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My name is Angel, my son is 4 years old. Recently he's been breaking out in hives 3 or 4 times a day. I took him into his doctor and they did some blood work. It came back that he is allergic to wheat. They told us to go wheat free or his allergy could really start affecting him worse. I started doing some research which led to more questions. My son doesn't have Celiacs but I wasn't sure where else to go. We are going completely gluten-free in our house hold because the more I read the more it said those with a wheat allergy may also be affected by some other foods containing gluten. They want to give it some time to see if this works before doing more tests. So here are some questions,


What is the best way to introduce a 4 year old to a gluten-free diet. He is struggling with this and doesn't want to eat much because it isn't the foods he is used to.


My son is in school, how do I go about stressing to him that he can only eat the foods that I send with him?


I would appreciate any help that I can get Thank you.

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Although normally I would suggest a whole foods diet (meat, veggies, fruits and nuts), in your son's case I can reccommend that you find replacements for his favorite foods. Tell us what they are and we can help.


In the meantime, there are some good gluten-free breads available at your health food store. Udi's multi-grain is sort of like french bread. Kinninkinck makes a white bread that is similar to the "Wonderbread" type, and my very favorite is Canyon Bakehouse San Juan 7-Grain bread. It's like those multi-grain breads in the grocry store that have all the nutty bits in them. Rudy's bread is similar in taste but it tends to fall apart.


Ener-G breads are really bad though so I wouldn't waste my money on them.


There are gluten-free pasta's available. I am not a pasta fan so I haven't tried them, but folks here seem to like them.


You can get gluten-free pizza crusts and make your own pizza.


If he likes chocolate cupcakes, Udi's makes what they call Double Chocolate Muffins that no one, and I mean NO ONE, would ever suspect are gluten-free. They are one of the best things I have ever tasted!


He can still eat most ice creams, yogurt, cheeses, butter, etc. unless he has a problem with dairy.


But I'm getting ahead of myself. Tell us what he likes. Also, let us know how much you like to cook. You'll notice all the foods I mentioned are store-bought. I am a lousy cook so I just buy stuff, but if you can cook your choices are almost limitless. :)

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I love to cook and I am pretty good at it.


His favorites are toast (with nutella), Chicken Nuggets, Pizza, Mac and Cheese. He is also allergic to shellfish I should have mentioned that before. Ice cream and popsicles are a staple. HIs birthday is coming up in May any ideas on what I can make for a cake for him would be great he loves chocolate. He loves French frys. Wow I am making him sound like a junk food junkie. He also likes veggies and fruits but other then the meat mentioned above he isn't huge on meat anyway he is a major bread junkie which is making this really hard he loves rolls, bagels, donunts  and muffins. I have a bread machine so making bread isn't an issue. We have tried a few of the gluten free breads however he gets upset that they aren't "his" bread that he is used to. So anything I can get that is as close to real bread as I can get is great. I should mention his fave bread is a whole wheat one..

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Amy's makes a pretty good gluten-free Mac and cheese, and there are a number of good gluten-free pizzas out there. My daughter really like the Rudi's multigrain bread, although we make our own as well using bob's red mill flours. Betty crocker had gluten-free Cake and cookie mixes, which my kids make with me. Ian's has a decent chicken nugget (although pricy) and you can always make your own with gluten-free breading and a deep fryer. Most Oreida brand French fries are good. There are also some good children's book about eating gluten-free or wheat free that might help-I actually guest read to my daughters preschool class at the beginning if the year so all the kids know and can help. Hope that helps!

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My son isn't gluten-free but since ism the while house is...

Anyway, in the beginning everyone will notice the difference in texture between glutenous breads and gluten-free. It helps to toast it, I think. Eventually he will acclimate. Keep alternatives on hand - fruit, veggies, crackers, potato chips...so he doesn't feel deprived and can form a taste for a substitution.

