What To Do When Starting A Gluten Free Diet
When people eliminate gluten or other allergenic foods from the diet, they often forget to work on repairing the damage. Whether you have Coeliac, an allergy or an intolerance to gluten, your gut will have felt the impact. When you remove gluten from your childs diet , you want to optimise gut function and repair any damage that has been done.
- Consuming probiotics through food and/or supplements
- Supporting healthy gut flora with prebiotics from food and/or supplements
- Including gut-nourishing foods such as fermented vegetables and bone broth
Going Gluten Free For Kids
Dietitian Anna Richards has helpful nutritional advice and strategies for those who have a child following a gluten-free diet.
Adopting a gluten-free diet is often not easy for children. While toddlers and younger children typically transition to a gluten-free diet more easily, those children diagnosed with coeliac disease when they are older know more about the world and they are more likely to make food comparisons.
Peer conformity, too, can play a role in the difficulties a child may face when dealing with their special diet. Children want to be like their friends, to eat the same food, wear the same clothes, have the same felt pens, so anything that identifies a child as different can be difficult to adjust to.
Children often ask how long will I have to eat this food? For children with an allergy, we can confidently answer most children outgrow their allergies, but for children diagnosed with coeliac disease, forever is a long time.
A familys attitude is one of the biggest factors in helping a child adjust to a gluten-free diet, and usually the first couple of minutes of a consultation can identify which families will adjust well. How? Its the family outlook which can make a great difference: look at all the foods I can eat compared with look at all the foods I cant eat.
To minimise the potential risks and pitfalls for children on a gluten-free diet, heres some advice on coping with tricky situations.
Advice On Raising A Gluten
Children with celiac disease can grow up normally and be happy and healthy. It takes pre-planning, either by verifying safe food will be available when they go to someones house, a school activity, a party or some other event or by preparing food that they can take. There are many examples of children whove never let the diet stand in their way from preschool through college.
The best thing a parent can do for a child with celiac disease is convey the message that the gluten-free diet does not have to limit them in any way. Being positive is extremely important. Kids with celiac disease often have a great attitude and deal very well with the fact that there are times when they cant have some foods the other kids are having. Usually, that attitude is fostered by their parents who make sure preparations have been made so their child does not feel deprived. Food is often less of a big deal to kids with celiac disease than their parents.
When she was diagnosed with celiac disease at two years old, I worried that my daughter would not be able to grow up happy and healthy. But shes now 27, and she went through everything from preschool to college in a perfectly normal way. We decided early on that the diet should not stop her from doing anything she wanted, and thats how she has lived her life. She participated in activities ranging from Girl Scouts to dance team, went to college far from home and studied abroad in London. Now shes all grown up and getting married.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Celiac Disease
Common symptoms of celiac disease are diarrhea, decreased appetite, stomachache and bloating, poor growth, and weight loss. Many kids are diagnosed with it when they’re between 6 months and 2 years old, which is when most kids get their first taste of gluten in foods.
For some people, the problems start slowly and the symptoms may be terrible one week and not as bad the next. Because of this, some people aren’t diagnosed with celiac disease until they’re older. The problem is chronic, which means that although symptoms may come and go, people who have celiac disease will always have it.
Someone with celiac disease may feel tired and could be irritable. Some also have skin rashes and mouth sores. The problem is sometimes mistaken for other digestiveproblems called inflammatory bowel disease or lactose intolerance. And in some cases, a kid won’t have any symptoms and then will all of a sudden start having problems during a time of stress, such as after an injury.
The Future Of Celiac Disease Management
In October 2020, I authored an article in Current Opinion in Pediatrics regarding current research and in celiac disease management. Diagnostic advancements include measuring serum IL-2, a substance in the blood that contributes to immune T-cell growth. A patient’s serum IL-2 level generally spikes in correlation with severe symptoms after a patient eats gluten.
In the future, we hope to offer nondietary treatment options, such as latiglutenase. This oral medication is currently in a phase 2 clinical trial. While not yet authorized for wide use and distribution by the FDA, latiglutenase has been shown to safely and effectively reduce celiac symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.
Until then, living a gluten-free lifestyle is the best way to ensure your child feels well and grows and thrives as they should. Living gluten-free is a bit easier today, due to increased availability of gluten-free foods and products in stores. Kids with celiac no longer have to give up their favorite foods. There are many options to adapt meals and treats to be gluten-free. Many restaurants now also offer gluten-free menus or denote when a dish is gluten-free.
Few things are more upsetting as when your child doesnt feel well. We can help figure out whats causing your childs discomfort, and if its celiac disease, well be your partners in going gluten-free and managing their care.
