Kraft Good Seasons dry mixes are NOT gluten-free anymore

IMG_6115I can’t believe I’m saying this after years of exclusively using Kraft Good Seasonings dry mixes as my family’s go-to salad dressing, but I am…. Kraft Good Seasonings dry mixes are (just as of recently) NOT gluten-free anymore. Unfortunately you won’t find anything about it on the Kraft website or anywhere else online — at least that I could locate!  No wheat warnings or notices from a big company like Kraft — just a stealthy ingredient & label change. The only way I first found out is by the good word of the online gluten-free community…

I felt the need to post this because, basically, there is nothing else out there to warn people. Take me for instance: I was so ingrained in my habit of being devoted to their mixes that I never thought to continue to read their labels since their ingredients have been gluten-free for as long as I have (almost 6 years) and probably longer… Until just recently…

After hearing about this, I went to my cupboard and found 2 unused packets to check for myself. Sure enough, underneath the ingredients, it reads, “contains wheat, soy” in bold letters. It looks to me like the wheat is in the dried soy sauce they are now using because it reads, “soy sauce (wheat, soybeans, salt)”.

IMG_6117I took the time (5 minutes) to call Kraft to find out more. Unfortunately I apparently know more than their customer service reps do. I said that I had heard their dry mixes now contained wheat. She said that just this month (some people are saying Dec. 2012 but she didn’t know for sure) Kraft reformulated their ingredients and “some of the spices contain wheat.” I notified her that the package said that it’s the soy sauce that contains wheat. Next I asked which dry mixes were involved in the reformulation and she said, “As far as I know, just the Italian.” So I proceeded to tell her that I had 2 packets in my hand (Zesty Italian and Garlic & Herb) which also read, “contains wheat.”  That was news to her. So — so far there are 3 mixes affected: Italian, Zesty Italian and Garlic & Herb. I had to ask to get a case number and lodge a complaint (asking them to go back to their old ingredients) and had to give her some coding from the packets.

Here is more information, which circulated on the Celiac ListServ email network, from someone else who looked into this:

“I spoke with Kraft yesterday and they explained what happened with their Good Seasons Italian — dry packet mix. Seems like one of their major manufacturing facilities had wheat on the production line and it wasn’t cleaned. (Different explanation than the one I received) That’s why thousands of boxes had to be re-packaged and labeled “contains wheat.” The head of dietary services suggested that if calls were received that they might be able to sway the top-brass to move to a safer facility. They suggested that we call 1-800-522-0501 and get a case number and lodge a complaint. (Tip:) Many stores still have the old formulation… I went to several and bought out the stock. Check your local stores, too. PLEASE take a minute to call and strongly suggest that they change facilities and go back to keeping this product all natural and preservative free… as the original box states.”

So, please, take a few minutes and join us in calling Kraft at 1-800-522-0501. Ask for a case number and request their old formulation. Maybe there will be power in numbers on this one. Please share this notification so others aren’t inadvertently consuming gluten through these salad dressing mixes.

And last but not least, please heed this warning as proof that we all (myself included) need to continuously read and re-read packaging labels and be vigilant for things like this to happen again….even to our tried & true, favorite products. We can never be too careful.

For kids: start the new year off with a blessings notebook

Whenever I start a new book, my daughters always ask me what it’s about. At the beginning of 2012, when I was reading this book (at left), I explained how the author started a list of 1,000 gifts from God, in hopes that it might help her live a more joyful life, and I read them some examples.

This moved my one daughter to start her own list of 1,000 blessings, so one morning she brought a new notebook to church and started writing. She already has over 500 blessings listed and is determined to get to 1,000 someday, which I know she will. (Click on each photo if you’d like to enlarge & read them.)

Here are some of my favorites from her list:  #483: hearing the sweet sound of rain falling on the roof; #490: Seeing a big, huge murmuration; #460: squishing your toes in the gushy sand by the waves; #469: going to Niagara Falls and feeling mist on your face; #454: when you have tape and scissors when you need them (very important for a crafty girl); #241: bad people who have changed; #465: getting a song in your head that you absolutely love. #472: Christmas lights in the summer that remind you of Christmas.

I like to keep this notebook in plain view around the house, as it reminds me to mentally list my own blessings (I started a notebook years ago but never had the discipline to keep it going) and to be extra thankful for the life I lead and the family I am part of. It’s fun to leaf through her notebook and read what she sees as blessings. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my own child is capable of seeing so many things in this world as blessings and it also has a way of making those things she finds amazing seem even more amazing to me.

