Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parents -Should You Put Your Child on a Gluten-Free Diet?

I meet many parents who are in quite a quandary about instituting a gluten-free diet for their child. A typical
scenario is that one of the parents is gluten intolerant and is highly suspicious that their child is as well. Due to the child being ‘relatively healthy’ the non-gluten intolerant spouse suggests that the child be able to ‘live a little’ and enjoy the cake and pizza that is so prevalent at children’s parties and sporting events.

In my opinion, once it has been established that there is a gluten problem, either by blood test, genetic test, or the merits of elimination, there is no question about whether a gluten-free diet should be implemented. 

Why do I feel so adamant on this point?

  • Gluten intolerance vastly increases your risk of developing diseases that can affect most any system and organ in the human body. 
  • Gluten vastly increases your risk for autoimmune disease. 
  • Gluten can be rather silent in a younger body, but if a positive test exists, then it IS doing damage, regardless of whether it is felt or not.And that damage will worsen with the passage of time.

To add a little more strength to my argument is the result of a recent study published by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics wherein researchers aimed to evaluate the influence of celiac disease on the social aspects of life in those living in the U.S. 

Not surprisingly celiac disease did have a negative impact on the quality of life in socials settings, specifically in the area of travel and dining out. However, and this is where I find that most people make their mistake with their children, the researchers found that ‘those diagnosed in childhood and maintained on the diet had less of an impact on the quality of life as an adult’.

So it turns out that you aren’t doing any favors to your at risk child by putting off the implementation of a gluten-free diet. You’re not only creating negative impacts health-wise as mentioned above, but by delaying a gluten-free diet you are also condemning them to the perception of a lower quality of life.

If you think about it, if gluten-free is pretty much all you’ve ever known, you would be less likely to miss it. You haven’t built up the memories of gluten-containing cakes and pizzas and pancakes.

Please do not put off testing your child because you think you’re doing him or her a favor. The truth is quite the contrary. Waiting could allow an autoimmune disease or other illness to develop - one that could have been avoided. There is absolutely NO benefit to one’s health to continue eating gluten when one is gluten intolerant, and it turns out that there is no benefit psychologically either.

Have you run into this argument from friends or family? Have you put off diagnosing a child because you were made to feel guilty?

Please write to me and let me know your experiences and thoughts.

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I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


Debbie Ross said...

Thank you for this post. It encouraged me as I have two gluten-free teens. The youngest (genetic tested) doesn't remember eating anything before the gluten-free diet and has times he feels like he has missed out and it is difficult for him. This helped me understand how much harder it would be now to change his diet if we hadn't done it already! Thanks! I have shared it on Facebook and Twitter. It is sure to encourage many readers.

Violets said...

It's not just family and friends that need convincing...the schools require doctor notes (usually dated within a certain timeframe) in order to excuse kids from certain food related activities or bring their own food on field trips.
My daughter told me that she never felt bullied by the students, they were curious, but some of the teachers or volunteers made her feel really bad about her diet.