Recent medical reports say that out of 1,500 children, about 5-20, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, have celiac disease (CD). Symptoms of the disease such as weight loss, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, delayed growth and development usually appear with the introduction of gluten to the child’s diet. Breastfed children are found to have delayed onset of celiac disease simply because of the gradual introduction of gluten to their diet.
The fact that some kids have celiac disease presents a challenge to many parents and caregivers when it comes to helping them follow a strict gluten free diet. How can they help the child cope with the reality that they have to eat a different kind of food from what their schoolmates and friends eat? How about when they eat out in restaurants or attend their friend’s party or go out camping?
The parents have a great responsibility in helping their kids cope with their celiac disease. Some of the things that they need to do include:
1. Parents should learn all they can about celiac disease including the Gluten Free Diet
and help their children understand their condition and what are the necessary to-do’s to avoid complications. They may have to consult with the child’s respective pediatrician and nutritionist.
2. Parents should make sure that their children are only served Gluten Free Snacks
and meals. They have the option to prepare gluten free food snacks and meals from scratch at home or they can buy them from the supermarket, grocery store or on online gluten free stores.
3. Parents can’t be with their kids all the time. When the kids go to school, a party or a sleepover in their friend’s place, do they know what they should avoid? The parents have to teach their children what they can and cannot eat and also read food labels. Parents may also opt to let their children bring gluten free snacks like candies, cookies and chips to the social gathering and share them with others. It would also help to let grown-ups like the party host, teacher, sitters know about the child’s condition and know how to deal with it.
4. When outside the home, the kids need to be taught how to speak. Sometimes, they may feel intimidated or shy to talk to grown-ups regarding their particular need. To help them prepare for such a conversation, it would help if the parents could encourage them to learn and practice a simple script of what they are to say when asked by an adult regarding their condition.
5. Some favorite foods by most children include chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, pizza, hamburger and breakfast cereals. Most of these have wheat or gluten-rich ingredients in them. Thus, kids with CD need to know prior to eating whether the chicken nuggets or fish sticks used gluten free breading. They need to ask whether the macaroni and cheese had Gluten Free Pasta
or if the pizza had gluten free crusts. How about the hamburger, is the hamburger bun also gluten free? These are just some of the things that parents can do to help their children strictly follow a gluten free diet.
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