There is a pretty decent variety of foods available in the supermarkets and specialist food suppliers, suitable for a gluten free diet. Figuring out how best to tackle the shops that first time after diagnosis, will take a little planning. To start with, we suggest you refer to our store cupboard essentials as a first port of call, so you can be sure you’ve got the basics covered.
Our absolute lifeline during this journey has been the Coeliac UK app. Download it today! It’s a barcode scanner which you can use to scan products as you navigate the supermarket and it will tell you if the product contains gluten - a superb piece of technology! The slight downside is it doesn’t have every single product in the whole wide world on there, so sometimes you will have to read the label, but in general it really does save time.
- Meal Planning: Before you even go out the door, sit down and plan your meals. Meals can take a bit of time to plan, even without a coeliac (celiac) diet to consider, but sanity checking each ingredient used in each meal will reduce the amount of time that you’re stood in the supermarket staring into space and wondering what on earth you came in for (yep, we do that a lot in our family!). Check out our recipe pages if you need a little inspiration.
- Check every label: This will help you to learn which products include gluten and which are safe to eat. Our advice is, if you’re not sure then don’t buy it. Working out which products contain gluten will get easier, we promise! But be aware that manufacturers often change their ingredients even with some well known and established brands, so always remember to check.
- Try a variety of products: We all have varying tastes. We’ve met with some coeliacs who rave about a particular brand of bread or pasta for instance and others who say they’d rather ‘eat cardboard than that!’. And so, while a little expensive to start with, your child will be the same and will prefer some types of foods more than others. So be prepared for fickleness!
- Drinks: Surprisingly, not all beverages are gluten free, so it’s important that you read those labels as well. And whilst you don’t have to worry that your child can’t enjoy a beer (oh how sad, but good to know there are some great GF one’s on the market for when they are old enough!), it’s always best to just double check anything other than water before giving it to your child.
- Learn to love veggies: Yes, we know kids aren’t always super keen on the green stuff, but being coeliac it’s even more important to ensure fruit and vegetables are a staple part of their diet. It’s fairly common for coeliacs to suffer from iron deficiencies because the body isn’t great at absorbing iron very well. To help improve this problem, food and drink rich in vitamin C such as fruit and juices (especially citrus fruits) and fresh leafy green vegetables should be included in their diet.
Gluten free products are slowly getting more and more shelf space in the supermarket, as coeliac disease and gluten intolerance gets more attention. But be aware that there are a lot of shop bought sauces, ready meals, gravies, condiments and stocks that contain wheat flour and therefore gluten, so make sure you’re double checking those labels!
You’ll probably be surprised at how many delicious recipes you can come up with using naturally gluten free ingredients, and why not make them for the whole family? Better still get the kids involved with meal planning and even some of the cooking. It’s going to be a matter of trial and error in the kitchen, getting used to gluten free flours and gluten free substitutes, but hey, who doesn’t love a challenge?
Check out our recipe page for some ideas on how to adapt your weekly family meals, school lunches, party food, special occasion dinners and everything in-between. We update these weekly so make sure you visit the site regularly for new ideas for cooking at home, or if you sign up to our newsletter, we can deliver these direct to your inbox.