1. Make your kitchen gluten-free friendly
Buy a new toaster, cutting boards and colander to reserve for gluten-free use. You’ll worry less about cross-contamination. Purchase new containers of butter, peanut butter, jelly and any other products that could be cross-contaminated with crumbs. Either designate these as gluten free or teach the family never to double dip.
2. Create a space for gluten-free foods
It is easier to keep gluten-free foods all in one spot, perhaps in a basket or bin at a level your child can reach in the cabinet. Let your child know all the food in this area is safe.
3. Learn which ingredients you have to watch out for
Also learn which ingredients are safe. For help getting started, check out our Ingredients Index.
4. Learn which foods are naturally gluten free
This includes gluten-free flours such as rice, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth and teff; plain fruits, vegetables and meats; dairy products including real cheese, ice cream and yogurt that do not have gluten-containing add-ins; plain rice, quinoa, nuts, popcorn and potato chips; potatoes; and beans. For a more extensive list, see our Basic Diet Guide.
5. Stock up on necessary gluten-free products
These include gluten-free pasta, cereal, flour and baking mixes; xanthan gum (used in many gluten-free recipes); cereal and granola bars; bread mix or ready-made bread; frozen pizza crust or ready-made pizza; and snacks. More products than ever are labeled gluten free, making this job a little easier. You can also get apps for your phone that detail gluten-free products by brand name and category. (See our top 10 gluten-free apps.)
6. Keep backup gluten-free treats
Have frozen gluten-free cupcakes on hand if your child is in pre-school or elementary school where birthday or class parties may come up on short notice. If possible, keep them in a freezer at school just in case you have no notice. Teachers are also sometimes willing to keep treats like your child’s favorite candy or snack right in the classroom for those times when something that contains gluten is given to the other children.
7. Learn how to cook gluten free
This will save you money, and it’s not as hard as you might think. There are many baking mixes to make the job even easier. A number of the recipes you use may already be gluten free or easily adjusted to be. For example, rice crispy treats can be made gluten free simply by using Kellogg’s specialty gluten-free version of Rice Krispies. See our recipe section for more gluten-free cooking inspiration.
8. Tell coaches, parents of friends and other adults who care for your child about the diet
Anyone who is responsible for your child for any amount of time should know about the gluten-free diet. Don’t hesitate to bring it up. It’s helpful to give them a simple list of safe foods. But especially at first you might prefer to send your child with their own gluten-free items. Pack a sandwich, a snack or piece of pizza that simply has to be heated in foil, and you’ll be covered for most events.
Is your family going gluten free for the first time?
Going gluten-free isn’t easy at first, but once you learn the basics, it becomes much simpler to help your child live a happier, healthier gluten-free life. To help get started, consider signing up for our free e-newsletter to receive gluten-free recipes, news, articles and more delivered to your inbox each week.