Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Celiac Disease Treatment

How is celiac disease treated?

There is no cure for celiac disease. The only way to treat it is to follow a gluten-free diet, which means not eating foods with wheat, rye, barley or triticale (a wheat and rye hybrid). People with celiac disease need to follow this diet for life.

It is important to be very careful to avoid all gluten. Even the smallest amounts, such as crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can cause damage in the small intestine.

At Seattle Children’s, children and their families meet with a nutritionist. They will learn how to follow a gluten-free diet and manage their nutrition to repair their small intestine and enhance their health.

A gluten-free diet

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Gluten acts like glue that holds foods together.

Because gluten can be found in everything from breakfast cereals to prepared lunchmeats, it is very important to be aware of what is in the food your child eats. You and your child will need to read food labels and package ingredient lists very carefully. If your child eats food that has gluten (even in the smallest amounts), it can cause damage to your child’s body.

Because gluten is often hidden in foods that may appear “gluten free,” it is important to understand how and where wheat, rye, barley and triticale may appear in foods, especially packaged and processed foods. The following are foods – many that you may not suspect – that contain gluten.

Wheat

  • Breads
  • Baked goods
  • Soups
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Roux

Rye

  • Rye bread, such as pumpernickel
  • Rye beer
  • Cereals

Barley

  • Malt
  • Food coloring
  • Soups
  • Malt vinegar
  • Beer

Our nutritional experts support your child and family

The only way to treat celiac disease is to get rid of all gluten from the diet and eat only foods that do not have gluten. In order to be healthy, your child will have to eat gluten-free foods for the rest of their life.

We understand that food plays a big role in many of our lives, and making changes in the way your child and family eat can be challenging. Many families have lifestyle preferences, cultural practices and religious beliefs that may make it hard to move to a gluten-free diet. That’s why our knowledgeable and compassionate nutritionists meet with your child and family immediately after your child is diagnosed with celiac disease.

Our nutritionists can teach you and your child how to make gluten-free food choices, plan and cook gluten-free meals, reverse nutritional deficits in the diet and heal the small intestine.

We will listen to your concerns, answer your questions and offer recommendations that allow your child and family to continue enjoying food and life. We’ll help you deal with all of those tricky situations in childhood, such as what to do if your child is at a birthday party where pizza or hamburgers are served.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with Seattle Children’s Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department, start by asking your child’s primary care doctor for a referral. If you have a referral, call 206-987-2521 to schedule your child’s appointment.