Guiding Your Child and Teenager in a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Leaving your children with other people can be quite scary, even if your kids have no dietary restrictions on things that can make them sick. But how about trusting someone to feed your child safely with gluten-free food? Yikes! Losing parental control for a few moments can be scary, but leaving them is an important part to help the emotional growth of your children. The best thing you can do is to make sure your child is in good hands by educating those who care for your child. If you think that they do not completely understand about gluten-free diet, try to ensure them about the importance. When you leave your child in the care of others, try to leave prepared foods as often as possible, and clearly mark them as gluten-free food and also include the name of your child. This avoids any confusion when the meal time arrives. Sending children with gluten restriction to school is often challenging. Here are some tips:

Educate teachers, nurses, nutritionists, and the school principal about the food restriction. In fact, you should educate as many staff as possible. This will ensure that there is someone ready to deal with your kid and her diet at any given time, but it is likely larger schools have supported gluten-free diet for some children.

Give the teacher gluten-free candy for your child. Nothing is worse than discovering at the end of the day that your child has cupcakes on her face.

Be aware of the craft time. Play-Doh contains gluten and it can be risky even if children are not supposed to eat it.

Beware of food exchange. Exchanging food in school cafeteria is a very serious matter. Children love it, for example they swap PB & J for egg salad or bananas for cookies (definitely not a good trade). Talk to your kid about the risk of food exchange – even if the food may look delicious. Ask cafeteria supervisors to be vigilant and ensure that your child will not participate in any unofficial food exchange.

You should find information about your child’s legal rights regarding obtaining safe lunches in public schools or any educational institution.

You can not push a teenager too far. If you have teenage children, the best you can do is by hoping that you’ve established a good foundation while guiding them in the right direction. If your child is newly diagnosed, adolescence period can be a little scary for them. They are already going through a good deal of challenges during childhood and their gluten-free lifestyle can make them feel being downright weird. If your child begins to enter adolescence years, you may find that your child develops from someone who was completely accepting and obedient into someone that is completely rebellious. It is a normal behavior found in adolescence, even if there is no such thing as “normal” when we refer to adolescents behaviors. You must deal with them with patience, try to nurture communication and understanding consistently.

Sometimes children tend to do a few disappearing acts during adolescence. In some teenagers, these behaviors disappear for a short while but later return at full ferocity. At this stage, teens may be tempted to eat a pizza, for example. They feel that because they don’t feel the symptoms, it will be fine. This is not true! In fact, this is just an illusion. Although children may no longer feel the bad effects, eating gluten-rich food is still a bad thing.

For others, symptoms will not disappear until adulthood – for example depression, fatigue and headaches.

Teens are unique creatures, and they often have the urge to cheat, for a few unique reasons. In fact, when children reach adolescence years, parents really can’t prevent them from putting something bad in their mouth. But by understanding why they tend to cheat can give you an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with them.

Teenagers are lured to the gluten-rich foods due to:

Peer pressure: Overall, peer pressure is greater when your children are in adolescent years. Even if your friends do not force them to eat gluten-rich food, your child likely wants to be like others and have temptation to cheat on their daily diet. Children love to glorify how they are or want to be completely unique, but they still do not really want to be too different, and eating different foods may make them feel completely different. Do not be surprised if your child orders a huge burger just to make them feel equal with their buddies.

• Rebellion: Your child may be tempted to consume gluten-rich as a way of establishing a rebellious lifestyle.

• Curiosity: A teen can be curious about what gluten-rich foods taste like, obviously by preparing tasty, nutritious and gluten-free diet, your teen may ignore their curiosity. Even if your child firmly follows the rules over the years, she most likely will succumb to typical adolescence lifestyle, so prepared.

• Weight Control: Many teens understand that if they eat gluten-rich, they will not absorb all the calories available in a dish. Unfortunately, some deliberately eat gluten-rich food to lose weight. Beware of eating disorders symptoms in your teenage child. Sometimes, they are obsessed with the food restrictions and push too far – or use gluten as a way to lose weight. Address this problem immediately as eating disorders are very serious problems.

So what you do if you find out that your child cheating? The best thing to do is have a reciprocal and open conversation. Find out why your child cheated and tell her about the consequences. Educate about what happen to her body and remind her that even if she does not feel the bad effects of gluten, it still can do tremendous damage to her body.

One of the most difficult things for teenagers in managing their lifestyle, especially gluten-free lifestyle, is when the move out. Living in college dorms is challenging due to unhealthy diet and the lack of gluten-free food availability. In any case, make sure your child understands about their special diet requirement and help her in choosing gluten-free and healthy foods.

If your child lives at dorm and the dorm has a cafeteria, talk with the food service manager to fully discuss about your child’s nutritional needs. Some colleges offer gluten-free diet but many are not. Your child may need to bring her own condiments and other things. So obviously, acquiring access to refrigerator or even the cafeteria kitchen can be useful. Contact the college food services to know whether your child can use their fridge and microwave. Some dorms allow small-sized refrigerator and microwave inside the bedroom. You should also send some gluten-free foods during midterms or finals to ease your child’s burden.

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