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Living with Food Allergies

Back to School: How to Keep Kids with Food Allergies Safe

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Navigating your child’s food allergies, intolerances, and restrictions can be a challenge.  Mediaplanet chatted with a panel of experts from Wholesome Kids Catering – Chloe Cheng, Registered Dietitian, Allison Avoledo, Red Seal Chef & Menu Coordinator and Eva Lam, Nutritionist & Allergy Chef – to get their insights on understanding dietary restrictions and keeping kids safe and healthy this fall.

Chloe Cheng, Registered Dietitian

Chloe Cheng

Registered Dietitian

Allison Avoledo, Red Seal Chef

Allison Avoledo

Red Seal Chef and Menu Coordinator

Eva Lam, Nutritionist

Eva Lam

Nutritionist and Allergy Chef


How common are children’s food allergies and intolerances?

Allison Avoledo: According to Food Allergy Canada, food allergies are a growing public health issue. Nearly eight per cent of children under the age of 18 have them. At Wholesome Kids Catering, approximately 15 per cent of the hot lunches we serve have an allergy replacement for one or more of the meal components. 


What makes Wholesome Kids Catering the child care allergen expert?

Allison: We manage over 100 different dietary restrictions, allergens, and food intolerances. We also have a dedicated team of individuals who focus specifically on managing our food allergy program. Through careful planning and customized allergen software, we make healthy and safe replacements for all the snacks and meals on our menu. 

wholesome kids catering

What should parents, caregivers, and educators know about children’s food allergies, and what are some common misconceptions?

Chloe Cheng: Food allergies and intolerances are often confused due to some similar signs and symptoms. This can lead to the misconception that food allergies aren’t serious. Food allergies involve the immune system, which can cause unpredictable and potentially fatal allergic reactions. Food intolerances, on the other hand, affect mainly the digestive system. 

It’s important for parents, caregivers, and educators to work together to manage children’s food allergies and intolerances. 

It’s important for parents, caregivers, and educators to work together to manage children’s food allergies and intolerances.


Can you share your best tips for keeping kids safe? 

Eva Lam: One of the best ways to keep kids with food allergies or intolerances safe is to be a Label Detective. Understanding where a food allergen may be found is critical because manufacturers often change their recipes without any notice. Never make an assumption about ingredients based on past knowledge. 

Another important step in keeping your child safe is preventing cross-contamination of foods. Even a small amount of cross-contact can trigger an allergic reaction. Always wash your hands when preparing “safe” foods and have separate utensils and equipment for preparing allergen-free foods.


What kind of resources do Wholesome Kids Catering offer parents and schools?

Eva: We offer allergen-safe recipes to try at home (like mac and cheeselessginger tofu stir fry, and black bean burgers), educational articlesinterviews, and meal planning advice.


How can parents and caregivers work on expanding children’s palates?

Chloe: Getting children to try new foods can be challenging, but there are many ways to encourage them! Give them opportunities to explore different foods by offering a variety of flavours, colours, shapes, and textures. It takes time for children to acquire new tastes. Repeated exposure is key, and there’s no need to pressure them. Eating together can help create a pleasant mealtime experience and allow for role modelling. Lastly, involving children in food preparation or setting the table can be fun and give them a sense of accomplishment. 

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