Neena Sagar – whose daughter, Neiha, was diagnosed with Celiac disease as a toddler – has been there, done that.
“I am a mother of three children and my only daughter – and middle child – Neiha, was extremely clingy before diagnosis. She was moody, too, as I have since found that sufferers of Celiac disease do feel unwell all the time with intense abdominal pains,” shares Neena, who says Neiha suffered from loose stools and wasn’t thriving physically. Despite the fact that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was wrong back then, Neena trusted her instincts, as she was “determined to get to the bottom of her problems”. She also credits finding a gastroenterologist familiar with Celiac disease in making a big difference in managing her daughter’s condition. “They know the signs, symptoms and management better than anyone.”
This is what Neena recommends to parents going through something similar:
“I scour menus to ensure there is something she can safely eat, and make sure she always carries a snack. For travel on planes, l ensure she eats before she gets on the plane, as the gluten-free food is horrible! She takes packed lunches to school to ensure she eats correctly and gluten-free without any risks of contamination.”
“I buy food separately for Neiha. She has her own dedicated shelf in the fridge and cupboard in the kitchen. However, we do incorporate things that are gluten-free into our meals such as pasta, lasagna, cereals, pancakes and waffles – anything we know Neiha can eat, we incorporate as it makes life easier, and she feels included versus excluded due to her gluten-free diet.”
“The hardest part has been sourcing foods and ensuring Neiha’s diet is healthy and varied. We have lived in a few different countries where you just could not get gluten-free food items. We would always take an extra suitcase to the U.K. to bring back gluten-free foods, which were more readily available there. The other challenge was getting into the habit of reading every ingredient on food packaging. Neiha’s golden rule is, ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.”
By Neena Sagar, The Finder Kids Vol. 27 / Images: 123RF.com, respective shops and businesses
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