy, gluten, corn and nuts ) and it has been nice to help my son and his family while they made adjustments to their dietary lifestyle.
Three things to consider when going dairy free (gluten free too!)
- Make an “at home” rule for everyone, but let everyone order for themselves when outside the home. This means less work for the person doing the cooking, and the person facing the diet changes doesn’t feel left out of their old favorites.
- Get to know foods from around the world – from new rice recipes to using different spices, you’ll find that variety actually IS the spice of life, and it also is a bit of a distraction while you figure out what meals “work” for your family.
- Soups can be your savior! Soups are often dairy free, and substituting noodles for gluten free ones, or for rice, can be easy enough for even the pickiest of family members! Here are some of my favorite soup dishes.
Children are especially sensitive to their favorite foods (and adults are as well!). For that reason, it is important to ensure your child has a favorite food that is okay for them. Their food needs shouldn’t be a punishment!
Here are some considerations for changing to dairy free and gluten free foods for kids:
- Learn what substitutes work and which ones do not. Frozen gluten-free waffles, those are pretty good. Some gluten free, dairy free baking kits substitute beans, and aren’t a hit with kids right off the bat. Try to keep the diet some-what normal at first. Find the recipes you all love and make the ones that have dairy and gluten free mixes for them. To begin with mixes will help tremendously. I have found The Pure Pantry, Montana Gluten Free, Bob’s Red Mill and Pamela’s are great companies that have yummy mixes – biscuits, cakes, breads and more. I also have found that coconut oil is a great replacement for butter in baking. Then talk to others to find recipes that don’t call for dairy or gluten.
- A tried and true option for GF/DF: Rice noodles with regular pasta sauce. Sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on top. It isn’t the same as cheese, and it has a “nuttier” flavor, but it adds flavor and is full of B vitamins. I love to sprinkle it on anything I want a cheezy flavor. I love nutritional yeast.
- Invest in a vegetable spiralizer. You can find them on Amazon for less than $20. The nice thing is you can use it for many vegetables and can make a substitute for wheat noodles in many pastas, and also an option for increasing vitamins for overall picky eaters.
- Allow some limited processed foods. Yes, at times you’ll want to have “vegan cheez” slices (after a while, though) you can’t go from Processed American cheese directly to vegan cheese and not expect the kiddo to notice. They will! After time though, when melted on tortilla chips, it will work just fine! But Daiya Non Dairy Cheese is such a great cheez that melts and is gooey and tastes like cheddar that you may want to try that brand right away.
- Yes, you’ll need to read labels. Seasoning packets often have hidden gluten and dairy. But, you may find that the packets are just over priced spices! Buy the spices and make your own, but you won’t need the added “anti caking” or preservatives you find, so you may just clean your diet as well as make it safe for your family member. Try my Just Like Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix Recipe!
- Get involved at school. If your school has parties, offer to make the cupcakes for everyone so that your child doesn’t have a “special” dish, but instead, everyone does. If the school allows kids to bring in treats on birthdays, ask if you can keep something aside for your kid so they aren’t left out on those days and, if there’s a school directory, you may get to know the other parents and ask them to let you know in advance so you can ensure there’s something appropriate for your child. Some parents may actually choose something “safe” for everyone if they know the situation. My grandson is allergic to dairy needing an epi-pen available at school if he gets around any dairy. So he always has Enjoy Life cookies left at school for when treats he can’t eat are brought in. Then he doesn’t feel totally left out.
When it comes down to your family’s health, don’t feel bad about having to make changes. Really! Instead, focus on the positive changes that you see (whether it is fewer bathroom trips, better sleep, or less eczema), and celebrate! There are some great coconut-based ice creams. My favorite non dairy ice cream is Luna and Larry’s! YUM!! Grab a bowl, enjoy a movie and remember that there are worse things that could happen. A diet change is just that – a change. It isn’t the end of the world.