It’s Coeliac Awareness Week here in Australia. Our national body, Coeliac Australia, runs a week-long media campaign to increase awareness of Coeliac Disease. It is estimated that Coeliac Disease affects one in 100 Australians, however 75 percent are undiagnosed. That’s a huge statistic. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Sick and Tired” – it’s worth a look.
As a parent of a Coeliac child, I know how hard it is to put a child on a diet that completely eliminates a foodstuff that’s in so many things. It’s a daunting task and before you see the results, you may question whether you’re doing the right thing and whether it will all be worth it.
There’s no doubt that having a child on a gluten-free diet requires me to be highly organised with her food and it is at times both inconvenient and heartbreaking when she has to miss out on something yummy. It’s also more expensive and takes up a great deal of my time.
But since diagnosis, there has not been a second, not one single second, when I’ve regretted it. In fact, I think that the diagnosis has been the single best thing that has happened to my Little Coeliac, ever.
Before diagnosis, we had a very sickly and unhappy little girl who suffered from awful stomach cramps, anaemia, eczema and prolonged daily tantrums. She was lethargic and unable to concentrate on anything. She had also stopped growing. Within two weeks of going gluten-free, we were witnessing an incredible change. She was suddenly running everywhere, brightening our lives with her sparky cheekiness and concentrating on tasks for long periods. Two years later, she has grown like a rocket and now has the same shoe size as her big sister. She enjoys a wide variety of foods (previously she would only eat “white” foods – rice, yoghurt and cheese – and was terribly fussy). We were totally unprepared for the extent of the changes: we had no idea how far-reaching they would be.
So if you have your suspicions that you or your child may be gluten intolerant, please go and speak to your doctor. Because no matter how anxious you feel about a dietary change, if you have Coeliac Disease, going gluten-free will improve your life, and the lives of those around you, like you wouldn’t believe.
Feel like a chat? Please leave your comments. I’d love to hear your stories!