How to navigate being gluten free while surrounded by PB&J’s in the lunchroom
Heading back to school should be a happy time for both kids looking forward to seeing their friends and parents needing some breathing room. However, a gluten intolerance or celiac disease can cast a shadow on the excitement. Children automatically assume more responsibilities at school, including keeping themselves safe around food. This is not always an easy task if the cafeteria specials are spaghetti and grilled cheese, or if teachers let students bring snacks into the classroom. We want your children to be as safe just as much as you do, so we’ve compiled a list of our most helpful tips to prevent your child from being “glutened.”
1. No sharing or accepting food from others
Swapping food in the lunchroom is a common occurrence – however, it’s not the best habit for gluten-free kids to adopt. Sharing food opens the opportunity for accidental gluten consumption or cross contamination. Therefore, it’s important to teach your kids not to share food in the cafeteria or accept snacks when they’re brought into the classroom.
2. Have the teacher store safe snacks
For occasions when food is brought into the classroom (think snack time or birthdays), keep a stash of gluten-free goodies with your child’s teacher. That way, when it’s time for the class to eat, your child will opt for the safe snack rather than either missing out or taking a health-threatening risk.
3. Tell the school
Communication is ALWAYS key. Your child’s school should be aware of their intolerance or medical condition in case anything comes up. Oftentimes, notifying the school’s administration even leads to accommodations and awareness.
4. Pack lunches
The only way to be 100% sure that your child is eating safely in the lunchroom is to pack his or her lunches. If the cafeteria seems wishy-washy about gluten-free options or food allergy awareness, you may be better off sending your kid with food from home. Check out our article on building the perfect gluten free lunchbox for ideas!
Enforcing these rules and adopting these habits will not only keep your child safe, but will also lead to a much less stressful year for everyone. So buckle up and get ready for another back to school season!