Help Your Kids Understand and Manage Their Food Allergies and/or Celiac Disease
Help your kids keep themselves safe by teaching them what foods cause reactions and how to avoid them. They should also understand the types of reactions that can occur, how they might feel and what they should do if they have a reaction. This not only keeps them safe, but also gives them a feeling of control and a sense of confidence.
Teaching your kids can and should be a part of every day life. A simple trip to the grocery store is a perfect opportunity to teach them about food, healthy eating and hidden allergens and gluten. Take them with you, read labels together, discuss ingredients and talk about what the labels say (and what they don’t say).
Ask your kids what ideas they have for healthy meals. Watch a cooking show together and discuss substitutions. Let them help your cook or bake occasionally. Read a children’s book together about food allergies. There are some wonderful books available in online book stores and through FAAN.
Practice Makes Perfect
We found it helpful to role play with our kids before taking them to friends’ houses or school. This gives them a chance to rehearse and feel confident in what they might say if, for example, they were offered a cookie or thought they were having a reaction.
Also give them examples of situations and ask them how they would handle them. Such as, “What would you do if you saw a bowl of pretzels on the table at a party?” Or, “What do you do if someone sits down beside you with a peanut butter sandwich?”
Keep a Positive Attitude
We all want our kids to grow up to be happy, healthy, courageous and kind. We can help them by focusing on the positive aspects of life, and not the negative.
Growing up is hard enough, even for kids with no health issues. But kids with food allergies often feel left out, different from other kids, fearful, self-conscious and sometimes embarrassed.
We need to teach our kids that their food allergies and/or celiac disease do not define them. They are just a part of life, and life is what we make of it, so we shouldn't make a big deal of them.
Kids watch us very carefully to determine how they ought to feel about things. If we as parents talk about food allergies or celiac disease constantly, our kids will learn to dwell on them. If we are nervous, anxious and fearful, our kids will be too. If we have a negative attitude, our kids will too.
Yes, we need to keep them safe, and teach them how to keep themselves safe. But, there is a difference between staying safe by being educated, responsible and constantly vigilant, and living fearfully. Let's help them by staying positive!
How have you taught your kids to be safe and manage their conditions? We'd love to share your winning ideas with others. Email us and describe what has worked for you!
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