You may be wondering why I’m posting this on a site about g-free kids… Well, it struck me as interesting that she didn’t even think of writing anything about gluten-free until she got to #402: gluten-free foods; #403: gluten-free people; #404: gluten-free books. Those are the only times she says anything about GF. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool that she thought of over 400 things before mentioning her diet.

That tells me that I’m doing a pretty good job of helping her realize she is just a normal kid, that her special diet does not need to be a main focus in her life, and that there is much, much more to life than food… Like #370: pretty irish dancing dresses, #319: laughing families, #255: sunshine shining through the windows, #430: not getting into trouble, #448: having a great imagination, #462: days when you get to relax, and #493: playing games by the fire.

Why not have your child start a list of blessings, and (if they are on a special diet) see how many things he or she can come up with before food is mentioned?  It will help them to be grateful, to keep things in perspective and let them realize that life is about so many more things than just food. What better time to start than the new year? Help your child to keep the focus on the real stuff of life… letting a kid be a kid — g-free or not.

Happy new year, everyone!  🙂
~Katie

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P.S.   If your g-free kid needs a positive attitude adjustment about his or her diet, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? will help your child to keep it all in perspective.

4 thrifty, last-minute, homemade Christmas gift ideas

It’s a week before Christmas and all through my house, unfinished projects are scattered about… Well, some of them anyways…

I was scrambling for ideas for a while, but I finally came up with a few homemade gift ideas I wanted to share with you. What do these gifts have to do with gluten-free kids?  Absolutely nothing — I just can’t afford another website to post random crafty ideas on, so I’m sharing them here.  🙂  Anyhow, these gifts all cost about $1 – $3 each, and are easy enough to let your kids help.  I hope that you enjoy them and have time to try a few…

• • •   1st idea — festive mini bouquets   • • •

I have to credit my creative Mom with this idea. A few weeks ago she popped in with a little something for me….similar to this but in a smaller, crystal bud vase. It’s been sitting cheerily in my window and has made me want to make some, myself, for other people…

IMG_5558I was at Michaels yesterday and saw the same type of “spray” that she used, at 50% off ($2.50 on sale) so I grabbed a few. I cut them apart and pulled beaded wires out of the main stem and put them into these little 3″ bottles, which are actually maple syrup bottles from Cracker Barrel. Both are shown here….and, no, I’m not a hand model.  😉

IMG_5584 Last I just glued some ribbon around the bottle for some extra color. Any kind of spray, bud vase and ribbon will work.

• • •   2nd idea — votive candleholders filled with dried nature   • • •

Again, I was at Michaels and saw these red & green, dried, natural decorations on sale. I threw a few bags into my basket (on sale for $2.99 a bag) even though I wasn’t sure what to do with them yet. They looked like tiny seedpods, smooth pinecones and puffballs, but they were dyed Christmas colors. I ended up in the candleholder aisle and this idea just sort of came to me:  a clear vase to hold the dried stuff, and a votive holder that fit into the top, sealing away the dried stuff down below so it wouldn’t be flammable.

IMG_5594So I picked up 10 each of the round vase and votives (all $1 each), found some natural twine (on sale for $1.50) to go with it and went home and put them together. I strategically placed a few acorns & various pinecones (from my own collection) in the vases, and filled in around them with the red & green dried stuff. (Hint: fill up the center area as much as you can w/ some sort of filler — I used pinecones — that will make your red & green filler go further.) Supplies are shown here:

IMG_5559Then I just fit the votive holder on top of it (you could also glue it if you want it to be permanent, but maybe someone will want to change the filling someday) and tied the twine around the neck of the vase. Then I found these great, vintage-style, free gift tags that I printed in b&w from Call Me Victorian and CoreyMarie.com. This project was a piece of cake and I whipped off all 10 in an hour. I went back the next day to buy more supplies so I could make some for myself, as they are just my style.

Can’t find the red & green stuff or you’re not too into nature?  Think outside of the box: fill the large vase w/ buttons for someone into sewing, seashells for the beach lover, real holly leaves and berries, ribbons, sparkly decorations, or whatever you think the recipient would enjoy…then buy ribbon and tags that fit the styles you choose.

