Your child has celiac disease. The diagnosis is a shock, and you’re unsure where to turn next. You wonder if you should keep the celiac disease diagnosis a secret from your friends and family. You’re worried about how you’ll afford your child’s new foods.
But the good news is that celiac disease can be managed easily and quickly with a gluten-free diet, which is the only treatment for celiac disease.
How Does Celiac Disease Affect Kids?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body to misinterpret the gluten in wheat as a threat, triggering an immune response that can damage your small intestine and impede its function. Because celiac disease is genetic, children diagnosed with it often have a parent with the disease.
While parents need to raise their children with the understanding that they shouldn’t eat gluten, it’s equally important to recognize that celiac disease shouldn’t prevent their children from having fun or being typical teenagers.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of celiac disease is on the rise, with an estimated 1 in 100 Americans having celiac disease. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss. These symptoms can appear in children as young as six months or in adults 20 years or older.
People with celiac disease are very sensitive to gluten, a protein in wheat and barley. For kids, this means they can’t eat bread, pasta, or cereal. For adults, this means they can’t enjoy bagels, crackers, and bread. But aside from food, gluten can also be found in various other products such as cosmetics, drugs, and health supplements.
People with celiac disease must be cautious about what they eat, especially what they put in their bodies.
Following a gluten-free diet can feel challenging, restrictive, and downright tricky. While knowing about the gluten-free diet is crucial, adapting to everything that comes with it is equally critical if you want to achieve and thrive.
If your child has celiac disease, it’s essential to make sure that you are there to support them through their diagnosis and treatment. There are several ways in which you can be a support system for your child’s celiac disease, and we will look at them together below:
Talk to your child’s doctor
First and foremost, you must talk to your child’s doctor about their celiac disease to ensure they are being treated correctly. You can do this by scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor to talk about celiac disease and what you can do to support them.
I recommend that you talk to your child about celiac disease to understand what it is and how it affects them. You can also speak to them about the importance of following a gluten-free diet. Ask your child’s doctor for a copy of your child’s celiac disease diagnosis report so that you can read and process the information together.
You’re not alone if you or your child feels overwhelmed by the idea of switching to a gluten-free diet. Others might need to make gradual changes, while some find it easier to switch to a gluten-free diet all at once.
If it seems overwhelming, begin with one weekly adjustment that looks doable. Find a suitable substitute for your child’s preferred gluten-containing food. Most people discover that it initially feels difficult but gradually becomes easier.
Begin at home
Gluten cross-contamination is a primary cause of unintentional gluten exposure, which can be sufficient to trigger symptoms. Some people keep a gluten-free pantry and condiments separate, while some make their whole home entirely gluten-free. There is no right or wrong way to go; only what is best for you and your family.
Involve your child’s school
The Americans with Disabilities Act allows for adjustments for kids with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Request a meeting with the school’s administration to go over creating a “504 plan.”
Remember to express gratitude and be kind to school personnel while standing up for your child. By cooperating with them, they will be more inclined to learn how to safeguard your child.
Check the facts
You’ll find a wealth of information online handling celiac disease, from recipes, grocery shopping recommendations, studies, support groups, and comment threads. Use these sites to learn more about the condition, but be wary of misinformation.
Nonprofit organizations, medical institutes, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provide the most up-to-date information. When in doubt, see your doctor or a dietician, or seek the advice of a celiac expert, such as a gastroenterologist who specializes in the condition’s treatment.
Examine your favorite brands, recipes, and restaurants
Don’t think your favorite products, recipes, and restaurants are off-limits. Check with manufacturers or their websites to check if your favorite products are gluten-free.
Most recipes can be easily changed. Join a gluten-free expo to test new items before purchasing them. Several websites and apps are also useful. Remember to keep checking labels and consulting with servers because recipes and formulas sometimes change unexpectedly.
Don’t be paranoid
It’s difficult to strike a balance between eliminating gluten and feeling stressed or anxious. If your fears of potential exposure are out of control and affecting your or your child’s quality of life, evaluate whether there is a safe approach to confront your anxieties while minimizing exposure.
Use constructive parenting techniques
Be firm when stating which foods are forbidden, just as you would when upholding other family rules. This encourages normal development and growth.
Use the same methods you did to teach your kids to wash their teeth, be kind, or look at both sides when crossing the street. By concentrating on the positives, you can reduce anxiety. For example, “You can still eat chocolate! – and provide alternatives, so they feel in charge.
Apply these guidelines to your child in a way that fits your parenting style and is effective.
Enable your child
Encourage your child to actively participate in controlling their diet. With your guidance, teens may place their orders at restaurants or make reservations for meals away from home. In this process, apps and website searches come handy.
It is natural for a celiac disease diagnosis to cause feelings of sadness, worry, and rage. Reaching out to a dependable source, such as family, friends, neighbors, or other churchgoers, might be helpful. Join a local chapter or online forum to expand your gluten-free network.
Improving your family’s mental health can help you make a smooth transition to a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free options are easily accessible. If you are from the Denver metro area, you can get gluten-free goodies from Wave the Grain. We are located at 8172 South Holly Street Centennial, CO 80122. For inquiries, please calls us at 720-335-6942 and we will gladly assist you!