Everyday Eating with Celiac Disease

Living with Celiac Disease

New School Year– Children with Celiac Disease August 3, 2014

Filed under: School Tips — Michelle @ 12:37 am
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The summer is ending and school is about to begin. There are several items on my mind as it relates to Celiac Disease. I’m not sure where to begin, but since it’s Back-to-School time, I’ll start with my kids.


As you know both of my daughters have Celiac Disease. The school year always present challenges for kids with Celiac Disease. They have to pack lunches and be able to make decisions when outside food is brought into the classroom.


My oldest, Meg, is starting Middle School. Ugh!!! This is a difficult age—she wants to be independent yet she is still clingy to mommy. Meg hasn’t had a 504 Plan in elementary school, and I do not have any intention of doing one for Middle School. She wants to be independent and make her own decisions. I trust her that she will comply with the gluten free diet and not be persuaded otherwise. However, I know how peer pressure is in middle school. At her age, she wants to be like her peers and being “different” is not “cool”. This is probably one of the hardest times for parents—trusting your child to make the right decisions.


On the other hand, my youngest, Kait, will be in 3rd grade. She had a 504 Plan last year, but it has made me wonder if it made any difference compared to not have one. So, should she have a 504 Plan this year? At 3rd grade, I question whether it’s necessary. She will be packing her lunch each day. Other than that, what could be potential exposures and contamination? I think it’s best to just have a conversation with her and ask her if a 504 Plan is needed to ensure she is safe. She’s at the age in which she can make informed decisions. We’ve known she’s had Celiac Disease since she was 2. She is aware of what questions to ask and she knows our philosophy, “when in doubt, don’t try it.”


So, the common issue between the both of them is how do we make school lunches appealing, and not boring. Like many moms, I’ve turned to Pinterest!!!! I’m still a little novice with Pinterest, but I did get some great gluten free lunch box ideas. My girls love the “lunchables” concept, so that’s pretty much our approach to school lunches. We have 4 required lunch items—protein, fruit, vegetable, and starch. Ok, so I do allow one sweet item as well. Although we can get some gluten-free (GF) bread, we rely on GF crackers as our starch. Kait has been into chicken nuggets/tenders. Tyson brand has a really tasty GF chicken nuggets and it can satisfy the protein and starch at the same time. But, how do we make school lunches not boring?! Well, we will be working on that. I’m thinking it’s not just a variety of lunch options, but how they are presented in the lunch box as well. This will be my challenge this school year. I think I will depending on Pinterest to keep my creative juices flowing!!! If you would like to follow me on Pinterest, follow me on www.pinterest.com/michelleeiching


On a different note, we found an awesome gluten-free only restaurant in Alpharetta. We were so excited!!!!!! If you are in the area, check out Tin Roof Kitchen!!! The girls loved their pancakes!!!!


New School Year– Some Tips for Parents of Celiac Disease September 13, 2013

Filed under: School Tips — Michelle @ 2:43 pm
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Ok, so, it’s been a while since I posted!  Many apologies!!!  Well, we’ve started the new school year and with that comes the meetings with the teachers. I’ve a had a couple parents ask for some tips in helping their children have as normal learning environment as possible.  Well it can be done!!!

1) As soon as you can, meet with your child’s teacher(s).  Educate them about Celiac Disease and what it means to the child and to the teacher.  Remember it’s not just about the gluten free diet; if you have young children, it also involves their activities and what they use in the classroom.

2) Do you need a general Health Plan or do you need a 504 Plan?  This is a conversation with the child’s teacher.  The Health Plan is more of action plan for how to handle concerns if there is an accidental ingestion or exposure.  It also can provide guidance of how to handle classroom activities (such as using Play-Doh, having cupcakes in the classroom, using food as counting manipulatives, etc).  The Health Plan is not enforceable and has very little teeth. But, if you have a good communication network and relationship with the school staff, a Health Plan may be the solution.  On the other hand, the 504 Plan is enforceable and is a formal agreement on accommodating the child to ensure a safe learning environment.  Schools are not the biggest fans of these because they are enforceable and requires accountability.

3) Be prepared for the unexpected celebrations.  As with any new school year, there will be a continuous stream of friends’ birthday party invitations.  If you have a Health Plan at school, this is where the unfortunate isolation may begin.  At my home, we freeze a dozen or so cupcakes.  When there is an in-class celebration, just pull one out and have the child bring it to school.  For outside-the-school celebrations, it’s easy to pull out a cupcake and bring it along.  Also, having gluten free frozen pizza comes in handy when there is a pizza party.  Heat the pizza and bring it with the child.

