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HEALTH: Feeding a gluten-free kid and its challenges

Angela Wetzel
LIVING AGAINST THE GRAIN
Free Press Health Columnist

As an adult, I have control over the things I eat, for the most part. Yes, I still get accidently “glutened” but I really try to watch what is prepared for me and what sits in front of me wherever I am.

That being said, I can’t imagine being a child or teenager with Celiac Disease, a gluten intolerance, or any other allergy for that matter. Not only are pre-teen and teenage years typically more difficult, but now to add insult to injury, you have an autoimmune disease, intolerance or allergy.

I admire these kiddos as they have big hurdles and jump them on a daily basis. They can’t just be a kid; they have to take on adult decisions in what they eat and say “no” to that Pizza Hut pizza that looks (and smells) amazing even though their friends are devouring it.

Kids are cruel anyway, finding any reason to make fun of their fellow classmates no matter what the age. I know a kid (we’ll call him Buddy) and who has several allergies, one of them to eggs. With eggs you have to watch things like salad dressings and mayonnaise when around him. One day he was at the park and another child had a sandwich. The sandwich kid found out that Buddy was allergic to what was in the mayo and proceeded to try to wipe the mayo on Buddy, chasing him around the park. Just because of an allergy. This is only ONE example of how kids have to deal with allergies.

I know in school it’s tough, too, and the American Disabilities Act does protect college kids that are required to purchase school lunch programs. With those in elementary and middle school, it gets harder although they may be protected under the Department of Agriculture’s food accommodation program, starting with the “gluten free 504 plan.” If you have questions, just feel free to do a search on these topics or shoot me an email.

As a parent/teacher/friend how do you make it easier for the kids? At Gluten Free Grand Valley we have decided to dedicate an evening to parents and kids, addressing issues that come up. Two of our parents (Sandi Fairbanks and Donna Sue Smith) will be sharing experiences and so will their kids. Join us 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Masonic Lodge, 2400 Consistory Court, to hear their stories. I know you will benefit from this evening!

Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at glutenfreegrandvalley@gmail.com or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.


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