Thursday, December 18, 2008

What do we do now? (Or: The joy of reading labels)

I remember the moment the doctor called with The Celiac Dad's diagnosis. We were standing in the kitchen and while he was on the phone repeating the doctor's orders for what to avoid, I was reaching into our refridgerator and pantry throwing each and every offending box of macaroni and cheese, cracker, and pasta box in a garbage bag that I delivered to my mother's house that night.

That was five years ago. And even though I thought we were in the clear once I emptied the "poison" from our home, we have since learned that with Celiac Disease, the learning never ends.
I thought it was tough with my husband, but compared to the egg-shell walk I negotiate daily in trying to feed Buttercup a balanced and gluten-free diet, dealing with The Celiac Dad was a piece of cake.

He, at least, understands what he can and cannot have. He is also literate and very motivated to stay on course and avoid the effects of eating gluten-containing foods. Buttercup, on the other hand, is far too innocent to understand why I'm always saying things like, "No, baby, you can't eat that. Why not try this instead!"

For clarification, Buttercup has not been diagnosed as having Celiac disease. But we know that there is a possibility that she may one day test positive. And on the advice of some very respected doctors, we have decided to keep her gluten-free until she is at least three to four years old. At that point we will test, and based on the results, possibly introduce gluten into her diet.

So what do we do until then? The same thing you should be doing if your child was just diagnosed.

Learn what foods are safe, what foods must be avoided, and read every single label on every single food item before allowing them to eat it. Assuming is a dangeous game when it comes to Celiac Disease, so please don't take anything for granted.

We learned the hard way that many cooking sprays contain gluten when the Celiac Dad kept getting sick even though we were both sure that we had checked everything again and again. And when we finally realized what the offending ingredient was, we immediately bought an olive oil mister, and have banned cooking sprays from the house.

Another time, The Celiac Dad was offered peanuts at work. Thankfully, label reading is now second nature to him, and he saved himself from a very bad afternoon. Turns out that the package listed "wheat flour" as a main ingredient.

But again, he's an adult. He gets it. My little Celiac Kid doesn't, and it's my job to make sure she stays safe.

And if that means playing the part of "that mom" who drives the rest of the world crazy with her
"let-me-just-take-a-look-at-that's," well then so be it.

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