Breakfast was the first big challenge we faced when we were advised to put Zac on a gluten free diet. He was already dairy free and that had been easy to manage. We just swapped out his usual milk for Alpro Soya Junior.
We were lucky that he had no problem with soya and were told by the dietitian that this would be a very good substitute for such a young child (he had just turned one). I was reassured that it contained iron, calcium, protein as well as B, C and D vitamins. So for a long time he just had Alpro Junior on his Shreddies or whatever, but he often a lot of ‘bad nappies’ within 20 minutes of eating his breakfast, so I soon worked out that perhaps wheat or gluten could be a problem too. So we stopped the Shreddies and shopped around for dairy free, gluten free replacements.
Like all people new to this I headed straight to the Free From aisle and discovered that there are in fact many to choose from. As he was still a baby, he was not as fussy as he is now, and I was able to try him on many of them without any objection. He got on fine with most and now really enjoys his special cereal. Some are very much tailored to children and they worry me, as they all seem very sweet. So I try to limit the amount he has. That is why I have been working my way through all these alternative breakfasts. Although many ‘normal’ and ‘gluten free’ cereals are fortified with vitamins, many are also scarily high in salt and sugar and best eaten in moderation I feel.
However, I won’t lie to you, some days he only wants cereal and some days I just don’t have time to ‘make’ stuff, so I do give in and he probably does eat cereal more often than I would like or a dietitian would advise. But when you have a gluten free, dairy free child you do work so hard to balance their diet in all other areas, and they are very much prevented from having any real junk or processed food in their diet, so Zac is probably still eating ‘better’ than most.
His absolute favourite cereal is made by Doves Farm. Their gluten free Chocolate Stars. As usual the packaging is attractive to children, but they are also being careful to engage parents by stating in large letters that it is high in fibre and organic. So I guess they are trying to make us feel less bad about buying what is probably a junk cereal. To stop Zac eating too much of it, I often mix this one with a non-chocolate one such as Nature’s Path Gluten Free O’s – their attempt at Cheerios, and I also add a sprinkle of Nature’s Path Gluten Free Crispy Rice – their attempt at Rice Krispies. We have also tried the Doves Farm version of corn flakes and they went down well too. A bit boring though, so I often mix in some chocolate stars or a handful of the O’s with those too!
The Crispy Rice packaging does not look so overtly aimed at kids and states quite clearly that it is organic and made from whole grain brown rice. So this makes me feel a bit more virtuous. Obviously this cereal is a useful store cupboard option for baking days too, as it is nice to be able to make a safe ‘krispie cake’ as a treat for parties etc.
When Zac first went over to gluten free, I struggled to understand why he couldn’t have ‘normal’ Rice Krispies or even Corn Flakes. From what I could see there should be no wheat containing products in them, so I looked it up to check. The problem is the barley malt – it is listed as one of the ingredients. Barley is a source of gluten and this is what makes them ‘unsafe’. Such a shame, as it is hard to understand why it needs to be there. However, I am aware that Kellogs have launched a gluten free version in the states but have yet to see it on the shelves here. But I guess, all the while Nature’s Path make their version, we don’t need it anyway.
Here are some links to the cereals we have discovered. All are dreadfully expensive, in my opinion, but all Free From foods are, so I guess it is something we have all become accustomed to. Just another reason to consume then in moderation and try and manage a few more ‘home made’ breakfasts in the week!