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Lunch Box Inspiration and Back to School

When caring for a child with coeliac disease, you require vigilance to keep them safe when food is present, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Additionally, once you are a coeliac, you are a coeliac for life. Caregivers must supervise their child with coeliac disease as the consequences of eating gluten are not just symptoms such as an upset stomach, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and irritability, it is the damage to the lining of the small bowel which is the most serious consequence.

Activities such as the coeliac child going to a friend’s place after school, or on a school camp, a birthday party, or out to a cafe, are no longer simple.  

Communication with School Administration and Teachers

  • If your child is newly diagnosed with coeliac disease a note from your GP/doctor that explains the condition, including how it impacts your child’s life and health should cross contamination from gluten occur on a regular basis.
  • The treatment for coeliac disease is ‘gluten free for life’. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and many processed foods that contain hidden gluten and must be eliminated from the diet.

The support and management you require to keep your child gluten-free

  • Discuss a healthcare plan with school administration team.
  • Work with school staff to eliminate the gluten-containing educational tools, art and craft projects and incentives.
  • Ask the school to inform you where possible when there are tasks that include gluten-containing products so you can offer an alternative for your child e.g. (bring gluten free playdoh and GF pasta for crafts)
  • Are informed with 48hrs notice of field trips that may affect your child so you can assist or advice on modifications required for him/her to participate
  • Invest in a lunchbox with compartments, so your child can eat directly from his/her lunchbox.
  • Your child needs to wash their hands before meals and after crafts.
  • Provide a special placemat and ask your child to place his/her food only on the mat.
  • Ask for monitoring during crafts/activities involving gluten for example.
  • Play-doh
  • Face paint
  • Paper mache
  • Pasta and cereal crafts

What’s in the Lunch Box!

Get organised with crafty GF lunch box ideas so the healthiest option is also the easiest.   Where possible purchase most of your foods that do not come in packets.  Do not forget there is a large variety of food that is naturally gluten-free, and to introduce your child to eating more whole, unprocessed foods such as:

  • Fresh fruit (see high risk food guidelines below)
  • Fresh vegies and add GF hummus. (see high risk food guidelines below)
  • Cheese or (dairy free cheese substitute)
  • Tuna
  • Boiled eggs
  • GF bread or wraps + salads and deli style meats
  • Make your own sushi
  • Include leftovers from dinner i.e. GF pasta, rice
  • Most fresh meat is GF anyway unless it has added marinades, and sauces etc

High-risk foods as identified in the MOH in their 2020 guidelines are: whole or pieces of nuts, large seeds (like pumpkin or sunflower seeds), crisps or chippies, hard rice crackers, dried fruit, popcorn, marshmallows sausages, saveloys or cheerios’ are not given to children in any setting unless modified “such as grating” to reduce the risk. Older children (four years and older) may need to be reminded to take small bites and chew well.

Please see the Ministry of Health. 2020. Reducing food-related choking for babies and young children at early learning services.  https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/reducing-food-related-choking-babies-and-young-children-early-learning-services or FAQ document attached

The newly appointed health promotion manager has made a start on the toolkit for ECE’s and schools to be launched during Coeliac Awareness – 7-13th June so look out for it so we can work together to support your child through their education journey.  This resource will include all levels and stages of education including early childhood, primary, intermediate, high school, and university or tertiary study.

 

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