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Is a Gluten Free Diet The Cure for Your Kids’ Problems?

gluten free diet

gluten free diet: cure-all or fad?

It seems like everyone’s talking about gluten free diets these days. I have friends who swear eating gluten free has changed their lives, though they never knew they were sensitive to gluten before they stopped eating it.   I just forwarded something to another friend about gluten free eating as a potential cure for chronic canker sores. Gluten sensitivity has so many possible symptoms—it’s reportedly associated with everything from ADHD to Autism, and other issues both related and unrelated to digestion.  It’s easy to imagine that cutting out gluten could be the answer to any number of issues that may be plaguing your children.  But the gluten free diet is also being lambasted as a fad by some doctors who think gluten gets blamed for totally unrelated issues in kids and adults.

How can you tell if your child might benefit from a gluten free diet? Here are some of the common suspected symptoms of gluten sensitivity and ways supporters of the gluten free diet think cutting out gluten could benefit a sensitive child’s health.

Gluten sensitivity is different than gluten allergy. Celiac disease is a serious gluten allergy that has known and proven health consequences. Many of the associations below have not been proven in scientific studies, but have been cited by sufferers who saw their symptoms (or their child’s symptoms) improve after implementing a gluten free diet.

Eczema

Rash

Agitation and mood swings

Extreme changes in weight

Pain in joints

Headaches

Extreme fatigue

Depression

Gastrointestinal issues like constipation or diarrhea

Slow growth

Dental issues

Attention problems

Executive Functioning and Organizational issues

Tantrums

As many of these symptoms are common (and hard to deal with),  it’s easy to see how a parent might look to gluten as the cause for something unrelated. But as gluten free eating becomes more and more common, it’s easier to cut gluten from your diet than ever.  If you do decide to try a gluten free diet, here’s what to avoid and what to explore eating instead.

Don’t eat:

Wheat and all its forms, including semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn, and farro
Rye
Barley
Triticale
Oat bran
Wheat germ
Bran
Graham, gluten, or durum flour
Farina

Do eat:

Amaranth
Quinoa
Buckwheat
Popcorn
Cornmeal (polenta and tortillas)
Millet
Breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta made of corn, rice, potato, soy, arrowroot, tapioca, sago, flax, and hominy.

photo: Whatsername/flickr

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