August 21, 2013

Back to School! Tips on Keeping the Kids Gluten Free in the Classroom and on Campus

The Betsy books were my mom's favorite series growing up.
She also loved the name Betsy so much, obviously. 
The past couple of days my Facebook feed has been filled with everyone's adorable kids smiling happily with backpacks strapped to their backs. That means one thing: Back to School time.

I dawned on me that I've been out of school for ten years now. Not counting the time I got kicked out of school. I kind of miss it. I always loved going back to school. It was a fresh start. Not to mention my love of shopping for new clothes and school supplies. How fun was picking out a TrapperKeeper and Lisa Frank folders? I remember calling all of my friends to see who I had classes with each year after registering for elementary and high school. In college, I couldn't wait for the semester schedule to be released so I could start planning my courses. (Nerd Alert!) The one thing that was never on my mind was worrying about my gluten free diet.

If you remember my story, I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 18. I had attended The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for one month shy of a semester, but dropped out because I was so sick with undiagnosed celiac disease. It wasn't until a month and a half after coming home that I found out my stomach woes were celiac and instantly began a gluten free diet. At that time I was attending community college and then transferred to Columbia College in downtown Chicago and lived at home through my college years. Access to gluten free food wasn't a problem. I usually ate my meals at home, prepared by myself or Babs. When I was out with friends, I read labels on the crap I bought at White Hen and ordered a lot of salads and burgers with no bun at restaurants. I was fine and seriously never even worried about a thing. I was feeling a million-bagillion-zagillion times better and can't remember really ever being glutened during college. Except for the Leona's "it's not breading it's seasoning" incident of 2000. Man, I wish blogging was a thing back then. I would have loved to look back on my newbie gluten free self.

With all of that being said, since I didn't have to deal with a gluten free diet at classroom parties, school cafeterias and campus dining halls, not to mention snacks or meals at school teams/clubs/dances/sleepovers I can't necessarily tell you how I managed to get through them. I can, however, share with you the tips and information passed along by teens, moms with gluten free kids, and experts in the field of gluten free and celiac disease.

General Gluten Free Kids Information

Gluten Free College Living

Good news! Jack Daniels is gluten free.
Drink responsibly college kids,
and not until you're 21 of course

Blogs from Parents and Gluten Free Young Adults

There is so much information online today that will help you sort out the difficulties of social activities for kids. I'm sure if you've landed on this page, you're already an awesome parent since you're looking for answers. Being proactive by speaking to teachers and school administrators is the best step. 

Have a great year, kids!

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