Children with coeliac disease need to keep an eye on some foods and nutrients. Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron are all important. Fibre is also important – lots of children go from diarrhoea to constipation when they are diagnosed. Fibre helps to keep things moving the way that they should.
This page is kindly supported by Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza
Almost 80% of people living in Ireland do not eat enough fibre. Adults need to eat 25-35g of fibre per day. For children, it is their age plus 5. So an 8-year-old child needs 13g of fibre per day.
The chart below tells you how much fibre there is in foods. The best way to make sure your child is getting enough fibre is to try to have fibre at every meal. If you have a fussy eater, try giving them small amounts of foods at a meal and give them time to get used to them. The gluten free diet is a big change for many children and it can sometimes be easier to get going with the fibre at the same time so that it just becomes part of their new way of eating. Eating more fibre will have benefits for the whole family, not just your child.
|Food||How much fibre?|
|Bowl of gluten free porridge||3g|
|Bowl of gluten free buckwheat muesli||3.5g|
|Bowl of gluten free Cornflakes||2g|
|Bowl of Buckwheat Flakes||2g|
|1 piece of fruit||2-3g|
|1 serving of vegetables (3 dessertspoons)||2-3g|
|1 dessertspoon milled seeds (any kind)||3-4g|
|1 tablespoon sunflower seeds||3g|
|1 baked potato (eaten with the skin)||3g|
|1 bowl gluten free granola (with oats)||5g|
|½ tin of chickpeas||10g|
|½ tin gluten free baked beans||7.5g|
|½ tin kidney beans||10g|
|1 tablespoon dried lentils||1.5g|
|1 serving of brown rice||2g|
|1 serving of white rice||0.5g|
|1 serving of high fibre gluten free pasta||3g|
Top 10 Fibre Tips
- Always have breakfast. Breakfast is a great place to start adding fibre and people who skip breakfast are more likely to be low in fibre compared to breakfast eaters. Go for a high fibre breakfast cereal – look for gluten-free cereals with 3g of fibre per 100g of cereal (or more!). You can also choose higher fibre gluten-free bread or toast.
- Add seeds. All kinds of seeds are high in fibre. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and linseeds are all good. You can try them whole or milled. For adults, aim to get 2 tablespoons of seeds everyday. Add them to breakfast cereals, yoghurt, homemade bread or sprinkle over salads. Start with 1-2 teaspoons and work up. For children, 1 tablespoon per day is plenty. Do start slowly with one teaspoon and work up to one tablespoon over 2 weeks.
- Eat more beans. Beans and lentils are very high in fibre, especially soluble fibre. Gluten-free baked beans are a great source of fibre – ½ a tin will give you 7.5g of fibre. Chickpeas, kidney beans and butter beans are also very good – half a tin of these beans will give you about 10g of fibre. Try soups made with beans and lentils, add beans to a salad, add lentils into soups, stews and casseroles. Try to have beans at least 3 or 4 times a week.
- Add vegetables. Vegetables and salad all have fibre – and they also add up to some of your 5-a-day. As a good rule of thumb, salad or vegetables should make up at least 1/3 of your child’s lunch and dinner. Add grapes, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks or any fruit to your child’s lunchbox. Vegetable soup is a great place for kids to get vegetables and you could try it when they come in hungry from school. You can add lots of vegetables to dishes like Bolognese (onions, peppers, mushrooms) and stews (onions, carrots, celery). And remember: frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh.
- Encourage kids to eat fruit. A piece of fruit will give you about 2g of fibre. Aim to have 2-3 pieces of fruit everyday – this can add 4 to 6g of fibre. Try slicing a banana over your breakfast cereal, chopping an apple into a salad or just enjoy an orange or a pear for your mid-afternoon snack.
- Choose higher fibre bread as often as you can. Look for bread with at least 3g of fibre per 100g.
- Eat potatoes with the skins. Most of the fibre in a potato is in the skin so try potatoes baked, boiled in their jackets or as wedges baked in the oven with a little olive oil and some herbs. Baby potatoes are also a great source of fibre just remember to eat the skins!
- Try some brown rice or high fibre pasta. Switching from white rice to brown rice will help to boost your fibre. Just remember that brown rice can take longer to cook
- Nuts and raisins are great sources of fibre. Whole nuts are not suitable for children under 5 but older children can try walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds for a snack. Raisins, dates and dried apricots are also great ways to add fibre. Dried fruit can cause tooth decay if you eat it too often. So, keep foods like raisins to have with meals or as one snack per day – they are not foods to graze on all day.
- Encourage your child to drink water. Fibre works by soaking up liquid in your bowel and making everything soft and easy to pass. Children need a drink with every meal and to have water in between meals. Milk and water are the best drinks for teeth.
Lots of children are low in iron when they are diagnosed with coeliac disease. People with coeliac disease do need a little more iron than people who do not have coeliac disease. It is important to make sure that your child is eating foods that are rich in iron 2-3 times a day.
Being low in iron can leave children feeling very tired and run down as well as making it harder to concentrate at school. They can also be more irritable and cranky.
High Iron Foods
- Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
- Beans and lentils – chickpeas, red lentils, brown lentils, kidney beans etc.
- Chicken and turkey legs (there is very little iron in chicken and turkey breast)
- Seeds including pumpkin seeds
- Nuts like almonds and hazelnuts
- Gluten free black pudding
Your child needs to eat 2-3 foods from this list every day.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium is essential for healthy bones. People with coeliac disease get much more osteoporosis than people without coeliac disease so calcium and vitamin D are key nutrients.
Although foods like salmon, tuna and eggs have vitamin D, it is hard to get all of the vitamin D you need from food alone. It is a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement everyday. Ask your pharmacist for one that is suitable for children. If your child is happy to drink milk, then you can look for a milk that has vitamin D added and this will work instead of a supplement.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones. Below is a list of foods that are a good source of calcium. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are the best foods. If your child is lactose intolerant, you can use lactose free milk and cheese (cheese is low in lactose).
|Calcium-Rich Foods||1 Serving is…|
|Hard cheese (e.g. cheddar)||25g (2 adult “thumbs”)|
|Yoghurt||125g (standard small pot)|
|Calcium Fortified Soya Milk||200mls|
|Tinned Sardines (eaten with bones)||90g tin|
|Tinned Salmon (eaten with bones)||100g tin|
|Almonds – whole||90g|
You need 3-4 foods per day that are high in calcium. Teenagers need 5-6 servings
Although green vegetables do contain some calcium, there is not enough for them to count towards your calcium for the day. You would have to eat 16 servings of broccoli per day to get the calcium you need. If you do struggle to eat all of your calcium, do talk to your dietitian or consider a calcium supplement.