• • •   3rd idea — snowman decorations made from clay pots   • • •

Obviously this is not a new idea, although I have yet to see them done this way before with 3 pots stacked up, or stylized this way…

IMG_5638The pots were (again) from Michaels: $.49 — $.99 each. Not sure of the sizes, but just go there and see how three of them stack up. Just paint the pots with acrylic paint, glue them together and decorate as desired. The faces were just drawn with fine point Sharpies, but you could also just glue on buttons or paint on a simple face. I bought a spray of fake berries and holly leaves, and cut the red berries in half with an exacto for the noses. I bought a few spools of ribbon at Michaels ($.99 a roll) that fit the neck of the middle pot where I glued it on for the scarf. Otherwise it’s just buttons glued on and decorations added to the hats. Anything goes.

• • •   4th idea — soap set to scent and decorate a bathroom   • • •

I bought a 3-pack of Dial Basics Hypoallergenic soap (I like a mild clean scent) at Dollar Tree for $1. Then I just glued on (school glue) pieces of scrapbook paper that I had trimmed to size with an exacto, then hot-glued ribbon and wooden shapes (a few dollars a bag from Michaels) onto which I had painted the letters JOY. If you like scented soaps, go for it. If you want to add some kind of base for the soaps to set on, have at it!

soapsGFK

These projects have been wrapped up in my house, but a few other stragglers remain to be finished by me or my daughters… If you happen to be one of their teachers or someone close to us, forget you ever saw this post!   🙂

Do you have any cheap and easy gift ideas to share? If so, feel free to add a link below. We can all use some go-to ideas — the more the merrier!  If you try any of the above ideas, feel free to post a picture of your final project on g-free kid’s Facebook page.
And feel free to pin away if you find any of these ideas worthy.

Merry Christmas!

~Katie

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Hot Feta Artichoke Dip

Hi all,

I have given up on writing long posts all the time since it seems like it’s gotten to be all or nothing with me and posting the past few months….I used to feel that in order to post something it had to be a long, thorough post. From now on some will be long and others will be short, but I will try to post more often either way….thanks for bearing with me.

Right now I just want to share one of my family’s favorite gluten-free recipes — one that is requested over and over again for parties at family and friends’ houses.  Here it is:

And here’s the recipe. Try it. You won’t be sorry — unless you get sick of making it time and time again when it becomes a favorite request.  🙂  Enjoy!    ~Katie

5 ways to make your g-free kid feel like a superstar

When children are first diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, their lives will change. So will yours as a parent. That is inevitable. Food is such a huge part of our lives, and being on a g-free diet means that you can no longer just go to any restaurant or party or social occasion without first planning ahead. Spontaneity may take a back seat for a while, but just until you learn the ropes and gain confidence.

The great part, though, is that how you view those changes is entirely up to you. You can either act like you feel sorry for your child and talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about how hard the diet is and how expensive the food is — or, you can make your child feel lucky and blessed to have been diagnosed, and show gratitude for all of the awesome choices of g-free foods that are now available. The #1 thing you can do for your child, right from the beginning, is to introduce them to their new best friend: a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential. If you haven’t shown one yourself, forgive yourself and just move on to helping boost your child’s morale and feelings about being g-free.

Here are some great ways to help your g-free kid feel like a superstar:

Start a “#1 Supporter” contest. Enlist all of your child’s supporters to help. Have them read about how vital they are to your child and start a contest to see who can win the #1 Supporter prize (whatever you deem the prize to be: a hand-painted t-shirt, a certificate, blue ribbon
or whatever). This gives supporters the chance — and extra incentive — to show how much they care by the positive words that they use around your child, and by
the actions that they take, like: writing the child a letter of encouragement, buying them a g-free treat, taking them out to dinner at a restaurant with a gluten-free menu, making them a gluten-free dish (with your assistance)
and other ideas listed at the bottom of this article. Through this contest your child will feel so loved and cherished. Set a time limit on the contest (a month maybe?) and then encourage everyone to keep the support coming even after it’s over!

Try to find gluten-free replacements for all of their old favorite foods and celebrate each new discovery. I honestly can’t think of one type of food that we haven’t yet found a g-free version of. (Here are some examples: To replace Cheezits, try Wellaby’s Mini Cheddar Crackers; to replace fish crackers, try Schar’s Cheese Bites; to replace chicken nuggets, try Ian’s brand or Wegmans’ version if you are in the NE; to replace pizza crusts & breadsticks, try Chebe mixes; to recreate old favorite baked goods, substitute regular flour with a GF all-purpose flour like Jules.) With each success, celebrate with your child by giving a loud “woo-hoo!” and high fives (or however you want to express yourselves) and make sure you include the rest of the family in the celebration, too.
It feels so good for kids to know that their whole family cares about them and is happy for their successes — plus, their acceptance of the diet
will grow, knowing there are great-tasting GF alternatives to old favorites.

