A gluten-free diet excludes foods that contain gluten, a protein in wheat, oats, barley, and rye. People typically follow this diet to manage celiac disease or wheat allergies, or for general well-being. Following a gluten-free diet can be a challenge. The best tips for making gluten-free lunches include using gluten-free bread, eating a variety of dishes based on fruits and vegetables, avoiding prepackaged foods, and utilizing left-overs in insulated containers whenever possible. Also, asking children to help pack school lunches gives him a sense of independence and feeling of control over their diets, which can help them avoid foods with gluten.
Gluten-free lunches can be made with gluten-free bread from most grocery stores. Many people prefer to make their own, however, because they enjoy the superior taste of homemade gluten-free bread. The homemade variety doesn't have the preservatives the store-bought types does, either. Also, the grocery store may carry a small variety of gluten-free bread, while the home cook can prepare various types and sizes.
Preparing a wide variety of foods with fresh produce helps to keep gluten-free lunches interesting. The protein should be the first consideration. Gluten-free deli meats sandwiched between gluten-free bread is fine for a lunch, but should not be relied on every day. Sliced chicken and turkey, gluten-free cheese, and eggs are good sources of protein in a gluten-free diet. Hummus is a nutritious dip that can be used as a protein source.
Include both a fruit and a vegetable in all gluten-free lunches. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends at least five servings from this category each day. Fresh produce is one item that a person with gluten intolerance can eat without worry. A bag of nuts and dried fruit provides protein, fruit, and a treat all poured into one baggie.
Insulated containers can keep hot food warm, so leftovers from the previous night's gluten-free dinner can be packed for lunch. Using leftovers ensures gluten-free lunches and gives the person preparing the lunch a break from trying to think of another interesting entree. Children generally welcome gluten-free tacos, burritos, and pizza.
Most children will participate in packing gluten-free lunches to take to school. If they are allowed to choose which food items will be included, they will feel like they have some control over a diet that they most likely resent at times. If they are allowed to include extra foods, they can offer some to other children, which helps them to feel like they are participating in the frequent school lunch ritual of trading food.