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Gluten-free goes back to school

Posted on August 13, 2012

Look at that eager smile.  The happy anticipation.  The new backpack.

We all remember how we felt on the first day of school.  Most of us had a sense of excitement and maybe a little nervousness, but there was usually an overall happiness about a fresh start to a new school year.  Will my friends be in my class?  What will my teacher be like?  How much more homework?

What’s for lunch?  Oh no.

To be a child with food allergies or sensitivities is to face a whole different set of challenges every school day.  Even as an adult who cannot tolerate even a speck of gluten, I get frustrated sometimes at how hard it can be just to put nourishment into my own body.  So how do we make it safe and easy for our kids going back to school?

Here are a few basic, yet important, steps for us as parents.

Advocate – Work with your school to ensure that the lunch room conditions are safe.  Ask if gluten-free options are offered with your hot lunch provider.  Sometimes, making a simple request can facilitate a change.

Educate – Teach your child what is good and safe to eat.  Stress that sharing foods potentially can make them sick.  Include just-for-them treats to make their lunches seem special and delicious.  (Now where could you find such things … hmmm?)

Empower – Give your child a voice.  Explain that putting good food into their body will make them healthy, smart, and strong.  Give them words to use when they talk with their friends or teachers about their food needs.

The first day of school is coming soon.  Let’s pack a yummy gluten-free lunch in that new backpack.  And let’s have a great gluten-free school year.

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