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Every Day Gluten Free - Tips on Living Gluten Free Day to day
One of the hardest places for gluten free kids to be is school. This will vary greatly from school to school, but it is in this environment where they learn to stand on their own and make good choices about not eating all of the glutinous food offered. It is also here that they confront some of their toughest gluten free challenges. As parents, it is our responsibility to do all we can to make their school day as enjoyable and as safe as possible.
Notifying School Authorities and other Parents about the GF diet.
At the beginning of each school year, send out a letter to the school nurse, the receptionist in the front office, the Head of the School and the teachers. Also request a copy be placed in the substitute teacher file. It is often the other parents who bring in snacks so email a copy to all of the parents in your child's class.
Follow this link to a sample SAMPLE LETTER TO TEACHER AND PARENTS
Classroom Stash of Gluten Free Snacks. Provide the teacher with an assortment of gluten free snacks for those unexpected situations that will come up. If you have informed the parents and teachers, hopefully you will be prepared for birthday and class parties. But there always seem to be special treats that get brought in that you do not know about. Provide snacks that are durable to withstand whatever may come their way in the classroom. You also want to provide some healthy snacks that can be eaten in case of an emergency.
I have found it easiest to put everything in a gallon zip lock bag that is clearly labeled with your child’s name and “Gluten Free Snacks.”
Provide a container of kitchen wipes. I also provide a container of kitchen wipes so that desks can be wiped down after other students eat gluten treats.
The only thing our school provides that my daughter can have at lunchtime is the milk. Therefore, she takes her lunch to school every day. The following are some tips on making gluten free school lunches as fun, and manageable, as possible.
Buy a Fun and Different Lunchbox.
Make it fun because they will carry this lunch box everywhere (school, sleep overs, parties). We bought one at the M&M store in NYC that looks like a bag of Peanut M&M’s and my daughter loves it.
When my daughter out grew lunch boxes, we converted to using plastic bags from Target and the grocery store. This made it easy for her to toss the lunch bag after lunch and not need to worry about bringing it home everyday.
Lastly, it is good to have extra food in the event of an emergency. I feel better knowing my daughter has a little extra food.
Keep Lunches Fresh.
As more and more people become aware of the GF diet, visiting family and friends for dinners or sending a GF child for a sleepover has become easier. But you still have to take a few things into consideration.
There will always be someone who thinks a little nibble of gluten won’t kill you. Let’s just say it upfront and move on. No matter the detail with which you explain your diet, there will always be someone who thinks a little nibble of gluten will not kill you. You can get really irritated about it, or you can just feel sorry for them for their lack of understanding and move on down the food line.
When someone invites you over for dinner. Honestly, one of the hardest situations is when someone offers to cook for you or your family. When you receive this kind of offer, first offer to bring safe food for your family. In all honesty, this is the easiest answer for everyone and will leave you feeling the safest about what you eat. If they won’t let you bring an entire meal, then you can also offer to bring a dish to share. Make sure you serve yourself first before others contaminate it at the dinner.
If they really want to cook for you and you are going to be eating food cooked by someone else in their kitchen, they need to understand the ins and outs of the diet as well as you do – they have to know what is and what is not GF and about cross-contamination. Start by sending them an email with the same information that you would share at a restaurant. You can use this sample Gluten Free Dining Card.
Just to be safe, eat before you go. I often eat before I go to a party or an event. Even if I have been promised a GF meal, there have been too many times when I have arrived and something made me not feel comfortable about eating the meal. I stick with the motto, when in doubt, go without. If it turns out they have safe GF food for you, well you will just be extra full!
Sometimes you just need enough backbone to say “Thank You, but No.” I have a great friend who is a wonderful cook and whom I thought understand our diet, but I have had a couple of meals at her house that have left me feeling awful. As hard as it may be, I just finally had to say “thank you, but no.” This can be hard on friendships, but you have to protect your health and/or the health of your family.
Sleepovers. Your child needs to understand their diet and restrictions as well as you. Life is pretty straightforward at home, but someone else’s home can be a minefield. Make sure your child knows what they can and cannot eat and how their food needs to be prepared and handled so it will not be contaminated. Also, talk to the parent and make sure they understand everything. Since they will most likely be involved in the preparation of the food it is important they understand contamination issues. Send them a copy of the Gluten Free Dining Card so they can understand what is involved in the preparation of safe food.
Some parents will understand and some will say they understand, and then try to serve your child fruit they cut up on the breadboard. That is why your child has to be aware of cross-contamination issues. If the child is just too young or you have any doubts, then send everything the child needs for dinner, snack and breakfast and take away the doubt.
For dinner, send food that is self-contained to prevent contamination issues and/or that can be warmed in a microwave. If they are having pizza, make one at home and send in a container that can be microwaved or if the parent does not mind cooking, assembled a pizza at home on our own cookie sheet and send it with cooking directions.
Send plenty of snacks that can be shared. What is a sleepover without a late night snack? Popcorn is always easy and a hit. Newman's Own Microwave Popcorn- Natural is GF. Click HERE for a long list of GF snacks. If the kids are eating other non-GF snacks, make sure your child knows to get their portion before the snack can be contaminated or send individually bagged snacks.
|Because LIVING gluten free will not stop you from living the life you choose.|
© Gluten Free Mom 2007 www.glutenfreemom.com