This is part 4 of 4 in a series called “Raising a Gluten-Free Child in a Gluten-Filled World”, focusing on the challenges of raising a gluten-free child. These posts incorporated answers from my daughter about her life with celiac at home, school, and with friends. I hope to relate our experiences and help people who are wondering about the very same issues.
The future of the gluten-free diet and celiac disease is very much in flux. Every year we learn about more research to find a solution so a gluten-free diet may no longer be necessary – some day. But in the meantime, I think we all need to do our part to help raise awareness about the disease and the gluten-free diet.
The same is true for my 9-year-old daughter Emma. My husband and I hope we are raising her to be conscious of this cause and what we can do now to make life easier for everyone living with celiac disease; as well as being sympathetic to other causes and conditions of which she might not directly relate. As it stands now, her regular contribution to celiac disease is volunteering for our annual Making Tracks for Celiacs Walk/Run fundraiser for the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research. She gets up with me at 5:00 a.m. and sets up for the big day.
My, How the Gluten-Free Times Have Changed
I asked her how she thought things had changed in her time being on the gluten-free diet. And — hold onto your canes everyone — “There weren’t that many gluten free menus back in the 1900’s – that has improved,” Emma told me. Yes, even though she’s accurate about the “1900’s” it makes it sound so long ago – but I digress. She also said “When I was in kindergarten there weren’t any gluten-free options [at school], now [4 years later] there are.”
Strides have been made, this is clear. But with statistics like 97% of the people with celiac disease remaining undiagnosed there is alot of work still left to do. Someday Emma says she would like to “…send a message to the president to make a law that every store needs to have one or two gluten-free meals. Or I could open up a restaurant called ‘The Gluten-Free Café’.
While all of these are possible, Emma mentioned another possibility – a cure. “If they make a gluten-free solution then it will impact me very much. But if nothing happens yet, my mom’s going to have to teach me everything she knows.” This is right. Whether there is a cure some day or not, a strong gluten-free base knowledge will be important for our children as they grow up to make smart decisions for themselves.
If you missed the first parts, you can see them here: Raising a Gluten-Free Child in a Gluten-Filled World Part 1, Part 2 Home and Family, Part 3 School.