With abounding food allergy discussions, it can be difficult to make sense of all of the terminology out there. It is important to note that gluten sensitivity/intolerance is not the same as celiac disease or a gluten allergy, but it still has a significant impact on health and can even have symptoms that parallel those of the other two conditions. As noted in Macrobiotics Today in 2010, "most people with gluten sensitivity must follow a gluten-free diet." (1). Food sensitivities can show up in multiple individuals in a family, but even if only one individual is effected, the best way to keep compliant with a gluten free diet is to transition the entire family's habits.
The good news is that converting to a gluten free diet today is much easier than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. Maintaining levels of key nutrients is easily accomplished by using a whole-foods diet which makes use of grains that are naturally gluten free. Such grains include rice, corn, millet, quinoa & amaranth, and actually are better than simply substituting starch or refined rice flour for gluten-filled refined white flour. It's also a good idea to concentrate on making gluten-free substitutes at home whenever possible; just like their gluten-containing counterparts, processed gluten-free products often contain added sugar, sodium salts, and preservatives. Since busy parents don't always have time to make homemade substitutes, when necessary, look for those with the fewest ingredients.
When you do have time to make gluten free foods at home, the internet is a great resource for recipes, tips, and stories from families who have been living an allergy-free lifestyle. Paleo diet blogs and cookbooks are also a great resource for gluten-free recipes. An easy way to find additional foods that are naturally gluten free is to shop at a farmer's market or around the outer perimeter of your grocery store; fresh vegetables and fruits are an easy place to start. Fresh meats, fish, and nuts are generally gluten free, but be sure to check the package; poultry in particular has a tendency to have added gluten for filler. Once you reach the initial milestone in the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle, it should be much easier to create and find recipes your family will love.
1. Lugg J. Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and the Gluten-Free Diet. Macrobiotics Today. 2010;May;50(3): 22-28. Available from: Alt HealthWatch.