Mom to Mom: How do I Accommodate Food Allergies?
Food allergies are on the rise, and odds are that if your child doesn’t have a food allergy, someone in his class will. One in 13 children has some sort of food allergy. While not all are life-threatening, many are. My 7-year-old son is one of those allergy kids.
If your school or classroom is nut-free, maybe you’re wondering just how to do that when your child loves peanut butter. In our family, Wowbutter is the best alternative to peanut butter, but there are a variety of alternatives. My advice is to make a few sandwiches that are half peanut butter and half alternative at home over a weekend so your child can get used to the slight changes.
When it comes to classroom parties, Oreos are a life-saver. They are nut and dairy free, plus you don’t have to worry about baking! Or even better, don’t send in any food and opt for taking in stickers, season-themed items or bubbles for the class to enjoy.
If your child has an allergic friend in her class, odds are that child sits alone at lunch or snack time. Even with an allergy-friendly school and nut-free classroom, my son has to sit at a designated nut-free table away from his classmates. But his teachers have always worked hard to keep him included and he became incredibly popular last year when his teachers made sitting with him at the special table a privilege. Sending an allergy-free lunch so your child can sit with her friend doesn’t just mean a lot to the child, but to the parent as well.
Reach out to the parent of the allergic child in the class. I have never met an allergy parent who wasn’t completely willing to send a list of allergy-friendly foods and alternatives for class activities, birthday parties and anything else. Being willing and open to learning about food allergies means more than you can imagine to allergy parents. I know I get the warm fuzzies when teachers and other parents ask for ideas and recommendations and make the effort to keep my son safe.
For more information and education on food allergies, check out https://www.foodallergy.org. From allergy parents across the upstate, Thank you.