Including the different child

Time and time again here in Poland I see the food allergy kids being forgotten. They sit on the sideline watching their friends eat cake or whatever it is thats been brought to school / nursery. It makes me so incredibly sad.

In Sweden there are rules against this, schools (and nurseries) have to follow government guidelines, this means there are strict food policies and also inclusion policies. No child is to be treated different. Basically, it means, that if there is cake in class, suitable cake must be provided for ALL of the children. If this somehow fails there is a report system in place with a chain of command that you make your complaint to and there will be an investigation.

In Dubai we were lucky to have an amazingly supportive school and a food policy that suited us. There were no laws backing us up, but caring adults and a large dose of common sense, meaning a small child should be included in a school environment, not excluded. No matter what the child says, it is not ok to have a kid sit and watch friends eat. School – in my opinion – should be for learning, and once you start teaching kids that its ok to exclude another child based on their allergies, religious beliefs, autoimmune diseases, then you are going down a very very wrong path.

We teach our children to respect others, to not point at the morbidly obese, not to laugh at others misfortune, to be caring and nurturing individuals, but how then, does it make sense to have a child in a class room or lunch room going without? It goes against everything we are teaching them, and if you ask the young children themselves, it upsets them too. Most would rather have a toy or a treat that everyone can eat. It isn’t that hard really. And if it feels to difficult, then simply ban foods that exclude from a school environment. It is the right thing to do.

I haven’t had enough fight in me in the past few months to deal with this. But the fight needs to go on. The sad thing is…. it shouldn’t have to be a fight at all 😦

Please do share this post, not for me, but for all the children it affects.

-Linda

On a pancake mission – day 2

Ok, nobody tell anyone its been like a week since the last pancake.

Today again I searched and found lots of different egg free pancakes, I wanted one without an egg replaces such as chia or banana or apple sauce, because sometimes, we just dont have all that stuff lying around. I found a few recipes and modified them to make them suit me and obviously make them gluten free.

This one was awesome, but I can imagine the flour is the make or break here, I had to adjust the amount of liquid a few times until I was satisfied, but do note, the batter will be super thick. As the baking powder sits and does its thing, you may even need some more liquid towards the end.

  • 3dl all purpose gf flour (I used a cake one as they are less dense, you may be able to use a bread flour, but start off with a bit less)
  • 4dl milk (I used lactose free)
  • 1tbsp (yup, a WHOLE tablespoon, no joke) baking powder
  • 1tbsp sugar (I tried without this at first, but they kindof need it, try honey if you are a no sugar kindof person)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • butter or oil for frying, plus a big dollop (about 2tbsp) for the batter

Mix all ingredients together, I never faff around with dry first or whathave you, just whack it in a bowl and blitz with an electric whisk. Like I said, this batter will be thick, its normal, it needs to be.

Start of with a pretty hot pan and lower to medium after the first pancake. Turn each pancake once edges are solid and it almost stopped bubbling.

Verdict: Celiac kiddo loved these, she says they are even better then the previous one which she gave a 5/5. She also says Im a super hero at pancakes and if there was olympics in pancake making I would win (GOD I love my kids!) Big brother says they are super super yummy. He gives them 5/5, he says they were pretty much equally good to the other ones. I also tried even though Im back on a strict low carb diet, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised! You actually can make pancakes without egg and gluten and make them taste like the real thing. My only critique would that they are a tad doughey in the middle. Next time I will try adding some flavour to these, I think they would be great with some chocolate chips or blueberries! I give them a 4/5 and thats comparing them to a pancake with egg! So not bad at all.

Linda

Dont forget to “like” GlutenFree & Me on Facebook!

On a pancake mission – day 1

Gluten free was easy. Gluten free pancakes taste amazing and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love them (they are better then gluten ones, trust me!). But then you go almost completely lactose free and egg free and you sort of sit and wonder, if pancakes are lactose free, egg free and gluten free, are they still pancakes?

Well, after almost a year of being pancake less I decided to go on a pancake mission.

Pancake 1

This is a combination of several recipes I found online, the base recipe(s) had more milk and fancy flavours, they also had gluten. So, this is what I did.

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1,1/2 dl gf flour (I used a cake one rather then a bread one, but whichever should be fine)
  • 3dl milk (lactose free or whatever tickles your fancy)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a squirt of evoo (or melted butter is fine if that works for you), a bit in the batter and some more for frying

Mash the banana in a bowl and add other ingredients, whisk well so its not to lumpy. Fry as you would a “normal’ pancake.

Verdict: Well, there is one thing in the world I will not eat or try ever, and its banana. I apparently didn’t like it even as a baby. My mum forced me to eat one in childhood at some point and I promptly puked. I cant even stand the smell. So, I almost died having to mash the thing. Honest. But almost dying is worth it for my kids, so mash I did, with my head turned away and running to the hallway for breathing breaks. I cant tell you what it tastes like. But Celiac kid ate almost all of them! She was screaming and jumping up and down from being so happy about pancakes, she says they are the best everrrrrr! I guess thats a pretty good verdict 🙂 From a cooking point of view Id say they burn pretty easily, I had to keep the temp lower then “normal” pancakes. They were also a bit runny, so a bit bigger then what we usually make, but maybe more flour would have fixed this. Anyhow, daughter gives these a 5/5. I wont rate them as I didnt try, and big brother is in school so missed out on these.

Pancake number 2 tomorrow!

-Linda

EDIT TO ADD: I managed to save 1 little pancake which big brother ate cold after school, he gave it a 6/5 and drew me a “best pancake maker in the world” certificate. I think we are on to a winner!

Dont forget to “like” GlutenFree & Me on Facebook!

Myths and facts and insensitive bas***ds (FAQ about Celiac)

Why is your house gluten free? I mean common, its just gluten right? 

Because Celiac disease kills. Yup, it kills. Only it does it slowly without huge obvious signs. Would you keep nut dust around in a nut allergy home?

Oh common, just one bite wont hurt? 

Hell yes it will. It will hurt, ALOT. In some you cant see it, in some the effects are felt and heard, for a long time. The last contamination we had the effects lasted almost 3 months (and that wasn’t a bite, it was contamination!)

Oh yeah, Im allergic to gluten too.

No you are not. You either have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or Celiac disease. Celiac disease is not an allergy, its an autoimmune disease.

You are just being difficult / embarrassing. 

HELL YES, Im trying to save my kids life here. Did you know Celiacs who are not gluten free or are repeatedly exposed to gluten have a much larger chance of premature death then the general population? There is also a higher chance of developing another autoimmune disease, as well as the risk of malnourishment and everything that comes with it, to name just a few of reasons I am being difficult / embarrassing.

Do you really have to wipe the darn table when we go out for coffee (insert eye-roll)

Yup, I do, if you cant deal with it you cant be my friend. An 8th of a breadcrumb can be enough for a reaction, thats my kid touching the table all over and then forgetting about it and popping a finger in her mouth or touching her lip then accidentally licking it. If you are my friend, you will help me wipe and give evil looks to anyone that stares!

Its Christmas, let her have one, it wont hurt her

Sorry, Celiac disease doesn’t take holidays.

Gluten is killed off / burnt off in high temperatures

If this logic was correct we would be able to eat a loaf of bread, its baked in the oven…. or an onion ring thats deep fried…? No… not so much? Didn’t think so.

So if you can write a list of what she can and can’t eat….

Yes, because that would be so easy, why didn’t I think of that earlier! THANK YOU!

If you leave bread out overnight the gluten will evaporate.

You really must have had a really special kind of education….. like …. say what?

Don’t worry, she will grow out of it.

What part of THIS. IS. NOT. AN. ALLERGY. Did you not understand? Autoimmune diseases are like very special gifts, they are for life.

Cant you just scrape the filling out of the bread and eat that? / PEEL the KFC chicken? /Pick the croutons out / Scrape the breading off?

Yeah, sure, lets sprinkle nuts all over this donut and then scrape it off a bit with a spoon and feed it to your nut allergy anaphylactic kid! No? Didn’t think so.

Oh gluten? Thats only in pasta and bread, not that hard.

hahahahahahaha. Thats is all. Really, hahahahaha.

Its SOUP, there is no gluten in SOUP!!

SO glad you told me, so AWESOME to have met an expert on this. THANKS! Assume you checked the thickener and the stock cubes? Oh yes, those can have gluten too. Never mind the small bits of pasta / croutons / barley / whatever floating in it…..

If I threw a crumb in her mouth what would happen?

