My son has been doing observation days at possible new schools and I was surprised that most of the schools restricted what he could have in his lunch. Mostly, no nuts whatsoever because a lot of kids in school have food allergies. So this morning, he made a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich. Since sunflower is a seed and not a nut, it’s safe. We use a lot of almond, cashew and peanut butter in our house as he is a vegetarian and I need to come up with good sources of lunch. Peanuts aren’t nuts either, they are beans.
I remember visiting my grandfather at his farm in Georgia and picking peanuts with him. They are a green leafy plant above ground and when you pull up the plant, all the peanuts are below in the dirt, kind of like how a potato looks.
When I was growing up, I don’t remember anyone in my classes being allergic to any kind of foods. Now, it seems like food allergies are more common than not. Most food allergies, about 90% in the US, are to eight specific foods. And those eight are peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, fish, and shellfish.
I spoke about food labeling on my Health Coach Donna radio show on April 27, 2017, and how it will change in 2018 to include detailed information about sugar. Since 2004, companies have been required to label any package foods, which have any of those eight allergens in them.
Today, there are about 6 million children in the US with at least one food allergy. That’s a lot of children and I can understand why so many schools have restrictions on food. Then you also have the issue of parties and other events where children with allergies need to bring their special food.
In my house, I’m gluten free. I also suspect that my son has gluten sensitivity as well so I limit the amount he eats. In reality, he mostly gets gluten outside of our home, as all the food in our home is gluten free. If you have sensitivities or allergies to food, it’s relatively easy to make family meals that suit everyone’s needs. We have friends who are allergic to cow dairy. So when they come over, I make sure we serve goat dairy.
You can always find plenty of great non-allergenic foods for kids to share and enjoy. I love simple things like rice crackers, carrot sticks, and hummus. Kids don’t even think about missing gluten and you won’t either. Try not to reach for packaged processed gluten free snacks. Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Always think whole foods first. And read the labels as they will give you lots of good information on possible allergens as well as how many carbs per serving and how much sugar. I like to keep packaged snacks to less than 28 grams of carbs per serving. That way you can be assured that the snack won’t spike your blood sugar levels and then have you crashed and sleeping at your desk as a result.
Keep it simple
The key is to keep things simple. When it’s simple, it will be stress-free. Kids and adults with food allergies can feel deprived when those around them are enjoying treats that they can’t have. There are so many alternatives that you can make at home or buy so you or your child won’t feel left out. Personally, I find the processed gluten free snacks to not work with my digestion, but if I make it from scratch at home, I’m just fine. You may have to try a few varieties of flours before you find the one that works best with you. I love almond flour and coconut flour. My favorite book for these sort of treats is Paleo Indulgences. Great recipes that are also super simple.