Oscar starts school next year, and the thing I worry most about is the “food issue” – mostly the effects of peer pressure and how the school will manage this, including:
- making sure all staff know what he can and can’t eat,
- making alternative arrangements when there are food based activities,
- identifying food at the tuck shop he can have and he won’t be served anything else, and
- addressing Oscar’s dietary requirements in any “healthy eating” discussions.
To address the issue with Oscar we created some posters together: Always Foods, Sometimes Foods, Never or Rarely Foods and Healthy Foods to Test (as his tolerance levels increase). I got the idea for these posters from Sublime Shambles of a Shell about two years ago and have been waiting for Oscar to get a bit older to understand.
We had great fun making them and Oscar is certainly very aware of what he can and can’t have when it comes to whole foods, but is a bit confused about processed foods – a point I need to make with his school. I was very disappointed when asking the assistant principle how the school manages food intolerances; she turned to Oscar and said “you know what you can eat don’t you mate?” and when he answered “yes” she replied “we’ll you’ll be right then”. Not the duty of care I was expecting 🙁 I hope they don’t treat kids with anaphylaxis that way!
My response to that has been to prepare a document explaining what Oscar’s food intolerances are, what the impact of eating these foods is, and how they need to be managed. I also stated that we want a management plan put in place. Our posters were included in this document. I’m still waiting on a response from the school (it’s only been 4 days), but if helps I will share it here.
When making the posters we had to come up with definitions of what would go on each poster, so we agreed on
- Always Foods – These are foods that Oscar can have in unlimited quantities, at any time (processed foods are home made or have allowed ingredients).
- Sometimes Foods – These are foods that Oscar can have occasionally as part of his regular diet (processed foods are home made or have allowed ingredients).
- Rarely or Never Foods – These are commercially made foods that we would never, or only rarely, give Oscar to eat.
- Healthy Foods to Test – These are foods that we hope to trial with Oscar over time as his tolerance levels improve.
Note: these posters suit Oscar’s intolerance and would not be suitable for anyone else.
I really like the food posters, thanks for sharing. I made some for my daughter at around age 4-5 and now my son is getting to that age and asking more questions I think we’ll have another go.
We are almost through our first year at school and the staff have been sympathetic and helpful. I found the simplest message was “only food and treats from home” and planning ahead with suitable alternatives for cupcake days, sausage sizzles etc. They initiated a management plan (same as for allergies) but also said that the child is best placed to manage their own food intake. School enforces a “no food sharing or purchase for others at canteen” rule but does not exclude nuts or other allergens.
thanks for the feedback. I have had some success with the school this time. They have agreed to put an intolerance plan on the wall (with the anaphylaxis and asthma plans) so teachers and staff will be aware. Which was the main thing I was after. I’m all for him learning to take responsibility for managing this himself, but it needs to be done with support. I’m feeling much more comfortable with the situation now.