May is Food Allergy Protocol month and it’s a good time to talk about food safety. Summer’s less structured routine can heighten fear in parents of kids with food allergies. Events and activities often have a free-for-all food environment in which a kid may be more likely to pop a stray Goldfish in his mouth or accidentally eat something with nuts inside.
What’s the best way to discourage kids with food allergies from eating something dangerous to them, while on the go? First, start by letting them know that there are many healthy foods that they can eat. This helps them develop a positive relationship with food, rather than a fearful one. Reminding kids of their options also helps them make good choices when you’re not around or when they’re on a trip or at a game.
Remind kids that they must ask a “food authority” (mom, dad, teacher, grandma) before eating anything that didn’t come from home. This “go-to” habit of asking first and eating second is formed easily through repetition and practice. This way kids don’t have to remember a list of foods, they just have to remember to ask.
Remind kids what the signs of an allergic reaction are and to tell someone immediately if they feel any of those signs. Make sure they know the right words to use when describing their reaction. Teach them phrases that will help them communicate quickly and effectively like, “I have food allergies and I’m having a reaction. I need help.”
Kids with food allergies are eager to attend birthday parties, go trick or treating and hunt for Easter eggs. It’s important to provide positive reinforcement and them know that if they only eat food given to them by a food authority and ask about anything that they are unsure of, they can have fun with friends and enjoy these activities.
- Remind kids with food allergies of all of the healthy foods they can eat
- Tell them that they must ask a food authority (parent, teacher, etc.) before eating anything that didn’t come from one of those sources
- Explain to kids that they must tell an adult immediately if they start to feel a reaction
- Use positive reinforcement to teach kids that if they do the above, they can have fun with friends and enjoy parties and food-related activities