Hi, I would like to take a minute or 2 of your time to introduce myself. My name is Kimberly Bouldin and I am excited to be a part of Celiac-Disease.com. After I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in January of 2006, I took a few days to mourn the loss of my favorite foods and then embraced this new chapter in my life.
Six months after I was diagnosed, my son, Jon, was diagnosed at the age of 10. Putting a carb-loving 10 year old on a gluten-free diet was a feat in itself. Jon was a little more bitter about the loss of his favorite foods than I was. He still wanted to eat his beloved Pop-Tarts, chicken nuggets and lunch at school with his friends. Over the past 3.5 years, we have learned a lot about how to navigate life with a gluten-free child.
How do you feel safe sending your gluten-free child to school where there will be unsafe food encountered many times? Not only will this come up at lunch time, but also snack time (if you have a younger child) or parties. What about lunch in the cafeteria? Is that even possible? The first thing I did was come up with a letter explaining Jon’s disease. You can view the letter here. Feel free to use this letter & modify it to suit your needs. I then contacted the nutrition director for our local school district to see if Jon eating at school was even an option. While they tell me that they can safely feed Jon, I don’t feel comfortable with him eating there. He is able to purchase some side items, such as yogurt, milk and salads. I found out who the food supplier was (Sysco, in this case) and contacted them about the ingredients in their foods. If I could provide them with specific items, they were able to tell me if the food contained gluten or not.
Additionally, I emailed all of Jon’s teachers and let them know about his condition. I asked that they notify me in advance of any activities where food will be served; that way I can make sure Jon has a safe alternative and doesn’t feel left out. I plan on sharing lunch ideas, visits to friends’ houses and many more tips and tricks on how to navigate these situations in the near future.