Even for twins, our boys have always been pretty tiny. They’ve been riding the first or 0.5th percentile for quite a while now, sometimes even lower. With less than two months to go before their third birthday, they’re still well below 25 pounds. They eat pats of butter while we’re cooking, and I encourage it.
At our first visit, the gastroenterologist suggested that we start giving Carnation
Instant Breakfast Breakfast Essentials to pack in some extra calories and protein. We bought some on the way home from that very appointment. It’s an understatement to say it was a hit. They started requesting it several times per day. We upgraded from the convenient packets to the more economical canister. We made up new rules and procedures for how their “chocolate milk” would be measured and mixed (anyone who’s ever had a toddler knows exactly what I’m talking about).
Last Thursday, mere hours after our latest weigh-in, I was cleaning up the kitchen and happened to notice that the last ingredient listed on the Instant Breakfast canister … was wheat starch.
Wheat starch! Could the thing we’re giving them to help one issue be causing others?
I’ve become so used to reading ingredients, even sniffing out the tricky places where gluten can hide: caramel coloring, malt flavoring. But I’d never even glanced at the list on the Instant Breakfast because it came with the recommendation of the gastroenterologist AND the nutritionist.
To the internet! As usual, there was no consensus. Google led me to the Nestle website’s FAQ, which was silent on the issue of gluten. Various celiac websites wove a story of changing recipes and reminded me that of course the Chocolate Malt flavor would be problematic. The ready-made stuff was also out. But nobody seemed to agree on the non-malt powdered mix.
So I e-mailed the Nestle people about our beloved Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powder Drink Mix (Rich Milk Chocolate flavor). In the meantime, I started scheming about alternatives. I had some heavy cream leftover from my birthday baking. That would take care of the extra calories, but not the protein. Instant milk never mixes up all that well. Hot chocolate mix might work for winter, but we’re already halfway through May. I headed to the co-op and picked out an $18 canister of chocolate-flavored protein powder.
As soon as I got home, here’s the e-mail that popped up:
Thank you for contacting CARNATION® BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS™, an excellent breakfast choice with 21 vitamins and minerals.
Wheat has been present on the CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS Powder labels for the past couple of years in the form of an allergen cross-contact statement: “made on equipment that also processes wheat.” CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS Regular Powder varieties were recently reformulated with additional Vitamins C and D and now have new labels with wheat starch as the last ingredient. The wheat starch will be removed from the list of ingredients during the next packaging update, however the label will include the allergen cross contamination statement “made on equipment that also processes wheat”. Gluten sensitivity does vary among individuals, so we advise you to consult with your physician before using any product that declares wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients on the label, whether in the ingredient list or in the allergen cross-contact statement.
As a service to our consumers, we chose to disclose all sources of gluten by adding a statement on the label indicating the existence of barley in CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS. The degree of sensitivity to gluten varies among individuals, please discuss with your physician if you have concerns.
The flavorings used in CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS Ready to Drink contain barley malt syrup, which contribute less than 1 part per million of barley gluten in the final product.
For CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS powder, the only variety containing gluten is CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS Chocolate Malt, which has wheat flour and barley extracts. All other CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS powder varieties do not contain gluten. However, we want to inform you that all varieties are processed on the same equipment as CARNATION BREAKFAST ESSENTIALS Chocolate Malt. Gluten sensitivity does vary among individuals, so we advise you to consult with your physician.
We have no idea how sensitive either of them may be. They’ve never complained of stomach aches or other problems. But then, it may be that our older son has had celiac disease for his whole life and doesn’t know what “normal” feels like. His vocabulary would certainly limit his expression of such things.
This whole thing is such a work in progress. My instinct is to keep giving them the Instant Breakfast until their next check-up. If they’ve gained weight and the blood test doesn’t find any celiac antibodies, then we’re good to go.