What Kids Think About Being Gluten Free

This post is sponsored by Udi’s Gluten Free, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Today we are going to talk about gluten free and kids, but for this post I am changing things up a little and interviewing my girls about living gluten free and dealing with food allergies.

Often times adults focus on how challenging gluten free can be for them and we forget to see it from the viewpoint of kids and teens. Yes, many of the struggles are the same, but kids often view things a little different. I know the focus of this is gluten free and not all of you may be gluten free, but I know a lot of you have relatives or friends that are gluten free. I hope seeing it from a kid’s view will help you understand gluten free a little better.

Here are a few of their thoughts along with some tips from me for living gluten free with kids.

Why don’t you eat gluten?

16 year old: I do not eat gluten because it gives me digestion problems. I can tell that when I eat gluten, my digestion track does not work as well as it should.

14 year old: I don’t eat gluten because it gives me stomach problems and I feel bloated. Being gluten free has also improved my asthma, so I can do activities that I could not do before.

How long have you been gluten free?

16 year old: I have been gluten-free for four years.

14 year old: I have been gluten free for four years.

Do you every cheat? Why or why not?

16 year old: I do not think I have cheated since I decided that eating gluten bothered me. I do not want to suffer the consequences of eating gluten.

14 year old: No, I have not cheated, but when I have accidentally gotten gluten I feel sick or very bloated. These symptoms have motivated me not to eat gluten on purpose.

Are you ever tempted to eat gluten?

16 year old: No, I have not really been tempted to eat gluten since the first few months I was gluten-free, which were really challenging months. Yes, I miss the convenience of it and often wish I could have what somebody else is eating, but I know that it is not worth the consequences.

14 year old: Yes, I have often felt tempted to eat gluten. I often feel tempted when see someone else eats a doughnut or something I see in a bakery or restaurant. I often wish for something that my brother or other people can have.

What is the hardest part about gluten free?

16 year old: Two things are really hard about gluten-free. First of all, I miss the fact that it is hard to eat out, especially when traveling. Secondly, I do not like to make people cook special food for me. I also feel uncomfortable going through the line before others at events and potlucks. I do this so that I can make sure I have something to eat and so that I do not get cross-contamination.

14 year old: The hardest part of being gluten free is at a friend’s or relative’s house and at events like a church potluck. It is hard to find food at events and I feel bad for my friends and relatives having to go to extra measure for me.

Do you feel left out or out of place because you eat gluten free or deal with food allergies?

16 year old: Yes, I do. I feel out of place when I have to make sure I am one of the first people to go through at church, family gatherings, etc. to make sure I get something to eat and to avoid cross-contamination.

14 year old: Yes I have often felt like I was different at events where I was the only one, or one of the few, who had to eat something different than other people around me.

When is the hardest time to eat gluten free?

16 year old: The hardest time to eat gluten-free is when I travel. It is often hard to find a restaurant that has gluten-free (and nut-free) options. Trying to find gluten-free options involves lots of planning. However, it also makes me eat a little bit healthier when I travel because my Mom will often pack food such as cheese, meat, gluten-free crackers, gluten-free granola bars, etc. for me to eat. These options are much healthier than fast food.

14 year old: The hardest thing is when I go out to eat at a restaurant or to an event. It is hard to find as much to eat and your options are limited and I might want something, but it is not gluten free. Like an experience I had recently at Starbucks. I had their Java Chip it was so good, but I had a stomach ache later come to find out it probably wasn’t gluten free. I will miss the Java Chip and will feel tempted to have it, but I would rather have a happy stomach then a happy mouth. (Note from me: I have not been able to confirm that it has gluten, but several things I read online stated that it did.)

What is your favorite naturally gluten free food?

16 year old: I like a lot of things, but it is probably berries or mustard. (Gluten-free sandwiches would be terrible without mustard!)

14 year old: My favorite naturally gluten free food is bananas. I enjoy bananas in just about anything and they are a great snack.

What is your favorite gluten free dish to make:

16 year old: I like making my mom’s peanut-free no bake cookies. Sometimes I like to add dried cherries to them.

14 year old: My favorite gluten free dish to make would be pizza. I enjoy to make different types of pizza and my favorite part is eating it.