You may very well end up dead thats what would happen

I got this for me and the kids – I couldn’t find anything you/she/he could eat

Yes, because picking up some sliced melon, bananas, fruit, plain yogurt, berries, cheese slices or anything cleverly labelled (!!) gluten free would have been too difficult. I understand.

You really are fussy aren’t you.

Yes, extra specially fussy in a very special kind of way 🙂

But, she’s not going to EAT glue / playdough / waterpaint 

No, but she’s 5. How many 5 year olds do you know who are impeccably clean after playing with stuff like that? Actually, scrap that. YES, she might eat it.


Might have to edit this one and add more later. Thanks to the awesome gluten free people in the Facebook group called Gluten Free and Me (not mine) for helping some with some of theirs. The lady who was told she was only Celiac because of her pregnancy must have been the best one. Or the gluten evaporates one. Heck, some of the stuff some of these people have been told, often by close friends and relatives ASTOUND me. Surely people who know someone with Celiac would take their time to do a quick google on actual facts?

I actually meant to put proper answers explaining very carefully, until I realised just how much bottled up gluten rage I held inside! Go ahead, add yours in the comments below or on my facebook page!

For those of you with a sense of humour failure, this kind of stuff is the stuff families like ours hears on an almost daily basis, while we smile sweetly and answer politely for the 5th time at the same dinner party, these are the answers in our heads. Or at least mine.

-Linda

Breadcrumbs-001

Playdough Contamination.

I had a discussion with a lady who runs a big (gluten free) blog here in Poland about Playdough. She said its ok for her (celiac) kids to play with as long as they wash after, Ive always said no way Jose. Playdough residue sticks to your hands, under your nails and gets everywhere. Any classroom with gluten free kids should (in my opinion) be a gluten playdough free zone. If other kids play with it little bits will get everywhere, on the floor, on their shoes etc, the risk of contamination is just to large, and one that is easy enough to eliminate.

Our school uses playdough, but Celiac kids class all use gluten free playdough. I bought enough for the whole class and I have extra at home that can be brought in any time. You can also easily make it, but Im lazy 😉

We are on week 3 now after contamination. Something went wrong in art class and celiac kid got given a piece of playdough to stick something on to something with. She wiped her hands after, but with play dough, wiping is just not enough. There should be nail brushing and plenty of hot soapy water all supervised by an adult and even then its just not a great idea as residue may still remain on the hands or in the environment.

I picked her up that day and her tummy was huge. Imagine a 5 year old girl about 7 months pregnant. Thats how her tummy looked.  Of course at that point I didn’t know why, I just knew there had been contamination. I also knew it must have been little, because she was not in extreme pain.

Celiac kid was home then for a couple of days, I cant actually remember why, but for the following two weeks she had diarrhea and also a few occasions of vomiting. Horrendous stomach cramps, mainly in the evenings or after eating.  Of course all this has its own issues, fear of using the toilet, having small accidents in school and being embarrassed, ashamed and insecure. Fear of eating because after eating there is more stomach pain. Tearful, cranky, very very tired etc. I obviously don’t know all the symptoms, because many of them she would be to young to explain to me.

It took a week or so to get to the bottom of what contaminated her. I am not angry that it happened, its all a learning curve, for all of us. The art teacher had not received the same paper work as the other teachers and was not aware playdough had gluten in it. I blame myself for this, although some may argue its the schools job. I say its all our jobs. And now me, the teacher and support staff will be sure to remind / point out an extra time that playdough has gluten and where the gluten free one is kept. Celiac kid herself is also old enough to ask and has been told that asking is a good idea.

My point here is, that gluten playdough is not really safe. There is a risk involved. If you have Celiac kids, please do not allow them to use gluten playdough in school. Make gluten free one (I have a ton of pins on pinterest), or buy it. Below is a gluten free brand widely available in many countries.

So we continue on with week 3 after contamination, we continue being dairy free while she heals, and give extra cuddles and probiotics. For some playdough, all this, is definitely not worth it.

Remember also, that not everyone will have a clear reaction, damage on the inside still occurs! 

IMG_5316

-Linda

Does fun = Junk?

obesity-snapshotSo, I have gotten rather heavily involved in the PTA this school year. Yesterday we all had a meeting to plan the events for the rest of the year. Not the first meeting, there have been a few, and in the events department the thing that keeps popping up is FOOD.

As one of those mums, any event involving food is just another opportunity for my child to feel singled out, lonely and different. As a mum, this ties my stomach in to knots. Big ones.

