The Gluten-Free Parent’s Survival Guide is neither a medical manual nor a recipe book. It’s simply an honest look at life raising a child with celiac from the age of 9—an authentic, relatable, and easy-to-follow guide full of time-tested tips and advice on practically everything a gluten-free parent may encounter. Endorsed by nutritionists and celebrated by pediatricians, this book is more like a time and sanity-saving friend in need than it is a manual. From creating a safe home to navigating school, travel, parties, cooking adaptations and even those less-visible, emotional aspects of this journey, author and pioneer GF mom Elyn Joy speaks as if sharing a coffee at your kitchen table. Her humor and wisdom offset the rich practicality of this guidebook, brimming with tips, checklists, and detailed considerations for a multitude of scenarios you may face raising a gluten-free child.
Best of all, Elyn Joy shows us how her daughter Edyth did so much more than survive; today, she is a thriving young adult ready to fly to college next fall. Through Edyth’s own words (via a brief interview in the book), we come to understand the idea of a “silver lining” much more clearly. As she puts it: “Being a gluten-free kid helped me understand so much about myself and the world. I now know how to self-advocate in most any situation; beyond that, I understand nutrition more than do most of my peers. Most of all, I feel a constant sense of gratitude for life in general. I think all of these positives came directly from my celiac disease.”
So what are the 5 Steps towards successful Gluten-Free Parenting? It all begins with acceptance of the situation on YOUR part. Our own reactions affect those of our child’s more than we care to admit. From there, we build our own competence and confidence, thereby lifting theirs as well:
- Safety First! Learn how to create a safe home, from executing a kitchen overhaul to rethinking bath products, medications, and more. As Elyn puts it, “Ensuring a ‘Home, Safe Home’ builds a strong foundation for all the rest.
- Learn Together for Understanding and Acceptance. The idea here is that the more you, your child, and your family share in becoming educated around the gluten-free lifestyle, the easier it will be for everyone to adjust. Learn about your child’s condition, stay positive and encouraging, and then learn about gluten in all its disguises. The book tells you how to play “The Gluten Detective” game in your local market, which will surely add some fun to the learning. Elyn is a strong believer in the power of laughter and play to create the most positive change in any circumstance.
- Become a Skilled (and highly prepared) Navigator in a Gluten-Filled World. This is the most challenging step, as it morphs and evolves and never really stops throwing you a new “kink” to learn. That said, if you can have plans in place for the most common of scenarios (i.e., school, field trips, parties, travel, etc.), then when the unexpected arises, you’ll have your arsenal of tools and tricks to help see you through. Elyn’s favorite tip from this section is quite simple: We go to events for the people and experiences, not for the food. From the author’s daughter’s perspective, absorbing this idea deeply has been part of the “silver lining” of her condition.
- Anticipate both the Challenges and the Positives of the Gluten-Free Parenting Experience. So…what happens when your child gets “glutened”? Elyn shares her own experiences on what has worked best for these rare times. And what about peer pressure, unexpected situations, or feeling left out? While the book provides suggestions for these and other less-than-shiny moments, the pearl in this section is where Edyth shares her thoughts and advice on growing up gluten-free. Even the author learned a thing or two, and so will you.
- Expand your Repertoire. This step is the springboard for your flourishing gluten-free child to continue to flourish in years to come. Keep learning! Keep growing! The book offers suggestions for your ideal gluten-free pantry, along with cooking tips and secrets, menu planning (LOTS of school lunchbox suggestions!), and a plethora of gluten-free resources for both you and your child.