To find out whether your child might have celiac disease, call orrequest an appointment online.
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Eating Away From Home
A diagnosis of CD does not mean never eating at a restaurant again. Do not stay home for fear of making a mistake on the gluten-free diet. Dining out is a big part of our way of life and, with a little effort and planning, can continue to be enjoyed.
- Before leaving home, do some homework. Most restaurants have a website that can easily be found through an Internet search engine. Review the menu online to see if there is enough selection for you. Some restaurants have GF menus or a list of common food allergens utilized in making their foods.
- Try to make your first visit to a restaurant before peak dining times.
- Always identify yourself as someone who cannot eat wheat, rye or barley. Food items that you would never guess have flour in them, often do. Salads may not have croutons, but may arrive at your table with a bread stick across the top.
- Dont be afraid to ask how the food is prepared. Meats may be marinated in soy sauce. French fries may be made in the same fryer as other breaded products. Hamburgers and hamburger buns may be grilled in the same area. All these methods can lead to gluten contamination.
- Be pleasant and informative, but not demanding.
- Bring your own GF bread or crackers.
May Help Boost Energy
People with celiac disease often feel tired or sluggish. They may also experience brain fog, which is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and difficulty focusing .
These symptoms may result from nutrient deficiencies caused by damage to the gut. For example, an iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which is common in celiac disease .
If you have celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet may help boost your energy levels and stop you from feeling tired and sluggish.
According to one literature review, people with celiac disease experienced significantly more fatigue than those without celiac disease. Not only that, but five of the seven studies included in the review concluded that following a gluten-free diet was effective at reducing fatigue (
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How Else Can I Dress Up This Gluten
Besides the nut or seed butter spread and a banana topping, you really can fill it with whatever fruit or veggie your child likes
- Yogurt is a good base that can also help fruits stickyou can do a soy or coconut yogurt if you cant do regular milk.
- Jams are also delicious, as a base of their own, or along with the nut or seed butter your diet can handle.
- Hummus is a great savory base that would be delicious with roasted vegetables. I have a sesame free, from scratch recipe in my top 8 free cookbook
- Frozen fruit would work that way you can enjoy things that arent in season. Just be sure for little eaters theyre thawed and soft
- You could also use a safe mayo, and use deli meat. Itd also be delicious with a meat and cheese, if you can do cheese.
- Go crazy! Id love to see your familys favorite way to eat it. Be sure to tag me and @BFreeFoods so we can see it!
What Is Celiacs Disease
Celiacs disease, also known as celiac sprue, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestines. Some of the symptoms associated with this condition include diarrhea, abdominal distension, chronic diarrhea, chronic loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, malabsorption, and in some children, failure to gain weight normally.10
After receiving a diagnosis of the disorder from their pediatrician, the first thing that you should do is to inform your primary care physician that you are having trouble controlling the childs gluten allergies. Your physician will most likely be able to suggest a specialized diet for your child that will allow him or her to live a healthy life. After initially being diagnosed, most children with Celiacs disease have learned to adjust their diets to those that are gluten-free.11 If you continue to have trouble controlling your childs allergic reactions to gluten then you should discuss adding a gluten-free diet to your childs daily routine.
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What Are The Benefits Of A Gluten
The benefits of a gluten-free diet are numerous. These are not only beneficial for those who suffer from Celiac disease but for anyone who is concerned about having to eat foods with gluten. Gluten is the substance that makes bread rise and also allows it to rise better than similar wheat-based products. The gluten in wheat is what gives bread its chewy texture, and the gluten in rye adds that little bit of nutty flavor. Without gluten, bread would just be a regular loaf of bread, but with a gluten-free diet, you get bread that is not only tasty but that is also not going to adversely affect your body.7
One of the most important benefits of gluten-free dieting is weight loss. Gluten is partially to blame for why some people end up with weight problems after consuming gluten for a long time. When gluten molecules are digested too much by the body, it takes carbon dioxide out of the blood. Since gluten is made up of mostly amino acids, this causes people to feel hungry all of the time and consequently gain weight.8
Treatment Revolves Around Living Gluten
Right now, celiac disease can only be treated by avoiding gluten. Children who start a gluten-free diet often feel much better in as little as two weeks.
Avoiding gluten is so beneficial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a final rule in August 2020 that, in order for a product to be labeled “gluten-free,” it must adhere to strict compliance requirements.
Unfortunately, gluten is everywhere and not just in the food we eat. The protein is also used in many everyday products such as vitamins, lotion, shampoo, and the adhesives on stamps and envelopes. It can even be in your childs playdough .