Food – in my opinion – has no place in school unless its eaten at lunch or snack time, and then it should be the child’s own food thats consumed, and no junk.

Having a Fun food Friday or a similar event is ok, but only if the food can be enjoyed by all and is healthy!  Try telling that to the PTA! haha. Apparently, food is only fun if its junk. Apparently, it has to be mc Donald’s or Pizza or there is no point. Now, Im sorry, Im not trying to be a party pooper here, but hasn’t society ‘got it’ yet? That obesity is an epidemic? That we are raising a generation of kids that eat as much sugar in a day that kids a century ago may not have eaten in a year or even in their lives? That heart disease in the young is on the rise, as is diagnosis’s such as ADD and ADHD and concentration issues etc are also sky high? That giving the kids a meal of Mc Donals’d is not FUN at all, but in fact teaching them that rewards = food, fun = junk and sending the wrong message entirely? Couldn’t Fun food friday be fun in the park friday, or fun fruit salad making day? Or just fun food friday involving something other then high starch high sugar high toxin foods that I as a parent don’t want to feed my kid like ever – gluten or not!?

My celiac kid, she know she is different. She knows she has to eat only her food. She knows junk is bad. We go to extreme lengths to make sure her food is highly nourishing, packed with vitamins, and mainly sugar free, organic etc. We think 11 pneumonias is enough and we do what we can to strengthen her system, her body. So what message does it send when school wants to serve junk and on top of that they choose to call it fun!

Don’t even get me started on birthday cake celebrations. WHY? I am sending my kids to a private school to be educated, I never asked for them to be served cake. Again, its just another time my child gets to feel different, not just my child, many children. I am paying for my children to be educated….. not to sit and be made to feel different. Hate what I say all you like, this was my opinion before our Celiac diagnosis also. We actually chose our last school (before diagnosis) partly because of their food policy! Their policy allowed no junk, fizzy drinks, cakes, donuts, chocolates etc in lunch boxes, no nuts, no food sharing, and no birthday cakes. No birthday parties during school hours (woohoo). For childrens birthdays, parents were allowed to bring in a small sealed bag with a treat or toy for each child, it was given at the end of the day and any food items were not allowed to be eaten in school. The school soon had half of Dubai’s allergy kids in it, because the policy is fantastic, and guess what, no one ever complained! Those were the rules and thats that!

We couldn’t choose a school here in Wroclaw based on food policy because the schools we visited did not have a policy. I asked about food policies and birthday (cake) policies and was met with shrugs and question marks.

Its 2014! Aren’t we, parents, teachers and educators more aware then this? Shouldn’t every school have a healthy eating policy? Should we not stop giving kids unhealthy foods as treats? From the PTA meetings it seems that I am in the wrong and Im just alienating myself talking about it….. even more reason to have a policy set by a school, because this way you are taking away my choice of what to feed my child. Because obviously if the other kids eat junk I will replicate that junk best as I can, and she will still feel different and it is just so not ok.

Just one last thing, my children are not deprived. They eat nice food, they eat good food, sometimes its even fun. But its not junk, so shoot me!

-Linda

junk_food_benny_8

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One of those mums…..

So I was sat on twitter yesterday looking for interesting new people to follow, I looked at the ‘who to follow’ suggestions, and it was ALL allergy advocates, Celiac tweeps and egg allergy people. It suddenly dawned on me that I have become one of those mums. I don’t want to be one of those mums. I don’t want to have a kid who has egg allergy or Celiac disease, I don’t want to have to ask questions everywhere we go and carry a bag with food and baby wipes, I don’t want to wipe down the table every time we go to a cafe, I don’t want to be difficult at parties when I ask someone to please not touch my daughter with cake all over them….

But you know what….. I do all this. I do it because I have a child with Celiac disease, I have a child with a newly diagnosed egg allergy. I didn’t ask for any of this, and neither did she, but I do all this to keep her safe, because its my job to keep her safe. Im not doing it to be difficult, to annoy, to be one of those mums…..

I would give almost anything to not be one of those mums….. we are not in this for attention….. we scream and shout and tell and advocate for our children, as Im sure any mum would, to help keep our kids safe. If you love someone all the way to infinity and back, then you would do pretty much anything for that person wouldn’t you…? So here I am……

One of those mums.

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