There are many gluten-free bread mixes on the market. Check your grocery store, find a natural market, or order online. Personally, I like King Arthur products - especially their chocolate cake mix. Their bread is "white", though. I think Namaste makes a brownish mix. Look for one made from sorghum for that whole wheat flavor/texture.

You can make gluten-free muffins and baked donuts and freeze them.

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For mac and cheese, I make it homemade with Ancient Grains Quinoa Pasta.


My guy (diagnosed at age 5 so I feel your pain)  likes Udi's bread products (sandwich bread, hot dog buns, bagels,) and really, I think they are pretty good too.


Goldfish - closest we could find were Schar's cheese bites crackers.  Pretzels from Snyders or Glutino.  Bagel chips from Glutino.


Pizza Crust - our favorite is making it with Bob's Pizza Crust mix.  In a hurry, we like the premade ones from Schar's.  Udi's are ok, but a little sweet.


Chex Cereal 


The Betty Crocker gluten-free brownie mix is delicious.  I bring them everywhere and everyone (even the gluten eaters) love them.  This is what we had at Joe's last birthday party.  I set up a sundae bar and the kids made sundaes with brownies, ice cream, various sauces and toppings.  It was a big hit.  No one missed the birthday cake.


Whole Foods sells beautiful, huge, frozen gluten-free cupcakes (4 pack).  I buy them and keep them in the freezer for when he gets invited to a birthday party.  I just send one along with him for him to eat when the cake is served.  I also keep two in the freezer at his school for school celebrations.  


I make my own chicken nuggets because we couldn't find any gluten-free ones he liked.  I just use crushed gluten-free pretzels and crackers as the coating and bake them in the oven.  I'll make a big batch and freeze them in single-serving portions so he can have them in his lunch box if he wants.  Same with the mac and cheese.  Make a big batch, portion it out into ziploc bags and freeze them.


It really does get easier with time.  You will get good at it.  Everyone in your family will be eating healthier as you start to really learn about what is in our food.


Best of luck to you -



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Thank you these are great suggestions! I really appreciate it! 


My other question is how to approach him about not eating things at school that aren't sent with him any suggestions on how to handle that he doesn't really seem to understand we are trying to get him to ask an adult before he eats anything so that we can make sure its wheat/gluten free.

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Betty Crocker makes a great gluten free chocolate box cake mix. We had it and didn't tell anyone and no one noticed!

As he has an allergy, get your doc to write a letter to th school outlining his allergy, and his recommendations, and include a letter from yourself outlining what you need the school to do. Talk to his teacher, and the principal. As overwhelming as it may seem, schools understand allergies a. Million times better than celiac disease. A simple, he is allergic to wheat andif he eats anything with it in or that has touched it he may go into anaphylactic shock, will be all you need for them to comply.m ask your eoc for an epipen as well if he thinks his allergy is that serious.

Our daughter had anaphylactic allergies, and now has gluten intolerance. I'm more worried about the gluten issue in kindergarten next year than I ever was about the allergies. The reactions to allergies are usually more apparent so they listen!

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In the beginning, we talked personally to all the adults at the school who would come in contact with him.  At the time, he was very shy.  He would shake his head to turn down a food offer, but adults would keep asking him . . .thinking he was just being shy.  I was actually surprised by how many times they would push food on him (not just at school, but at the park, barber shop, where ever).  We bought him a red rubber bracelet that said "gluten free" on it in large white letters.  (from STATkids)  When he needed to, he could just point to it and they would get the message.  No one wants to mess with a kid with an allergy.




We had an incident at Tennis Camp where he asked the director to check the ingredients (a parent brought in graham crackers and was handing them out to the kids) and she did.  She told him they were safe because "gluten" was not one of the ingredients.  Wheat was the very first ingredient, but she didn't really understand what gluten was.  He got very sick.   After that, our rule was he could only eat food that I sent from home, or if the box clearly says "gluten free" on it.  Now that he can read, he is actually able to check labels himself.  He knows he can always have someone call me and I can determine if something is safe or tell him to say no.  When in doubt, SAY NO.  It is not worth  the risk.   


