Raising Our Celiac Kid

We have officially been gluten-free for a week now.

That’s it???

The good news is that we are already seeing improvement in Harper’s symptoms. Her tummy troubles have all but disappeared. And she is once again sleeping through the night. Poor thing was waking up nearly every hour crying, moaning, saying her body hurt…something hurt. Now she is 2 days away from the jean jacket she has been eying. Now that she is feeling better I have promised her that ‘prize’ once she has stayed in her own room for 5 consecutive nights. Bribery?? Mommy Fail??? Perhaps.

I am a sponge, soaking in, soaking up, every bit of information I can gather on raising a Celiac. Recipes. Where to shop. How to read labels (more on that in a bit). What questions to ask a waitress. What a four year old will eat and not. What foods I can send to school and what foods I cannot.

In the past seven days I have thought, “Celiac Schmeliac. No big deal.” And cried in the next breath. Our family has been undergoing what is likely to become a life-long experiment. Trial and error. Trial and error…

We have already proven that our two year old (the least effected by our GF lifestyle) will eat anything. Anything that is except for gluten-free pizza. Right in. And right back out…onto my kitchen floor. Lesson learned.

I have learned that the folks that work at Whole Food Markets are angels sent to rescue Mommas on the verge of tears; Mommas attempting to navigate a new world while wrangling an overzealous (understatement) toddler and impatient four year old with what seems like the eyes of the world burning a hole in her forehead…judging.

I have learned that there is a difference in gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. A difference in a GF diet and a GF lifestyle. For instance, my Celiac Kid cannot play with Playdoh. And we have to be mindful of her chapstick, and mine for that matter, and her toothpaste, and her vitamins, and any other medication that she ever takes. We have to worry about cross-contamination. A concern that requires her teachers to use different gloves when assisting Harper with her lunch. We have to ask lots of questions when eating out, even when ordering off of the GF menu. Because if you read those menus closely, they mention the possibility of cross contamination; however, the Olive Garden assured us that they use separate pots and pans, separate serving dishes, even different burners for their GF foods. But we’ll always be taking a risk…

I have learned that food labels can be deceiving. If you look closely, just below the ingredients where it says “Gluten Free”, it may also say something like this- This product is manufactured in a plant where products containing gluten are also produced. Again, cross-contamination.

I have learned that finding snacks for a gluten free four year old are fairly easy, but finding actual meals, food of substance, not so much. Harper doesn’t like the oatmeal, or the pasta, or the tortillas…and I can’t say I blame her.

Some of her favorite snacks so far have been the Larabars, cheddar brown rice crackers, Chex cinnamon cereal, the zucchini banana chocolate chip Garden Lites Veggie Muffins (surprisingly tasty- and premade), and of course any and all fruit.

This past week has been eye-opening, exhausting, expensive, and most importantly…worthwhile. Because in the past week, my family has attacked Celiac Disease head on…with purpose, determined to get our girl healthy.

There’ll undoubtedly be more trial and error…error, but we’ll get there. We will get there.

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