If you can't eat what you like, like what you can: How children with coeliac disease and their families construct dietary restrictions as a matter of choice

Mario Veen*, Hedwig te Molder, Bart Gremmen, Cees van Woerkum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Although it is recognised that a gluten-free diet has many social implications for coeliac disease patients, not much is known about how such patients actually manage these implications in their everyday interactions. This article examines how dietary restrictions are treated by patients and their families. Data from recorded mealtime conversations of seven Dutch families with children suffering from coeliac disease were analysed using discursive psychology. We found two main discursive strategies by which patients and their families manage the diet during mealtime interactions. A reference to pleasure is used to manage the tension between the child's agency and parental responsibility in the face of health requirements and, by softening the denial of food, the diet is normalised and treated as a shared family practice. The analysis shows that the gluten-free diet is demedicalised and treated as a matter of choice rather than prescription. We conclude with the practical implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-609
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Coeliac disease
  • Discourse analysis
  • Discursive psychology
  • Experience of illness
  • Family mealtime

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