WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN GLUTENED
Oh dear, despite best efforts and for whatever reason, that thing you dreaded the most has happened. Your child has somehow ingested something containing gluten, and whilst this is likely through absolutely no fault of your own, you can’t help feeling responsible and really sad that your poor little mite is feeling absolutely rubbish.
You know this because you have spotted the signs, which are typically;
- Stomach pain
- A skin rash
So what do you do? And what to expect? Well unfortunately, getting over this bout of glutening could potentially take a few hours, days or perhaps even weeks depending entirely on your child. There is no magic wand to make the symptoms disappear and no clear cut remedy, as again it depends on your child and the severity of the glutening episode, but the one thing we do know is that lots of cuddles and feeling snuggly under a duvet watching their favourite TV show on the sofa really does help!
In Freya’s case, she readily acknowledges there isn’t much that can be done once it’s happened and she’s always quite a little trooper about it. But we have learnt along the way there are some things that do help and could help your child to recover from not only a physical point of view, but also an emotional one for you and your family.
Firstly, lots of rest and peace and quiet really helps, and a hot water bottle for the cramps is very comforting. Just letting them know how much they are loved and that in time, this feeling will pass.
Perhaps a day off School? Depending entirely on your judgement of course, a day off school might be worthwhile, as your child might be experiencing brain fog, meaning they will most likely find it hard to fully concentrate and complete tasks. An alternate viewpoint is that because they will still be experiencing symptoms wherever they are, going to school might be a good thing as it would help take their mind of it.
Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, even if they don’t want to. Keeping hydrated will help to flush through the unwanted toxins, settling the stomach and reducing bloating. Coconut water is extremely good for replenishing electrolytes, especially if one of the symptoms is diarrhoea.
Reducing your child’s food intake is a good idea. Depending on how poorly they are, it might be better to avoid eating all together for a day or so and just drink plenty of fluids, to really allow the stomach time to recover. One of the best things we’ve found that you can eat whilst you’re recovering is bone broth - which really helps aid recovery with all its natural goodness. It’s always a good idea to make a batch and freeze individual portions, just in case you’re faced with this problem again.
Don’t give them any milk. An interesting fact is in some cases, if your child has experienced a severe exposure to gluten, they may temporarily become lactose intolerant because we ingest lactose at the very tips of our intestinal villi and the gluten ingestion that they have experienced will have damaged those villi.
Be active. After a few days, it might help for your child to return to light exercise as this produces natural endorphins that will help to make your child feel good.
And finally, learn from the incident but please do give yourself a break! These things unfortunately happen, but understanding how it happened will help prevent it from happening again. Where did it happen? If at a restaurant, then do give them feedback. If a restaurant is truly gluten free, they should have a separate preparation area and ingredients must be free from the possibility of cross contamination. At a friend or family members house? Then maybe make them aware of how they could do things differently next time (if you're invited back, of course!). If it was something completely out of your control, then try to forgive yourself and move on. Remind your child of the importance of checking the ingredients, or asking an adult to check for them.
We wish that we could offer you a magic remedy, but unfortunately there is no such thing. Just time and experience will help you decide what is the best way for you to help your child recover from these unwanted gluten episodes.