Gluten-free food guide puts good nutrition on the plate for kids
When Lisa Rigney’s daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease six years ago, one word sprang to mind.
“Overwhelmed,” Rigney recalls. “It was a very, very overwhelming experience.”
A disorder that causes the body to overreact to gluten in food such as barley, rye and wheat, celiac disease damages the lining of the intestines, preventing proper absorption of nutrients crucial to good health.
With no prior family history of the disease, Rigney knew almost nothing about it, yet had to make immediate fundamental changes to her child’s diet.
“I knew celiac disease was related to being gluten-free, but that was the extent of my knowledge.”
Trips to the grocery store, a job she’d always done “with my eyes closed,” now became a careful exercise in reading package labels.
And even after shifting her daughter to gluten-free foods, Rigney still had nagging questions about whether the meals had enough essential fibre and nutrients.
“In the early days of the diet, she was lethargic, so it was a case of, is she getting what she needs?”
With so many details to learn about, the whole experience “was a steep learning curve,” Rigney remembers.
That journey will now be a little easier for families like the Rigneys, thanks to a new gluten-free food guide created specifically for children and youths by University of Alberta nutrition researcher Diana Mager, pediatrics professor Justine Turner and their colleagues.