Getting ready for a new school year can be exciting, what with all the new clothes, supplies, and food there is to buy! Having a child that is gluten-free free can make planning their school lunch a daunting task. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth, healthy transition back to school for you and your child.
One of the most important things you can do is create an open line of dialogue between you and your child’s teacher.
- You may consider writing a letter to the teacher, explaining what Celiac/gluten sensitivity is and how it affects your child.
- It can also be helpful to provide a list of “safe” foods and supplies, especially if your child is younger and not completely familiar with labels yet. This list of “What’s Allowed and What’s Not” on a gluten-free diet was composed by The Mayo Clinic, and may serve as a reference. It points out that play dough, a common manipulator used in primary classrooms, will often contain gluten – be aware that many art supplies can contain gluten and should be checked! Here’s a good list of gluten-free art supplies from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom.
- You might gather art products in a special “name here” box for your child. Teacher’s (and especially such specialist teachers as art) have lots of students to track. If your child has, and knows about!, their designated box, it would help prevent their special needs from being overlooked.
Packing their lunch for school will probably be a must. It’s a good routine to keep too! So here’s a few resources for providing your gluten-free kiddo a “safe” food stash:
- Some ideas for healthy gluten-free lunches from the Living Gluten-Free for Dummies (Australia edition!).
- For sandwich making, The Little Aussie Bakery Blog has bread and other goodie recipes that will make even the non-GF kids envious.
- TasterieBox specializes in providing pre-made, allergy friendly boxes to send off with your student or can be mailed direct to college bound kids.
Another vital part of ensuring that your child stays gluten-free is including him in the process of preparing meals. From buying the ingredients to creating the dish itself, as your child becomes familiar and comfortable with what they can eat, they will be empowered more later on to take control of their diet and health. Here’s a great wikihow article on explaining gluten-sensitivities to your child. There’s also this Talking to Your Friends About Celiac Disease article from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness directed towards kids themselves. Instead of feeling embarrassed when a classmate asks about what they’re eating, your child can proudly explain the virtues of their diet and show off their knowledge!