(Gluten-Free Family Life) Five surprises about raising a child gluten-free
Elizabeth Carroll

March 14, 2013

Are you raising a child on the gluten-free diet? Or, have you ever thought about what it would be like to do so? My guess is that people imagine this to be difficult and fraught with daily challenges.

Surprisingly, this has not been my experience.  Here are my five biggest surprises about raising a child gluten-free are:

Surprise 1
My daughter would never imagine sneaking gluten. When I enrolled my daughter in kindergarten and talked with the teacher about celiac disease, the teacher asked if my daughter would try to sneak food with gluten. I said no then and the same is true almost five years later. Luckily, my daughter understands the health dangers that gluten presents to her and, therefore, has never tried to sneak. How I hope this will always be the case! Though I know that as kids get older and have more independence, the challenges will increase.

Surprise 2  
People have gone out of their way to have gluten-free snacks, treats and meals in their homes for my daughter to eat. I never expected others to have specialty food for my daughter. It requires research and costs more than gluten-containing foods. But, to my surprise, my daughter's wonderful friends, and their mothers, always try to have something special and delicious at their home for my daughter. We rarely bring things, except birthday party cupcakes.  

Surprise 3 
There have been times where the host has gone as far as to make sure that everything served is gluten-free. This is just truly a knock-me-over because I am so surprised! The thoughtfulness and generosity is truly amazing!

Surprise 4
I have been surprised about my daughter's continuing desire to hide her celiac disease. She wants to be like everyone else and, together, we go through great efforts to make it seem as if she is not eating a different food. Of course, our extended family and her good friends all know about the gluten-free diet, but a surprising number of people in her life do not know. While I wish she could see the diet as a badge-of-distinction, she does not see it that way.

Surprise 5
We have been living with the gluten-free diet in my household for almost ten years. We have so many wonderful people in our lives that are helpful with the diet, that I had forgotten that there could be people out there who did not understand or would joke. This is my last surprise. In this day in age, there are still some folks who are uneducated about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease. We encountered at a sports banquet for my childrens' team just this week! I made a tray of gluten-free penne to go with the rest of the meal, so my daughter could serve herself as inconspicuously as possible. I received several jokes from adults and leaders on the team who must have thought that I was insisting on this diet to further her athletic prowess, instead of for medical reasons! I was so surprised that I could not respond. I did not feel that I had needed to tell these people of her medical diagnosis, and that a simple “she does not eat gluten” would be enough. I was surprised!

What are your reactions to these surprises? Are these similar to your own surprises regarding the gluten-free diet?       

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