celiac disease requires following a gluten-free diet
for life. Sticking to this diet isn't always easy. Teens especially may have
trouble following it consistently. Social situations, such as eating out with
friends, can be very difficult. Giving your teen some responsibility and
control may help.
Educate your teen about gluten-free foods. Let
your teen look through a gluten-free cookbook for recipes to
Encourage your teen to prepare some meals and
Help your teen find restaurants that will serve gluten-free
It can be especially hard for your teen to follow the diet
if he or she doesn't notice symptoms after eating foods with gluten. Explain
to your teen about how damage to the
small intestine can still happen even when he or she does
not notice symptoms. This is because eating gluten triggers an
immune system response that is not normal in people
with celiac disease. Educate your teen about the lifelong nature of
celiac disease, and emphasize the importance of avoiding foods with gluten.
Remind your teen that eating foods with gluten:
May cause symptoms to return. The gas, bloating,
and frequent stools may be uncomfortable and embarrassing. If your teen follows
the diet, symptoms will go away.
May stunt growth and interfere
with development. If your teen doesn't follow a gluten-free diet, the body
cannot absorb the nutrients needed for growth.
Damages the small
intestine, which increases the risk for complications, such as
lymphoma of the intestine and possibly cancer of the
Most teens do better if they feel that they have some control over
their lives and will usually make better choices if they are encouraged and
supported, rather than forced or nagged.
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