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How to Empower Kids with Celiac Disease

Following some easy tips can help parents to empower their celiac kids.


Parents can help empower celiac kids with a few simple tips. Photo: CC--Scott Swigert

Celiac.com 05/30/2017 - Huff Post recently featured a good article on empowering kids with food allergies, including celiac disease.

The article, by Miriam Pearl, suggests that parents seek to promote awareness and self-reliance in such children, rather than simply providing for them quietly and looking to protect them from allergens.

The basic message is to help kids gain all the skills needed to manage their condition, rather than seeking to rescue them. Pearl writes that "The more practice [children] have managing themselves in the outside world the better they will get at it." She offers a number of useful tips to help parents along.

First, she says, start early. It's never too early to let kids know what's going on, and what you're doing to help them maintain their health.

Second, work to make the children aware of the things that impact their health. Show them what it's like to shop, cook, and advocate for themselves.

Third, strive to show, teach and model everything they must know about safe foods and danger foods.

Fourth, take them to the store with you and let them find gluten-free items. Among other benefits, this will help them learn to read labels.

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Fifth, enlist their help in packing their lunches.

Sixth, ask them to listen to whenever and wherever you ask for food that is safe.

Seventh, make sure they learn to carry their own snacks, just in case they can't control what food is around them.

If they learn to do it early, they might avoid learning the hard way, which happens when you forget to provide snack for them, and they go hungry while everyone else eats.

Lastly, when dining out, engage them in your effort to get answers from waiters every time you order food.

Helping children to clearly see and understand the challenges of being gluten-free and having food allergies, and what it means to deal with those challenges on a daily level, help prepare them to make the right choices when confronted with unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations involving gluten-free food. This, in turn, helps them lead happier, healthier gluten-free lives.

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