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Ideas For gluten-free Airport Food For A Celiac Child?

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I'm flying solo this weekend with my celiac 4-yr-old and her 2-yr-old little brother (which seems like a very bad idea as I type those words!)

 

We'll be at the airport during the kids' morning snack time and on the plane during their regular lunch time. My 4-year-old also has type 1 diabetes, so keeping her fed on a regular schedule is even more important than with the average preschooler.

 

In the past, pre-celiac, when I've flown with the kids, I've always grabbed them hot bagels right before takeoff and it took them half of the flight to finish the bagels, which addressed both food and entertainment issues. I'm obviously going to have to change things up this time, but I am a little nervous about finding anything gluten-free from airport concessions.

 

Does anyone have good ideas about how to handle this? Or ideas about anything packable that would cause minimal mess on the plane? Also, we're flying out of Denver airport (DIA), if anyone knows any good gluten-free-friendly spots there.

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With a Celiac, Type 1 diabetic child, why would you rely on the airport to hopefully provide gluten-free snacks and not bring your own? Airports are getting a little bit better about it, depending on where you live, but I always bring my own snacks to eat and it's always better than what most people have or can get.

 

I hope that the folks with little kids will respond to you as I have no idea what is available for children with Celiac, as far as snacks are concerned. What do your kids like to eat?

Sometimes luncheon meats that they like, maybe turkey, can be brought in a container with one of those blue ice packs. They are made smaller than they used to be, for convenience sake.  Couple that with some gluten-free crackers maybe?  I know that Schar makes a cheddar cheese cracker, like Goldfish crackers, that are quite good.  Apple slices and peanut butter?  You can buy those little packets of PB now that make it easy for travel.

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Sometimes luncheon meats that they like, maybe turkey, can be brought in a container with one of those blue ice packs. They are made smaller than they used to be, for convenience sake.  Couple that with some gluten-free crackers maybe?  I know that Schar makes a cheddar cheese cracker, like Goldfish crackers, that are quite good.  Apple slices and peanut butter?  You can buy those little packets of PB now that make it easy for travel.

 

Thanks for the tip about the Schar crackers! I didn't know about those and will try to track them down. And good point about the PB packets. This is still feeling pretty new to us (even 3 months in), so we don't have a great line-up of on-the-go foods yet.

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I carry a tote bag full of gluten-free snacks for two of us on the plane in addition to my usual carry on items. No one will complain. I pack fruit, fruit leathers, crackers, jerky, chips, etc. since I am now diabetic too, I plan on taking a zip lock Baggie with ice to keep cheese, veggies and meat cold. I will dump the first bag going through security and ask a restaurant to fill a new bag before getting on my flight.

Do not forget sippy cups! I made my daughter use them for years on just flights. Nothing like spilled milk on another passenger!

Bring games, coloring items, movies on an iPad or hopefully you can watch G rated movies on your flight. Purchase some cheesy games that can be tossed and will be new to them. Run them back and forth through the airport prior to tire them out! Take advantage of pre boarding, if needed. Ask for help from flight attendants and other passengers. You would be surprised how helpful people can be.

Finally, I had a runner. One head turn and she was off. I used a kids leash only at the airport and at Disneyland. Sounds cruel, but safety first. I got some dirty looks but those with toddlers asked me where I got the leash. I could have made a fortune selling them. It made me less stressed too.

Good luck!

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This June is going to be our first "Celiac" flight, but I plan on running it like all the others that I've done over the years...

 

Each kid carries their own backpack filled with things they choose (oldest takes old iPad, books, journal/pens, middle takes matchbox cars and playmat, crayons, youngest has a few trinkets), an empty water bottle and a bag of food *WITH THEIR NAME ON IT!*.  Child is responsible for their backpack and putting toys/food back.

 

After security we fill our water bottles and then check in with the gate agent.  I let that person know we are here and will be the last on the plane (assigned seating - if you're on Southwest I would ask for a row together and then see if they can hold it and you can still go on last).  Then we run, and jump, and hop and play games.  We run the jetway until they're ready to lock it (I have never had an agent take issue with us running the jetway).

 

When we sit they are allowed to open their bags and start eating.  Like I said, they all have a LABELED ziplock with identical food (granola bars, fruit chews, sunbutter packets, sliced apples, nuts, etc).  They are allowed to eat what they want or ration it out, but they know that is theirs and only theirs.

