Food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity in children needs extra attention. As parents, we would take complete care at home for such issues with our child, but at school we need to inform and join hands with the nutrition and food service staff (most of whom are registered dietitian nutritionists) for safe and healthy food options.
Only when parents, students and the school nutrition team join hands in working together to fulfill the child’s special dietary concerns with the staff inclined towards bringing in needful changes in the food served to these kids, will the child be assured eating nutritious foods.
Have a Chat with the Staff
Famous dietitians/nutritionists suggest that it is the parents’ duty to visit the school cafeteria and meet up with the manager in charge to introduce your kid and make them aware of his/her specific food problems or ingredients. Also appoint a go-to person your child feels comfortable with, to clear all the doubts regarding the food served at the cafeteria.
Once the first meet up with the school cafeteria in charge is successful, you can proceed with obtaining the monthly menu and ticking off the admissible menu items. It is even better if you look into the ingredients list of prepared foods. This is the personal recommendation by many of the top officials in the healthcare sector.
Peanut allergies are on the rise. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, world’s largest nonprofit organization providing information on patient food allergies, reveal that prevalence of peanut allergy among children doubled between 1997 and 2002. Hence many schools started avoiding or substituting peanut related dishes in their menu, but not all of them. Confirm with a nutritionist to be certain of the food stuffs containing peanuts. Some of the foods, like peanut butter cookies, may be obvious examples but peanut may be a secret ingredient in sauces, gravies, salad dressings, chicken salad, egg rolls and a variety of ethnic foods. Substitutes made from sunflower seeds are an excellent alternative for peanut butter which is available in many schools. If your school is unaware of this, ask them to stock it up readily.
The best part is that many of the delicious and wholesome foods are naturally gluten-free as in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, eggs and unflavored milk. There are also substitutes available for gluten, for example, you can take corn tortillas instead of flour or bread tortillas. Hence you can inform your school regarding your gluten allergy and request them to pile up gluten-free substitutes. Get a detailed insight on gluten-free foods at www.firsteatright.com.
First and foremost, keep yourself equipped by interacting with your child and the school staff. Make your child aware and informed of all the gluten-free foods that can be consumed instead of highlighting only the foods that your child should refrain from eating.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.