Kiddie food

The first thing Nutritionist Lulu Oriema tells me is that gluten actually has no known negative effects, and obviously, I am shocked. Gluten has recently been touted as the devil, worldwide, and it’s hard for me to take in what this trained nutritionist and dietician is saying. “Gluten really has no known negative effects except for those people who are sensitive to gluten both children and adults.”

So, explains Oriema, the first thing you should do if you suspect that your or your child is glutten intolerant is see a doctor who will order tests that will determine if your child is sensitive to gluten. Some early signs you can look out for after ingesting food items made using wheat flour include bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, headache, chronic fatigue and stomach pains. Sufferers can also experience even more complex symptoms like anxiety or depression.

Treatment is the same for children and adults – treat the child the exact same way that you would treat an adult. “Stick to grains and products that have no, or close to no, gluten, like amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, rice, sorghum, teff, corn, wild rice and oats. Although oats can sometimes be contaminated with wheat in its processing, it should still be fine. You basically are supposed to cut out all wheat products from the child’s diet.”

If your child is exposed to gluten by mistake, just wait it out. Their system will eventually flush it out, much like children and adults who have lactose intolerance – unless the intolerance or sensitivity is severe, in which case you need to seek medical attention.

It would be handy to also teach your child exactly what to eat and what not to eat. Another tip that Lulu recommends is reading food labels, especially on sauces, candy and flavourings.

“These are hidden gluten sources that you will only notice if you take the time to stop in the supermarket aisle and read the fine print. You can turn this into a fun reading activity for interactive learning too,”she suggests.

If gluten is only harmful to the people who are sensitive to it, you ask, then why this demonization of wheat products? Oriema explains, “The growing numbers of celiac disease related to gluten-sensitivity are affected differently by foods though history. Coupled with the large scale indulgence of dietary fads, gluten avoidance has become a fake religion, with many claiming that they are allergic to gluten.”

So the next time you’re thinking of asking for some gluten-free pasta, be sure you – or your child -really need it. “The main problem most have is with the carbohydrate value of the wheat. Ignorance plays a role – half the people who claim that gluten is the devil don’t even know what it is in the western world has increased, and this has caused widespread panic. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” She adds,”

But this is a normal, natural occurrence.

If you study food intake patterns over the centuries, basically we are not eating the same things we were eating a hundred years ago, of course. Diets are richer and wheat products have increased. Diet affect health and therefore humans veryone likes a fatty patty

The everybody – well, almost everybody – loves burgers and is always throwing out new ways to get some more. What better new way than a month long burger festival full of freebies? Where to sign up? Read on.Words and pictures by Abigail Arunga

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