 

I don't know much about diabetic diets, but you can easily start with her needs and then work backwards.  For example, I'll still do our snack bags in June, but pack Go Packs for lunch and I'll carry those.  This June trip will include all three meals on the road until we get to our final destination.  I'm going to be carrying a ton of food!

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Thanks so much to all of you! These are all great tips. I like the idea about trying to board last, since priority boarding has never helped that much with a high-energy toddler who doesn't need to sit still for an extra 20 minutes while all the other passengers boards.

 

I don't know much about diabetic diets, but you can easily start with her needs and then work backwards.  For example, I'll still do our snack bags in June, but pack Go Packs for lunch and I'll carry those.  This June trip will include all three meals on the road until we get to our final destination.  I'm going to be carrying a ton of food!

 

The diabetes doesn't severely limit her food choices in the same way that celiac does -- we just have to count her carbs and emphasize healthy choices. But nothing was truly of limits until celiac. The real problem for traveling with diabetes (at least it has been for us) is that she has been on a pretty regimented eating/meal schedule since diabetes diagnosis, so constant grazing isn't an option for her the way it would be for a lot of little families traveling with little kids. I like the idea to bring stuff I know she can will eat on ice and then just plan to refill the ice after security; I hadn't thought about that as a way to transport healthy/gluten-free food and avoid concessions.

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Can you do Sunbutter?  I know as a mom with a peanut allergic and kid with Celiac, flying is a scary thing. Peanuts are a problem but peanut butter is so messy and really can create a danger for other kids!  I know you have to do what you have to but perhaps if you could maybe look for that alternative it may also help out another family who is scared to death to fly. No one wants to make an emergency landing either I'm sure!

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I pack a ton of shelf-stable snacks when we travel so that things that don't get eaten don't spoil.  We like the GoGoSqueeze applesauce, fruit leather, KIND bars, Lara Bars, Glutino breakfast bars, etc.   Individual packs of gluten-free pretzels (Snyders), schar crackers, individual packets of hummus, stuff like that.  I always bring a few GoPicnic lunches (my kids like the pepperoni one) in case our flight is delayed.  On several occasions we have been delayed (and stuck in the airport) for 4-6 hours . . . so we needed more than snacks.  I would not even consider buying anything at the airport unless is was prepackaged and gluten-free.  You don't want anyone sick while traveling.

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   I always bring a few GoPicnic lunches (my kids like the pepperoni one) in case our flight is delayed.  

 

 

Thanks for everyone's recommendations, and especially for this one!! I hadn't heard of Go Picnic before I read your post.

 

I just headed to Target, and cleaned out their selection of gluten free Go Picnic boxes, and it looks to me like they will be the perfect solution -- healthy gluten-free choices, good portion sizes, well packaged for travel. If they turn out to be a hit on our flights, they might also help out with feeding our kiddos on road trips this summer.

 

Thanks for all the input, guys!

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Just saw this!

 

We always take (in a cold bag): boiled eggs, carrots, sliced peppers, and sliced cucumbers (or mini-cucumbers). We'll usually have a bag of potato chips, Lara bars, and Justin's almond butter packets. Usually, we'll have fruit as well. We haven't found too much gluten-free in the airport beyond coffee or more potato chips. We do tend to bring a lot, but our flights are mostly across the country, and there are five of us (kids are 11, 8, and 3). Once, we had meat that we'd cooked the night before...my daughter still remembers that trip fondly.

 

I have gone with the kids alone...it's an experience. But, as long as they have food and stuff to do (coloring is good), they're fine. A carseat helps (mine tended to sleep at age 2-3, because of the carseat). Of course, if you're on JetBlue, there's always TV.

 

Good luck!

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Some of the GoPIcnic choices have only a few things in them that my kids like . . . and it is usually the dessert that they don't like.  You can also put together your own "meals" using those disposable food storage containers from Glad and Rubbermaid.   We buy the same hummus or meat sticks that GoPicnic have and add our own stuff.  Schar crackers usually come in individually wrapped packets, Snyder Pretzels, applesauce, etc.  I also throw in a handi-wipe and a small trash bag so they can clean up before and after eating.

 

My boys also LOVE beef jerky when we travel.  Krave makes a good one that is gluten free and no artificial ingredients.  

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