Back to School Allergy Tips

August 23, 2011

It's back to school time and sometimes deciding what to pack for lunch can be daunting, especially for kids with a food allergy. Get SupermarketGuru's tips here

It's back to school time, and many families are preparing their children with supplies, new school clothes, and trying to figure out just what to pack in those school lunch boxes! What foods our kids will eat, which ones offer the best nutrition, not forgetting price, can be a challenge for most parents, and can be even more difficult for those whose kids have food allergies.

Food allergies affect over 11 million Americans, around 3 million under 18, so remind your kids that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and does not make them “un-cool.” On the contrary, kids should realize that their food allergies are serious and that there are plenty of other great foods they can enjoy. They probably have a few friends or fellow classmates with food allergies as well; in fact, over the past 10 years, the number of new cases of food allergies have increased 10-fold.

Supermarket Guru has a few great tips for getting your kids back to school safely, even if they have food allergies.

Sometimes food allergies are not straight forward and some foods that you may not even think of contain allergens. Speak with your doctor about exactly what your child is allergic to; they should have a list of foods that ‘may contain’ the allergen. You should also work with your school system and share this type of list with them.

Visit your child’s school cafeteria, or speak with the cafeteria manager to find out exactly what's in cafeteria meals. This allows you to choose what's safe for your child and what isn't. If there isn't anything on the menu that is safe for your child, the school has to provide a safe meal – if you have a great recipe of your own, it can’t hurt to suggest it! (Of course do try and work this out ahead of time.)

Network with the other parents in your neighborhood regarding their allergy friendly meal selections. Find out what they are feeding their children; you may grab and share some great ideas.

Bring your children grocery shopping with you. Pick and choose foods to go in the lunch box together. When you give your child the freedom to choose (within reason) they will be more apt to eat what they have picked.

Be patient with your child’s eating habits. Especially if they have food allergies. Their selection may be limited, but all kids can be picky and they may not want to try a handful of new foods at the same time.

Always read food labels carefully. Manufacturers often change preparation techniques and ingredient formulations. Be sure to look for ingredients that your child may be allergic to.

Supermarket Guru wishes you and your family a great back to school transition and suggests you use our FREE Food Allergy Buddy & Celiac BFF card when eating out and in your child’s binder or backpack to use at school or when out at a friend’s house.