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In the U.S., 1 in 133 People Have Celiac Disease.
It affects nearly 3 Million Americans.
The average length it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed is 11 years.
(statistics from The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Program)
9. www.triumphdining.com Triumph Dining has donated a copy of the completely revised and updated 3rd edition of "The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide".
**This listing does not imply any endorsement by or affiliation with PAK.
It's Your Responsibility to Give Your Child
Article written by Danna Korn
It's funny. We teach our kids to dress themselves, to brush their own teeth, to go to the potty by themselves. . . . But when it comes to choosing what they eat, no sirree, Mommy will do that for you, thank you very much. Especially when the food they eat can make them very sick.
Yet, just as it's our job as parents to teach our children not to run out into the street, it's our responsibility to teach them to take responsibility for their diet. Remember, our job as parents, as difficult as it is for some of us to accept, is to raise our children in a loving, protective environment so that they can (ugh) leave us someday! Our instincts tell us to protect them, to control their environment so that nothing will hurt them. That's not too hard at three, but at thirteen, the very word "control" will drive a stake right through the heart of your relationship with your child.
It is important that children learn to size up risks and avoid or ignore them. They need to know that you trust them to take care of themselves--and you need to trust them to do so. However, getting to that point is a process that will take time for both sides.
As our children grow, they need to be able to:
Identify, assess, and handle temptations and risks;
Handle peer pressure;
Handle social situations in which gluten is present;
Prepare in advance for social functions in which there may be no gluten-free alternatives;
Select foods in social settings and at the grocery store;
Plan healthy, well-balanced gluten-free meals;
Understand the consequences of cheating or accidental ingestion;
Educate the people around them about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
It's Never Too Early
Whether your child is a toddler or a teen, let him know that he is responsible for his diet. If he doesn't feel in control of his diet, his diet will control him.
Helping your child to take control of his diet is crucial to his physical and emotional well-being, so you might as well start as soon as possible. Don't think you're doing him any favors by making all of his decisions for him, even if he is very young. In fact, you are taking away his sense of control, not to mention the fact that he's not learning to feed himself. Remember the wise Native American saying: "If you give a person a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a person to fish, he will eat for a lifetime."
The earlier you give your child responsibility for his diet, the better off he'll be. It will also be easier for you in the long run. You will relax knowing that he understands the gluten-free diet and can make responsible, healthy choices. More importantly, being responsible for his own diet will give your child confidence; he will know that he is capable of determining whether or not a food is gluten-free. In addition, at a subconscious level, he will have taken control of his condition, rather than letting it control him.
Things Children Can Do Right Away to Take Control
Sometimes kids can be picky eaters. Toss into the equation the fact that your child's diet is severely limited, and meal planning can be frustrating, to say the least. Get your child involved in the meal-planning process! Not only will you be teaching him about the foods he can and can't eat, but you'll be working together to come up with a menu that pleases everyone. (The rule at our house is if you plan it, you eat it. No designating Tuesday as "fish night" and then deciding you don't like fish that week.)
Kids are never too young to start helping in the kitchen. Of course, it's usually a lot easier and cleaner if they don't help, but it's important that children learn to prepare their own foods. Get all of the kids involved. A big part of the learning process, especially if you have other kids who are not gluten-free, is learning how to avoid contaminating utensils and cooking surfaces (see Chapter 10). By the time your child is eight, there will be many meals he can make on his own. The benefits are many: it makes it easier on you, it's fun for your children, and you're teaching them to be independent. Remember, cleaning up the kitchen after you cook is one of the most important rules!
Have your child pack his own lunch, at least every now and then. You may want to check to make sure he doesn't go off to school with a solid meal of chips, candy bars, and "fruit" juice--but having him pack his own lunch will help you out and reinforce what he's learning about making good food choices.
Calling manufacturers to ask whether their products contain gluten is going to be something you and your child do frequently, so you might as well start involving your child at an early age. Fortunately, many large food manufacturers and distributors now have lists of gluten-free products, and can tell you over the phone whether or not their products are gluten-free. (A far cry from just a few years ago when even the most knowledgeable customer service reps would confidently inform me, "Oh yes, honey, you may not know this, but gluten is another word for sugar. Most of our products do contain sugar and should be avoided by diabetics."
Every now and then you'll get someone who hasn't heard of gluten, and you'll need to work your way to their nutritionist or dietitian. But for the most part, customer service reps who answer the phone can tell you whether or not their products contain gluten.
To help your child get the hang of this process, make sure his first few calls are to companies whose customer service reps have a gluten-free list in front of them. You'll want to "scout" out those companies in advance. (Don't tell your child you've already called the company, because he'll feel you don't trust him. You'll deflate his sense of purpose.) But when you've found a company with knowledgeable customer service reps at the other end, suggest to your child that he call about a product, and let him take it from there. Remind him to take notes and keep the information in your personalized product listing that you keep at home.
Condition Your Child to Avoid Gluten
This entire chapter dealt with giving your child responsibility for his diet. But let go completely? No way! No matter how much "discussing", how much preaching, or how much begging you do, there's the possibility-- read that as "likelihood"--that your child won't initially truly fathom the importance of always selecting safe, gluten-free foods. This almost always occurs in people with any type of dietary restriction.
Thanks to the wonders of the human body, you still have some tricks up your sleeve to help drive the point home. People with celiac disease have a simple built-in negative reinforcement clause--when they eat gluten, they feel bad. People on the gluten-free diet for autism or ADD/ADHD may experience mood changes that are unpleasant when they eat gluten.
Use this to your advantage! We tricked our son when he was very young in an effort to condition him to avoid gluten. And it worked! Every time he hurt--whether it was a tummy ache, stubbed toe, or a headache, we said, "Uh oh, you must have gotten some gluten. We'll have to be more careful next time." In effect, we conditioned him to avoid gluten by teaching him that it caused discomfort. And for what it's worth, if the proof is in the gluten-free pudding, today we couldn't pay him to eat gluten.
Danna Korn is author of "Wheat-Free, Worry-Free: The Art of Happy, Healthy, Gluten-Free Living," available at a discounted price with a money-back guarantee at www.glutensolutions.com. Founder, R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids)