Diagnosis And Mental State

While waiting to get back the test results for Celiac disease, it is understandable to feel extremely nervous and anxious, because a Celiac diagnosis is a life-changing event. It certainly is normal to feel upset and worried about the consequences if your child is diagnosed. With that in mind, in the days/weeks before you receive the results, don’t discuss it too much. You don’t want to upset your child more than they already may be. Be sure to answer any questions your child may have about what a Celiac diagnosis would mean, so they aren't left in the dark. Try not to convey the message that Celiac disease is an insurmountable challenge that can ruin one’s life (because it certainly isn’t!).

If your child is upset, tell them that Celiac disease is easily manageable with the right attitude and eating adjustments. Of course, your family will need to work together to ensure a smooth transition to eating a gluten-free diet and coordinate all the logistics involved with this (updating your kitchen, buying new foods, etc.). I also recommend that before you and your child find out the results, you treat your child to their favorite foods that contain gluten because they may never be able to eat them again. If your child is young enough, they may not even understand or completely realize the full extent of how a Celiac diagnosis will change their life.

Once your child has been diagnosed with Celiac disease, the most important thing is to not panic. While it is important to understand that as a parent, guiding your child through this transition won’t be easy, a (relatively) smooth transition requires a calm, and collected mind that uses logic and reasoning to make decisions. For example, you may not know anything about Celiac, gluten, or gluten-free food, but by using this website and other resources to get information, you can make your and your child’s lives a lot easier and less stressful.

Once you receive the diagnosis of Celiac, your child will likely be very upset and scared about what lies ahead, as I certainly was when I was diagnosed at age 9. For any person diagnosed with Celiac, life without many of their favorite foods is hard to get used to. Luckily, children are usually able to adjust very quickly. At first, your child will likely be very unhappy and resistant to eating new, gluten-free foods instead of their old favorites. It is important to comfort them, and remind them that the transition to a gluten-free diet is a good thing because the “new food” won’t make them sick and they will start to feel better. Remember to stay firm on allowing your child to only eat gluten-free foods, no matter how much they beg. 

Over time, your child will become more used to living gluten-free as their comfort level with this new lifestyle increases. However, there still may be times where they become very upset. From personal experience, this usually occurs after a party, get-together, or some other type of social occasion where food is involved and your child has to eat something different from everyone else. This feeling of exclusion is a painful feeling, and to minimize it, you can send your child with the same food as everyone else is eating at these social occasions. For example, if everyone will be eating pizza at a birthday party, arrange to bring them a gluten-free pizza. Even if the two pizzas might look a bit different, it makes a child feel much better knowing that they are basically eating the same thing as everyone else. Even though this advice may seem like common sense, sometimes it will be much easier to send your child with a food that is different from what everyone else is eating. It is up to you, the parent, to determine what is best for your child. This will vary based on circumstances; for example, someone who has eaten gluten free for 8 years should be able to handle eating something different from everyone else for one night.

It can also be a hassle at first when everyone is asking what Celiac is, but this will only be a very short-term issue. As time goes on, Celiac will become less and less of an issue until it becomes a way of life, but as with any major change, the shock can take years to be fully “absorbed”.

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