Friday, August 14, 2015

School Days, the Gluten-free Way

Back-to-school time – it’s always a mad dash, isn’t it?! There are clothes to buy, teachers to meet, pencil boxes to fill and bus routes to memorize. It can be an exciting time, yes, but stressful as well. Potentially adding to that stress, whether you’re a parent, a kindergartner or a seasoned Senior, is the integration of a gluten-free diet into the at-school life.

But hey, what am I here for, if not to try and impart some wisdom to calm those new school year fears?! A great baseline not all of us might know about is something called the Section 504 plan. The Section 504 plan, meant to deter discrimination against those with disabilities, requires a school to provide gluten-free students with appropriate lunchtime meals. Clearly, this is a great place to start if you or your child suffers from Celiac disease. Fill one out, share it with your school’s administration and start the year off with some peace of mind.

For the rest of us gluten-free folks, Celiac or not, there are universal things we can all stick to. Help your child prepare a “Yes I’m gluten free, and here’s what that means” elevator speech if you deem it necessary, just to help thwart some awkwardness that’s sure to arise. Making sure before they leave your care for the schoolyard that they have a good grasp on what foods are off limits is a must, as is getting together a list of whom to go to at school if they run into an issue.

In that same vein, meet with your child’s teachers, principals, nurses, etc. prior to the start of school to share information about his or her dietary needs. Lastly, make it fun! Perhaps giving your child’s teacher a gluten-free “goodie bag” to stow away in the classroom would spice things up a bit, and give him or her a taste of home while away from its comfort.

The tips, tricks and tried-and-true methods surrounding a gluten-free back-to-school effort are so many, it’s going to take five links to completely fill you in! Read up and make this school year the best – and most gluten-free – one yet!

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