New-Research-teensThose teenage years can be hard enough, but throw a celiac diagnosis into the mix and now what?  Do they comply with the only treatment, a gluten-free diet?  And just how significantly does the new diet affect their overall eating habits?

New research published this week in the Journal of Nutritional Science, looked at Swedish 13-year-olds, some without celiac, some who were diagnosed with celiac during the study and others who were previously had a celiac diagnosis.  The focus of the study was on that group that was diagnosed during the study to see how their eating habits changed.

Overall, the study found the eating habits didn’t change too much.

 “The ingredients on the plate are altered, however, this does not necessarily include a change of food groups.  The intake of some popular foods [like pizza, pastries] are reduced, but the availability of manufactured GF replacement products makes it possible for adolescents to keep many of their old food habits when diagnosed with CD”. –quote from study in Journal of Nutritional Science, Sept. 2014

Interestingly, researchers still came to this conclusion when the food questionnaire was actually conducted in 2006– before the gluten-free boom.  

Emma & Grace at Emma's High School Academic Letter Awards night,  May 2014

Emma & Grace at Emma’s High School Academic Letter Awards night, May 2014

This study didn’t report on nutrition or social eating. However, authors indicated a forthcoming paper would tackle whether the gluten free diet is healthier than the regular gluten-containing diet.  

When you are talking about “GF replacement products”, as mentioned in the quote above, we often are talking about those processed grain products; whether they are pretzels, cereals, breads, pizzas, cakes, etc.  The gluten free version is often highly processed and packed with fat, perhaps more sugar, in order to make them palatable.  

I have never had a teenager be newly diagnosed with celiac during those adolescent years, but I do have a celiac teenager.   I am glad the products have come so far since my daughter’s diagnosis in 2000.  I would rather have a few processed products (like Julie’s Organic Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches or Glutino Pretzels or Chocolate Sandwich Cookies) around the house if that means the teenager will feel a little more normal and won’t cheat on the diet.   Again, this is all in moderation.  

Celebrating  this special occasion with a GF cake from French Meadow Bakery, brought in by the high school

Celebrating this special occasion with a GF cake from French Meadow Bakery, brought in by the high school

As a result, sometimes I do have trouble having my kids understand a treat versus a staple. In fact, I think sometimes they would like to have the treats become the staples!  But hopefully by standing my ground and only getting treats for special occasions, the moments of trying to blend in with the crowd, and even for convenience (those post-school bus rides to activities) they will learn to understand how those foods can have their place a well-balanced diet.

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