What gluten free foods do you miss the most?

16 year old: I do not really miss any food specifically. However, I do miss the convenience of it, and I miss some foods that just cannot be duplicated, one of which is cinnamon rolls.

14 year old: I miss doughnuts. I wish for a doughnut that is light and fluffy with powder sugar all over it. I also miss the white bread that was fluffy and tasted grand all by itself.

Is there something you would like others to understand about eating gluten free?

16 year old: Gluten-free is not just a fad; for many people, gluten-free has been life changing. My mom had terrible asthma as a kid and could never run very far. Now that she is gluten-free, she can run a 5K. I want others to understand that people who are gluten-free do not enjoy having to be catered to or go through a food line first. They want to be normal, but, due to health reasons, they just cannot eat gluten.

14 year old: What I would like other people to understand about gluten free is that it is hard and it is difficult not to eat gluten when I am tempted. I want you to understand that you do not need to be stressed about cooking gluten free. Being stressed yourself only makes the gluten free person feel stressed and sorry. I also would like you to understand that it is easier for a kid if they can eat what everyone else eats. So if possible try to serve food that everyone can have and we won’t feel so left out and different.

My 16 year old also deals with a peanut, tree nuts, sesame allergy. Here a few questions I asked her about living with life threatening food allergies.

Is there different pressures dealing with peanut and tree nut allergies than eating gluten free?

The only other pressure is that nut allergies can put me in a doctor’s office or the emergency room, which means I have to be more careful than I do with avoiding gluten.

What is the hardest thing about dealing with nut allergies?

They are the same things as with dealing with gluten allergies. Traveling and eating at gatherings are difficult.

What would you like others to understand most about life threatening allergies?

Again, people with allergies, especially life-threatening ones, do not have much of a choice. With life-threatening allergies, people have to avoid the food they are allergic to or they can end up in a doctor’s office, emergency room, or even dead. I want people to understand that people with life-threatening allergies do not like being catered to. If you know somebody with an allergy, please make sure there is food that he or she can eat, and let them know that they are eating safe food.

Now for a few thoughts and tips from me for gluten free living and kids.

Interviewing my kids actually helped me see their view better. One of the things I was reminded of was how difficult it is to be different, especially for kids and teens. When we go to family gatherings, church dinners, etc., my girls and I often go through the line first or set food aside separate from the main line. This keeps us safe, but the downside is that it also tends to bring attention to us. After interviewing them I realized that I need to work on making this easier for them.

Overall my girls have been great about gluten free. Once they noticed how much better they felt eating gluten free they have had a great attitude, which has made it much easier. If kids can realize that gluten makes them sick, it will make eating gluten free easier.

Listening to your kids is one of the most important things about going gluten free or dealing with food issues. They have things they miss, things they want, and things they struggle with. Listening to them and involving them in the process will make it easier for everyone.

Kids miss gluten filled foods. Companies like Udi’s make gluten free so much easier. I love making things at home, but store bought convenience foods make it so much easier. Keeping a few things like frozen pizza, bread, pretzels, cookies, muffins, and doughnuts on hand in gluten free versions, will make the temptations of eating gluten filled items easier to deal with for your kids.

Kids and teens are often eating out, eating on the go, at school, or eating at a friends house so keeping easy to grab things on hand is important. I love to keep gluten free cupcakes and cookies in the freezer that are easy to grab when going to a party or event. Gluten free granola bars, gluten free jerky, and items that can easily be kept in a bag or backpack are also great options. Sending food with your kids will guarantee that they always have something safe to eat.

Educate, educate, educate your kids. This one is so important because you will not always be with your kids. Teach the what they can and can’t eat. Teach them to read labels. Teach them to cook a few basic things. You can’t always be with your kids, especially as they get older. Educating them about food will make gluten free living so much easier for them.

I have found that finding others that are gluten free is also a big help. There are some great online communities like the Udi’s gluten free community and also many other support type groups but online and in local areas. If you are your kids are struggling reach out to others that are gluten free and are walking this same journey.

Now I would love to hear your tips and thoughts for gluten free living and kids. What do you have to share?

Disclaimer: We are not doctors and what has worked for us may not work for everyone. We are simply a gluten free family sharing our story.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

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