Schools And Food Intolerance – Helpful Hints
There are a number of resources for parents of kids with food allergies around but what about for kids with intolerances? What things can you do to help ensure a smooth transition to school for your child with food intolerance?
Not all teachers and schools have the same understanding or openness to food reactions from foods particularly when related to consumption of artificial colours and flavours let alone for those sensitive also to natural chemicals. Fortunately, we have been really lucky with schools being accommodating to help avoid anything that might cause problems for our kids. We have had a couple of close calls with relief teachers and teachers who are just too busy to think about food far enough in advance to be of benefit. You know, cooking food at midnight the night before for your child so they won’t miss out when you only found out that same day that an alternative food was required.
So what can you do to minimise the risks and feelings of exclusion in your child?
- Make an appointment with your teacher as soon as possible, even before school starts if possible. If your child is new to the school, then flag it with the principal or any other key person who can give you advice as to how to make sure your child’s needs are being met.
- Ask questions such as how do they handle classmate’s birthdays and request that they do not use foods as rewards.
- Suggest that you would like to take in cupcakes to be stored in a freezer with your child’s name on so they can be used if another child brings in a cake for their birthday.
- Ask for notification ASAP before special food events so that you have time to prepare something.
- Ask how they will ensure that any relief teachers know about your child’s needs.
- Take a bag of safe treats for the teacher to look after, and that can be used for unexpected special occasions involving food. Despite your requests to be notified in advance, there will always be circumstances in which treats are offered around at school, regardless of whether food is used for rewards.
- A lot of schools and kindergartens use hand sanitisers with all sorts of interesting ingredients to try and prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If this is a problem for your child, talk to the teacher about your child using their own tolerated version, soap or sanitiser for their use only.
- If smells and chemicals on the skin are a problem, ask about art supplies and what types of paints etc are used. If necessary, ask if they can supply a different brand or if you can supply your own. My children have worked in gloves before but this can be difficult depending on the type and situation.
- If smells are an issue, also ask about how and when the classroom is cleaned. There are a number of no fragrance cleaners available now. If they won’t change, see if you can supply an alternative or ask if they can clean your child’s room on a Friday night.
- When possible and you are comfortable, notify other parents of your child’s needs. Email them or ask for a note to be included with the kids bags or diaries. Respectfully request that you be notified when they are planning anything around food.
- Try to always have a stash of home made sausages, sausage rolls or party pies or other special foods in the freezer for those last minute notifications when you don’t have time to make anything else. This is also useful for those endless birthday parties that kids seem to have every weekend.
If you are new to the whole idea of preparing Allergy free foods for school lunches or you just need some inspiration for feeding your kids at home… We’ve come up with some ideas to help inspire you. If you have a favourite, please feel free to share.
- Cut vegies with dip – use whichever vegies are well tolerated.
- Dips – Home made hummus, avocado, dairy free cream cheese.
- Ceres Sea Salt Crackers and dip.
- Well and Good Muffins – with your favourite fruit mixed in.
- Bliss balls – dates, chia seeds, cacao powder, puffed quinoa, pepitas, sunflower seeds, or any other tolerated seeds/ ingredients. If you have never made these before, the dates hold everything together. There are plenty of recipes online but essentially you just mix all ingredients together in a blender and roll into balls.
- Nut free trail mix- sulphite free dried fruit, including pear, cranberries, sultanas, dates, sunflower seeds, pepitas, coconut- use your imagination.
- Popped corn, buckwheat, rice puffs.
- Organic times gluten free wraps – chicken and salad,
- Baked beans – homemade or organic tinned if tolerated.
- Savoury muffins – If egg is allowed, make your own frittata with leftovers, mixed together with egg and cooked in a muffin tray.
- Nut free butter and banana sandwiches
- Dairy free cheese, carrot and sultanas.
- Cold pizza
- Pancakes or fritters- using leftovers
- Gnocchi with tolerated sauce. Try Yumarada celery chutney or pear sauce.
Remember to to include an ice pack to keep the food fresh and safe.
Treats to take to school – for those unexpected food occasions.
There are many things you can include in your child’s goody bag depending on their intolerances. Here are a few ideas:
- White musk sticks
- Ecovital gummy bears or other varieties
- Milky bars – individually wrapped.
- Pascall or Rocky Mountain white marshmallows.
- Hopper citrus pillows or pebbles
- Enjoy life jelly beans
We hope the tips and ideas above help your child make a smooth transition to school or back to school whilst living with food intolerances.
- Jenny Trezise