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Tricia Thompson, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and has a MS degree in nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA degree in English Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.

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Living Gluten-Free
by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, The Gluten-Free Dietitian

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If you have a child with celiac disease, one of your concerns may be school lunch and making sure it is gluten free.

The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) (www.americanceliac.org), a non-profit organization that advocates for the celiac disease community, conducted a survey of parents with children on gluten-free diets. About 1/3 of the parents responded yes when asked if they had ever approached their child’s school about providing gluten-free meals. Of these, approximately 38 percent stated that their child’s school refused to provide gluten-free meals.

Can your child’s school refuse to provide gluten-free meals?
Because the National School Lunch Program receives federal funding it can not discriminate on the basis of disability. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “…substitutions must be made for children who are unable to eat school meals because of their disabilities when that need is certified by a licensed physician.”

A disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Eating is considered a major life activity. Many diseases and conditions qualify as “disabilities.” Severe allergies that result in anaphylactic reactions are considered “disabilities” but other allergies and food intolerances such as lactose intolerance are not. According to The National Food Service Management Institute, celiac disease is considered a “disability.”

What you need to do
To help ensure that your child receives gluten-free meals at school you need a signed statement from your child’s doctor that includes information about celiac disease, why celiac disease prevents your child from eating the regular school breakfast/lunch/snack, the foods that must not be eaten on a gluten-free diet, and gluten-free foods that should be substituted.

If this doesn’t work
While it sounds like a request for gluten-free meals should be accommodated, this is not always the case, as ...    Continue

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@ 9:01pm ET on February 4, 2009 this was very helpful... im doing some research on this desease since my doctor sent some blood work in for me to get tested and told me there was a likely chance of me having this.... so thank you for all of the help!
@ 3:14pm ET on April 30, 2009 diet food that work have low calories, and have fiber with 400 to 1500 calories per daily meals
@ 6:15am ET on June 3, 2009 mite help if u put recipies on duh.....
@ 4:39pm ET on July 9, 2009 Really amazing how when people are trying to do the right thing, government slows down progress. I hope all of us start adopting a healthy lifestyle before the doctors and health insurance companies take all our money.

To Your Health!
James Reno (editor)
@ 7:15am ET on September 28, 2009 Coeliac disease (pronounced /ˈsiːli.æk/; spelled celiac disease in North America) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy on up. Symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive (in children), and fatigue, but these may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described. A growing portion of diagnoses are being made in asymptomatic persons as a result of increased screening.

Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat (and similar proteins of the tribe Triticeae, which includes other cultivars such as barley and rye). Upon exposure to gliadin, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to a truncating of the villi lining the small intestine (called villous atrophy). This interferes with the absorption of nutrients, because the intestinal villi are responsible for absorption. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. While the disease is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as wheat allergy.

This condition has several other names, including: cœliac disease (with œ ligature), c(o)eliac sprue, non-tropical sprue, endemic sprue, gluten enteropathy or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, and gluten intolerance. The term coeliac derives from the Greek κοιλιακός (koiliakόs, "abdominal"), and was introduced in the 19th century in a translation of what is generally regarded as an ancient Greek description of the disease by Aretaeus of Cappadocia.

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@ 9:34pm ET on August 1, 2010 healthy diet, there were serious problems with this revolutionary argument about one of our nation's most serious health problems. For example, Taubes omitted any reference to hundreds of refereed scientific studies published during the last three decades that contradicted his position. Researchers from whom he could not pull even a single useful quote supportive of his thesis were banished from the piece, while many of those whom Taubes did end up quoting now complain that he twisted their words. www.cleansemart.com
@ 10:18pm ET on August 15, 2011 If a child needs to eat gluten-free school lunch then of course they school should allow it. Though, I do understand that the school needs a signed statement from your child’s doctor. Thank you for sharing some really good advice on this.

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@ 1:50am ET on November 22, 2011 It is the utmost priority of parents to ensure that their children get the proper welfare even in school. If your child is allergic to gluten, you have to follow all the steps in the article to make sure your child does not ingest it. Health is the most important asset of a child.
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