The Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago is one of the top centers for celiac disease and treatment in the United States. Lara Field is a Pediatric Dietitian at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. In this video she talks about how to help children make a health transition to a gluten-free lifestyle, by answering some commonly asked questions.
One interesting things that she notices is that parents often seem to be more motivated to make dietary changes for their children, than they may be for themselves. This is especially true when it comes to a challenging dietary change; parents are often better at making the necessary changes for the health and well-being of their children even if it initially sounds difficult. Parents are motivated when it comes to the health of their children.
As a dietitian it’s no surprise that the one of the first things she looks at is what the patient eats regularly. This is where she looks for the main problem areas and ways to fix these problem areas. This is what she does as a dietitian, but you can also try this yourself. Of course it is always important to go to a professional for dietary advice when facing this type of dietary change, but this can be a good exercise that will make you really evaluate what you, or your loved ones, are eating on a regular basis. Making a list of what you eat regularly, and the main nutritional content of these foods, can help you find weak or problem areas.
She mentions how important it is to counsel families together so everyone understands what a gluten-free diet entails. It’s also important to educate teachers, family friends, caregivers and others who may be sharing meals with your children about a gluten-free lifestyle. She explains how school notes or informational sheets can be helpful. Schools in some areas are becoming more aware, but it is important for the schools to understand why this special diet is necessary. She even talks about how celiac disease falls under the American Disabilities Act.
She talks about how gluten-free menus are more common and how many restaurants may have good intentions, but not all restaurants truly understand what that means in terms of cross contamination or in hidden ingredients. This is also true for dining halls in college. This is an important thing to consider as you send kids with celiac disease to college.
She feels one of the most difficult aspects about adapting to a gluten-free diet initially is discovering what foods and products are safe. Keep in mind many foods in their natural form are gluten-free. Try replacing grain based foods with healthy gluten-free grain options and always read labels.