Back-to-school can be tough for gluten-free kids (and kids with food allergies, too). Especially when they’re young or newly diagnosed.
There’s understandable worry about accidental contact—even when food-sharing rules are followed and teachers make handwashing part of the fun, being a kid is a full-contact sport. Their personal space bubbles are small. Little kids lick things (…sometimes each other). And there are unexpected places where gluten plays hide-and-seek at school. Like playdough. Or papier-mâché. Or macaroni necklaces. Or lickable stickers.
Learning all the things they need to avoid—hopefully by being taught what’s safe, and not the hard way of feeling ill after accidental contact—is stressful enough. But on top of that, there’s the very real anxiety around feeling different.
Kids want to fit in. It takes a lot of love, positive reinforcement, time, and maturity to embrace the idea that being your own, one-of-a-kind self is what makes our world beautiful. Gluten-free kids can feel left out by having to eat differently than everyone else in the class. And there’s a sad-but-real risk they’ll be teased or bullied for how they need to eat—something that takes a compassionate and supportive village of teachers, administrators, friends, and family to solve.
Back-to-school can be tough for parents of gluten-free kids, too.
There’s 504 Plans to figure out (or whatever your province’s allergy legislation calls for). There’s the new-year, new-teacher talk to make sure they understand your kid’s unique needs, and to start the year with the lines of communication open—both in case of accidental contact, and so you can send safe treats ahead of classroom celebrations and field trips.
There’s the hard work of supporting your gluten-free child through their (normal and totally valid) feelings about being different. There’s teaching them how to graciously say “No thank you” in social situations to food that’s not safe for them to eat. As they get older, there’s also teaching them how to read labels and navigate restaurant menus—not to mention adults and peers who might dismiss the seriousness of their condition when they try to make food choices that are right for them.
And then there’s the everyday stress of packing lunch.
All parents struggle to send their kids to school with a lunch that’s nutritious and their kids will actually eat. (We don’t have statistics, but an educated guess that more kids are picky eaters than are not doesn’t feel far-fetched!). Parents of gluten-free kids get the extra fun of doing all of that, gluten-free—and trying to send something that respects your child’s longing to feel normal.
And that’s one small way Little Northern Bakehouse can help take some of the stress out of back-to-school for you and your gluten-free kid. When you pack a nut-free butter and jam sandwich made with our White Wide Slice bread, you’re giving them a lunch that looks and tastes just like their friends’ lunches. Paired with apple slices, carrot sticks, and a small, sweet, gluten-free treat (like raisins or chocolate chips), they’ll enjoy a moment of freedom to just be a regular kid with a non-weird lunch.
Now there’s a little lunch box love note that can be read at any grade level.
Sure. We make baked goods that aren’t just good for gluten-free, they’re good, period—because we believe you shouldn’t have to give up taste and texture when you go without gluten. We also make them with empathy. Because people living with celiac, gluten-intolerance, and food allergies deserve all the joy of the real thing.
Find your kid’s favourite go to sandwich slice here!