Eating well with food allergies
It’s natural to have concerns when your child is starting school. When a child has a food allergy, those concerns can increase.
Where can I get information about my child’s food allergy?
Once your child’s food allergy has been diagnosed, visit Food Allergy Canada’s Newly Diagnosed Support Centre. Their Living Confidently with Food Allergy guide for parents and families has information and resources to help you learn more about your child’s allergy and how to keep them safe. You can also consult a registered dietitian by calling HealthLink BC’s 8-1-1 number.
What are key steps to keep my child safe?
- Read food labels carefully. Food products containing any priority allergens (the top 10 most allergic foods including eggs, milk and peanuts) will have “contains” statements in bold letters right below the ingredient list. Precautionary statements warning of the potential presence of allergens on food labels start with “may contain.” Do not give your child foods that state they “contain” or “may contain” the offending allergen.
- Be aware of cross-contamination which happens when a small amount of a food allergen gets into another food accidentally or when it is present in saliva, on a surface, or on an object you child may touch.
- Teach your child what they are allergic to and how to identify an allergic reaction. Provide them with rules to follow about eating away from home and instruct them to tell an adult right away if they are feeling unwell.
- Encourage older children and teens to take steps to keep themselves safe in a variety of school situations.
Use Food Allergy Canada’s Safety Checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything from label reading to being prepared with your child’s epinephrine auto injector (Epipen).
What do I need to know about managing my child’s allergy at school?
- Most schools have an allergy-related policy which usually includes what foods are not permitted in school, on school field trips or at school-sponsored special events.
- BC schools are subject to the province’s Anaphylaxis Protection Order, which requires they have anaphylaxis policies and procedures.
- It is a good idea to be familiar with your school’s policy regarding prevention and management of allergies. For example, there may be rules about not allowing sharing or trading of food among students.
- Review Food Allergy Canada’s Back-to-School Allergy Checklist.
What do I need to tell school staff about my child’s food allergy?
- School staff, including teachers, teacher helpers, office staff and classroom volunteers all need to know the specifics of your child’s food allergy. You should make them aware of the signs that indicate your child is having an allergic reaction and what to do.
- Here’s a suggested emergency treatment plan to fill out and share with school staff if your child has anaphylaxis and needs an epinephrine auto injector (Epipen).
- This Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Settings manual has a complete listing of all the information and resources a school needs to help keep your child safe.
- Remember that “allergy-aware” is not the same as “allergen-free.” For the most part, schools aim to be “allergy-safe.”
- Food Allergy Canada: Education, support and advocacy for people with food allergies. It also offers an online mentorship program for kids and youth with food allergies to pair up as pals.
- Why Risk It.ca: A site for Canadian youth at risk for anaphylaxis with resources such as the Ultimate Guidebook for Teens with Food Allergies
- Allergy Aware.ca: Free online courses to help people prevent and manage potentially life-threatening allergic reactions in the community
- HealthLink BC’s Food Allergies section has additional resources
- Download free allergy classroom posters and fact sheets and free online courses for educators
- Consult a registered dietitian by calling HealthLink BC’s 8-1-1 number. They also have a food allergy dietitian specialist on staff