Having to suddenly transform your child’s diet to be gluten-free is kind of like having to learn how to ride a bike without the help of training wheels…These tips will help you get rolling and avoid a few pitfalls along the way.
Gluten is a sneaky one…and by that I mean that gluten can be an ingredient in foods that you may not expect. Some foods that you (or me or your wait person at the restaurant) think logically should be gluten free…may not be after all. So what are these foods and why aren’t they GF? Let’s see…
Common Soy Sauce Brands Are Not GF
That’s surprising isn’t it? Actually soy sauce is most commonly made from wheat. The brands you are most likely to have bought at the grocer (Kikoman) or that restaurants use are NOT gluten-free…
Does this mean we can’t eat Asian food?
Don’t fall off your bike just yet…Fortunately, there is such a thing as soy sauce made from soy! Several brands now offer a gluten-free soy sauce. You can find these on the shelf at most grocers with the rest of the soy sauce. Look for ‘tamari soy’. Our favorite is from San-J brand.
Of course, it can be risky with restaurants. One of our favorites – a Thai fusion restaurant – uses GF soy sauce in every dish that calls for it. But of course, not all are like that. So it is best to ask.
What about marinades?
I’m glad you asked because a lot of barbecue recipes call for soy sauce. If you’re joining your neighbors for a bbq – make sure you know what is in the meat marinades before you serve it to your child!
And speaking of gluten hiding in recipes, there’s another common food grain that is used in foods – some that even claim they are gluten-free!
Maybe you have already heard that oats are one of the grains to avoid when on a gluten-free diet. When we got our handouts from the Gastro doctor, it said to avoid wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
The reason oats is on that list is because oats and wheat often are harvested together – so as they go through the milling process, it is difficult to avoid some cross contamination – which means some wheat inevitably ends up in with the oats.
Okay, so why do we care? A lot of kids don’t like oatmeal anyway! Well, the reason I bring it up is because oats are common ingredient in many of our favorite cereals. Take Cheerios for example.
General Mills have even gone to great lengths to create gluten-free Cheerios. However, Cheerios are made from oats. And even though General Mills and the wonderful people working on this project have gone to great lengths to test the oats – still celiacs are getting sick from Gluten Free Cheerios from time to time.
But it says “gluten-free”?
The size and volume of operations at a General Mills where they make Cheerios is mind boggling. Yes, they test their oats to check for gluten, but there is no way they can test every batch that comes through. And they must take samples from the batches to test – so again, it is just so hard to truly say whether the oats are GF or not.
So it is an FYI for you. Not saying whether you should or should not try them for your situation.
We are holding off for now. I do believe in time that General Mills will sort it out to where we can trust they are okay for our celiac 🙂 …and speaking of trust…one place you cannot trust to be gluten-free is the…
We found that some restaurants will claim certain menu items to be gluten-free – like fries or egg rolls (wrapped in rice paper).
Of course, the french fries and egg rolls may very well be gluten-free themselves. But that can change the moment they get dropped in the deep fryer.
The reason is because of what we call cross contamination. If cooks are deep frying regular egg rolls or chicken tenders in the same fryer used to cook the gluten-free egg rolls or fries…well then we’ve got a problem…a gluten problem!
So the bottom line is you should ask if your food is being fried, and if so, is it in the same fryer where other fried food is cooked? Best case scenario is you find out they have a “dedicated fryer” for their gluten-free patrons.
Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the wait staff or kitchen to have worked this out, though. So do ask.
And now that we’re rolling along…another one to be aware of is
Milkshakes are another example where the ingredients themselves may well be gluten-free. However, cross contamination can screw things up.
Here is how it might happen…say the milkshake maker is making several shakes. Some kids want a cookies and ice cream shake. Some want pieces of cookie dough mixed in.
Of course, your child just wants a simple chocolate or vanilla shake and you’ve confirmed the ice cream is GF.
I’m sure you can already see where I’m going…
In this situation, the cross contamination is going to occur if your child’s shake is mixed after one of the “cookie” shakes…and the mixer didn’t really get cleaned in between.
These are the kind of situations where a well-meaning mom might think “…ah – I’ll just mix the next shake and clean it out after all are made”.
Or they might think “…a few crumbs aren’t going to hurt anyone.”
But unfortunately, those crumbs really can cause a problem depending on how sensitive your child is.
The best thing is to get your shake made first…or take charge of the mixing so you know that your child is going to be safe!
…Gluten is in a lot of foods and can make its way into various otherwise gluten-friendly situations by mistake.
Make sure if your meal contains soy sauce that it is a gluten-free variety. Be careful with foods that contain or are made from oats or oat flour. And if you happen to be in a situation where glutenous (is that a word?) foods may be cooked or mixed with the gluten-free options, ask about it.
You are well on your way. Today, you’ve gotten on the bike and wobbled all the way down the block and back…Good job! Every day it will get a little easier…a little better.