If you have a child with food allergies, the beginning of the school year can be a scary time. If you don’t have a child with food allergies you probably don’t understand what the big deal is. Let me explain and offer some helpful tips for navigating food allergies at school (even when it’s not your problem).
For kids with food allergies, the smallest amount of their allergen can be life and death. Imagine for a moment having to be concerned about staying alive at school. I’m not exaggerating. Between breakfast, snack and lunch time there are many opportunities for kids to come into contact with foods that could hurt them.
Thankfully, or maybe I should say miraculously, my son outgrew his peanut allergy. I had been dreading the start of kindergarten because I was very concerned about him coming into contact with peanuts. Even if kids washed their hands, food comes in on clothes and faces (my kids can’t be the only ones who leave breakfast on their shirts).
Even though I don’t have to worry about food allergies any more I will always be aware of how food allergies impact families.
What You Need to Know About Food Allergies At School
Food allergies aren’t once size fits all. Some allergies are more common than others but without knowing which food allergies are in your child’s classroom it is hard to keep all the kids safe. Ask teachers if you should avoid certain foods due to food allergies. Some teachers will inform you on their own but some will not.
Peanut Butter Substitutes
There are many peanut butter substitutes on the market. Our favorite is SoyNut Butter. It has a similar taste and texture of peanut butter but safe for people with peanut allergies. It is not safe however, for soy allergies. If soy is a concern you can use SunButter.
Wheat is in Everything
If you are sending in a classroom snack or birthday treat it probably has wheat or gluten in it. Make sure the treat you are sending in says “gluten-free” on the package. You’ll find wheat in places you would never expect since it is often used as a thickening agent.
Eggs and Dairy
Most baked goods including granola bars will contain eggs or dairy. I like to send in Enjoy Life cookies because they are free of the top 8 allergens. You can avoid baked goods altogether by choosing fruit pouches or applesauce. Just read the labels to ensure they are safe.
Most food allergy parents are happy to talk about food allergies with you and will even recommend products that are safe for their kids.
Stay tuned for all of my Back to School Giveaways from your favorite food allergy friendly brands!