I always keep a snack AND a treat in my bag (and in his school backpack) so if there are treats being handed out, he gets one too.  Walking around downtown Boston, (especially in the summer) it seems like every corner has someone handing out free samples of something.  


Now that he is 8 he is pretty cool if things just don't work out.  He gets it.  He knows he will not be able to eat some of the things other people are enjoying but we always figure out a way to make it up.  He even helps me in the kitchen figure out how to make things he wants to try (fried donuts for example . . . they just don't sell gluten-free ones anywhere)  So now we own a fry-baby.  It only gets used 2 or 3 times a year, but he will be gluten free forever so it was worth it.


Before I take him somewhere  (like out for ice cream), I go in first without him and make sure there are safe options for him.  Nothing worse then going in to a place and having to leave empty handed.   When we do go in, we ask to see the ingredient list and check it together.  This way he will learn how to ask the staff person for assistance and help making a choice.  We always say "allergy" even though he has celiac.  It is just easier to explain.


He knows other kids in his class who have different allergies and they all look out for each other.  

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Our daughter is 4 but we have taught no ingredients no eat. She isn't afraid to tell people I have to ask my mummy first. The only person she readily accepts food fromis one of her aunts who totally gets it, and calls if she's unsure.

One thing that might be worth doing for things you buy and send to school, is to make a sticker that says wheat and or gluten free and has his picture or a picture he likes. Then when he is in the care of others they know he can only eat food with that sticker on. As soon as we unload the groceries we do it, and it makes it very easy for my elderly in laws to know the kids are getting safe food. My 72 yr old mil surprised me, we were in a chocolate store and she asked for an ingredient list for their products. She explained the file to my eldest.

You'll be very surprised at how quickly he becomes an advocate for himself if he sees the other people around him doing it to. Just wait until you are at a family dinner or something and he refuses food from someone because he knows he can't eat it. My then barely 3 yr old said in response to a family friend who insisted she ask me if she could have apple pie, I don't need to ask her I know pie has gluten and dairy and egg in it I can't eat.

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Welcome to the board.


My kids are super picky (embarassingly so) so it  took a while to find some good substitutes.


I have a chicken nugget recipe that the kids love: coat cut-up chicken in milk (I use coconut) and coat with:

1.5 c tapioca starch/flour

0.5 c brown rice flour or a gluten-free baking mix

0.5 tsp baking powder

3 tsp seasoning salt

1 tsp pepper

0.5 tsp paprika

0.5 tsp garlic


I cook the chicken in an Actifry frier with 2-3 tbs of olive oil for about 25 minutes.


Googling gluten-free recipes will give you more recipes than you'll ever be able to try. I'm sure you'll find lots. There are many great cookbooks too. I love Artisanal gluten-free Cupcakes (sp?) and tend to make them for my kids birthday parties.  Yummy.


I LOVE stanleymonkey's sticker idea for packed lunch items. That is very clever.  And I agree that it doesn't take long to train them to not accept food from others. My 5 year old won't eat something unless he asks first... it probably helps that I promise him an alternate treat if it's something he really wants.

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Thank you, I will speak with his teacher on Monday when he returns from spring break! You all have been very helpful. I have checkout a bunch of books from the library so I plan on reading through those if I have anymore questions I know where to come. Again thank you all for your help.

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My daughter was 6 when she went gluten-free.  She must be the odd one out because Ener-G was the *only* bread that she liked.  Granted she also had to do without dairy, eggs and nuts so that really limited what she ate.


There is a zucchini bread recipe in the recipe section of this website.  Not the forum, but the website.  Excellent.  It's one of the only things that I baked that came out well every time.  Well except for that time when I had the accident with the baking powder or maybe it was baking soda.  Put in waaay too much and then the texture was off.


