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A culinary challengeFamily adjusts to help son manage celiac disease
“The damage to the intestine makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients and can lead malnourishment and abdominal symptoms including diarrhea, pain and bloating.”
In January 2010, T.J. was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His sisters, Tylie, 15, and Taya, 13, also have diabetes. Tessa, 10, does not.
Reading labels and avoiding cross contamination are also critical in the school setting for lunches, classroom snacks and parties.
“When T.J. goes to a birthday party, I send his own food,” she said. “I have to make certain anyone responsible for him knows what he can’t eat.”
Fast food and take-out are things of the past. The family rarely eats out and researches restaurants to ensure gluten-free options are available. T.J.’s grandmother bakes gluten-free snacks and buns for the family.
Traveling has proved extremely challenging for the Bismarck family. Tara’s husband, Troy, is a teacher and coach, so the family travels to out-of-town sporting events several weekends a month.
“I bought a tote we call our rolling restaurant and pack food for him in case there isn’t a restaurant or grocery store offering gluten-free items,” she said.
Tara has become an advocate for her son, educating about celiac disease and dispelling the misconception his eating gluten free is a fad, rather than something medically necessary.
T.J. is becoming familiar with what he can safely eat and asks questions regarding food labeling.
“He is,” Tara said, “an amazingly responsible boy.”
Click here for more information on Sanford Health’s children's services.