Posts Tagged ‘kids nutrition’

I don’t even know why, but I have been hearing more and more about gluten-free diets. I had thought it was only for people with celiac disease, but it seems that a non-gluten diet is actually catching on with health-conscious people. Oddly enough, people with  celiac disease —the people who genuinely need gluten-free food—seem to have little to do with the current boom in gluten-free products. The question is why?

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when triggered by gluten, a portion of the protein present in grains. This attack by the immune system on the intestines causes damage which leads to malabsorption of nutrients, many gastrointestinal problems, and possibly many other symptoms that may be associated with other diseases.

The Low-Down on Gluten-Free
According to Children’s Hospital Boston Pediatric, “A recent survey reports that 15 to 25 percent of consumers are looking for gluten-free choices when they shop for food. The same survey reveals that only 1 percent of those shoppers actually have celiac disease—a permanent sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some contaminated oats.”

Anecdotally, stories are being shared online of children and adults who have credited a gluten-free diet for improvements in everything from infertility and ADHD to helping clear up severe acne or depression.

Alan Leichtner, MD, senior associate in medicine in Children’s Hospital Boston’s Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, is quick to refute these tenuous connections, worrying that the public’s fascination with “going gluten-free” could lead to inappropriate self-diagnosis. “There are no studies showing that the gluten-free diet has an impact on anything other than celiac disease,” he says.

Another misconception is that gluten-free is synonymous with healthy, because many people automatically associate the word “free” with something unhealthy being removed from their diet. For example, many prepackaged foods may be gluten-free, but it doesn’t mean they’re nutritionally complete. Some gluten-free alternatives can be just as high in fat and sugar—or just as lacking in fiber—as their gluten-containing counterparts.

My thoughts? Don’t just be “gluten-free” as a fad – most kids with celiac disease don’t go on a gluten-free diet unless it is medically required. Make sure you are looking at nutrition as a whole for your kids. You should understand your child’s needs and sensitivities. Some children may be only mildly intolerant to gluten or dairy, allowing you to keep it in the house with minimal precautions or to use products produced in the same facility as wheat or dairy items. More sensitive children, and particularly those with celiac disease, may require that you avoid even the smallest traces of gluten, according to Celiac.com. All in all? You should consult your child’s pediatrician for information and support before making a major dietary change. Your child may have specific nutritional needs that require additional care.

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One of our Le Top moms, Robyn, is concerned about her daughters getting enough vegetables in their diets (especially given that one of them is a picky eater), so she has been doing research on ways to hide those nutrient filled veggies in foods they love. She found a recipe from The Sneaky Chef for mac-n-cheese that has cauliflower, carrots and zucchini pureed in it. Your kids won’t know it not only tastes good, but is also nutritious and good for them. Try the banana pancake recipe with carrots and sweet potatoes. Yum! And, if your child has a major sweet tooth, there is a Brilliant Blondies recipe that has white beans, oat bran, whole wheat flour, and wheat germ. These recipes can all be found at http://www.thesneakychef.com/. Though some may seem a bit bizarre, these are great tasting recipes that will fool your kids into getting exactly what they need to keep them growing healthy and strong. Of course, there is nothing that can truly trick them into eating vegetables, so don’t give up on the real deal. You never know if they get used to the taste, one of these times when they actually try their vegetables they may decide they are A-okay. 🙂

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