I would assume at his age that he is not in school yet and if so that makes it easier still.  Oops!  Sorry.  Just read that he is in school.  Guess I don't pay attention well. Her issue with school was that she was taking food that the other kids didn't necessarily eat and they made fun of it.  She wanted her food to look like the other kid's food. 


As for eating only what you send in, you have to drill it into him that other people's food might not be safe for him.  That it could kill him.  At age 4 he might not understand this.  But you can buy books about this aimed at kids of his age.  You could even send on in to the school and have the teacher read it to them or he/she might allow you to read it.  In my daughter's case, she felt sooo much better on the new diet she wasn't about to take chances on eating something she shouldn't.  But in your son's case, wheat could kill him.  Assuming this is an IgE allergy which I take it to be.


One thing that we hit on that worked for her were Teff Wraps.  They are made by La Tortilla Factory.  Spread with butter/margarine/mayo/mustard/etc.  Then layer on some meat, cheese and a little shredded lettuce or a lettuce leaf.  Can add tomatoes and onions if he eats those.  Angela doesn't.  Roll it up like a burrito.  In fact thats what the other kids thought she was eating.  You'll have to wrap it in waxed paper or foil and seal it perhaps with a piece of tape if it's going to be portable.  Corn tortillas will work for smaller wraps but you'll probably have to nuke them slightly to make them softer.  Now that I think about it, I think I nuked the Teff Wraps as well.


Lunchables makes nachos.  If you can get the ones that are just the nachos and nothing else, they are gluten-free.  Or you can make your own.  Buy mini tortilla chips, salsa and cheese sauce or make your own cheese sauce and salsa.  If this is not going to be portable you don't even need the mini ones but kids do seem to love that size.  You can get a little chip and dip container for these.  And if you use this to be portable this is why you need the tiny chips.  Or if you can't find those, you can carefully break the larger chips into a size that would fit or even use the little Fritos.


Angela loves pasta salad.  I used the corn and quinoa blend pasta until she developed a quinoa intolerance.  But basically what you want is a large shape of pasta.  I just found that the rice pasta didn't hold up quite as well when cold.  Then add whatever kind of veggies he likes.  I used kidney beans, chickpeas, green onion, black olives, carrots, celery and grape or cherry tomatoes.  She won't eat tomatoes but I like them and it's easy enough to serve it up without the tomatoes.  The original recipe called for black beans and broccoli.  Mix this with Italian dressing,  You can also add dry/hard salami slices cut in strips and cubes of cheese.  Cheddar or Swiss go well in this.  Or even shredded or shaved parmesan.  Not the powder kind.


Angela loved soup when she was younger.  But won't eat it now.  I made it with chicken broth, canned chicken, finely diced carrot, celery and onion and then added some rice spaghetti broken in pieces.  The end result is very much like Campbell's.  Just be careful with the broth and the chicken because not all are gluten-free.


Rice Chex are gluten-free and there some other cereals you can commonly get that are gluten-free.  They just didn't necessarily work for us because of the nuts. 


We like the Synders and the Ener-G pretzels.  The gluten-free ones of course.


For dessert, I might make a pumpkin custard.  Like the pie but without the shell.  Baked apples or an apple crisp made with gluten-free oats.  Not all oats are gluten-free.  You have to make sure to buy the ones that say they are.


But mostly I would just make regular foods like we have always eaten.  Pot roast with potatoes and carrots.  Stew.  Spanish rice.  Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes.  For gravy I use sweet rice flour.  But you can now buy boxed gluten-free gravy if you want to go that route.


I think in our case things were easier because...  I am a diabetic.  So I didn't keep a lot of things in the house that perhaps most people eat.  Like lots of bread, cookies, desserts,  So Angela wasn't used to eating those things.  And she hates pizza so that wasn't a problem.  Mac and cheese was but only because she couldn't have the cheese!  Once she outgrew the dairy allergy, I made it from scratch or bought the gluten-free boxed stuff.


