In recent years, gluten-free foods have gained popularity due to the increased number of people with wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease. Individuals that suffer from these conditions must avoid gluten, the protein found in wheat and other grains. This is because consuming gluten triggers an inflammatory response that breaks down the absorptive villi in the small intestine. As the villi begin to breakdown, they flatten. This causes food digestion and absorption to significantly decrease.
Many health issues result such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, migraines, joint paint and fatigue. However, it is possible for an individual to exhibit no symptoms, or simply become accustomed to the symptoms if they have experienced them throughout their life.
Adapting a gluten-free diet helps the intestine reduce inflammation and heal. Symptoms lessen and eventually may disappear. This change can happen in only a few weeks for children, but may take years for adults due to more extensive intestinal damage. Avoiding treatment may be dangerous because more serious health conditions can develop over time.
It can be challenging for parents with children that have a gluten sensitivity, allergy or Celiac Disease to think of healthy gluten-free lunch and snack options. Just because something in the supermarket is labeled “gluten-free” does not mean it is healthy for your child. As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I would like to offer some ideas:
- Wrap sandwiches made with corn tortillas
- Brown rice pasta with red sauce and meat or vegetables
- Deli sandwich or peanut butter and jelly on gluten-free bread like Rudi’s
- Homemade soups packed in a heated container