If you don’t have a green thumb, then let the grocery store do your harvesting. Build a salad that uses a different fruit or vegetable for each color of the rainbow. You can also cut vegetables into animal shapes (we all remember “Ants on a Log”). Ask your child to pick out a salad dressing in the store. That way, you can tie in a quick gluten-free lesson while their interest is high.
You can also look up recipes for dinners and treats. Read each recipe together and point out which ingredients are safe and which are off-limits. Choose a fun gluten-free recipe and get cooking!
Educate, Don’t Intimidate
With each conversation about nutrition or gluten-free food, remember that learning is a process. If your child reaches for a breaded chicken finger or huffs and puffs when you read a label, don’t despair. The good news is, by talking with your kids, you’ll learn exactly where their knowledge stands. Can they pick out a safe snack? Do they know which questions to ask at a restaurant? Even resistance can be a sign, like knowing that she’s not ready to speak up when her friends are around.
Most of all, let them know how proud you are with their progress. Just like in school, kids need a gold star when it comes to gluten-free awareness.
Alice Bast is the Founder and President of NFCA (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness). Find kid-friendly gluten-free recipes, educational games and personal stories at www.CeliacCentral.org/kids.