Living with Celiac disease? How to follow a gluten-free diet Living with Celiac disease? How to follow a gluten-free diet

Having Celiac disease involves incorporating a demanding change in diet for the entire family.

This is especially true for children who have the disease. As they grow, children require special attention to prevent other malnutrition-related diseases or disorders from developing.

It is important to first understand that this digestive disease causes damage to the small intestine due to the consumption of foods that contain gluten; the protein that is naturally found in wheat, barley and rye. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in children, this condition presents as abdominal bloating, chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting.

To prevent symptoms from arising and to protect the intestine, the institute recommends beginning this change in diet by eliminating breads, pasta, crackers and cakes from the kitchen pantry. Replace these items with gluten-free options, which are becoming more easily available.

Always check the nutrition label of your foods, especially with preserved, frozen and processed foods. Opt for foods labeled “gluten-free,” which as the law regulates, means they have very low levels of this protein.

For a balanced diet at home, meats, fish, fruit, vegetables and rice can still be eaten, but choose those products without additives or condiments. (Also read: Food labels: your guide to a healthy diet).

When you go out to eat, do not be embarrassed about asking the waiter or chef how the foods are prepared and what they contain. Or if you are invited to a social gathering, tell the host about your condition to avoid any awkward situations.

Always keep in mind that even if you do not have immediate symptoms, ignoring the dietary requirements of this condition can cause malnutrition, accelerated osteoporosis (softening of the bones), and nervous and reproductive system problems.