The long-awaited Gluten-Free Food Guide for Children and Youth, crafted by Drs. Diana Mager and Justine Turner’s CONQUER Research Team at the University of Alberta, is officially here!
The gluten free diet (GFD) is currently the only treatment of Celiac Disease (CD).
Stay up to date with ongoing release and education sessions by following the CONQUER social media accounts. Instagram @conquer_celiac, X @conquerstudies or visit.
Dr. Mager completed this study with a grant from the CCA’s Dr. J. A. Campbell Research Award. Apply.
A great question, especially considering Health Canada developed a new food guide for all Canadians in 2019. One of the main reasons is that there are some unique challenges with eating the GFD and Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating doesn’t address these special considerations.
For example, some gluten-free processed foods (e.g gluten-free breads or cereals) are higher in added sugar and fat than gluten-containing grains and can be lower in some important micronutrients, such as folate and iron that other gluten-containing grains that are needed for healthy growth and development in children. Gluten-free foods are also at least 2-3 times more costly than gluten-containing foods, making it extremely difficult for Canadian families with children with CD to eat healthy and nutritious diets on the gluten-free diet.
The gluten-free food guide consists of a gluten-free plate specifically developed to address the nutritional considerations of the GFD for children. As well there are accompanying child-and-parent focused educational materials related to the GFD.1,2 For example, you can read about vitamin D or other micronutrient concerns specific to eating gluten free. You can get some tips for healthy lunch or breakfast ideas for your child.
There are ideas for shopping on a budget, accessing food when traveling and more. The gluten-free food guide considers a variety of different GF-ethnic cuisines and additional dietary choices, such as vegetarian, vegan and lactose-free diets.1,3
The gluten-free food guide for children is the result of extensive consultations with children and families of children with celiac disease, as well as expert dietitians and a variety of health professionals. A scientific approach including simulating gluten free meals and various related diet choices, was undertaken to calculate nutrient intake and palatability.
Across Canada, we asked children with CD eating the gluten-free diet, their family and caregivers how acceptable was the appearance of the guide and how easy it might be to use. This research has now been published and the guide is ready for wider use and we welcome more feedback.1,2 Currently, our team is pursuing research funding to have gluten-free food guide content translated into French and many other languages that are spoken in Canada.
We could not have done this without the support of Celiac Canada and participating children and families living with the gluten-free diet and willing to support Celiac Research by participating in ongoing studies and donating to Celiac Canada.
Our study team is grateful to Celiac Canada (J.A Campbell Research Award, Edmonton and Calgary Chapters) and Alberta Health Services (Maternal, Child and Youth and Diabetes, Obesity and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Networks) for research funding to develop and test the Gluten Free Food Guide for Children and Youth.
We are also extremely grateful to all of our healthcare partners including Dr. Margaret Marcon (Pediatric Gastroenterologist, The Hospital for Sick Children), Drs H Brill and J Dowhaniuk (Pediatric Gastroenterologists, McMaster Children’s Hospital), Dr. Dominica Gidrewicz (Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Alberta Children’s Hospital) and the many clinical dietitians across Canada who consistently supported this ongoing research (Samantha Cyrkot MSc RD, Roseann Nasser MSc RD, Esther Assor RD, Carlota Basuald- Hammond RD, Inez Martincevic RD, Shelley Case RD, Heather Mileski RD) by providing critical feedback and input into food guide content.
If you’d like to read the full research abstract Evaluation of a paediatric gluten-free food guide by children and youth with coeliac disease, their parents and health care professionals published in the British Journal of nutrition, use the button below.
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