We are not regular junk food eaters. When you have food intolerance and allergies to deal with, junk food and processed foods are not something you can eat and as far as I am concerned, is one of the benefits. Although I often feel sorry for my three year old when he goes to children’s parties and cannot eat the same as the others, part of me is glad. Being so highly sensitive to wheat and dairy means that he will not grow up addicted to pizzas and burgers etc – he doesn’t even know what they taste like and has never shown any interest in them.
However, from time to time, even the most vigilant Mummy with the greatest of intentions can get caught out. Two weeks ago, we set off on a (usually) 2 hour car journey to my parents on the Dorset coast. I had lunch boxes full of food for both children – as I knew we would probably still be travelling at their usual teatime. We left home straight after school, so were due to hit the M25 just before rush hour and knew we could hit some trouble – but nothing prepared me for the 2 hour crawl around the usual half hour stretch.
By the M3 the children had long since eaten all of their food, all the drinks were gone and Sophia was desperate for the toilet. They were also starting to feel hungry again and we all needed some more cool drinks. I also needed to buy Zac a new cup. While we were in the middle lane of 5 lanes of stopped traffic near Heathrow, Zac announced that his ‘wee was coming’ and we had no choice but to let him go in his Fireman Sam drinking bottle.
As we pulled into Fleet services, we noticed the McDonalds sign and I thought I would get the children some chips, as a treat, because apart from the emergency wee incident, they had been very patient little travellers.
Then I realised that McDonalds was on the Northbound Services and it was actually a Burger King on the Southbound. Their kids meals are less interesting than McDonalds, which is why we have very rarely tried it. Sophia is a big fish finger fan and was disappointed she couldn’t have any, but I promised she could have some when we got to Nana’s, so she happily munched away on her chips and everyone seemed happy. Zac didn’t eat all of his chips. So I tried one and then started to panic. They were delicious and so crunchy and crispy – a bad sign! Through experience we have learned that extra crispiness on chips is usually achieved with a good sprinkle of flour or something gluten containing. I hoped I was wrong and knew that I would probably find out quite soon!
By the time we finally arrived in Christchurch, it was bed time for the children and we quickly got them into their pyjamas. The first thing my Mum said to me was, ‘Zac’s tummy looks very bloated’. It did. It had come up like a balloon and his little t-shirt was tightly stretched over it. I felt dreadful. I am usually so good at checking things and assumed just because McDonalds fries are safe(I have checked) that BK would be too. I quickly hopped online and found the nutritional info part of the menu and sure enough there was a tick in the gluten box.
So there you go. I certainly learned some lessons that day. Firstly, avoid Burger King chips and never forget that although a potato is a gluten free friend, you can never assume some person in a kitchen has not interfered with it and made it ‘dangerous’. Secondly, I need to remember to pack two packed lunches for Zac, whenever a journey involves the M25 – and most sadly, I learned that Zac is still, quite obviously wildly sensitive to gluten and not growing out of it. This was our first slip up in a very, very long time and the result was instant. We still don’t have a coeliac diagnosis, but I don’t really need one. If a tiny little tummy can react like that from eating just a handful or tiny chips, with what I imagine is a relatively small sprinkling of gluten, I think it is safe to assume, challenging him with a slice or ‘normal’ toast would be a huge mistake.