So Your Child Has Been Diagnosed With Celiac...Now What?

Gluten Free Kids

 

“Your child has celiac disease," five words no parent ever wants to hear, but in an odd way can be so relieving. After hundreds of doctors’ visits, what felt like thousands of tests, all of which led to more dead ends then you ever could have imagined existed; you finally have the answer you have been searching for since the first time your little one experienced their very first symptom.

 

You get home from the appointment with your doctor and you feel a million emotions. You feel elated you finally have answers. You feel relieved because it could have been much worse. You feel excited to be on your way to having a happy healthy child again. Then you feel....confused so you do what every normal parent does, you hop on Google (we all know we shouldn't, but we can't help ourselves).

 

 

First, you google "everything you need to know about celiac disease" but quickly click the back button when you get over 19,000,000 hits. Next, you try "how to live a gluten-free lifestyle," surely that will narrow it down a bit right? When 44,900,000 search results come back you begin to feel discouraged.

 

You decide to give it one more try, crossing your fingers that the third times the charm. You refine your search hoping the results will be a little less mind-boggling. You get your keyboard ready and type "what is the gluten-free diet" into the search bar, click google search, and say a little prayer for a flashing sign showing you which link to follow.

 

When the only flashing sign on your screen is the pop up telling you that you are the lucky winner of a lifetime supply of whole wheat hearty bread (perfect...face in palm), you think about giving up, but then you don't.

 

Lucky for you (and all of us who have found ourselves on this journey), learning to live a gluten-free lifestyle is not three strikes and you're out kind of game. Though it may seem like a daunting task at first, you will be able to eat and live gluten-free with your eyes closed (except then you couldn't read the food labels, you get the picture though) in no time.

 

Let's start by answering the first and most important question that has been weighing on your mind, "What is celiac disease and what in the world does gluten have to do with it?"

 

Celiac disease put simply is an autoimmune condition that runs in families, causes damage to the small intestines, and comes with a myriad of symptoms. When a person with celiac eats gluten, the body gathers its' soldiers to mount an immune response. Little does your body know, the target of its' attack ends up being your own small intestine. This attack on the small intestine leads to extensive damage to the villi which ultimately leads to poor nutrient absorption in the body. Fun fact: Did you know nearly 1 in 100 people are affected by celiac worldwide yet 2.5 million Americans live undiagnosed?

 

Now that you know what celiac disease is and why gluten is all the rage in the gluten-free community, let's talk about what exactly gluten is and where exactly you will find it.

 

 

Gluten is the name given to the proteins found in wheat and is one of the main components that gives the dough its' texture. If gluten were a basketball team wheat, barley, and rye would be considered its' big three. When you are on a strict gluten-free diet you need to avoid these three players like the plague (or they will literally plague you for the rest of your life). There is also a new grain on the market now named triticale which is a cross between wheat and rye that will give your body fits if it sneaks into your diet.

 

Kids with Celiac Disease

 

 

Several other ingredients that you will see on labels that often mean gluten is hidden in there somewhere include farro, spelt, durum, brewer’s yeast, bulgur, and oat flour.  Foods that commonly contain these sources of gluten and you will want to clear your pantries, cupboards, and refrigerators of include:

 

  

  • Pastas: ravioli and dumplings are two gluten containing offenders.

  • Noodles: Ramen, udon, chow mein, and soba noodles all will have to go.  A great replacement for these is rice noodles or my personal favorite, mung bean noodles.

  • Breads: Avoid croissants, naan, bagels, flatbread, donuts, and rolls.  A rule of thumb I follow with bread is if it is not certified gluten free I generally stay away from it.

  • Baked goods: Cookies, cake, pie, and brownies are off limits unless they specify that they are gluten-free.  Don’t be too sad yet, there are some killer flourless brownies out there!

  • Cereals/Granola: Watch out for corn flakes, even though they sound like they would be naturally gluten-free they definitely are not.  Chex is a great gluten-free option if cereal is a must in your house.

  • Sauces: Watch out for gravies and cream sauces, these are often thickened with flour.

  • Soups:  Same story as sauces, they are often thickened with flour.  Any soup that is “Cream of…” will generally not be gluten-free unless they specify that they are certified gluten-free.

  • Tortillas:  Corn tortillas are generally safe, but flour or wheat tortillas are a no go.

  • Beers:  Some beers will be specified as gluten-free but otherwise stay away from these and any other distilled drinks.

 

  

After you are well acquainted with the main names and sources of gluten, you will want to get to know their sneaky counterparts. These foods and ingredients often fly under the radar but will reek havoc on your body if you continue to consume them. These foods/ingredients include:

 

  • Oats:  Oats are everywhere and often used in products labeled gluten-free. So you might be asking yourself why do I need to watch out for these?? Oats themselves are gluten-free but are a common victim of cross-contamination from the fields they are grown in or the equipment they are processed on. Also, some people with celiac will struggle with oats no matter what. If you are going to use oats make sure they are certified gluten-free or the products they are in are certified gluten-free. If you are still feeling sick after ensuring all the oats you consume are certified gluten-free try cutting them out completely for a few weeks to see if oats are your culprit.

  • Malt:  Malt is the next big one. Barley and malt go hand in hand. Steer clear of those malted milkshakes, vinegar, and Rice Krispies.

  • Natural And Artificial Flavorings: These can be made from any type of grain. Most of the time if they are made of gluten-containing items it will be listed on the label, but just be aware if you see this as an ingredient to do some double checking.

  • Soy sauce:  Soy sauce and “soy” product, in general, were very confusing for me for a long time.  For now, just know soy sauce is a big no-no because one of its ingredients is wheat.  In the future, you may have to go through some trial and error with other soy-containing products.  Pure soybeans themselves are gluten-free, but these are often the victim of cross-contamination due to the fields they are grown in. If you find you are still feeling sick after cutting all gluten out of your diet, try eliminating foods with soy in them or make sure your soy-containing products are certified gluten-free.

  • Starches And Dextrins:  Starches and dextrins can be gluten-free, but make sure you know if they are wheat derived or from a safe product like potato starch, for example, would be safe. I’ve found non-gluten-free starches and dextrins are often found on/in meat products.

  • Lunch meats:  These often have gluten-containing fillers.

  • Granola: Steer clear of granola unless it is certified gluten-free.

  • French fries:  This is due to cross contamination.  If you use a designated fryer, french fries are safe.

  • Candy:  There are many gluten-free candies out there, just be sure to do your research because at least for me there are many ingredients I have never even heard of on those labels.

  • Salad dressings:  Salad dressings often contain soy sauce or vinegar that are not gluten-free.

  • Chips:  The most likely gluten-containing ingredient you will find in chips is malt vinegar.

  • Marinades:  These often contain soy sauce.

 

 

After you have cleared out your kitchen of any and all gluten and your pantry emptier than the carton of orange juice your hubby puts back in the fridge after taking the last swig after breakfast, it's time for a little spring cleaning.

 

Make sure to wipe down all pantry shelves, cupboards, and drawers. You will also want to sanitize all kitchen appliances, utensils, pots, and pans. Cutting boards and sponges should be replaced and the oven will need a deep clean. You might feel like Cinderella at this point but trust me if you continue glutening yourself due to cross-contamination and crumbs, you will never feel like the bell of the ball.

 

Now that you have scrubbed your kitchen and it is shining like the top of the Chrysler building, there are a few other places you will want to check to completely rid your house of gluten to keep your little one safe. Though many people only think of gluten as an ingredient in the foods we eat, gluten is also used in many health and wellness products, your child's favorite toys, and beauty supplies. A few items to check include:

 

  • Shampoos and Conditioners: About a year ago I was having constant belly cramps and always felt fatigued. I had no idea what could be making me sick when I had the thought to check my shampoo. This hadn’t crossed my mind before because I had used this specific brand before and never noticed any gluten on the label. But, I looked anyways just cover all my bases. Low and behold one of its main ingredients was wheat germ.

  • Lotion: I find oats all the time in lotion. On the ingredient label, oats may also be listed as avena sative or colloidal oatmeal.  For individuals who do not have celiac disease, this ingredient has an anti-inflammatory effect and aids in the treatment of dry, itchy skin.  For those with celiac disease, this ingredient can have the opposite effect.

  • Playdough: This was super surprising to me but totally true. So if you have gluten-free kiddos that are continually getting glutened, check their playdough and consider making a homemade playdough recipe such as this one found on parents.com.  Creating your own playdough ensures those sweet kids of yours will not have from touching the playdough or from when they decide that playdough spaghetti they just created needs to be sampled.

  • Chapstick/lipstick: this may not be somewhere you think to look, I know I sure didn’t at first. But it is very important to check… just think of how many times you lick your lips in a day!

 

 

 

Congratulations! You have made it through the first leg of your journey to a gluten-free life. Take time to celebrate before getting back to work. Remember, learning to live a gluten-free lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. You will make mistakes. You will have bumps in the road but with a bit of persistence and a little luck (and a great beginners' guide...wink wink), you will be well on your way to a healthy happy gluten-free life.

 

 

About The Author:

My name is Shar and I am a 28-year-old wife and mom to four beautiful kids ages six and under. At our house, we love all things food and fitness.  I cannot wait to help you live the happiest healthiest life possible by sharing my gluten-free recipes, natural remedies, fitness tips and more!

If you would like to read more visit: www.happilyhealthyliving.com

 

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