The first day of school is creeping up on many parents. And if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy or intolerance, keeping your worries at bay can be overwhelming to say the least. Whether your child has been newly diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten-intolerance or a combination of special needs surrounding food, the following 7 simple tips can help you help your child during those hours when they are away from the security and safety net of home.
1. At the beginning of the school year schedule a meeting with your child’s teachers to discuss your child’s condition and/or food intolerance. Be very clear about what your child can and cannot tolerate, as well as the short-term and long-term consequences for your child should those foods be consumed. Bring copies of helpful facts and information to your meeting, and even myths to educate the staff. You can also bring helpful books and/or videos to share. Notes from your child’s health professionals may be helpful as well.
2. Ask your child’s school staff to post a fact sheet in the office, staffroom and your child’s classroom about your child’s condition/intolerance (e.g., celiac disease or gluten intolerance) and a list of foods that your child must avoid.
3. Get a medical alert bracelet for your child and clearly list your child’s medical condition(s) (e.g., celiac disease) as well as your child’s food intolerance (e.g., gluten intolerant).
4. Ask your child’s teacher if you can come into the school one day and have a discussion with the class about your child’s condition/food intolerance. You could bring in props, such as products your child is and is not allowed to eat. You could even show a short video about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
5. For birthday celebrations at school (although food is not commonly sent to school by parents anymore), always send some “back up food” with your child – labeled, even a simple package of cookies, or a cupcake that is safe for your child – just in case!
6. Teach your child about his/her food intolerance, and teach your child to share the information with others. It is a good idea for your child to learn how to self-advocate at a young age. If your child is very young, you can teach through the use of role playing and puppets. Research shows that young children learn very well through the use of puppets.
7. Be positive – learn to look on the bright side, and teach your child to follow suit. There are many advantages to living gluten-free. Keeping positive and demonstrating strength will help your child cope. ♥
For more information, please check out the new Gluten-Free Beginnings Easy Starter Guide (available as a 40 page e-book or paperback), which was written specifically for adults and children who are new to gluten-free living: www.livethesmartway.com
What do you do to help your child cope with his/her food intolerance at school?
Thank you to Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s NoGii Brand for recognizing this post on Facebook and Twitter on September 7, 2012!