Managing Celiac Disease
If your child has been diagnosed with celiac disease, here’s the good news: it’s a highly manageable condition. Once gluten is removed from your child’s diet, you can expect to see improvement in as soon as one or two weeks.
Within six to 12 months on the gluten free diet, the lining of the intestine will have healed and your child’s growth and bone strength will return to normal.
Still, your child won’t be “cured,” and he or she will have to adhere to a gluten free diet for life. This means that foods like bread, cereal, cakes, pizza, and anything containing wheat, barley, or rye are off-limits.
At first, the diet for celiac disease patients can seem highly restrictive and difficult to follow. But once you become familiar with the wide (and growing) variety of foods without gluten, you and your family should be able to manage it well. You may find it helpful to consult a dietician or find a support group as you transition your child to a gluten-free diet. They can provide you with tips, advice, and even recipes suitable for celiac patients.
Be sure to follow-up regularly with your child’s health care team to ensure that he or she is healthy and thriving. And keep in mind these six key elements on managing celiac disease*:
- Consultation with a skilled dietitian
- Education about the disease
- Lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet
- Identification and treatment of nutritional deficiencies
- Access to an advocacy group
- Continuous long-term follow-up by a multidisciplinary team
*These elements are recommended by the NIH Consensus Development Conference on the management of individuals affected by celiac disease