The Not-So-Obvious Reason Kids Should Eat Foods with Gluten

child eating

If you have a sensitivity to gluten or you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease, the last thing you want to do is pass that on to your kids. Right? So should children eat gluten?

After all, the side effects can have a big impact on your lifestyle, food choices, digestion, mood, and overall health. But most people aren’t born with an allergy to gluten.

And one of the best ways to prevent that from happening in adulthood is being exposed to gluten and a wide variety of foods as a child, says Jennifer Sygo. She’s a dietitian and sports nutritionist for Cleveland Clinic Canada.

And it’s not just gluten. Exposure to foods like peanuts at a young age can also reduce the risk for developing a serious allergy later. Based on data from a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it’s even recommended.

“It’s almost like the body has a window where it will actually tolerate those foods better if we include them versus exclude them,” says Sygo.

Obviously, you’re not going to feed a newborn or baby only a few months old a slice of barley, wheat, or rye bread. But even some pureed baby foods contain gluten. And there’s a long list of processed foods that contain gluten like chips, canned soups, candy, and some ice creams and oatmeals. If you’re concerned, be sure to read the food label.

It appears that feeding kids some foods that contain gluten at an early age, may actually help prevent or minimize any gluten sensitivities in the future. You may also want to ask your pediatrician to evaluate or test your child for a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease.

And if you still prefer a Gluten-Free diet for personal or health reasons, you can introduce your child to these healthy and delicious Gluten-Free Meals when they’re old enough.