The Cookie Game: Keeping My Gluten Free Three Year Old Safe

My husband and I both have celiac disease and my daughter has the gene and symptoms. We have not been able to get a positive diagnosis for her yet. Instead of continuing to make her sick to get a diagnosis her pediatrician has ordered gluten free diet until she is older or until there are better diagnostic tools that don’t require us to poison her to get a diagnosis. Now that she is on a strict gluten free diet (and feeling so much better) I have had to get creative to try to teach her how to avoid gluten and keep herself safe.

Eating gluten free at home gets easier everyday, but trying to figure out how to keep Elizabeth safe away from home and in social situations has kept me up at night worrying many times. We have developed a number of techniques to try to train her to keep herself safe, one of my favourite ones is “The Cookie Game”.

The overriding rule is that she is not allowed to eat food from other people that I have not approved, but The Cookie Game has just been a fun way to get her talking about gluten and to get her to stop and think before she grabs a treat because what three year old doesn’t grab a cookie dangled in front of them?

For The Cookie Game, we offer her a cookie and before she is allowed to take it she has to ask if it is gluten free. Here is a little video of The Cookie Game in action.

This version of The Cookie Game features gluten free KinniToos made by Kinnikinnick Foods, I love to support local gluten free businesses so I thought I would give them a quick shout out in case you haven’t heard of them they are delicious and ship anywhere in North America.

We are training Elizabeth to do other things as well, like making sure that she doesn’t eat food that has dropped off of her plate onto the table. Even at home, where the table is safe, if food accidentally falls off her plate she knows that she is not allowed to eat. This is to get her ready for school situations where she’s eating snack around kids who have sandwiches and other gluten filled food in their lunch kits.

Sometimes I get sad, that while other little kids are learning to write their name, count or tie their shoes, Elizabeth is having to learn how to navigate a world where most food is poisonous to her. Luckily, her gluten free diet does not exclude her from learning those other skills, she just has an additional bag of tricks that will make her stronger since I won’t always be right by her side to keep her safe.

Do you have a gluten free child? How do you prepare them for school and social situations? I would love to hear your ideas!

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