We are relatively new to the Celiac world. Since last November when we received her diagnosis, we have been learning how to deal (with the crazy curve balls this disease throws at you) and heal (our baby girl). This certainly takes a lot of time, patience, and research, so I put together a list of 10 tips we’ve picked up along our journey. If you or somebody you know was recently diagnosed with CD, these tips might come in handy.
1) Peppermint oil—
Despite the fact that Keira is 100% gluten and dairy free and taking supplements and a probiotic, she still gets tummy aches. They can pop up out of nowhere, and nine out of 10 times, they quickly pass without much fuss. One thing that has helped ease the pain is peppermint oil. We have bottles of this stashed in different rooms throughout our house. I carry one in my purse. She keeps a bottle of it at school. Even her grandma has a bottle she keeps at her house. We simply dab a few drops on her belly and rub it around the pain in a clockwise motion.
2) A bracelet—
Keira wears this bracelet all the time. It reads:
Gluten and diary free
It gives me peace of mind to know she has an extra reminder on her wrist. Plus, she’s very much into pretty things, so this is a bonus in that department. My friend made this. Check out her FB page if you are interested.
3) Gluten Free labels—
I actually need to order more or make these, but Raising Jack with Celiac sent us these!
These have come in handy when in comes time to share food at parties, school, or meetings. The labels alert others to avoid contaminating the GF dish. In addition to labeling the food, I try to separate the GF food in potluck set ups. I also like to put it first on the line so others’ hands aren’t contaminating the GF dish by touching other gluten-filled foods first.
4) A school food stash—
Keira has a stash of food she keeps at school. In a shoebox size plastic container, I packed a box of safe cookies, a few pouch fruit juice drinks, and some safe candy. Anytime there is a party or food reward, Keira will have safe options. This makes her happy, while also making it easy on her teacher and me.
5) A purse/car stash of safe snacks—
Keira is involved in after school activities. She loves soccer and she dances her heart out in dance class. She’s a busy girl living with a big and busy family, so having access to food–and food safe for her–is a must. I try to have safe and healthy (as I can get) snacks on hand. They aren’t always ideal–sometimes I have organic fruit snacks or a GF/DF granola bar–but I do keep some fruits with me too. Bananas travel very well while also helping soothe her achy legs (soccer and dancing will tire a girl’s legs out rather quickly). She likes oranges and apples as well.
6) Sunday prep-day
Having food on hand can really be helpful for anybody trying to stick to any kind of diet. It helps us to not run to the store for pre-packaged goodies. And since the drive-thru isn’t really an option for us, it’s nice having safe food on hand for those nights we might otherwise be hitting the drive-thru. Ideally, I would prep food every Sunday, but I am the first to admit we don’t live in a perfect or ideal world! That being said, when I can get in the kitchen for any stretch of time, I like to make some meals/snacks ahead of time. This school year, I am making and freezing soups. I store the soups in mason jars, and when it’s time to use them, I set them in the fridge to thaw overnight. The next morning I heat it up and pack it in a good thermos. This keeps it nice and warm until lunch. I also like to make muffins for a quick snack or for part of breakfast. I just made some paleo bacon biscuits, and they are a hit. Cutting up fruit for snacks, or even veggies I plan to use in meals that week saves me time. I boil a dozen eggs every Sunday to have on hand for breakfast or snacks, or as part of their school lunches. Sometimes I’ll even add a cookie to the list of foods. I like to treat them every once in a while. I will share recipes in a future post (coming soon)!
7) Epsom salt baths
Maybe it’s the warm water. Maybe it’s the salts… I’m willing to bet it’s both. Whatever it is, the Epsom salt baths help soothe Keira’s body. Sometimes she will get flare ups that affect her stomach, but she also feels it in her joints and muscles. This happened more when she wasn’t taking magnesium, but she will occassinally get them still. To help her, I prepare a warm bath with Epsom salts. She soaks for 20 minutes, and it helps to pull the “poison” out of her body. I use also use this tool when she or any of her siblings are sick. Even if it only makes them feel better without actually “curing” anything, it’s a great way to help ease their troubles. And the best thing is that you can get Epsom salts pretty cheaply!
8) Keep medical records close by
Since Keira was much younger, I’ve had an inkling something wasn’t right with her. It occurred to me back then that I should have a record of everything related to her health. I learned quickly that I couldn’t rely on a doctor to look a the whole person–her history of complicated symptoms–so I kept my own medical records. I actually have a note on my iphone for each of my children that details their medical history. Even if something seems insignificant at the time, I still jot it down. I’ve learned that you just never know when that information could come in handy. In addition to the “notes” app on my phone, I have a huge accordion file folder where I keep a file for each kid. There are test results, doctor notes, my notes, growth charts, vaccination records, and maybe even Jimmy Hoffa’s body in there. Only kidding! When Keira was going to her first appointment to see the doctor who diagnosed her, I poured over her file. I was looking things up and making connections I’d never seen. Thankfully, all that was unnecessary because for the first time in my life, the doctor actually took care of this step in the treatment process so I didn’t have to!
9) Reconsider your dairy consumption
Undiagnosed or newly diagnosed celiac patience may be intolerant to dairy due to the damage of the small intestinal mucosa. This article explains it better than I can, but basically, the part of your intestines that helps you digest dairy is often too damaged to preform its job–thus leaving you intolerant to dairy.
Such a simple idea, I know. But it truly is the key to successfully leading a healthy life as a celiac patient. Some ways we communicate with others include verbally–like when we drop her off for a playdate or birthday party I always inform the parent and provide a snack (if necessary). Via text–we have found this to be helpful with communicating with teachers. They typically don’t have time to make a phone call, and I’m not always checking my email–thus, texting is a quick and effective manner to ask quick questions or to alert me of anything concerning Keira. A 504 plan is something new we used to communicate this school year. So far, it has proved to be a wonderful tool. It allows our daughter to be safe at school. Cafeteria staff, office staff, the guidance counselor, librarian, art teacher and, of course, her homeroom teacher are all informed of her condition and the necessary precautions that need to be taken to keep her safe. I will write a future post about this in more detail. We also communicate with her doctor. Anytime she gets a random/odd symptom that persists and makes me a bit uneasy, I call her doctor. So far, this has only happened a couple of times, but it is important to stay on top of this. And last, but certainly not least, we communicate with our daughter. We teach her to be aware of her body. She notices changes and alerts us. We’ve learned that we can’t make too big of a deal, but that we should also not brush off her symptoms. In the past, I’ve been known to brush off aches and pains that my children complain about. You kind of become a cynic when you have six kids who seem to be constantly complaining about anything from a healed boo-boo, to a hangnail, to a tummy ache. “You’ll be fine” has been uttered from my mouth more times than I care to admit! I try to keep that in check now because I’ve learned that, while most complaints are not necessarily serious, they can help to paint a clear picture later on down the road.
This list is something I hope can help you or somebody you know. I realize each person with CD has different symptoms, but I think this list is pretty generalized. What tips have you utilized?