Let them be included in the g-free kids online photo album. Many kids feel like they’re the only ones in the world on the g-free diet — so let them know they’re not!  They will take pride in seeing their own face in the album, knowing that they are part of an ever-growing group of g-free kids from around the world. Imagine their face lighting up as they look around at all of the other happy faces, see where everyone is from and read about what they enjoy doing. They will begin to feel a sense of camaraderie and kinship with other kids who eat the same way they do and will feel included in something special.

Arrange to have your child be “star of the day” at school. Make plans with your child’s teacher for a special day of learning in his or her classroom. If your child is very young, bring in a children’s book to read to the class. If your child would rather do it solo, send a book in for your teacher (or your child if they’re able) to read aloud. If you can be present, allow time for Q&A afterwards, emphasizing how lucky your child is to be diagnosed, how it isn’t contagious, how it differs from an allergy (if applicable), and that
his or her foods taste great, too. If your child is older (and comfortable with the idea) let him field the questions himself — as long as you know he is relatively prepared. Then let the class enjoy whatever delicious GF treat (giant cookie cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc.) you made and sent in, so that they can see how good your child’s food tastes, too. Your child will enjoy being the center of attention that day, and will feel good knowing that his peers now better understand and accept his diet.

Put your g-free kid front and center in a photo frame. Here is a printable frame that I designed for your g-free kid. You can download, print it and tape your child’s 4×6″ photo from behind. Buy one of those inexpensive clear, plastic magnetic document holders for your fridge and put your child’s photo in the middle. Every time he sees it, the words on the frame — “gluten-free is good for me” … “I’m a g-free kid” … “proud to be gluten-free” — will start to stick with him and grow his sense of pride. Plus it’ll remind everyone to be careful to avoid cross-contamination as well. Hope you and your child enjoy it!

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Before I close, let me just say that, as a parent, I am not one to spoil my children or let them act as if they are the center of the universe. But, if your child is struggling with being gluten-free or is newly diagnosed, I think it’s a fine time to boost up their self-esteem and do whatever you can to help them feel better about themselves. These 5 ideas should go a long way in helping your g-free kid gain confidence and begin to embrace the gluten-free diet and the changes that come along with it.

Have you tried any of these ideas already?  What effect did they have on your child?
Feel free to comment below about any of these ideas and add more of your own for other families as well. Thanks!

True Tale of a G-Free Kid: Madelyn’s Story

As many of us parents know, we often need to rely on our own intuition to help us figure out our child’s food intolerances and/or allergies, after being scoffed at by professionals who should know more than we do. Here is one Mom’s account (thank you Robin S!) of how she did just that, in order to regain her daughter’s health…

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When Madelyn was born, we were delighted with her happy personality and she was an easy addition to our family. By the time she was 2 years old, she had a very challenging personality, which didn’t seem out of place given that she was a toddler. However, she didn’t seem to have the energy that most toddlers do, she spent a large part of her day resting on the couch or returning to the couch after we coaxed her off for an activity. Outside activities would tire her quickly, and she would need held and carried often…

She would have frequent break outs on her face (as in the photo below) which the allergist told us was a significant form of eczema and recommended a very potent cream (which was soon recalled from the market). He also told us that, based on generalized inflammation but no positives on her allergy skin test, he felt she had some form of inflammation throughout her body. Her facial eczema was so bad that it would alarm people we met and they would ask if she had something contagious. She would complain that her eyes hurt daily, and she would rub them and cry. She had intermittent episodes of red splotches on her face, ears and neck and intense itching as well as a general redness to her cheeks that seemed chronic. She had deep red circles under her eyes a lot of the time. She was unhappy so much of the day and even nicknamed herself “The Mad Queen.” Her growth had nearly stopped — she was such a little thing: short little legs, wearing baby sizes instead of toddler sized clothing and always had such a round belly.

