Gluten-Free Givers

celiac5krunThough I imagine most readers of this blog are adults who are diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, many of whom probably weren’t diagnosed until after childhood (as I was), there are many parents who also look to this blog for advice for running a gluten-free house for their celiac son or daughter. Any medical diagnosis is certainly life altering, but trying to explain to a young child why they can’t eat certain foods that their friends, siblings, and parents eat on a regular basis can be a heart breaking challenge.

A couple of parents from Westfield, New Jersey took that challenge and have changed it into an opportunity to teach their child what it means to be special, not different.  The Kesslers have 4-year old twins, a daughter, Sydney, with celiac disease, and son, Alex, without. In just one year after being diagnosed with celiac disease, Sydney has been feeling much better, thriving with the gluten-free lifestyle.

In an effort to help raise money for Celiac research, the Kesslers participated in the “Making Tracks for Celiacs” fundraising walk/run. The event raises money for the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, which seeks to support, educate, and care for celiacs, while continuing clinical and scientific research towards interventions for the gluten intolerant community.

After the family completed the race and raised nearly $4,000 for the foundation, Sydney won a number of prizes for being the top fundraising team in the country. With the experience, the Kesslers are teaching all their children (along with their 1-year old daughter) how to be wonderful self-advocates. Not only is Sydney actively participating in the effort to find a cure for her disease, but she is continuing to teach her classmates what makes her special and how she can live a healthy and active life.

Congratulations Sydney!

One thought on “Gluten-Free Givers”

  1. Last year, upon learning of my now four year old’s diagnosis of advanced stage Celiac’s disease I explained it to her simply: there are “sad belly” foods and “happy belly” foods. Her body gets sicks when it has foods with something called gluten (which she refers to as glu) and so foods that have gluten are “sad belly” and make her belly sad.

    She has owned her disease brilliantly and regularly asks others if food is ‘happy belly’ or not. Speaking about gluten in this way allowed her to understand and relate (having diarrhea for months is sad, isn’t it?) so that she can begin to take responsibility for her own health. Seven months later we have reduced her antibodies from eight times as high down to two times as high as normal. Happy belly makes a happy mommy!

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