It's a better time than ever to be a gluten-free kid. Here's some advice to help you help your child thrive in today's improved gluten-free world:

The In Crowd

Feeling different because of the food they eat is one of the biggest issues celiac kids face. But there are many new, kid-friendly gluten-free products similar to what all the other kids have. You can find gluten-free chicken nuggets, pizza, pretzels, bagels, sandwich cookies, animal crackers and a lot of other standard kid food.

Scouts know what they are talking about

"Be prepared" should become your new motto. You have to make the extra effort to be sure you have gluten-free goodies and staples in stock. Many kids keep a stash of snacks in school for those days when an unexpected treat shows up.

Toting it with Style

If your child is young, find a sturdy, but appealing, insulated container for bringing foods to parties, friends' houses and on the road. Young children don't seem to be bothered by carrying their food. But as kids enter the pre-teen years it becomes embarrassing. Start putting food into small sturdy plastic bags or containers that fit in a back pack or purse, where it's not so obvious.

Healthy food can be good

If you start when your child is young, you can teach him or her to like healthy gluten-free whole grains, as well as fruit and vegetables, nuts and beans. More attention is being paid to the nutritional value of gluten-free products, including enrichment, so look for foods that fit this bill. Give your child a daily vitamin to make up for nutrients that might be missing in his or her diet.

Attitude is everything

Children who follow the gluten-free diet have successfully - and happily - gone from pre-school to college. Overall, they adapt to their diet very well if they have parents who take a positive, can-do attitude toward the diet. Don't complain about the extra work it creates for you or the excessive cost of food. The diet can be a pain and sometimes you have to let your child vent frustration. Emphasize that the gluten-free diet will enable your child to feel well and grow normally.

Awareness all around

Word about celiac disease has started to spread like wildfire. Use this to expand your child's world. Eat at restaurants with gluten-free menus, look for camps that can accommodate the diet, and buy mainstream foods that are labeled gluten-free. Don't let the diet stop your child from traveling, eating out, or joining in on any activity.

Celiac disease is a serious, lifelong, gastrointestinal disorder that can cause a wide spectrum of clinical symptoms such us diarrhea, abdominal distension, weight loss, malnutrition and skin disorders due to permanent intolerance to gluten, a complex mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye.