What’s all this about gluten?

Think your child might be gluten-intolerant? Here are some tips about what to watch for and how to get a definitive diagnosis.

With the increase in awareness about gluten intolerance is there a growing tendency for us to jump to a diagnosis too early, inadvertently making children’s lives (and ours) difficult by trying to maintain a gluten-free diet when it is not necessary?

Gluten intolerance is broad and refers to all types of gluten sensitivities. It seems possible to be gluten intolerant without having coeliac disease. However, and this is a very important point, if you suspect that your child is gluten intolerant it is imperative that you see your GP and have it checked.

Coeliac disease is classed as an auto-immune disorder, necessitating children who have it to stay off gluten for the rest of their lives. Gluten intolerance is something they may grow out of as they get older.

A medical diagnosis is also taken more seriously, not only by the child but everyone around them – i.e. friends and relatives – and compliance will be much greater on that basis.

If test results with the GP are negative for coeliac disease but you still suspect gluten intolerance, see a naturopath for alternative testing.

Symptoms are very generalised and tend to be quite non-specific, making it difficult to arrive at a correct diagnosis without appropriate testing.

The following list contains many of the symptoms you will see in children and they can come on at any age:

  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal distension – with or without pain
  • Failure to thrive
  • Constant irritability
  • Paleness due to the inability to retain iron
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Pale and malodorous bulky stools
  • Frequent foamy diarrhoea or, conversely, constipation
  • Excessive wind
  • Tiredness and lack of stamina
  • Proneness to picking up infections

If some of these symptoms sound like your child and you are concerned, consult your GP and get that peace of mind.

Recipe

Gluten-free cheese scones

It’s good to have a recipe handy to cook for anyone who is coeliac or gluten intolerant. These tasty scones are sure to please and make a great bread alternative to go with soups or into lunch boxes.

Ingredients
•  2 cups gluten-free flour (Healtheries Baking Mix works well with this recipe)
•  2 tspns gluten-free baking powder
•  2 cups grated tasty cheese plus extra for on top
•  2 tblspns finely chopped onion (optional)
•  3 rashers gluten-free bacon finely chopped (optional)
•  Salt and pepper
•  1¼ cups milk

Directions
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, seasoning, onion and bacon (if desired) and mix well. Add the milk, and mix to a wet dough (if it seems too wet, add a little extra flour).

Spoon small piles on to a greased tray, sprinkle with a little extra cheese and bake for 10 minutes, or until well risen and crusty. Serve warm or cold.

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