I had asked a specialist about the possibility of gluten being an issue, and he laughed, saying gluten issues were “an Internet fad” and sent me on my way. But looking at my tired, sickly looking child laying on the couch every day, I knew something was very wrong with her. I started keeping a journal of everything she ate and her behavior every day. One of the first things we realized is that she got itchy after eating anything with food coloring. So we eliminated food coloring by buying all organic fruit and juices and scrutinizing all labels for dyes. This cleared up the chronic redness she had to her cheeks. Next we eliminated gluten from her diet. Within a few days we noticed a difference in her, and after several weeks we were positive gluten had been an issue for her. It was amazing to watch the changes in her. Her appetite increased astonishingly, her belly slimmed down, her skin cleared up, her eyes didn’t hurt her any more, she had energy to run just like you would expect a kid to do, and she was happier. She started sleeping all the way through the night. Since she used to spend so much time laying on the couch, sucking her thumb for comfort and snuggling with her Lambie, we knew we had hit a milestone of progress when she was so active during the day that we had to go hunting for Lambie at bedtime because Lambie got set down somewhere and forgotten.

Now she calls herself “Miss Sunshine” because she is so cheerful and smiles so much. When she was 3 years old, she was wearing clothes sized for a 24 month old. Now, at age 5, after two years of being gluten free, she is in a size 6. She is as tall or taller than kids her age, and family and friends continue to comment on how remarkable the changes in her are. One family member said that because she was so small for her age a while back with shorter legs they thought she was going to be shorter as an adult. But because Madelyn has grown so amazingly and has long legs and height to her now (see photo below) this family member now thinks she will be tall like her siblings.

Our pediatric gastroenterologist told us, even though Madelyn tested negative for celiac disease on her blood test, that gluten intolerance can make someone just as sick as someone with celiac disease. She said to consider Madelyn as our report card, that what we changed in her diet was benefiting her so much that we should keep doing it for her health. We did eventually also eliminate milk protein from her diet, even though she had such a dramatic improvement off gluten, we could tell that there was something else in her diet that seemed to still get to her now and then. Today she is the picture of health — I can watch her run and play with seemingly endless energy. She loves kindergarten, plays soccer and takes tap and ballet lessons. She is agreeable, radiant and happy. She is a good advocate for herself at school, too. At 3 years old she questioned her dance teacher about snacks being gluten free and at 4 years old in preschool she impressed her teachers by making sure she was getting gluten and casein free snacks and handing back to them anything she was accidentally given. We always try to turn the focus from what she can’t eat to instead how we can make something safe for her to eat, and we spend lots of time in the kitchen making yummy creations that please not only her, but the non-GF members of the family and even neighbors and kids over for playdates. We may have given up gluten and dairy and food coloring, but we have gained something priceless … a very healthy girl with abundant energy and lots of smiles.

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Please note:  This Mom is not a medical expert, nor am I.  If you suspect your child is having issues with food, please begin by getting him or her appropriately tested for celiac disease and food allergies. But if your child is still having troubles even after all these tests have come back negative, it might be time to start thinking about trying food diaries and food eliminations. If you’d like to read about my daughter’s similar experience, click here.

More stories: Are you a parent of a child with celiac disease or another form of gluten intolerance? Feel free to share your story with us (and before and after photos if possible) about your child’s symptoms, how he or she was diagnosed and what life is like for them now. Just email me at kachalmers2@gmail.com. Thanks!

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles: Review and Giveaway

One of my daughters can hear things being discussed halfway across the house, especially when it has to do with something she likes to eat. 🙂 During the school year, both of my daughters usually have cereal and yogurt for breakfast. On the weekends, however, we try to do something different like pancakes, fruit, granola, eggs & bacon, or something that always brings a smile: gluten-free waffles!

Our go-to brand has been Van’s Natural Foods, for as long as my daughters and I have been gluten-free. Van’s makes many types of waffles so please note that some are NOT gluten-free. Their gluten free varieties are: totally natural, buckwheat, blueberry, apple cinnamon, flax and plain minis. And besides waffles, they also make gluten-free cinnamon french toast sticks. All of these products are made with whole grains and are also egg and dairy free, plus the waffles are sweetened with fruit juice.  The boxes are clearly labeled “wheat/gluten free” so just make sure you grab the right box.

While their gluten-free products are not made in a dedicated facility, but the verbiage on the box reads, “Our Gluten Free Promise: At Van’s, we are absolutely committed to upholding the highest standards of allergen safety. Every batch of our wheat free waffles is tested for the presence of gluten, dairy & eggs so you can enjoy them with confidence.”

A while back I gave away a few “free product” Van’s coupons on Facebook and was amazed by the number of people who wanted them. That prompted me to contact Van’s to see if they’d like to offer free product coupons for this giveaway along with an honest review from Yours Truly. They generously agreed and also sent me a few coupons to use for this review as well.

As I noted above, we have already tried and enjoyed a few types of Van’s gluten-free waffles (totally natural and apple cinnamon) but I was excited to try a few more varieties — along with my girls, of course!

The first type we tried for this review were Van’s GF blueberry waffles. There were 6 average-sized waffles in the box and, although it was hard to see them, they contained tiny dried blueberries and blackberries. The waffles were light and crispy and had a naturally sweet blueberry taste to them. All you do is heat them up as directed, top them as desired (you’re never too old for a smiley face, right?) and watch your g-free kids gobble them up.  I added maple syrup to these waffles and they were gone in a flash…

The second variety I’d like to call out are their plain minis, shown below. There are 32 of these cute little guys in each box and they are attached to each other in sets of 4 for easy toasting. You just pull or cut them apart after they are heated up. They’re the perfect size for dipping into syrup and whipped cream — our favorite way to eat both waffles and pancakes. Again, like the larger muffins, these also had a light, crispy feel and a naturally sweet taste (must be the fruit juices they use). These are super easy to top with jam, peanut butter, nutella, syrup or fruit slices and are a fun size for little hands.

We also discovered and became new fans of Van’s GF cinnamon french toast sticks, a product I had never seen before.  When I first saw them in the freezer at Wegmans, I had the feeling that they were going to be really hard and crusty but, in fact, (like Van’s waffles) they were actually light and crispy, yet substantial. I was pleasantly surprised by these little dippers, which we dunked into honey and syrup, yet which also tasted great plain. My daughters really enjoyed these and said they wished I had made more…

Donkey would be proud….all three of these Van’s products were just wonderful. We will definitely continue to keep our freezer stocked with them, much to my daughters’ delight.  I asked my girls if there was anything they would change about any of the Van’s products they tried, and the only thing they said was, “Can we have them at other times instead of just for breakfast?”  As a Mom, I can handle that — especially after seeing these fun ideas:

Want to try something more exciting with your waffles? Check these out…

And now for the giveaway:  Five random winners will each win TWO “FREE PRODUCT” coupons (retail value up to $3.50 each) courtesy of Van’s Natural Foods. U.S. and Canadian residents may enter.

To enter, please leave a comment below, letting me know how you will prepare Van’s gluten-free waffles for your g-free kid.  Plain?  Topped with something?  Made into a sandwich somehow? Will you try something fancy with them? Please share some ideas in order to be entered…

Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Then the 5 winners have 24 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. and Canadian residents may enter. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Van’s sent me a couple of free product coupons to use for this review. In return I only promised an honest review and was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are my daughters’ and my own.

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

5 ways to make your gluten-free kid feel like a superstar

When children are first diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, their lives will change. So will yours as a parent. That is inevitable. Food is such a huge part of our lives, and being on a g-free diet means that you can no longer just go to any restaurant or party or social occasion without first planning ahead. Spontaneity may take a back seat for a while, but just until you learn the ropes and gain confidence.

The great part, though, is that how you view those changes is entirely up to you. You can either act like you feel sorry for your child and talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about how hard the diet is and how expensive the food is — or, you can make your child feel lucky and blessed to have been diagnosed, and show gratitude for all of the awesome choices of g-free foods that are now available. The #1 thing you can do for your child, right from the beginning, is to introduce them to their new best friend: a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential. If you haven’t shown one yourself, forgive yourself and just move on to helping boost your child’s morale and feelings about being g-free.

Here are some great ways to help your g-free kid feel like a superstar:

Start a “#1 Supporter” contest. Enlist all of your child’s supporters to help. Have them read about how vital they are to your child and start a contest to see who can win the #1 Supporter prize (whatever you deem the prize to be: a hand-painted t-shirt, a certificate, blue ribbon
or whatever). This gives supporters the chance — and extra incentive — to show how much they care by the positive words that they use around your child, and by
the actions that they take, like: writing the child a letter of encouragement, buying them a g-free treat, taking them out to dinner at a restaurant with a gluten-free menu, making them a gluten-free dish (with your assistance)
and other ideas listed in this article. Through this contest your child will feel so loved and cherished. Set a time limit on the contest (a month maybe?) and then encourage everyone to keep the support coming even after it’s over!

