Healthy School Lunches – Accommodating Food Allergies

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,678
    Nutrition expert Beth Ann Bentley discusses alternative food choices if your child has food allergies. Plus ideas for easy to make gluten free and dairy free lunches.

    Beth Ann Bentley: Hi! I am Beth Ann Bentley from ilunchbox.

    com, and I am talking to you about packing healthy lunches for kids. Now we are going to discuss the basics of food allergies and packing your child's lunch. Does your child or one of your child's friends have a food allergy? My son does. He is allergic to wheat and dairy. It can seem hopeless at times, but there are so many products out on the market today that a child with the food allergy really isn't missing out. There's a wealth of books and information on the web, but with a little research you can find many recipes and products to suit your needs. Here are some basic rules. Learn how to read food labels. It's important to know what you are looking for, and many allergens go by different names. For example, hydrogenated vegetable protein, or HVP as its known, is made from gluten, most of the time. If you didn't know this and you ate something with HVP, you would also be eating gluten.

    Learn the list of all the different allergens and other names that are used, so you can avoid common names of similar allergens. Watch out for processed foods, as many of the manufactures use the same machines, recipe-to-recipe, transferring the allergens. My advice to you is find a couple of great recipes that you like, that work for your child, and then offer to bring the treats or the snack foods to every function. Food safety is important when you have a child that's allergic to certain foods. Make sure you sanitize everything in the dishwasher, or if you have a child that's severely allergic to one item and children in the house that are not allergic to these things at all, sometimes it's easier to have two of everything. In my house, I have two bowls and two whisks for my mixer. Nuts are the number one food allergy in the United States, especially peanuts, which are not a nut at all, they are actually a legume. But if your child is allergic to peanuts, they may not be allergic to tree nuts, and likewise, if they are allergic to tree nuts, like almonds and cashews, they may not be allergic to peanuts. You should check with your healthcare professional before you experiment at home. But being allergic to tree nuts or peanuts does not mean never having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again. There are a lot of options, like seed butters, sunflower seed and pumpkin seed butter, soynut butters, a variety of flavors, almond butter and cashew butter are available at the grocery store, and of course peanut butter.

    Living without wheat does not mean never having a sandwich. There are plenty of options on the market today, like wheat free sandwich breads, corn tortillas, wheat free chips, and snack foods as well. You can even have chicken noodle soup using rice noodles. Likewise, being dairy free does not mean skipping on the ice cream or the baked goods or even a good bowl of cereal and milk, with choices like almond milk and rice milk and coconut milk, you can accommodate any tests. Now, these are my son's favorite wheat free and dairy free lunch items, chicken fingers, made with rice bread crumbs, the plowman's lunch, with rice crackers, a rice salad, taco salad, and his favorite salad, the chicken apple salad. He also really likes chicken noodle soup made with rice noodles. I hope this has given you a better understanding of packing allergy free lunches for your child.