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Alice Bast, NFCA

Sibling Blues and Celiac Disease

Involve siblings in the same activities as your gluten-free child: Are you trying out a new gluten-free pizza crust? Ask all of the kids to help pick out toppings and decorate the pizza.

Encourage your relatives and friends to give attention to all the children on visits: For example, “Sarah, these cookies are gluten-free so you can eat them. Brandon, I included lots of chocolate chips because I know those are your favorite part.”

Set realistic expectations: The gluten-free lifestyle can be tough on anyone, so it’s reasonable for siblings to express some frustrations. They won’t always “get it,” but they’ll likely agree to do what’s best for the child with celiac disease.

Check in on siblings: Communication is the most important step. When Dr. Verma diagnoses a child with celiac disease, she always asks the parents to bring the child’s siblings along to their first meeting. It starts things off on the right foot and gives the siblings a chance to hear the doctor making recommendations. That way, it’s not just the parents saying, “because I said so.”

Here’s to all the brothers and sisters – young and old – who stand beside their siblings in the gluten-free journey. We do thank you, always.

 Alice Bast is the President of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). Follow NFCA on Twitter at @CeliacAwareness and Facebook at