AT the beginning of each school term, letters are sent home to parents stating what foods are “safe” to pack for school lunches.
These letters come with unneeded controversy about why certain children should be excluded from this rule and be allowed to eat what they wish. If only it were that easy.
Allergy parents know how you feel about the pesky letters. We are made out to feel as though we have “given” our child allergies (yes, we have heard it all).
We are told we should homeschool our children because food allergies limit other children who don’t suffer allergies.
We are made to feel guilty about other children not being able to enjoy their favourite treats at school. But honestly, at the end of the day, six hours isn’t really that long for your child to go without.
Sneaking banned foods into your child’s lunch box is wrong. To you, it may seem harmless and you may win your child over by providing them with a little “treat” without the teachers knowing.
Teachers rely on parents to abide by the school rules to provide a safe environment for ALL children. When food bans are ignored, teachers may not have time to respond if an allergic reaction was to occur. It’s every allergy parent’s worst nightmare receiving a call stating something that should be as simple as sitting down and eating lunch, has caused their child life threatening symptoms. I will repeat, LIFE threatening.
As an allergy parent, I am always questioned about why certain foods aren’t allowed at school when people can be allergic to anything. I get told the list of banned foods is pointless because parents are just going to pack them anyway. I also get told that I should just feed my children the allergens and they will, in some miracle way, grow out of it. I hate to inform you, but this in fact, does not work.
Teaching yourself and your child about allergies is needed in today’s society. Let’s face it, they’re everywhere. A reaction can happen anytime, anywhere and knowing what to expect can save someone’s life.
Food safety should be taught to not only kids without allergies, but to kids with allergies, too. Teaching children not to share their lunches — yes I know, we teach them to share their whole lives and now we need to teach them not to share their food — and how to read ingredients lists can help allergy kids become aware and to learn what they can and can’t eat.
Packing banned foods into your child’s lunch box may seem harmless to you, but imagine how your child would feel if they accidentally caused their best friend to have a deadly allergic reaction. Imagine them having to deal with the pain of killing their friend over a simple sandwich. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But it CAN happen… And that easily.
Allergies need to be taken seriously. Educate yourself and your children about food allergies and become allergy aware. Food allergies are life threatening, and for some people, it doesn’t take much for a deadly reaction to occur. Becoming allergy aware is as simple as watching a video clip or some online reading.
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy now offers free online training. This year’s Gluten Free Expo in Sydney this weekend will be another great place to immerse yourself in the world of living gluten free.
Learn the signs and symptoms and know what to look out for — allergic reactions can happen to anyone, even if they don’t run in your family.
Just remember, your child will still love you if they don’t get to have a cupcake for morning tea. There’s always after school.
Meg Ireland is exhibiting with her @siphappenscafe at this year’s Gluten Free Expo, at Rosehill Gardens on August 5-6.
Also book in to a First Aid Training Course with Canberra First Aid on the website www.canberrafirstaid.com