A Family Approach To Celiac Disease
For protein lovers, Celiac disease is one thing they wouldn’t want to
inherit from the family genes. Fortunately, its treatment can also be
ensured within the family and in the home.
Celiac disease is a digestive order that can run from one generation to
another. The disease causes severe damage to the small intestines as a
reaction to gliadin or a gluten protein, and results to inflammation and
flattening of the lining of the small intestines.
The person with Celiac disease is unable to absorb gluten, which is a
group of protein common in wheat, rye, oats and barley. Hence, the
disease imposes a gluten-free diet for those who are affected. This
proves to be a difficult task since gluten is the second most consumed
ingredient next to sugar, and hence difficult to avoid. Also, it is
difficult to monitor since some may not experience any symptoms. But
already knowing that the person and his or her family are prone to the
disease can provide a head start on how to mitigate the damages.
Indeed, the home is the best place to start addressing Celiac disease. A
family approach to knowing the disease and understanding how it affects
everyday life will provide the battle gears for coping. This is
especially helpful for the children, who would need all the support and
guidance they could get.
A family that eats together heals together. This can be a reasonable
motto for families afflicted with the history of Celiac disease. Several
measures can already be taken if these families consider carefully their
eating habits. One step is taking into heart what food to buy, grow,
store, prepare or eat at any time of the day. By this, it is not just
about ensuring that food is gluten-free but also ensuring that the needed
nutrients are sourced from other food groups.
The family can also seek help from dieticians for the information on
gluten-free foods. This includes help on how to read labels that may not
specify gluten but contains it nonetheless. An example is the hydrolyzed
vegetable protein that may be sourced from wheat. Familiarization with
these gluten-free foods may be hard at first, but with the aid of a food
diary and the collective memory of the family members, it will soon be
Remember also that it is not just about knowing what to avoid, but rather
knowing what to eat. For example, fruits are very much encouraged since
these reduce other stressors to the digestive system, such as
constipation. Further, in planning what meals to prepare and what other
food to stock in the kitchen, the family can treat this as an opportunity
to monitor and ensure balanced nutrition and sufficient calorie intake.
But what happens when family members, especially the children, need to
eat outside of the home?
Again, it is important for the family to plan ahead. Children and teens
should be part of the whole process of learning about gluten-free food.
To engage their interest and to ensure that they like what they eat,
children and teens may be entrusted with the responsibility of choosing
what gluten-free meals to prepare. In this way, they would be able to
prepare for food they can either eat at home or have as packed lunch or
snacks. But in cases when they have to buy food outside the home, their
knowledge about gluten-free food would enable them to discriminate which
meals to buy. For young children with Celiac disease, their parents can
also talk to teachers about the food requirements of their children. Or
talk to the parents of their children’s friends, in case they visit or
sleep over at houses of their friends.
In the end, a realistic talk among family members is the best approach.
Each member, especially the children and teens, needs to know the
consequences of eating meals with gluten.