8 Tips for parents with children that have Coeliac disease
Hearing your GP confirm that your Child has Coeliac disease is a daunting and worrying experience.
Coeliac Disease is an Autoimmune disease that causes your Immune system to act abnormally to Gluten. Gluten is a protein found in Barley, Rye Oats and Wheat.
When a person with Coeliac disease consumes Gluten it causes damage to their small intestine and which often leads to a number of symptoms.
Our Daughter Alyssia was diagnosed with Coeliac disease after a biopsy and endoscopy in September 2018 aged just 3, her symptoms included a sore stomach which would often swell, fatigue and hair loss.
Since going Gluten Free Alyssia has grown significantly, her hair has started to thicken and she certainly has more energy. She also understands well that she cannot consume Gluten and always asks “Does that have gluten in it?” when referring to food we have around us.
We know many parents struggle with the changes as we have, so we wanted to share some of our knowledge and learning for those of you out there who are newly diagnosed or have a young loved one going through the same situation as our little girl.
Here are some of our top tips from our experience so far:
Download the Coeliac Australia App
Local Charity Coeliac Australia, offer a wonderful app for around $10 that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This app is easy to use and has every ingredient and additive stored in a list letting you know at the touch of your screen if its safe for Coeliac’s to consume or not.
You can download it here on iPhone
You can download it here on Android
Remember BROWN when checking ingredients
Gluten is found in 4 Ingredients that can be remembered with the word BROWN
B – Barley
R – Rye
O – Oats
W – Wheat
N – NO – Say no to the above
Use home made labels
We are not big fans of wasting food here at Love Your Health. Before you go throwing out everything in the cupboard that contains Gluten consider making home made labels. You can then stick them to everything that does or may contain gluten then position accordingly. Keep an eye on the spices, they can catch you out.
Education is key
Not being afraid to discuss Coeliac disease with our daughter has helped the management on a daily basis. One of us is researching various autoimmune conditions everyday in order to build our knowledge. We have found it so much easier to manage Lissy since she has shown a keen interest with what is going within her body.
Coeliac disease affects the Villi which is inside your small intestine. The Villi is the small finger like structures that absorb the nutrients found in the food you consume. She is fascinated by these “Fingers” and will willingly do things in order to keep them healthy.
Ensure you let your child know that you are their biggest supporter. Showing Lissy photos found via google and encouraging her to ask questions has been interesting for all of us.
Also we have found it really helps our daughter with her ability to resist foods once she knows a little more about her condition.
You can find these images and a good guide to what is going on inside your loved one here
Prepare for Parties and other events
Michelle my wife, has a new found love for baking. We now have at least 3 slices of gluten free birthday cake in the freezer. These are always ready to be used at various kids parties so Alyssia doesn’t miss out on the treat that all kids love the most.
Also we have an abundance of healthy party snacks that we take, so that whilst the other kids are grabbing what they can our little one can do the same, just from her GF Allermates food bag.
Call ahead when Eating out
You maybe surprised how many restaurants will accommodate you bringing your child’s food. One concern of many Coeliacs is “Will I ever be able to go to a restaurant again?”
We have found that calling a restaurant ahead of us visiting seems to work. We explain that there are 3 of us that would like to purchase a meal, but we would like to bring our Coeliac daughters food in an Insulated dish. The restaurant will always offer an extra plate to. The preparation before leaving your home is a small price to pay for eating out as a family.
Try supplements but be wary
With the damage that gluten can do to your Villi, its common that many newly diagnosed Coeliac children are often found to be malnourished. If you are keen to try supplements for your child that’s great, but be wary as the laws around ingredient disclosure for supplements are different to those for foods.
Double check that the product doesn’t contain gluten by contacting the brand itself. If the label says “No added Gluten” this is not Gluten free.
Companies have to have their product independently tested by a 3rd party for gluten in order to claim Gluten Free. The legal limit in Australia to claim Gluten Free is 20 parts per 1 million.
Cook your Gluten Free dinners in bulk
Thankfully our girls seem to love anything out of the slow cooker. Not always the case for parents but if you can find a healthy dinner that your child loves, then make larger batches and freeze the remaining food.
Being able to come home and place a frozen dinner cooked a few days ago into the pan ready to reheat knowing that all the ingredients are Gluten free really makes a difference after a busy day at work.
If you have further questions about our experiences, or would like to share your experiences with others. Please, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.