Try to find gluten-free replacements for all of their old favorite foods and celebrate each new discovery. I honestly can’t think of one type of food that we haven’t yet found a g-free version of. (Here are some examples: To replace Cheezits, try Wellaby’s Mini Cheddar Crackers; to replace fish crackers, try Schar’s Cheese Bites; to replace chicken nuggets, try Ian’s brand or Wegmans’ version if you are in the NE; to replace pizza crusts & breadsticks, try Chebe mixes; to recreate old favorite baked goods, substitute regular flour with a GF all-purpose flour like Jules.) With each success, celebrate with your child by giving a loud “woo-hoo!” and high fives (or however you want to express yourselves) and make sure you include the rest of the family in the celebration, too.
It feels so good for kids to know that their whole family cares about them and is happy for their successes — plus, their acceptance of the diet
will grow, knowing there are great-tasting GF alternatives to old favorites.

Let them be included in the g-free kids online photo album. Many kids feel like they’re the only ones in the world on the g-free diet — so let them know they’re not!  They will take pride in seeing their own face in the album, knowing that they are part of an ever-growing group of g-free kids from around the world. Imagine their face lighting up as they look around at all of the other happy faces, see where everyone is from and read about what they enjoy doing. They will begin to feel a sense of camaraderie and kinship with other kids who eat the same way they do and will feel included in something special.

Arrange to have your child be “star of the day” at school. Make plans with your child’s teacher for a special day of learning in his or her classroom. If your child is very young, bring in a children’s book to read to the class. If your child would rather do it solo, send a book in for your teacher (or your child if they are able) to read aloud. If you can be present, allow time for Q&A afterwards, emphasizing how lucky your child is to be diagnosed, how it isn’t contagious, how it differs from an allergy (if applicable), and that
his or her foods taste great, too. If your child is older (and comfortable with the idea) let him field the questions himself — as long as you know he is relatively prepared. Then let the class enjoy whatever delicious GF treat (giant cookie cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc.) you made and sent in, so that they can see how good your child’s food tastes, too. Your child will enjoy being the center of attention that day, and will feel good knowing that his peers now better understand and accept his diet.

Put your g-free kid front and center in a photo frame. Here is a printable frame that I designed for your g-free kid. You can download, print it and tape your child’s 4×6″ photo from behind. Buy one of those inexpensive clear, plastic magnetic document holders for your fridge and put your child’s photo in the middle. Every time he sees it, the words on the frame — “gluten-free is good for me” … “I’m a g-free kid” … “proud to be gluten-free” — will start to stick with him and grow his sense of pride. Plus it’ll remind everyone to be careful to avoid cross-contamination as well. Hope you and your child enjoy it!

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Before I close, let me just say that, as a parent, I am not one to spoil my children or let them act as if they are the center of the universe. But, if your child is struggling with being gluten-free or is newly diagnosed, I think it’s a fine time to boost up their self-esteem and do whatever you can to help them feel better about themselves. These 5 ideas should go a long way in helping your g-free kid gain confidence and begin to embrace the gluten-free diet and the changes that come along with it.

Have you tried any of these ideas already?  What effect did they have on your child?
Feel free to comment below about any of these ideas and add more of your own for other families as well. Thanks!

Welcome

Welcome to g-free kid!

I am the author/illustrator of the children’s book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?
My twin daughters and I are gluten-free for life because of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I am excited to have this vehicle to share my thoughts and ideas to make your child’s gluten-free journey happy and healthy. Up until now there have been way too many things floating around in my mind with no real place to share them.

As this blog grows and evolves, you will find plenty of helpful topics here, all intended to help your gluten-free child thrive — not just survive. I will be posting all things related to bringing up a g-free kid and will try to divulge everything my family has learned in the past five years, along with easy recipes, book & food reviews (complete with kids’ opinions, too, of course), giveaways and other surprise features along the way.
I’ll also be sharing craft and play ideas, too, as I believe gluten-free kids just need to feel and act normal instead of being overly-focused on their diet and condition.

What you won’t find on this site (at least from me) is: whining, complaining, feeling sorry for ourselves, wishing things were different, swearing, blaming and bad attitudes.  Please join me by helping — with your comments — to keep the tone of this blog as positive as we should all be for our g-free kids. Thanks, and enjoy!

Sincerely,
Katie Chalmers