Celiac disease is due to an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some individuals develop an immune reaction to gluten, causing damage to the lining of the small intestine and resulting in malabsorption. Patients can suffer from crampy abdominal pain, foul-smelling stools, diarrhea, weight loss, irritability, and a continuous feeling of being sick.
The diagnosis of Celiac Disease has been made easier in the last few years due to an improved blood test that can detect a variety of antibodies to gluten. A biopsy of the small intestine is the most accurate way to make the diagnosis. If the intestinal lining turns out to be damaged, your child will be placed on a gluten-free diet. You will need to carefully check the labels of any foods you purchase, since wheat flour is a hidden ingredient in many items. Because rice and rice products do not contain gluten, they’ll probably become a major part of your child’s diet.
Your child may not be able to tolerate milk sugar for as long as several months after the initial diagnosis is made. In this case, you may be advised to eliminate milk temporarily, as well as gluten products, from her diet. During this time she might be given milk treated with enzymes (i.e. Lactaid), so that it will be predigested before reaching the intestine. Extra vitamins and minerals also might be necessary.
If your child does have celiac disease, she must remain on a gluten-free diet for her entire life, completely avoiding wheat, rye, barley, and, in some cases, oat products.
Fortunately for affected individuals, there are more local resources than ever for gluten free foods. In addition to many items stocked at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and local supermarket shelves, there are many local eateries that offer gluten free options as well.
Beyond Celiac– Web site with extensive resources on how to live gluten-free, with recipes, how-tos, and research support
GlutenDude– blog, recipes, coupons, and a few laughs
ROCK Fairfield County– R.O.C.K. is a free group for moms or dads of kids on the gluten free diet. Started by 3 Westport moms looking to share experiences, ideas and tips about gf living in Fairfield County.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Visit this useful website for a list of processed foods that are gluten-free:
For more information about Celiac Disease:
Visit here for a great article on simple, healthy and celiac friendly convenience foods:
The American Dietetic Association: