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Everyday Dairy-Free Living

Kim Lutz – Back to School and Food Allergies: How to Have an A+ Year

I have been thrilled with how caring and inclusive my community has been to my son with food allergies! I am constantly amazed by people’s thoughtfulness trying to keep him safe and included in school and in after-school fun. Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way to ease the way back to school.

1. Talk with your Teacher

I purposely use the word “with” not the word “to.” You want to bring your teacher onto your team to keep your child safe and included. It’s important to explain what your child needs to be safe in the classroom, but also ask what the teacher needs from you to make inclusion easy. Brainstorm together about how to substitute activities or snacks that are safe in place of ones that aren’t. For example, if your teacher has traditionally taught counting and math with little candies, you could suggest using buttons instead.

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2. Communicate with Other Parents

Everyone wants kids to be safe and happy. Let the other parents know about your child’s allergies, and then suggest easy ways to keep your child safe. When my son was younger, I wrote a short, cheery letter to the other parents letting them know what my son is allergic to, what could happen if he is exposed to his allergens, and offering to help make it easy to include him. I always include some safe snack ideas, offer to provide an alternative snack, and give my phone number in case they want to double-check before hosting him.

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3. Sweeten the Situation

Today, there are so many wonderful treats that are safe for kiddos with allergies. Offer up a So Delicious frozen treat when a friend comes to play at your house, and you’ll quickly see that inclusion is so sweet! Introduce your new friends to all of the goodies that you safely enjoy, and they might just find a new favorite, too.

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4. Sharing is Caring—Sometimes

How can your child feel comfortable when everyone at the lunch table is swapping food? In this situation, and in most food allergy scenarios, knowledge is power. If your child is too young to read, they should never take food from another child. Once your child learns how to read ingredient labels and food-allergy warnings, you can decide together when it’s safe to eat something from someone else, and when it’s not. You can always send extra allergy-safe treats, fruit or snacks with your child to share freely with friends who don’t have allergies.

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5. Plan Ahead

It’s a good idea to be over-prepared when your child has food allergies. If your child always has a safe snack or food available, he can enjoy his treat while his friends have theirs. An extra little treat tucked into a backpack can make life so much easier.

Kim Lutz is an author and blogger. Kim’s Welcoming Kitchen features allergen- and gluten-free vegan recipes that are safe for everyone!

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  1. I recently thought the same thing about introducing some yummy dairy-free chocolate milk to my son’s class. This past year, he felt the social effects of having food allergies, which left him feeling sad and left out. I think sharing his So Delicious chocolate milk is a great way to bring them all together.

  2. Food allergies or not your children healthy eating habits are important. This prevents obesity and helps with some hereditary family disease.

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