Gluten Free Child

Going for Silver: Gluten Free Expedition

So our coeliac daughter has set off on the first of her Silver Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. She has to do two, each involving 3 days walking and 2 nights camping: one practice, and one for real.

I’ve been watching—with some trepidation—the flash floods, massive thunderstorms and golf-ball-sized hailstorms that much of the country has been dealing with recently. You just have to love England in the summer. I dropped her off this morning in the Peak District and drove off leaving her standing in the rain…

She did the Bronze (two days) last year, and perhaps she’ll do Gold in the future (four days/three sleeps). But whichever the level, the girls have to carry everything they’ll need, including tent, sleeping bag, trangia, fuel and food for the whole of the hike, and navigate for themselves between points.

So what has she packed to eat? Always a key question for coeliacs, and I thought you might be interested to know what she’s chosen:

  • Warburton’s white bread rolls (found in Tesco)
  • Roberts Bakeries Yes! You Can brown sliced bread for sandwiches, with a variety of potential fillings (tuna/cheese/hummous) – Tesco
  • a variety pack of miniature cheeses, each individually wrapped
  • cucumber and satsumas
  • Sakata crackers – because they pack down nicely, which crisps don’t (and Pringles are a no-no these days) – Sainsburys
  • Look What We Found sachets of chili con carne, which will only need heating through – Sainsburys
  • Part-cooked express rice sachets (because they’ll only take 3 minutes to cook)
  • Tesco Belgian Chocolate Wafers
  • plus jelly babies and chocolate

Not ideal nutritionally, but it should keep her going for three days.

Gluten Free at Guide Camp

Once again we’re sending our coeliac daughter off to Girl Guide camp – this one just for the weekend.

rucksackAs you might expect, the quartermaster is unflappable, and wasn’t at all fazed by the addition of a coeliac to the party at late notice.

We’ll send basics (bread, a pizza base, and some cake) and in this case also some gluten free soy sauce, because they’ll be cooking Chinese-style one evening, and will make her a gluten free version of her own.

It’s always reassuring to know that the person catering for your coeliac child has some knowledge of the issues involved. In this case the quartermaster’s father is coeliac. But first hand experience isn’t essential, and a little bit of preparation and (maybe) education is all that’s needed.

If you’re worried about sending your coeliac child away for camp or a school residential, here are my top tips:

  • discuss the meal plan with the caterers if possible, and/or with the party leader. Don’t alarm them with visions of a life-threatening reaction, but don’t dismiss it either. it’s not a fad diet, and it’s not optional. Do consider sending the caterers details of the Coeliac UK guidelines for caterers if they sound unsure.
  • send a letter with the details to the caterers/party leader. Feel free to download and edit this letter to schools.
  • be prepared to send supplies with your child (and don’t forget the snacks-between-meals!)
  • try to be calm and relaxed about it in front of your child. It’s natural to be concerned, especially if it’s their first trip away without your supervision. But you do want them to enjoy the trip, and catering details shouldn’t interfere with their fun!

Increasingly, I find, people are aware of the coeliac diet, but just sometimes they might like a little clarification, and the more you can help, the smoother the trip will go for everyone.

Gluten Free Camp in Michigan

summer camp michiganI’ve just discovered this email lurking in the swamps of my inbox… Many apologies to Nicole, who sent me the information ages ago.

I’ll post her email in full, in an attempt to make up for my failure to spot it earlier, and to tell you about it. She says:

Hi,

I’m working on the Gluten Free camp at Manitou-Lin in Middleville Michigan. Our campers have their own kitchen that will be contamination safe and will have a food specialist overlooking the menu and meal preparations. Here is the information:
August 16 (Sunday) – 21 (Friday)

$450 is our grand camp fee for 2009, and $75 deposit is required to hold a spot. Checks made out to Camp Manitou-Lin sent to
Nicole VanZwoll
3614 Ridgefield Rd.
Lansing, MI 48906

The full amount (and paperwork) is due two weeks before camp, on August 2, 2009

Ages 7 – 14 (Co-ed) Each to their own cabins.

If you have questions about this, do e mail me at glutenfreemichigankidscamp[at]yahoo.com

GLUTEN FREE CAMP ROCKS at Camp Manitou-Lin!!
www.campmanitou-lin.org

This does look like fun. If you’re interested, please contact Nicole direct – I do hope it’s not too late to apply!

Bedtime Stories and gluten free cake

bedtime storiesHow many of you have seen the film ‘Bedtime Stories*‘?

We watched it on DVD last night (we’re always slow to see films, because the nearest cinema is so far away) and I was saddened and taken aback by the fun being poked at gluten free food. The mother, portrayed as a health freak who wouldn’t let her children watch TV or eat junk food, had provided a gluten free cake which no one had eaten. There were repeated comments about how bad it smelled.

How offensive is this?

Already children who have to eat gluten free for their health are feeling ‘different’; how is making fun of their food going to make them feel better? It just confirms in people’s minds that this diet is a joke. My family of five (one coeliac child) sat watching this together, and we caught each others eyes, smiled, and pricked up our ears at the first mention of gluten free cake, only to go quiet when the negative comments came.

Then there was a lot of by-play about adding wheatgerm to everything these children ate. Hello? Wheatgerm? And a gluten free cake? Clearly this is inconsistent, and simply adds to the idea that living gluten free is a lifestyle of choice, usually opted for by ‘dippy hippies’.

The film was fun, and the children laughed a lot – we have four guinea-pigs, so they really enjoyed the scenes with Bugsy. But I was sadly disappointed by the cheap cracks at what – for many people – is a medical necessity, and not a fad diet.

(*affiliate link)

Bob the Builder: Yes, we’re gluten free

Does your gluten free child love Bob the Builder?

bob-the-builder-gf-pastaI remember when Bob and his gang were significant in our lives, and I so wish that this product had been around then. A decade ago I would have been thrilled to find some gluten free products designed for, and packaged for, children. And it is still a huge gap in the market …

I was still pretty excited this morning. Amazing how finding something new like this can make me feel quite teary in the supermarket. New to me, that is – I think it’s been around for a while.

It’s made by FunFoods4All, and as far as I can tell, is the only gluten free product they make. We found it in a big Tesco, but it’s also available online (at Gluten Free Foods Direct, for example).

And it’s actually a good product too. It’s a corn and rice based pasta, with no additives or preservatives. We bought some (yes, of course we did!) and she had some tonight. There are a variety of shapes (Scoop, Muck and Dizzy, and Roley too, Lofty and Wendy join the crew), and they hold together remarkably well when cooked – and expand a lot!

Altogether now:

“Bob the builder
Can we fix it?
Bob the builder
Yes we can!”