Telling a child they can no longer eat the foods they enjoy is no easy task for any parent. The child’s age, their ability to comprehend language and concepts, and how accustomed they are to eating gluten-based foods will have an impact on how well your explanation and actions are received. The child’s doctor can play an important role in delivering the news too, but you have the challenge of holding the line on the home front.
Given a scenario where the child is old enough to understand your words and actions, following are some points to keep in mind:
• Let your child know that their health is your main priority and the decisions you make are in the name of their well-being; you’re not being “mean.”
• Let them know they are not alone and that many children or even their own family members are not able to eat foods with wheat and gluten.
• While you don’t want to scare them, it’s critical to let them know how important it is that they avoid the foods that are not good for them. For them, avoiding wheat and gluten is as important as a child who must avoid peanuts due to a severe allergy.
• Even if your child has celiac disease, it’s important that they don’t feel as if something is wrong with them. Any way you can make them proud and feel special for eating gluten-free foods will be beneficial in the long-term.
• Let them know they are not alone. And to make them feel better, you are simply going to replace certain foods like cookies and pasta with other gluten-free cookies and pasta to enjoy. They are made with different ingredients that won’t make their tummy ache. These foods have the power to make them feel better. These foods are your friends. They not only taste good, they will make you healthier.