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chrissy

When Celiac Kids "cheat" On Their Diet

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both of my twins have admitted to cheating on their diet. we have removed all the wheat flour from the kitchen, but we still have cereal, crackers, and bread in the kitchen for the other kids. i am feeling like i need to remove these items from the kitchen also and keep them in a locked cabinet. i don't want to become a gluten nazi, but i do feel like it is my job as a mother to keep them as gluten free as possible----and right now it seems like i need to remove all temptation. i can't, and won't, follow them around every where they go, but i do feel that i need to watch things very carefully in our home. i guess if they cheat away from home, there's not much i can do. but, as long as they are my responsibility, i'm going to work to keep them gluten free. anyonbe else run into this problem with their kids?

christine

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Christine, this is what my take on this is:

Your twins are at an age where they don't want to be told what to do. Forcing them to be gluten free at home isn't going to do a thing, if they're determined to cheat. They'll just go to their friend's houses to eat the gluteney things, or buy them themselves on the sly. They'll just end up resenting you if you lock up the foods they shouldn't have. You'd be setting yourself up to be the 'bad guy', who spoils all the fun. It would be highly counter productive.

I think a good, calm talk is in order. Find all the information on long-term damage of people with celiac disease eating gluten. Print out gross pictures for them if you think a visual image will help. Present this information to them, and tell them you love them too much to want any of that to happen to them. Let them know that it hurts you when you know they're harming themselves. Tell them that you WON'T lock up the food containing gluten, because you feel they are old and mature enough to know better than eating those.

Ask them what snacks/foods you can buy them, in order for them not to feel deprived in comparison to their 'normal' siblings. Or would they like some brownies, a cake, a pasta feast? If you make them feel special, instead of trying to control them, or put a guilt trip on them, I think that would work a lot better with kids that age.

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Guest nini

my daughter doesn't cheat (yet) because she remembers just how sick gluten makes her feel and she doesn't like feeling that way. I suppose it would be harder if she wasn't getting obvious symptoms from glutenings. I'm sure as she gets older she may be tempted more by peer pressure and by wanting to eat what her friends are eating, but she will have to learn the consequences on her own. I can only give her a foundation to start with.

Yes you very well may have to be the "Gluten nazi" in your house, BUT ultimately I think you should work toward instilling in them the awareness of what gluten is doing to their insides and what the consequences can be. Kids usually feel invincible, like nothing can hurt them. They need to learn to take the responsibility for their own diet. Have you read the book "Kids with Celiac" by Dana Korn? It's a great book with lots of great coping tips and ideas for communicating with your kids and giving them the control over their own diet and teaching them the importance of sticking to the diet.

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I don't know what to say, maybe you could scare them, the scare tactic works with me when I think about cheating on my diet, I say to myself "is a cookie worth cancer?"

not that the cookie would actually give me cancer, but it could increase my cancer risk since I have celiac.....

it's probably not a great idea to scare the crap out of your kids though.

Probably take Ursula's advice. I hope I will be reading the thred though, since my kids eventually will grow up to be that age and might want to cheat too.

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I don't know if it would be very productive to take on the nazi role so I agree with Ursula on that one. When I was that age there was nothing anyone could do to keep me from doing what I wanted and the more they tried the more I rebeled.

I was wondering though if maybe its just too tempting for them having all of the gluten foods visible in the house? Maybe they understand the consequences and *want* to comply to the diet but find it too dificult when there are constant temptations? I think locking up the foods would give them a reason to rebel but what if you *asked* them if having the food around is hard on them....maybe you could *ask* them if it would be easier for them if it wasnt visible or if it was locked up. That might make them feel more in control of the situation.

Either way if they are determined to cheat thats what they'll do but I think a nice talk and giving them some choices and asking them what you can do to *help* them avoid temptation would be more constructive at this point.

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We have been dealing with this since Beth started school [11 years] and it has gotten better with time. As a teen, she wants to be like everyone else and "eat normal food" with her friends.

Beth also knows what it will do to her in the long run. Her great-aunt died of colon cancer [also had Celiac] and we have had many open discussion about the negative effects of eating gluten.

Her father tried the "Gluten Nazi" bit and it only made her resentful and more likely to cheat. Now that I have been unofficially diagnosed- Beth is more willing to talk about her feelings and her condition.

She recently found the For Teens Only section of this forum and was amazed that it's not just her. You may want to give it a try.

Being there, trying to be supportive and at the same time non-judgemental has worked for us. The older she gets the more she is willing to accept that this is for life.

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One thing I have found to be helpful with my 11 year old is to have LOTS of gluten-free food available. I'm gluten-free too, so I understand how frustrating it is to have nothing gluten-free to eat when you're hungry. I have snacks, cookies, tortillas, etc. so it's always easy for him to find something good to eat. I make ALL my cookies, muffins, cakes, pancakes and quick breads as well as dinners completely gluten-free, so everyone eats the same food and no one feels like they're missing out. This might make it easier on your celiac kids. Bread is the only thing that there are two sets of in our kitchen. I try to make homemade bread (gluten-free Pantry Country French) regularly so my son gets yummy tasting homemade bread. I slice it and then freeze it in sandwich bags, two slices per bag with parchment paper in between, for school lunch sandwiches.

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I'd have to agree with Lonewolf. It's a lot easier to keep a gluten free house and that way no one should feel left out. Also, I have "scared the crap" out of my kids with lots of information on what could happen should they eat gluten. We are serious about this diet and so do not take it casually. Celiac can be life threatening if you don't adhere to the diet, and I think everyone (especially kids) need to know that. Some people will not agree with this tactic, but it has certainly worked for us. Our kids are terrified of being glutened, and I think it should be that way. After all, gluten can do terrifying things to their tummies. They've adapted quite nicely, I think. It's not fair that they can't eat the same yummy things their friends eat, but I would tell you that I still think they're pretty happy. My husband, my niece and I go way out of our way to take foods they see and want to eat and make the gluten free versions at home.

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Your daughters are 15 and old enough to know what they are doing. They can get gluten anywhere. My borther is 19 and will cheat on his diet. Some people don't care abut hurting themselves but this doesn't mean they won't always not care. They might just be going through a phase and do you really know how often and in what ammounts they are having? I just know that if I had a parent who locked away things I shouldn't have that it would make me just get it else where.

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I wonder if it might be helpful to give them a feeling of empowerment. Explain why you are so concerned for thier health and why it is imperative that they be 100% gluten-free. Ask them what would help them to stay on the diet and then be willing to meet them at least half way, even if it means making the house gluten-free. I know you have a large family and it would be an extra financial burden, but I could see how it might take some of the temptation away. It might even be good to admit that you can't make them do it. You can provide wholesome gluten-free foods and snacks and encourage them constantly, but you can't watch every bite that goes into their mouths. It has to be their decision, but it is a decision that will save their lives, and it is a decision that you can give them support for every day. I've been a foster mother before and sometimes it has helped when I just admitted that I couldn't MAKE them do certain things, but life is about consequences and if they didn't do the right thing, they had to suffer the consequences - in this case bad health.

Each paren't approach is different, but I think this is the approach I will take with my kids. Never know until you're there, though. Good luck!

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