So, now we really are (at least temporarily) that family that you don't want to invite for Sunday lunch! The thought of cooking vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free meals that appeal to children is enough to send most people running for the hills. Yet here we are and I'll explain why..
A few months ago Noah had his yearly check up with his gastro team to discuss his reflux and how to move forward. Prior to this appointment we had had two failed attempts to wean him off his Omeprazole. Each time we tried to reduce his meds his night time gulping returned along with marked behavioural changes in the day. The consultant chatted to us about his diet and said that he felt as there were no anatomical changes on endoscopy to explain his symptoms then it was highly likely it was something else he was eating causing the problems and inability to come off his medication. He suggested the next thing to eliminate would be wheat and gluten for a trial period of six weeks then try to cut his medication again. I have to be honest and say that this completely threw me. I had never even considered there could be another dietary trigger, let alone gluten. The drs tested him straight away for celiac disease which I am thankful to say was negative.
After the six weeks strictly gluten free we started to cut Noah's tablets down and managed to get to half dose. He was unwell around this time and it was really hard to know whether we were having success or not. We were due to go on holiday the following week so made the decision to up his meds back to his usual amount and temporarily go right back to wheat and gluten. That should be no problem, right?!! How wrong we were. After a day of eating his usual gluten laden foods, toast for breakfast, pasta salad at lunch etc he had a really marked reaction. Watery eyes, sniffing, retching clear liquid and reporting fatigue so severe he fell asleep at 3pm. Hmmm. After a good old google search it would seem that even if you are "only" intolerant to gluten it can be really hard to reintroduce after a period without it. He recovered within 24 hours. We tried again a couple of weeks later with a similar less severe reaction but complaints of stomach pain. Incidentally he has been given a small biscuit at school accidentally since and has seemed fine. Given the latency of reactions it can often be really hard to pinpoint triggers which is pretty frustrating..
In my limited experience so far I would say the key to making gluten free dishes taste delicious is not to try to adapt gluten heavy dishes. Using naturally gluten free ingredients that shine in their own right tends to give the best results.
One of the things I have found the hardest has been bread products. I had reached a point where I was making at most of the bread that we ate and buying the rest from our local bakers. I've had no real experience with gluten free flours and resorted to buying processed loaves full of rubbish. Even the best of these don't taste great and I'm determined to master some decent gluten free breads! My first attempt would have made a good starting point for a brick wall but hey as they say practice makes perfect!
I do as always consider myself to have open minded children who are prepared to try most foods.
In fact my daughter said to me the other day "actually Mum I quite like Noah being gluten free" when I asked her why she explained that we had tried lots more new foods and she really liked that. She's a good girl : )
Please do get in touch and share any successes (or indeed failures), hint and tips.