Four Ways to Support Someone with Celiac Disease

Imagine being that told that you can never have foods that contain gluten; such as, bread, cakes, cookies, or pasta. It’s a life changing moment. How can you support someone with Celiac Disease?

The only current treatment for Celiac Disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. This is a major lifestyle change for individuals diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

They have to quickly learn how to adopt a gluten-free diet. What does that look like? They need to feel comfortable being able to:

    • Read food, supplement, and medication labels
    • Cook gluten free meals
    • Advocate for themselves

It’s an overwhelming journey. Odds are you’d like to support their journey but don’t know where and how to start. You might feel helpless.

I can relate to the helplessness you feel. I didn’t know how to help my mother when she was told to go on a gluten-free diet in 2008. No one in our family had heard about Celiac Disease or a gluten-free diet.

What did we do? We became educated about Celiac Disease and the gluten-free diet together.

There’s different ways that you can support someone with Celiac Disease. Your way of supporting someone will Celiac Disease will depend on your individual circumstances.

How to Get Started

1) Listen to Their Concerns

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine with the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (cross between wheat and rye). Currently, the only treatment of Celiac Disease is a lifelong gluten free diet, which heals the small intestine.

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Additional Resources by the Department of Health:

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2) Listen to Their Concerns

It is difficult to be able to support someone without first understanding them.

You can learn how to support someone with Celiac Disease by listening to their concerns.

You can initiate the conversation by asking them open ended questions. The type of questions that you’ll ask will depend on your relationship with the individual.

Example Questions:

    • How can I support you with the management of Celiac Disease?
    • How can we ensure that we maintain a safe gluten free environment in our household for you?
    • What are you concerned about with the management of Celiac Disease?
Supporting Someone with Celiac Disease
4 Ways to Support Someone with Celiac Disease

3) Respect Their Choices

R-E-S-P-E-C-T the choices that they make to manage Celiac Disease. They know the best way to manage their condition. The only thing that you have to do in return is to respect their choices.

Example Case Scenarios:

    • They might not feel comfortable consuming the meals you prepared for them.
      • The only treatment for Celiac Disease is a gluten-free diet. All meals must be made gluten free without cross-contact with other ingredients that contain gluten.
    • They might not want to dine out.

Respect their choices and explore how you can support them in different ways. Brainstorm alternatives to the case scenarios provided above.

Example Alternate ways to Show Support:

    • Prepare a meal together with them.
    • Purchase a pre-packaged gluten-free product for them.
    • Explore different social activities together that doesn’t include dining out. 

4) Include Them in Your Plans

No one wants to be left out. We are social human beings with a need to connect with one another. There is no cure to Celiac Disease. The only treatment is being on a lifelong gluten free diet.

There will be plenty of social scenarios that come up. Your loved one with Celiac Disease wants to be a part of those social scenarios.

    • Are you headed to a new restaurant? Invite them.
    • Are you headed to a bar? Invite them.
    • Are you headed to a movie? Invite them.
    • Are you headed to a festival? Invite them.

It doesn’t hurt to ask if they’d like to join you. Your responsibility is to extend the invitation to them. Their responsibility is to make a choice that brings them comfort.

Summary:

    1. Learn about Celiac Disease
    2. Listen about their concerns
    3. Respect their choices
    4. Include them in your plans

How will you support someone with Celiac Disease?

Let me know below in the comments.And don’t forget to download your free e-book Beginners Guide: Celiac Disease.

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