Nine Year Old Matthew’s Gluten Free Experience

This summer my seven year old son Noah wrote his first blog post about eating gluten free. When I posted his story he had gone back to eating gluten occasionally. Since then our whole family has gone totally gluten free. Gluten was making his brother and sister sick AND his dad and I have celiac disease so gluten is a dirty word in our house. It is not a surprise that he has decided to join the rest of My Celiac Family on our gluten free journey. I mean, would you want to keep eating something that the rest of your family talks about as poison?!? Not to be outdone by his brother, my nine year old Matthew wanted to share his gluten free experience too.

As you can see from Matthew’s perspective below, it was hard eating gluten free at first but it gets easier. I think facing this as a family has really made it better for all of us. The boys also both participated in the decision to go gluten free. Earlier this year I was still making gluten sandwiches and other snacks for lunch for both of my boys. Matthew’s celiac screening was negative and I was told we shouldn’t cut out gluten because “gluten free snacks are unhealthy”. However, one day Matthew came home from school exhausted with an upset stomach (a common occurrence). Tired of feeling sick he finally asked if he could try eating gluten free. His stomach aches, exhaustion and running to the bathroom ended within three days of going gluten free!

Before making the final decision to go completely gluten free we introduced gluten again two times. Both times sent him running to the bathroom. The last time we introduced gluten I also saw a him become a lot more emotional. One of my celiac symptoms is the way it affects my emotions and moods, so it scared me to see it affecting him that way. After having a conversation with his pediatrician and finding out that he carries the celiac gene, the decision was to start him off on a gluten free diet. We opted out of doing an endoscopy/biopsy at this time.

Right now, eating gluten free works for us. I hope that in the not too distant future there will be a more sensitive and accurate test for celiac disease. His pediatrician said that if Matthew decides to challenge the gluten free diet in the future (read: teenage years) we will do further testing then.

Matthew's Gluten Free ExperienceMatthew’s Gluten Free Experience:

Hi, I’m Matthew. My dad was diagnosed with celiac disease in August 2017. A few months later my mom was diagnosed as well. Then in early 2018 my sister was experiencing a number of celiac symptoms so her doctor put her on a gluten free diet. Then I noticed that I was having some GI problems so I went on a gluten free diet. After a couple of months of feeling better I decided to try gluten again and started feeling bad once again so I went gluten free.

I have one more sibling named Noah who can eat gluten but supports the family by eating mostly gluten free. Honestly going gluten free isn’t the worst thing in the world. It has allowed us to try awesome new foods and restaurants that we may have never heard about if it wasn’t for celiac. Sure it sucks when I see my friend eating tasty gluten filled treats and it is a little embarassing at times but I can always come home and have my own treat. So basically I was pretty sad to start but I kept getting more and more used to it. I really hope there is a cure soon so that we can put celiac disease behind us.

What I have learned is that kids are very resilient, they all adjusted faster than I did to being gluten free! All three kids are navigating school where other kids bring in cupcakes or donuts to celebrate their birthdays. The teachers give treats as rewards and they have hot lunch (think pizza, pasta, sandwiches, etc.) every two weeks. I help them cope by giving them a treat bag for school; they get to select a gluten free treat whenever other kids get a regular treat. That works very well, they don’t really love cake and stuff anyway and are much happier to have a mini chocolate bar instead. I give them a special lunch on hot lunch days and so far it has been going well.

Honestly, we all eat better now! I work hard to incorporate nuts, seed, legumes, fish, lean meats and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables into our diets to make sure that we are not missing out on any nutrition by eating gluten free. I believe we are getting way more nutrition than before. Also, my kids say they like my gluten free cooking and lunches better. I think I try harder to make things yummy to compensate for all the big changes in our world. Here are a few of my kids favourite healthy recipes:

My advice to other parents is… teach your gluten free child that they are different. Don’t try to shield them and keep their world the same. We live in a different world because we can’t participate in “breaking bread” like everyone else. Teach them that social gatherings are more about socializing and being with friends and family and less about a giant slab of pizza or cake! Have them appreciate their own treats. What gets them excited? There are lots of yummy gluten free treats, embrace that! I carry gluten free treats in my purse for a quick treat when there are impromptu snacks around that they can’t have. I also let my kids know that they can have a treat when they get home if they have to miss out. Sometimes they take me up on it, but often they just choose to go without and they are fine.

Both Matthew and Noah ended their blog posts about their gluten free experience the same way. Both boys want a cure for celiac disease. I really do hope that even if there isn’t a cure that things get easier in their lifetime. Things are way better than they were only a few years ago so let’s hope that they keep improving! In the meantime, I a very proud of how my kids are handling this gluten free experience. It is one of the most difficult things I have gone through, but my children prove to me everyday that kids are resilient and we are going to be okay!

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