4) School lunches are not impossible!!!  There are always stumbling blocks on what to pack for lunch.  You can do sandwiches with gluten free bread, but that may get boring after a while.  My youngest daughter is really into crackers and cheese, or crackers and hummus, or crackers and tuna.  You can create a gluten-free version of the Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables!  My oldest daughter prefers wrapping a slice of ham with a slice of cheese.  And, we always pack a piece of fruit and a veggie!  If packing lunches are still daunting, but  you have a 504 Plan, then the school is required to provide a gluten free lunch for your child.  In that case, communicating with the lunch staff is essential.

Well, these are the top items to be familiar with as you start the new school year!!!!  Next week I’m meeting with my daughter’s school district re her 504 Plan! I’ll let you know how that turns out!


Children with Celiac Disease June 27, 2011

Earlier I talked about how difficult it will be when my 5 y/o daughter begins Kindergarten…Children often play with such fun stuff at that age— gluing arts and crafts, molding clay, making Masterpieces with finger paint.   It’s already difficult to teach my child that many foods contain gluten and she needs to avoid them– cupcakes, candy, pretzels, crackers, etc.  These are fun foods that are often used in classroom parties.  It’s not uncommon for children to share their lunches with their classmates.  Now, to add the fun activities to the equation, being a child with Celiac Disease can be depressing!

Fortunately, my child is very aware of the consequences after consuming gluten.  The experience is so painful that she very much tries to avoid gluten.  She has become her own advocate.  It also helps to have a big sister who also understands the consequences of what happens to her little sister.  Her big sis, Meg, has also become a great watchful eye and advocate.

Talking to both children about what contains gluten is so important and just as important is educating them that there are always alternatives to items that do contain gluten.  For example, Kait said to me once, “Mommy, you know who is Sweet and who is Sassy?” (referring to her and her sister). She explained, “Meg is Sweet and I am Sassy, because Sweet has gluten.”  When she said this, I knew she was understanding, to an extent, what contains gluten.  I thought this was rather an informed observation for only 5 years of age.

I’ve talked about the challenges at summer camp.  I’ve since provided gf gummy worms so that she can enjoy with the rest of her camp buddies.  Today, however, Kait was given some juice (Of course, it still troubles me that the camp is continuing to provide my child with food despite my pleads not to do so!).  Being cautious, she approached her sister, Meg, with the juice and asked her to check to see if it has gluten.  Another suggestion from a parent of children with Celiacs- review the food labels and ingredients with the children and identify ingredients or labels that suggest gluten or gluten free.  Since Meg can read, she was able to tell her sister that the juice did not contain any gluten ingredients.

When Kait enters Kindergarten this Fall, she will not be able to have her sister with her to look out for gluten-laden items.  I need to provide some protection for my child (hence the 504 plan), but I know there will be instances that the potential of exposure will be there.  So, what do I do?

I’ve discussed before that being aware of classroom parties ahead of time is important.  I can provide comparable GF foods without Kait feeling isolated.  I need to continue educating my child and reminding her that her best bet is to only eat what mommy provides.  For any temptation from friends in the lunch room, she will learn the hard way.

What about the playful fun in the classroom?  Using Cheerios for counting lessons, play-doh for fine motor skills, etc.  Counting manipulates do not need to be a food item, so informing the teacher of this is a simple solution.  Also, there are gf glues out there— Elmer’s glue is known to be gf.  So, providing gf glue and ensuring that she is the only one who touches it (important note there, “only one”— very easy for cross-contamination with little hands!).  There is GF “play-doh”, or modeling clay.  There are at least two brands that I’m aware are gf– Aroma Dough and Colorations.  You can also make your own gf modeling dough.  Here’s a simple recipe:

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (or arrowroot)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • Food coloring, if desired
Mix ingredients. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until mixture forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a sealable plastic bag.

We may be making our own “Play-Doh” since my Kait loves cooking in the kitchen!! If we make it, I’m sure it will be yellow (Kait’s favorite color)!


School-age children with celiac disease– 504 Plan?? June 21, 2011

This is a call out to all educators!!!

It’s been a while since I had to think about disabilities studies (my minor in undergrad), but I recall bits of a 504 Plan.  With Kait starting Kindergarten in the Fall, I’m very concerned about potential exposure and ingestion of gluten.  It’s Kindergarten and I’m sure glue is a staple in the classroom!!!  Of course, I can bring in gluten free glue (Elmer’s), but what about protecting her in art class.  I’m thinking modeling clay (i.e. Play-Doh) and finger paints…She needs to be protected. Also, school meals.  Federally funded school lunch programs prohibit children from being excluded regardless of diet.  Is this correct?  I’m fine with providing Kait her meals and snacks.  We’ve been doing that for a while.

So, educators out there, should I be considering having a 504 Plan for Kait???


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