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Celiac Exchange Student Prepares to Leave: Lessons Learned

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Amy Leger

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Ida our 17, turned 18-year-old, exchange student from Norway will be leaving us in 9 days. As I look back the year has gone by so fast. It has been a year of growing in the celiac lifestyle - with a teenager who doesn’t need me hovering over her all the time. Although not to say she couldn’t have used it once in a while.

I introduced you to Ida in one of my first posts back in November. I explained how we were blessed with her presence for the school year and  about some of the challenges we faced, including with school lunches. As the year has gone on, you’ve heard about prom, a pizza party for her birthday, planning a trip to Hawaii, and Ida’s first Thanksgiving dinner (never had pie before).

But besides that I do feel like I’ve learned more about managing a teenager with celiac disease.  While this may be old hat for some veterans, I thought I would let you know what I found:

  1. Save your pennies for the teen years! The older they are the more they eat! Even my trim Norwegian teen went through a lot of gluten-free food! Way more than what I’m used to.
  2. They don’t want to be a bother when they’re at a friend’s house. Ida humored me when I’d ask her what she’s eating at her friend’s house and I would send food along or get more information from a parent. I’m sure when it’s Emma’s turn I’ll get an eye roll or a sing-songy “Mooom!”
  3. Try to prep them for restaurants. Teach them to do research on line. Empower them to be strong enough to recommend a gluten-free friendly place to their friends and then hope and pray they follow through.
  4. Teach them kitchen etiquette that will keep their food gluten-free; AKA don’t put your gluten-free bread on the counter next to the toaster that’s designated for regular bread (and bread crumbs)! A few paper towels will keep your food prep nice and gluten-free!

What has she learned? I would say her overall take is the gluten-free world in America is not even close to being the same as in Norway.

  • She can get McDonald's cheeseburgers on a gluten-free bun in Norway, but not in the USA. Ida says thee gluten-free buns are “really good”. Ahem..Isn’t McDonald’s an American company? Please don’t tell me someone at the headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois is ordering gluten-free buns for Europe and not here!
  • All pizza places have gluten-free options in Norway but not here. She says they have to because so many people in Norway have celiac.
  • And other just-because-it’s-gluten-free-in-Norway-doesn’t-mean-it-is-here cases. Case in point: Airheads Extreme candy. Regular Airheads appear to be gluten-free as of this post. But one day we were talking in the kitchen and she was eating Airheads Extreme Rolls. Emma had never even seen these before let alone tried them. She said “Are those gluten-free?” Ida replied, “I think so, I can eat them in Norway.” But sure enough on the back in bold letters - Wheat flour.

I am sure one of the things she’s looking forward to in going back is enjoying the food that is known and she hasn’t had in a year. However, I’ve had the pleasure to make her first Juicy Lucys, pies, Thanksgiving dinner, pasta with cream sauce, baked beans, just to name a few.  She was a good sport and while she didn’t love the cream sauce, everything else she either really liked or tolerated.  Hopefully she’ll bring some of these things she’s learned home with her.

In the meantime, I’ve had a look into what my future holds for my daughter with celiac. I am feeling at least a bit more prepared than a year ago at this time.

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Hi!

I'm a 14 year old girl from Norway with celiac, and I also want to become an exchange student in USA! I have one more ''problem'', I have diabetes too.. So, it is going to be a hard job finding someone who want me, but do you think it is possible?

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    My own experience with stuttering is limited. I stuttered as a child when I became nervous, upset, or self-conscious. Although I have been gluten free for many years, I haven’t noticed any impact on my inclination to stutter when upset. I don’t know if they are related, but I have also had challenges with speaking when distressed and I have noticed a substantial improvement in this area since removing gluten from my diet. Nonetheless, I have long wondered if there is a connection between gluten consumption and stuttering. Having done the research for this article, I would now encourage stutterers to try a gluten free diet for six months to see if it will reduce or eliminate their stutter. Meanwhile, I hope that some investigator out there will research this matter, publish her findings, and start the ball rolling toward getting some definitive answers to this question.
    Sources:
    1. Toft M, Dietrichs E. Aggravated stuttering following subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease--two cases. BMC Neurol. 2011 Apr 8;11:44.
    2. Tani T, Sakai Y. Stuttering after right cerebellar infarction: a case study. J Fluency Disord. 2010 Jun;35(2):141-5. Epub 2010 Mar 15.
    3. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    4. Jäncke L, Hänggi J, Steinmetz H. Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurol. 2004 Dec 10;4(1):23.
    5. Kell CA, Neumann K, von Kriegstein K, Posenenske C, von Gudenberg AW, Euler H, Giraud AL. How the brain repairs stuttering. Brain. 2009 Oct;132(Pt 10):2747-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
    6. Galantucci S, Tartaglia MC, Wilson SM, Henry ML, Filippi M, Agosta F, Dronkers NF, Henry RG, Ogar JM, Miller BL, Gorno-Tempini ML. White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study. Brain. 2011 Jun 11.
    7. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    8. [No authors listed] Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Weekly clinicopathological exercises. Case 43-1988. A 52-year-old man with persistent watery diarrhea and aphasia. N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 27;319(17):1139-48
    9. Molteni N, Bardella MT, Baldassarri AR, Bianchi PA. Celiac disease associated with epilepsy and intracranial calcifications: report of two patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Sep;83(9):992-4.
    10. http://ezinearticles.com/?Food-Allergy-and-Stuttering-Link&id=1235725 
    11. http://www.craig.copperleife.com/health/stuttering_allergies.htm 
    12. https://www.celiac.com/forums/topic/73362-any-help-is-appreciated/
    13. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
    14. Hadjivassiliou M, Gibson A, Davies-Jones GA, Lobo AJ, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.

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