When your child gets diagnosed with celiac disease chances are your first reaction is relieve. You had probably been struggling to find out why your child had been in pain, vomiting and having diarrhea and was not growing as expected, so it was a great relief when you finally found out what the source of the problem was.
Now that you know the diagnosis, a new challenge begins! You must help your child learn how to cope with celiac disease.
Here is a 7 step guide to help you and your child deal with celiac disease.
First thing you must know is that a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease, so take it seriously. Keep in mind that it’s not just wheat that your child can’t ingest. It’s barley and rye, too. These are just the basics, do your own research and get informed about it.
You absolutely have talk about it with your child. They need to understand why they can’t eat gluten, so make sure to explain it in terms that are appropriate for their age. Be positive about it, so they won’t feel like they are victims and that this disease defines who they are.
Since you can’t be with your child 24/7 you need to teach instruct them about the disease, so that they can take care of themselves when you are not around. If your child can read, learning how to read labels is something you could do together. Teach them to ask the right questions when it comes to food. Does it have gluten? Is there wheat flour in it? What’s this made of? These are some of the questions your kids should ask before eating something at school or at a friend’s house.
- Talk to teachers about it
Make sure teachers know about your child’s diet, encourage them to talk about celiac disease in class to raise awareness and to avoid bullying. Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s school administrators about their gluten-free meal options and how often they’re available.
Buy cookbooks, look for recipes online, bring your child to the kitchen and get him/her to prepare the meals with you.
If you have toddler there is a cute little book that can help you talk about celiac with your kid. It’s called BF: The Carrot Monster. It’s a story of a sweet dog who loves vegetables and grows a garden. The dog is gluten sensitive and he mentions the gluten-free foods he likes, so we are sure your kid will relate to the dog and its story. It’s also a great tool to get your kids trying vegetables. There is another book of the collection that comes with gluten-free and vegetarian recipes. You can get the books on Amazon by clicking here.
The book was written by Margie A. Wirth who is a member of our Facebook community and has kindly given us her books as gifts. Thank you Margie, we loved the gifts!
- Be a part of support groups
You’ll get tips on how to make your kitchen gluten-free friendly, which recipes really appeal to kids, suggestions for great gluten-free school snacks, and news about new products in your area. Celiac Disease Foundation offers a nationwide network of Chapters and Support Groups to help you and your loved ones live a gluten-free life. Click here to get more info about where those groups are. (this is in the United States)
Your kid will probably want to be a part of groups of kids they can relate to and there are gluten-free camps out there that might be exactly what they need to feel like they are not alone in this world.
Here are a few links of gluten-free camps:
http://www.campeaglehill.com/ (not completely gluten-free, but they offer the option)
Do you have any other tips for helping your child cope with celiac disease? We would love to read your ideas! If you liked what you read here, please share it, it means you care!