Celiac Disease in Kids: Tips for Gluten-Free Diet

The news of your child’s diagnosis of celiac disease can send you in shock. You may be experiencing mixed feelings about your child’s health. It can be difficult for parents to see their kids struggling to manage gluten intolerance. But does a celiac diagnosis have to mean a lifetime of struggle? Well, luckily, gluten allergy is treatable. There are ways to help your child cope with celiac disease. Here are a few tips to deal with symptoms of celiac disease in kids and start the healing process.

Celiac disease in kids

What is Gluten; Celiac Disease in Kids

Gluten is a tiny protein found in some cereal grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Ideally, gluten does not cause sensitivity while most people can eat gluten foods without any problem. Unfortunately, gluten is bad for people with celiac disease, gluten allergy, or even autism. Celiac disease in kids necessitates the need for a gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease is the disease of the small intestine. When the autoimmune condition occurs, your body starts attacking itself. When a patient with celiac disease eats gluten, their body starts to attack villi – the finger-like projections lining the small intestine. Villi help the absorption of nutrients. Any damage to the villi could result in nutrient absorption problems. The malabsorption of nutrients can further cause serious issues.

In patients suffering from celiac disease, the body reacts to gluten and develops a permanent intolerance to the protein.  Gas, stomach ailments, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss/gain, diarrhea, regular headache, and constant fatigue are some of the common symptoms of celiac disease.

Celiac Disease in Kids Symptoms

In kids, celiac disease symptoms may vary from that in adults.

  • Unusual behavioral changes
  • Failure to thrive
  • Short stature
  • Dental enamel defects
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Pale, foul-smelling stool
  • Irritability and behavioral problems
  • Constipation
  • Delayed growth and puberty
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Distended abdomen
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Tips for Gluten-Free Diet for Celiac Disease

When it comes to making a switch to a gluten-free diet, you ought to have an eye for detail. Here are a few gluten-free tips to make your transition easier.

  1. Eliminate gluten

When celiac disease in kids is diagnosed, your immediate task is to make a lifelong commitment to eliminate gluten and opt for a gluten-free diet. Researches show by eliminating gluten from the diet plan, you can set the stage for the small intestine to start recovering and heal on its own. You may even want to avoid oats unless you are 100 percent sure of the product being gluten free. The protein avenin in oats is structurally like gluten.

  1. Pick gluten-free products
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So it all begins with identifying gluten-free ingredients and working up creative ways to turn them into yummy goodies. Experiment with gluten-free millets, which are packed with fiber and protein and contain a range of micronutrients, including zinc, potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, among others.

Some of the gluten-free foods include:

  • Corn
  • Cheese without additives
  • Egg
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Fresh meats and fish
  • Grains, such as millets, buckwheat, water chestnut, chickpea, quinoa, tapioca, potato starch, soy, amaranth, and unflavored rice

With so many naturally gluten-free foods, you have plenty of choices when planning your meals.

  1. Put in place a week’s menu

You may want to start with these meal suggestions. For breakfast, you may want to choose fruit and yogurt smoothie, cream of rice cereal topped with crunchy nuts or dried fruit, and egg omelet. You should also go for puffed rice cereal.

You may want to plan your lunch and dinner menus around baked potatoes topped with veggies and cheese, tuna fish with rice, stir-fry with poultry and chopped vegetables served with brown rice, and corn tortillas.

For a gluten-free dinner, you may want to choose creamy butter chicken with cauliflower rice. Baked salmon with lentils makes an absolutely lip-smacking combination along with lemon herb sauce. A gluten-free veggie spaghetti bowl will appeal to kids and elders alike. Quinoa stuffed bell peppers with garlic and lemon flavor make a hearty gluten-free dinner.

  1. Keep a backup of gluten-free treats for kids

To keep kids happy and kicking, have frozen gluten-free treats handy. You may want to bake some gluten-free cupcakes as snacks for kids. You may even pack them for school tiffin. However, try to use the school freezer so the baked goodies stay fresh. It’s a good idea to keep gluten-free snacks handy right in the classroom for days when gluten treats are distributed in the school. This ensures that your child can enjoy his gluten-free treats while gluten snacks are given to other children.

  1. Look for added gluten
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When shopping for grocery, keep an eye on pre-packaged and “ready-made” products. Read the labels carefully to find if the product contains additives to increase shelf life. To your surprise, some of the additives, flavorings, and seasonings contain gluten. You may want to double check the ingredients for breakfast bars that are often packed with gluten to boost protein content. Soups may contain gluten from thickening agents.

  1. Don’t forget nutrition

While you are keen to follow a gluten-free diet for kids, you must try to understand that most gluten-free products are unfortified. This means your child is seriously at a risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. So the idea is to focus on adding nutrition to your child’s gluten-free diet to avert the risk of potential deficiencies, including vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamins A, D, E, and K, and calcium, and folic acid.

  1. Choose high-fiber grains

When it comes to choosing gluten-free grains, you want to pick those products that are fiber rich to prevent the risk of constipation. Since many gluten-free products are low in fiber, your gluten-free diet may lack an adequate amount of fiber to keep a child regular.

So when you do gluten-free shopping, make sure the products are high in fiber. Some of the high-fiber, gluten-free products include chickpea beans, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and finger millet.

Ravneet Kaur
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Ravneet Kaur

Ravneet is a proficient author on mindful parenting, child psychology, and pregnancy-related issues. Her practical writing focuses on helping parents develop a compassionate understanding of child behavior and build strong family bonds. She also researches and writes on women’s health, pregnancy problems, relationship issues, teens, and child development and education.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com
Ravneet Kaur
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