Helping Children Cope With Celiac Disease
By Lana Bandoim
Celiac disease can affect adults and children, but the diagnosis can be harder for people who are younger. Not only do they have to change their entire diet, they also have to learn how to avoid gluten outside the home. This autoimmune disorder requires following a strict gluten-free diet all the time, so cheating is not allowed. Consider these tips to help children cope with celiac disease.
Talk to Them Honestly
Some parents are worried about scaring their children, but they deserve to understand the details of celiac disease. Talk to them honestly and explain why the diet changes are necessary. Keep the conversation appropriate for their age but do not try to hide things from them. They need to learn how to ask for gluten-free food on their own, and they must understand the dangers of cross-contamination.
Understand It Goes Beyond Food
Many children hate feeling left out, and celiac disease can make them feel excluded. Not only is gluten in food, it is also part of some items such as playdough. In addition, some schools do craft projects with flour or macaroni. Children with celiac disease cannot participate in these activities and can only use gluten-free items. Make sure your children understand why they cannot use the same things as their classmates.
Children with celiac disease sometimes feel isolated and alone. They may not have many peers with the same condition, so it is hard for them to fit in at school. In addition, they can be the target of bullying because they are different. Try to find support for your kids by looking online or in the local community. Reach out to other parents who have children with the same autoimmune disorder and arrange play dates. Find and read books about the condition with your kids. Make them feel included and wanted.
Teach Them to Stand Up for Themselves
It is important for children to learn to stand up for themselves and refuse food with gluten. Many kids feel intimidated by adults and other children, but they cannot risk their health and eat gluten. Some kids may hear that a small amount of wheat will not hurt them. However, this is not true because it is possible to react to a crumb of gluten.
It is possible to help children cope with celiac disease. Consider these tips and talk to a doctor for more suggestions before talking to your children.
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