It is often said that, once it is diagnosed, the coeliac condition is no longer an illness but merely a fact of life. Although one’s psychological and physical state improves considerably after treatment begins, one still has to learn to live with the rules imposed by the new dietary regimen. The wide variety of glutenfree products recently made available by the speciality food industry has contributed substantially to improving the quality of life for coeliacs. Gluten-free products are more and more readily available in supermarkets, either in prepared form or as ingredients to use in cooking. The burden of the dietary restrictions becomes especially noticeable, however, when meals are consumed away from home, because the availability of gluten-free dishes and snacks is still limited in restaurants, bars and cafeterias. This situation is, however, getting better year by year, thanks to the dedicated efforts of coeliac associations and the growing attention of institutions and the mass media.
Life at school
Many schools can assure the provision of safe meals for coeliac children, but it is nevertheless important for parents to verify personally that the teachers and the kitchen staff are knowledgeable about the problem. The wide availability of gluten-free snacks, both sweet and savoury, makes it easy to deal with situations such as school outings and birthday parties.
Stresses on the diet are much more common during adolescence, as many teenagers have a hard time accepting and, above all, revealing to others their dietary differences. Frequently, the absence of symptoms may encourage a tendency to cheat on the diet from time to time. What should be done in such cases? It is best to avoid blaming or, even worse, intimidating the adolescent. The most constructive approach is to focus on correct information and on behaviours that encourage adherence to the diet. In certain cases, particularly if there is conflict between the young patient and his or her parents, it may be advisable to get professional psychological help. The difficulties of adolescence are generally passing. As time goes by, most young people will achieve the goal of living comfortably with the coeliac condition.