Education is key, at home and in the community. It can be challenging and surprising to learn which foods and products contain gluten, but you wont be on your own. Our team can help your child and family, friends, and school or daycare staff:
- Read labels to know whether a food or product is safe.
- Choose vitamins or supplements to help counteract nutritional deficits.
- Create a safe space to prepare gluten-free food.
- Develop a 504 plan, which is a blueprint to keep your child safe and healthy at school.
- Find food swaps at restaurants, birthday parties, or other events.
- Prepare tasty recipes that are safe and healthy, like these from Beyond Celiac.
Before you know it, you and your child will be pros at knowing what is and isn’t safe and navigating those conversations.
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Always Do Your Research
Dont forget to check that the medications your children are taking are gluten free. Many over-the-counter products now have Gluten Free specified on the packaging. When filling prescriptions, make sure the pharmacy staff knows if your child has an allergy or Celiac Disease. Your pharmacist can help make sure the product you receive is gluten free and packaged in a way that minimizes risk of cross-contamination. The website glutenfreedrugs.com is an excellent resource to help you find gluten free medications. -Michelle Lewis, PharmD is a Pharmacist with gluten sensitivity.
When we go out, we make sure the restaurant has a gluten free menu before booking. We enjoy a fish supper at a chip shop that caters for gluten free 1 day a month, its after they change the oil before they serve all the non-gluten-free people.-Jane owns Class on Glass and has a niece who is 18 with Celiac disease
Benefits Of Going Gluten And Dairy Free
Children with autism may show improved eye contact, reduced symptoms and improved digestive health on a gluten- and dairy-free diet, according to AutismWeb.com 3. Dietary intervention can benefit some children, but not all, with autism. Children with celiac disease require a gluten-free diet for general health and well-being, and kids with food allergies and intolerances will experience healthier digestion and fewer allergic responses on an appropriate diet.
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How To Start A Gluten
First, you need to prepare yourself as the person who looks after your childs food and diet. You also need to prepare the child for the idea that some changes are necessary. It may sound like a cliché, but it really will help if you can make avoiding gluten seem like an adventure you are going to share. Whichever way you go about communicating with your child, there is no point in avoiding the fact that going gluten-free makes a difference when it comes to eating many of their favorite supermarket snacks or fast food options.
But it doesnt have to be all bad.
Many of the things a child loves that typically contain gluten can be replicated in a gluten-free version. It will take some time and effort on your part to get up to speed on how to make pizza crust with a gluten-free flour, and shopping for gluten-free burger buns may take you off your usual route but it is possible. Here are just a few of the many grains and flours that are gluten-free: almond, amaranth, buckwheat, cassava, coconut, cornflower, chickpeas and lentils, millet, quinoa, rice, sago, sesame, soy, and tapioca.
How Is Celiac Disease Treated
Celiac disease is treated by not eating gluten. This can be hard because gluten is in many foods, but a dietitian can help adjust someone’s diet to cut out gluten. It is important not to start a gluten-free diet unless you are truly diagnosed with celiac disease.
Following a gluten-free diet allows the small intestine to heal. But that doesn’t mean the person can start eating gluten again. For someone with celiac disease, gluten will always irritate the intestines and, if this happens, the diarrhea, belly pain, and other problems will return.
If you’re diagnosed with celiac disease, it can be a challenge to learn which foods contain gluten. You may not be able to remember them all, but you can keep a list with you and ask about menu items at restaurants before digging in. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at knowing which foods are safe and which are not.
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Celiac Disease Vs Gluten Intolerance Vs Wheat Allergy
These three conditions share similar symptoms. However, each condition causes your childs body to react to gluten in a distinct way:
- Celiac disease: The immune system attacks the small intestine when it detects the presence of gluten. Long-term exposure to gluten can damage the intestine and lead to malnutrition.
- Gluten intolerance: Consuming gluten causes short-term symptoms. While unpleasant, gluten intolerance generally doesnt cause long-term harm.
- Wheat allergy: This allergic immune response is unlikely to damage the intestine. However, contact with wheat can cause anaphylaxis sudden respiratory distress and inability to breathe.
Symptoms vary greatly in these three conditions, from mild to severe. While it’s not fully understood why symptoms vary so much, research suggests that celiac disease is multi-factorial, including environmental and genetic components, triggered by eating gluten.
UT Southwestern’s Childhood Celiac Disease Program manages a pediatric database that shows us trends in how celiac disease presents clinically across a range of demographics, including ethnicity. The database gives us precise insights to quickly diagnose and plan care for children based on their unique risks and needs.