What are the 5 top things you should do when your child is first diagnosed with coeliac disease?

  1. Go through all your kitchen cupboards and separate or get rid of any products containing gluten. Set up an exclusive gluten-free zone in your cupboards and fridge. If whole family will be going gluten-free then get rid of any products containing gluten. If this proves to be an impossible task, then set up an area in your cupboard to contain any gluten products. Make sure you label clearly anything in your fridge freezer or cupboards which contains gluten. Clean all your cupboards, work surfaces and fridge thoroughly to ensure that you don’t cross contaminate any gluten-free food.
  2. Contact Coeliac UK and become a member. This is an invaluable support. As a member you can receive a copy of their food list directory which includes over 11,000 items which are gluten-free. They can also answer any queries about nutrition and they have a good website which sells publications and cookbooks.
  3. Write a letter to your child’s school/nursery explaining that your child will require a gluten-free diet. You can get a template for this letter from the Coeliac UK website. If possible, set up an appointment with the catering manager to discuss your child’s dietary requirements.
  4. Put together a list of snacks and on the go foods to take with you. Keep this somewhere accessible as an aide memoire. Make a special trip to the supermarket to check out the free from aisle and see what is available. Make sure you have a good supply of containers, cups and lunchboxes which are scrupulously clean to be used only for gluten-free food.
  5. Be positive. This is a big lifestyle change and it will require everyone in the household to be supportive and positive. If your child is constantly surrounded by tempting foods, it will be very difficult for them to keep to the diet. Try and set a good example and remember that even a tiny bit of gluten can be harmful. So don’t fall into the trap of allowing the odd bit of gluten to creep in to your child’s diet.

Oh and don’t forget to get yourself a copy of The Gluten-free Cookbook for Kids. This book has lots of kid friendly recipes that the whole family will enjoy. They are easy to prepare and the majority of the ingredients used can be purchased at a supermarket.

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