For dining out, I suggest perhaps ordering side dishes.  Kids love French fries but if they're cooked in a shared fryer, then they're not safe.  Some places do have a dedicated fryer.  For Angela often we'd get side dishes of cottage cheese, applesauce or canned pears, a salad but no croutons and no dressing.  Some dressing is gluten-free but it isn't always.  Some places do raw veggie plates for kids.  I can't tell you if the Ranch that usually comes with them is gluten-free or not.  Since she couldn't have eggs, we didn't consider it.  But it may well be fine.  If not, you might see if they have some salsa they could serve instead.  But there again, it's not always gluten-free.  I think I read somewhere that the Pace brand is not but that might be old info.  Fresh fruit should be safe.  So would a hamburger patty.  Chicken isn't always safe.  You have to ask.  Hash browns can be safe.  Or not.  Again have to ask.  If they do cottage fries, those should be safe.  But again, have to ask.  Beware pork chops.  They often bread them or dredge in flour.  Ham should be safe.  Sausages may or may not be safe. 


Olive Garden and The Old Spaghetti Factory both do a gluten-free pasta.  Not sure if OG does child sized portions but Spaghetti Factory does.

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Another fan of King Arthur mixes here.  We make a batch of chocolate cupcakes and freeze them.  Then before a birthday party we pull one out, melt chocolate chips, dip the top in, and toss some sprinkles on.  Somehow adding sprinkles makes it all better.  :)  We ask his teachers to let us know whenever they're doing anything with food so that we can double check it, but he's pretty good about it really.  I've heard him say to people, "I can't have those crackers.  They have gluten in them."  As stubborn as he can get about things, he doesn't fight it much.  I think it helped that I was gluten-free first, so it wasn't just him.  But I think he also makes the connection between eating that stuff and feeling lousy.  My daughter is also gluten-free, but she's just sensitive to it if she has too much of it.  Since we don't know exactly what that limit is and our household is gluten-free, she stays mostly gluten-free, but we know we don't have to freak out if she sneaks something.  My son is more sensitive and was having bigger issues before we figured it out at age 3.5 (about a year ago).


We try to make sure that we have extra snacks with us when we go places.  I also pack extra snacks in their lunches so that they don't have to go hungry to pass something up.  GoPicnic makes a gluten-free sunbutter and crackers box lunch thing that is no different than something we could pack on our own, but we keep a few on hand so that we have an easy grab and go option if we're not sure whether we'll find food for them wherever it is we're headed.  Somehow it's more special to them because it's in a box, so it's been a good substitute at a party or two.  Udi's bread and bagels are accepted here.  We also recently discovered that Rudis makes a gluten-free tortilla which works well for burritos when pulled from the freezer and warmed in a pan.  We keep all bread products frozen and toast/reheat as needed.  Sandwiches for school are made on frozen bread and it's usually fine by the time lunch comes around.  We also like Nature's Path frozen waffles.  For pasta, corn based ones seem to have better texture.  There's a quinoa/corn one that I really liked until I realized I couldn't do corn.  The kids still eat it sometimes.  Ancient Harvest, I think.  We get applegate gluten-free chicken nuggets, and the kids tolerate them sometimes (my daugher would rather just have regular chicken and my son hates all meat). 


My MIL thinks we're terrible people because we limit their diets without a clear diagnosis (but based on observational data and elimination diets, so we're not making this up), but really it's not a battle at all at this point.  It's just the way things are, and they're used to it and generally completely fine (even happy!) with it.  They're not deprived-- we just have to think strategically and make sure that we have something else to offer.  (I also check ahead when invited to bday parties so that I can try to match what's being served)  The transition can be hard, but you'll get to a point where it's not as big a deal as it is initially.  Oh-- initially we did do some things that were a little more treat-like and phased those out as more healthy options were accepted, so that's another strategy.


Good luck!

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