Having back-to-school anxiety for your child's gluten-free diet? You can rest easy knowing that your child will stick to your agenda in three easy steps.
Step 1: Put It in Writing
Make sure you send your kids with letters for the teacher, principal, and cafeteria adviser letting them know of the gluten allergy. If you worry about your child remembering, ask the administrators to sign the bottom and have your child return them to you. Or you can set up appointments with them yourself and hand them a letter yourself. Teachers and administrators look after a lot of children; a note will help them remember your child's allergy.
Step 2: Pack School Lunches
I don't recommend your child eat school lunches. Even if they do offer a gluten-free option, the chance for cross-contamination in the kitchen is high. Even small amounts of gluten can affect your child's well-being. Also, according to an article by Rhonda Franz, one in five U.S. Children have high cholesterol. You have better control over what goes into your child's mouth when you make their lunches, such as:
- Boiled eggs
- Gluten-free chips: Frito's, Tortilla Chips, Puff Corn (like Pirate's Booty) Popcorn, Lay's. Just remember to stay away from things with MSG, like Dorito's, or things with wheat flour, like Pringles.
- Gluten-free yogurt: Stay away from the stuff with fiber.
- Rice noodle soup: Cook rice noodles in chicken broth and add veggies, spices and chicken
- Sandwiches made with homemade gluten-free French bread. Double the recipe to make eight half-loaves for sandwiches.
- Quick and easy "Trail Mix": Mix Chex (or other gluten-free cereal), raisins, peanuts, dried cranberries, and M&M's (if you're fancy) in a zip-lock bag and send it off.
Step 3: Plan For Birthdays
Ask your child's teacher if you can be notified ahead of time when an event will have cake. You can make a batch of gluten-free cupcakes and throw them in zip-lock bags and freeze them. The day before the event, thaw one out, frost it, and send it to school with your child, so he doesn't feel like he's missing out on all the goods. Or, you can ask the teacher if you can leave a gallon of your child's favorite ice cream at the school for unforeseen events. Gluten-free candy for storage at the teacher's desk is an even better idea.
This article by Lori Kerrigan on birthday cakes for kids with allergies has an excellent recipe for a gluten-free cake that can be made into cupcakes.
Sending kids off to school can be hectic, and even more so when a food allergy is involved. Use these ideas to simplify your meal planning and ease your worries about how to keep your kids gluten-free when they're away from your watchful eye.