According to Health Canada, it is estimated that about 6% of Canadian kids suffer from food allergies. Because these allergies can be quite serious, many schools have banned certain items from the list of foods children are allowed to bring in their lunches. Even if your child doesn’t suffer from nut-related allergies, it is very important for you to follow these rules. Here’s why:
Nut allergies are serious business. An allergic reaction occurs when your body mistakenly identifies a certain food as being harmful. For some people, even a tiny amount of allergenic protein can cause a very serious reaction, which is why it’s important that they not be exposed to the food in any way.
Kids are likely to trade foods. You probably did it when you were younger (we know we did!): “I’ll trade you my apple for a piece of your dessert!” If none of the children implicated are allergic to any specific foods, then there should not be a problem. However, the issue is that some kids are allergic, and although they might be aware of their allergy, they may not be aware of exactly what’s in the food they’re trading. Something could potentially fall into the hands (and subsequently, in the mouth) of a child who is allergic without her even realizing it—which could be very dangerous.
Younger children may just not understand. Even if most kids who are allergic understand what that means, younger children may not be conscious of exactly how serious their reaction could get if they were to be in contact with the wrong foods. In addition to respecting your child’s school’s food policies, it’s important to educate your child about nut allergies (and allergies in general) so that they understand why it’s so important to avoid trading or sharing food.
Tips for being peanut-free
Here are some tips to help you pack yummy, healthy, and nut-free lunches:
– Check the labels of the foods you are buying and sending your child to school with, to ensure they are free of any ingredients that may be banned at her school. Click here for a list of food and non-food items that may contain peanuts.
– Get creative, and replace things like peanut butter and nuts with different spreads, made from non-nut ingredients. Think apple butter, caramel, or hummus. Click here for tips on packing lunches kids love
– .Beware of labels that say “May contain…”, and try to steer clear of them. Also, remember that even trace amounts may be enough to set off an allergic reaction in some people, so it’s safer to just choose another product!