To relieve symptoms and avoid damage to their small intestine, your child will need to follow a strict, gluten-free diet. For most children, symptoms greatly improve when they avoid all foods with gluten.

Your registered pediatric dietitian at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition will help you and your child with the gluten-free diet. They will coach you on which foods contain gluten and how to prepare nutritious meals without them.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid all foods that contain wheat, rye or barley. This includes most cereals, grains and pastas. Ask your doctor about oats, which may come into contact with gluten during processing.
  • Check food labels. Many processed foods contain gluten.
  • Find hidden sources of gluten. These can be in products such as nutritional supplements and some medicines. Your child may also inadvertently swallow gluten in toothpaste, shampoo or modeling dough such as Play-Doh.
  • Avoid gluten in restaurants. Call ahead to find out if they have gluten-free meals.
  • Cook delicious meals without gluten. Meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, rice and potatoes don’t contain gluten. Try breads and pastas made with amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat or bean flour instead of wheat flour.

Living gluten-free can seem overwhelming at first. But with the growing variety of gluten-free foods, your child’s diet will be easier to manage. Most children see their symptoms improve in one to two weeks, and in six to 12 months, the lining of their intestine has healed.